“The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel,” I remember reading that quote as I lay on my couch after moving into my new Boulder apartment about one year ago. “The Rise of Superman” by Steven Kotler was given to me by my new coworker and little did he know, it would be an inspiration to my adventurous side that needed to be shaken.
As an ex-Crossfit coach, I had heard of what they called flow state but never really understood how it applied to me. I thought of it as digging deeper and pushing harder into the “pain cave,” like I taught clients to do during challenging workouts. But there was so much more to it than I ever realized.
Finding your flow state: the state in which there is no clock, no time, no real thought process other than the mind doing precisely what it is supposed to do at that exact moment.
“You are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist. I have experienced this time and again. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit there watching it in a state of awe and wonderment. And [the music] just flows out of itself.” – Anonymous Composer.
What happens in flow state?
Your soul, subconsciousness and your gut that knows all of the answers to what you should do, take control of your actions, and you do your best work. You are in your element of pure bliss, and the seemingly impossible can be done there. It is the place where the world’s greatest thinkers, athletes, and artists live.
Tapping into that state is the key to doing some of the most challenging, creative, ingenious daring and adventurous things in the books. The Bohdi Millers. The Usain Bolts. The Beethovens. It is the place where your logical side turns off and the internal subconscious- I call it my inner God- turns on and tells you what to do.
We all have it in us. And I recognized it when I learned how to ski as a 27-year-old, which by the way, is not an easy thing to do. There is no doubt that skiing or any extreme sport is scary. You are going down a mountain on two flat surfaces as fast as you can. Your brain is telling you to stop, of course, to save you from dying. So how do you survive? Flow state.
After much research, I realized that the only way for me to conquer my fears and get to the next level of whatever it is, (especially after learning to ski as an adult), was to find my flow state. Find the internal voice, the one that dozens of top action and adventure athletes (Laird Hamilton, Travis Rice, Ian Walsh, Danny Way, Dean Potter, among many others) tap into when they are faced with Banzai Pipeline, one of the most deadly waves to surf in the North Shore of Hawaii. Or motor crossing the City Scramble in Auckland, New Zealand. Or skiing Streif—Kitzbühel, Tyrol, Austria, the most terrifying down-hill run in the world. Or playing JS Bach’s Chaconne from Partita in d minor BWV1004 perfectly, the most beautiful violin composition ever written.
Whatever your art, Your sport, Your genius. Find your flow. That state that brings you to tears when you complete it. And unleashes that adventurous you waiting inside.
I’m a 40 something father of two girls who loves the mountains, still plays in the sand and enjoys being in the great outdoors. The mountains are always calling my name.
“Wilderness is a necessity” – John Muir