Have you ever felt that you’re in the right place, with the right person and at the right time? It is the moment when you are not projecting yourself into future and you’re not constantly digging up the past.
It is the moment of pure happiness. You let go of everything. You just feel. You are living the present moment and it feels perfect. Eckhart Tolle talks about it. There are various books written on it. Some call it flow, the state of pure happiness. I have felt it several times throughout my life, and often times recently. I’m gonna talk about these experiences.
A Distant Exotic Location
It all started with a picture. A burning desire…
More than a year ago one of my Facebook friends (a female model) posted a picture from a beautiful island in Thailand. I was fascinated. Something inside me arose an extreme passion. It was like a fire burning from within, making me insanely eager to get there. My mirror neurons wire firing as fuck…
A few days after seeing the picture I had a discussion with another friend who worked on a cruise ship and has traveled around the world for the past three years. It was December 2012 and he just came home for the winter holidays. He told me about the interesting places he visited, like: the Caribbean, South America, Bahamas, Belize, and other exotic locations.
As we had a couple of drinks, I asked him about the places he’s mostly dreaming of. He told me he wanted to see Maya Beach and Phi Phi Islands, in Thailand. I didn’t make any connection back then. I just did some Youtube searches to check out for the locations and I got enthused. Here’s a good video:
2013 went by and as we approached the end of the year I began thinking of a trip to Thailand. I didn’t remember either of the model’s picture and my friend’s desire. I just decided that I wanted to go there.
And I planed. I kept planning and thinking. I wanted to do it on my own. I saved some money for a couple of months with the purpose of having a great vacation. I started looking for airplane tickets, doing research on the cheapest and most convenient places to stay. The destination: Southern Thailand. It was December 2013.
Everything was in place. I knew everything that I was gonna do there. Every single day had been planned in advance. I wanted to do a lot of trips to different islands. At the beginning of January 2014 I bought the plane ticket, made a reservation at a hotel and left to Phuket, Thailand.
Most of the vacation happened as planned. In fact, it went even better. When I visited Khai Nok Islands and then Maya Bay, I remembered. I was stumbled. I remembered both the shot taken by the model and my friend’s desire.
Khai Nok Island, Jan. 2014
Maya Beach, Jan. 2014
That was a deeply intense flow moment. It was a moment of inner peace, happiness. I did not want to be someplace else with someone else. I was exactly where I wanted to be at that time. Nothing else mattered. That feeling cannot be described in words.
Welcome to Mother Russia
Another flow moment is tied to that particular trip to Thailand from January 2014. It’s a sequenced story that started one year ago as well. And it has to do with music.
The winter of 2012 to 2013 brought the release of a State of Trance Year Mix 2012. One of the tracks from that compilation is W&W – Moscow. As I listened to the mix for several times, it became very enjoyable.
In fact, I did a CD copy of it with the tracks from the compilation in the exact order as they were on ASOT Year Mix 2012. It delighted me for the entire 2013 and I knew every single beat of W&W – Moscow by heart. I even knew the presentation voice from the beginning of the song. Here it is (move to minute 28:40):
As the plane with the exotic destination took-off from Budapest to Moscow (and then from Moscow to Phuket, Thailand) and as I was listening to some trance music, it all came back to me.
I was going to hack into a flow moment. I was trying to induce it. I thought how cool would it be to play “W&W – Moscow” while being in Moscow? I must be crazy…
But I did it.
Few hours after arriving in Sheremetyevo Airport (Moscow), I got closer to the window. The frozen airport was unfolding at my feet.
Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow, Jan. 2014
I gathered all the memories I had of Russians and Moscow, everything that I’ve ever seen in pictures and in movies. And then I hit Play. There I was: listening to the wonderful track that I knew by heart in Moscow. Nothing else mattered (again). I was living my purest happiness moment.
You see, I think that this is one of the keys to happiness, finding it in small stuff. Not waiting for it to come, but pursuing it. Not pursuing it, but feeling it, living it in the present moment. Happiness is equal to becoming conscious of the now.
Chemical Hacking into the Flow
Flow is being described by Csikszentmihalyi, a Croatian author, in his book Optimal Experience and by Steven Kotler in his book The Rise of Superman. Their perspective is unique. Both of the books are worth reading. I’m currently reading the Superman book.
I found out that in flow there is a huge hormonal activation within the brain. Synapses are more powerful and the chemical activity is enhanced.
A few months ago I tweeted about my ice cold showers experiment. A guy responded to one of my tweets. He asked me if I wanna try this new product and that he will ship it to me. It was a new smart drug (natural) recently approved by the FDA and they wanted feedback on it, which is why they’ve given free samples to people to test it.
I agreed and I got my package right as I was about to leave to Thailand in January. I said I was gonna try it after getting back home. And I did.
Ciltep is fantastic, or the placebo effect that I’m inducing to myself is fantastic. Either way, I don’t care as long as it’s effective.
According to its producers, Ciltep improves brain activity and induces long-term potentiation. See the video below.
It boosts motivation, it improves concentration and memory. It is part of a class of new smart drugs called nootropics, which I suspect will become more popular in the years to come.
The first time I tried it, I took two pills. I may over-react a bit, but it had similar effects to what you see in Limitless:
Here’s a small log that I wrote down 2 hours after taking these pills back in February 2, 2014:
I just finished writing this article. I took two pills of Ciltep in the morning and had some coffee along the way. While writing the article I had this extremely sharp power of concentration that made me stick to my desk for three hours. Everything that was near me was put to silence. I could not get any distractions from the environment. The ideas were floating all around me, the time was passing by, it didn’t matter, and I was writing very fast. It was like the words came out of my brain straight through into the laptop. They were flowing around me waiting for me to pick them up and typing them down.
I also felt a different effect another day. I was driving and listening to music. I had taken 2 or 3 pills a few hours ago. I also had some coffee. The music I was listening always stimulated the release of positive emotions. Now it was different. It was like all these emotions were more intense, they were enhanced. Now, I don’t know if this is just placebo or the real effect of Ciltep but, again, I don’t care. I’ll take them because they are legal, because they are natural products, and because they are effective to me. They get me into the flow.
I haven’t written too much about cold therapy so far. One of the positive effects that I have experienced after taking extremely cold showers is that they always boost my mood. And it does it heavily. Various folks report the same thing.
I’m more energetic, positive, and motivated once I get out of a very cold shower. In this case, the down side is that my extremities (hands, feet) feel cold for a couple of hours afterwards. But I don’t care because the benefits far exceed these uncomfortable aspects.
You can find more on cold thermogenesis on Jack Kruse’s website. A few months ago I’ve written a slightly detailed article about my experiments. Read it here and more recently, here.
As I was getting out of the cold shower today and smiling to myself in the mirror, I got a brilliant idea that I’m going to implement in the months to come. I have to do some experiments on my own and then I will publish the findings here. Hopefully I’m able to help as many people as possible.
So, even though cold showers don’t get you straight into flow, they are very effective for mood enhancement.
If you read endurance athlete’s blogs, like Ben Greenfield here, you will see that they often talk about the runner’s high. It’s an effect that these athletes get after running for longer periods of time.
In this article researchers have scanned 10 athletes’ brains before and after two hours of running. To sum it up, their findings support the “opioid theory” of the runner’s high and “suggest region-specific effects” in the frontal lobes which are responsible to regulating mood and affective states.
Another article shows how exercise activates the endo-cannabinoid system, as the researchers have studied college students while cycling or running on a treadmill for 50 minutes at 70-80% of their VO2Max.
I’ve also experienced these effects in my moderately long-runs in the period of 2010 – 2013. In fact, the runner’s high was what kept me jogging. I’ve stopped doing long-runs a few months ago as I found out that strength training is as powerful (if not even more) as “cardio” for stimulating the cardiovascular system.
No matter how you induce flow moments into your life: by becoming conscious of the present moment, by practicing different sports, by hacking yourself into it, by chemically inducing it, or by taking Csikszentmihalyi’s approach, the ultimate goal is to feel the moment of pure and perfect happiness.
You do not need fancy gadgets. In flow, material stuff has no value. Money does not exist. You are truly present in the moment and it feels perfect. You are in a natural state of “high”.
I’m really curios if some of you guys have experienced flow so far. Please let me know in either of the comment sections below. Maybe we can draft a strategy to make it even more achievable.
1. Boecker, H., Sprenger, T., Spilker, M. E., Henriksen, G., Koppenhoefer, M., Wagner, K. J., … & Tolle, T. R. (2008). The runner’s high: opioidergic mechanisms in the human brain. Cerebral Cortex, 18(11), 2523-2531.
2. Sparling, P. B., Giuffrida, A., Piomelli, D., Rosskopf, L., & Dietrich, A. (2003). Exercise activates the endocannabinoid system. Neuroreport, 14(17), 2209-2211.
3. Doug McGuff and John Little – Body By Science
4. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness
5. Steven Kotler – The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
6. Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
7. Shevchuk, N. A. (2008). Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical hypotheses, 70(5), 995-1001.