Macro Flow States - The Art of Flow State Mastery
Optimal Physiological and Psychological Advantages and Efficiency
The Olympic Playing Field of Sport and Technology Innovation
The Science of Optimal Performance States and Flow Training
Below is a glimpse inside Fara's upcoming book, Superhuman Skill Sets: The Tao of High Performance. This book comes from decades of work and experiences with super human skill sets and elite tactical, medical and sports teams. Superhuman Skill Sets: The Tao of High Performanceis Fara's signature keynote speaking presentation and corporate retreat program in 2017-18.
"Visualization has been enhanced into a superhuman skill set through the use of technology applications.
My experience of visualization as a superhuman skill set evolved over decades of testing, monitoring and improving training and performance responses working with elite tactical, medical and sports professionals.
Over the past decade, neuroscience has proven and painted an increasingly clear picture of correlations between the skill of visualization and visual perception to human performance; resistance to disease, mental well-being, communication, decision making, intimacy, recovery from and response to mental and physical stress, and high performance breakthroughs.
At a basic level people learn to visualize with their imagination. However, without further training this basic form of visualization lacks the physiological development to be transformed into a practical and effective skill set for daily life or high performance.
I first experienced active visualization through simultaneously training in wing chun kung fu, kali, muay thai, jujitsu and jeet kune do. The purpose of this combined training was to sense, harness and self-regulate body, mind and spirit. Ultimate success was ego-less presence and responsiveness to overcome human reactivity (fear, distorted perception/bias, analysis/thinking, anger) when faced with simulated risk, stress or threat of harm or death to self or others.
Other sports which I’ve trained and improved visualization skills for myself and others have included: scuba diving, surfing, kayaking, swimming, dirt track racing, shooting, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, horsemanship, climbing, mountaineering, skydiving and archery.
The greatest catalyst for my developing super visualization processes was hyper-realistic training with active visualizations (eyes open, moving) during simulations of real world scenarios following training visualizations (eyes closed, static) of tactical missions or medical procedure success.
Those who were most able to develop and apply the skill set of super visualization were those most able to self-regulate their physiology and enter optimal performance states for quality of performance and operational success under duress. In addition, those most successful at self-regulation and visualization did not cope with stress via substance relief or abuse.
This unique training took place within a hyper-realistic, pyrotechnic battlefield lab environment with training ammunition (simunitions) and live fire ammunition, simulated rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices, as well as organic and dynamic physical, emotional and mental stressors, risks, threats and obstacles based on facility setting and geography. Additional off-site urban and remote field settings were leased and used for specific scenario evolutions.
Prior to this active visualization simulation training, studies revealed that tactical and medical professionals tested during an unexpected high-risk, high-stakes situations and scenarios achieved optimal performance success approximately 50% of the time.
One of the most beneficial applications for this skill set is prevention of and rehabilitation from trauma and injury. I have experienced and witnessed the effectiveness of super visualization for rehabilitation to be similar to the impact of supplemental oxygen use during the golden hour following traumatic injury to aid in the decrease of loss and damage to life.
While working with Olympic athletes and teams I began using super visualization training practices in conjunction with sport technology applications.
Feedback from the sport technology applications I use provides a scientifically exact picture of and strategic plan for individual and team performance; a shared super visualization for how to train for and win together when the stakes are highest during championships and Olympic Games.
The benefit of a commitment to high performance and super visualization skills is increasing quality of life and presence; feeling and performing your best when it matters most – right here, right now - regardless of any form of stress or amount of pressure."
Superhuman Skill Sets: The Tao of High Performance
Most people are familiar with martial arts training as a form of practice for greater focus and awareness. What is not as widely known is that "MUSHIN" (translated from Japanese to mean "no-mind") is at the core of martial arts training, regardless of the style or application. Mushin/no-mind is a mental state (an advanced flow state) which very highly trained martial artists entered into during combat. This was passed down from teacher to student in unconventional not professional settings, so in today's world not many who train to protect and save lives or enter combat understand or have been taught to develop and apply no-mind and flow mastery.
In today's world, it is the quantified warrior and who have intuitively sought out learning, training, and application of Mushin/no-mind. Out of all fields of human performance, it is the unconventional warriors and X-Game style unconventional athletes who have made more progress in human performance across the spectrum of resilience, recovery, and performance because of their mastery of flow.
So empowering is witnessing and experiencing flow states, that once-exclusive extreme athlete races evolved into adventure challenges and races embraced on a cultural level around the world. This is also why people fill stadiums and arenas for live music concerts and sports performances. People are collectively seeking to experience micro and macro (no-mind) flow states together.
No-mind is scientifically termed "Transient Hypofrontality", and it can be measured via EEG neurotechnology as:
These are measurable ultimate performance states where you feel your best and perform at your peak potential.
Flow states training has been researched in an underground way over the past 100 years, since it was first realized to not be divine or religious achievement in origin but rather a natural part of life. These are also known as "being in the zone" and "peak experiences", but the research behind this level of performance and the internal electrical and chemical singularity in every major breakthrough in human performance is currently called "flow science".
In flow science, focus is the key element. Focus with intrinsic motivation is the application; focused activity for its own sake has a far greater reward than focus on a task or activity done for an external outcome or reward.
This reward is both the evidence-based crucial element of happiness and a natural reservoir of energy and support that results in massively energy efficient and accelerated neuronal processes in the brain for:
If you've ever been out in nature focusing intensely on a skill such as rock climbing, ice climbing, trekking, mountaineering, scuba diving, surfing, biking, car racing, swimming or running, you have probably witnessed and felt various levels of flow states first hand.
If you have consciously exerted yourself in a challenging way to achieve an outdoor goal or pursuit, at altitude for example, then you've probably witnessed and experienced more advanced flow states in yourself and others.
Advanced flow states happen when the individual or groups focus surpasses the internal and external resistances and fatigue that occurs with significant challenge.
Rather than being in a state of distress where the brain becomes overwhelmed and exerts more mental and physical effort with less focus, awareness, and positive results, when an individual enters advanced flow states the brain becomes super efficient to the point that fatigue passes away and the challenge transforms into ease which allows for performance breakthroughs and new discoveries.
"The happiest people spend much time in a state of flow, the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it for the sheer sake of doing it.
We have learned through research that optimal and meaningful experience is something that we make happen. To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy and freedom, a person has to learn to provide intrinsic rewards to themselves. She or he has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.
This control of consciousness is what determines quality of life. True success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue...as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a course greater than oneself." ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
FLOW: THE OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE STATE
The drive for innovation and the development cycle for sports performance technology is right up with the extraordinarily fast pace of consumer electronics.
Unlike consumer electronics, Olympic sport and technology innovation has a playing field of the highest standards for managing safety and security, excitement versus risk, fair judging and especially that technology and equipment serve the athlete not vice versa.
Innovation areas of Olympic sport and technology to optimize human performance include:
Each of these areas of innovation is subject to great scrutiny. The components of high performance for materials technology are light-weight composite, high energy restitution and resistance. To innovate equipment materials technology involves maximizing stiffness and lower weight. This has the following risks:
For athletes who are training to compete professionally or training to compete at the Olympic level there is a lot at stake in selecting equipment. Here is an equipment selection example specific to the sport of Olympic archery:
The light-weight composite materials is pretty straight-forward and across the board for the top manufacturers. So, evaluating Olympic archery equipment materials from a human performance perspective was very helpful for selection.
The design of top manufacturers bows leads to either an "aggressive" or "smooth" performance response. The smooth performance response is ideal for an archer to train with until their training load is at an elite professional or Olympic level, because it is less stressful on the athlete's body and mind.
That is what makes it the best equipment selection for the archer. It will minimize physical, physiological and psychological stress and performance demands and therefore support training and performance optimization in the short and long run.
Once the archer reaches an elite professional or Olympic level training load and performance demand, the aggressive performance response bow would become the ideal choice.
The evolution to high performance at the Olympic level and the International Olympic Committee sports performance equation for Olympic sports performance is for sport and technology innovation to optimize human performance by minimizing physical, physiological and psychological stress and performance demands for an athlete.
Previously athletes would spend a lot of time in a lab undergoing controlled testing methods for scientists, specialists and coaches to understand their underlying physiology, how that physiology relates to their performance outcome and the mechanics around how they move.
It is a great pleasure to be an expert in high performance and a sport technology specialist using technology innovations in Olympic sports; nano-technology, neuro-technology and computing science, which make it possible to take the performance lab out into the field and into the real world in which the athlete trains and competes.
Copyright 2016. Fara Eve Barnes. All Rights Reserved.