From an article by Alison E. Berman at

“How many surf bums who can’t keep a job washing dishes will be up at 5 AM putting on a gritty, sandy wetsuit to paddle out in cold, sharky water for just one shot at a barrel? That’s motivation. If you could bottle that, then what’s possible?”

Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal stood in front of an audience of Silicon Valley tech enthusiasts, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs at a private social club in San Francisco. Their new book, Stealing Fire, was the subject of the evening.

The book explores what they call “non-ordinary” (or altered) states of consciousness and how to use them to achieve peak performance. It’s the result of years of research through their Flow Genome Project, which has brought together world-class athletes, academics, and artists to better understand the science of flow states.

 In Stealing Fire, altered states are broken down into three categories:

  • Mystical states: Induced by practices such as meditation.
  • Flow states: Often triggered by physical activities and movement.
  • Psychedelic states: Pharmacologically primed or induced.

In altered states, people tend to report four core experiences: feelings of selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness, and richness (STER). In part, we can identify these attributes thanks to recent advances in the fields surrounding the study of altered states—psychology, technology, neurobiology, and pharmacology.


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Image Credit:   Stealing Fire


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