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A Short Story of Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal
The sun is below the horizon on the east, the sound of rain and chims increase as my eye lids break from being shut for hours.
I reach over and shut off my alarm, turn on the lights and make the bed that held me tight throughout the night.
In the kitchen, lit by the dim sunlight coming through the windows, I enjoy a glass of water with apple cider vinegar, lemon, and pink salt.
I take off through the front door and begin a 1 mile hike around my neighborhood. As the sun breaks to the East, the sound of birds and chill air create a feeling of calm.
One step after the next, going back-and-forth between being in the moment with the birds and planning out my day.
I return home only to head back out the door to workout at the local gym.
Warming up before putting my body under the stress of heavy weights.
Consisting of high intensity heavy weight training I enter a state of focus and drive.
The workout concludes and I take some time after for some static stretching and light yoga moves.
As the day goes on I continue to balance states of flow and ecstasis with recovery and integration.
In the Book titled, Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work, by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal they go in depth talking about how top performers and ordinary people enters states of ecstasis (flow) and do extraordinary things.
“Ecstasis is “the act of “stepping beyond oneself””
The authors quoted Plato in the book saying, “ecstasis as an altered state where our normal waking consciousness vanishes completely, replaced by an intense euphoria and powerful connection to a greater intelligence.”
Have you ever played a sport and felt all immersed in the moment, and when you looked back realized you were playing above average?
Or, were typing a long article/paper with noise in the background, and for moments the noise went away and the words just started to go on autopilot?
Or tripped on psychedelics and entered the multiverse?
These can be described as entering states of ecstasis, were we feel so immersed that we transcend the normal.
In Stealing Fire, Kotler and Wheal examines different ways on how to access this state of ecstasis and how to balance it with everyday life.
As described in the book, there are four characteristics of ecstasis: Selflessness, Timelessness, Effortlessness, Richness (STER)
“By stepping outside ourselves, we gain perspective. We become objectively aware of our costumes rather than subjectively fused with them.” (Page 39)
“When non-ordinary states trigger timelessness, they deliver us to the perpetual present—where we have undistracted access to the most reliable data. We find ourselves at full strength.” (Page 41)
“Without time in the picture, I have all the time I need.” (Page 41)
“But just as the selflessness of an altered state can quiet our inner critic, and the timelessness lets us pause our hectic lives, a sense of effortlessness can propel us past the limits or our normal motivation.” (Page 42)
“We have terabytes of information available to us; we just can’t tap into it in our normal state.” (Page 45)
“We get access to increased data, heightened perception, and amplified connection. And this lets us see ecstasis for what it actually is: an information technology. Big Data for our minds.” (Page 46)
There are four forces to ecstasis: Psychology, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Technology.
To keep this summary short, I will not go in depth on the four force, but you can read about the four forces of Ecstasis in part two of the book starting from page 73 to page 148.
Many people are using different techniques to enter this altered state. The short story at the beginning of this article briefly talks about how I change my normal state with high intensity workout and then balance it by doing a relaxed couple minutes of stretching afterwards.
I have learned from a past experience that when I don’t balance stretching with heavy weights it results in injury for me.
This realization of balance has slowly rolled over into other areas of my life, finding different ways to enter altered states.
And then coming back to baseline to integrate what I learned. Sometimes I get a little to far to one side where I find myself to far down the rabbit hole.
Selflessness, Timelessness, Effortlessness, and Richness can be taken to far getting lost in the ecstasis, always seeking and not returning back to normal. The further you sway to far to one side the bigger the swing back.
As the authors explain in the book, my take-away is: having and seeking out ways to alter-states, reaching ecstasis, but returning to normal and taking action on what you learned. Keeping a balance between altered states and integration.
What are your thoughts?
Have you read Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal?
What book should I read next?
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