Steven Kotler (author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance) and Jamie Wheal have positioned themselves at a nexus of research on 'flow states' of mind –- “the state where we feel and perform our best.”
Together, Kotler and Wheal are the co-founders of The Flow Genome Project, a trans-disciplinary organization working to decode the mechanics of flow states.
'Flow state' is a term coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, to describe when a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.
Neurochemically- that starts with norepinephrine, which makes us alert. Then, dopamine is released to enhance pattern recognition. Endorphins are released to help us feel no pain. A jolt of anandamide prompts lateral thinking.
It is believed that most major breakthroughs are a result of flow states - whether in art, science, or athletics. But the Flow Genome Project primarily studies flow in the context of adventure sports because, according to Kotler, “there's been a nearly exponential growth in human performance” in that field.
This year, they are moving forward to conduct a capital round on AngelList to raise funds for creating "Flow Dojo's" – dedicated flow training and research facilities.
“The facilities will combine advanced kinetic equipment with biofeedback... the training centers aim to revolutionize how we can harness peak performance“ according to Wheal.
"There's a litany of stories... whether it's the Curies and their 'eureka' breakthroughs, whether it's Einstien as he comes with general and special relativity, Archimedes and his 'eureka' moments, or Mozart and his downloads of entire orchestral compositions, or Michael Jordon, doing the impossible in game six of the finals... and that really is the game we are interested in playing... how do we unlock that possibility? ... to actually be our own birthright and to not simply say, voyeuristicly 'wow - that's awesome, but I could never...' and actually say 'that's incredible, and I can too.'" - Jamie Wheel
Update: Steven Kotler has since parted ways with the Flow Genome Project to found the Flow Research Collective.