Cannabis aides flow state by altering mental perception
Time is elastic, it can be measured in feeling. Five minutes can feel like the blink of an eye or a lifetime depending on the state of your consciousness. When you enter a ‘flow state’ time is altered. Goals are clear, actions become automatic and spontaneous. You feel in control and focused. You become so absorbed in the task at hand that your sense of individuality slips away. In the nineties, they called it being in the zone.
Not surprisingly, cannabis can help achieve this mental state by altering consciousness. Cannabis affects the mind’s perception of time, incites feelings of euphoria, and encourages the brain’s neuroplasticity. These results all contribute to a flow state.
Flow state is an optimal state of consciousness
Flow State was coined by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990). It is the “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
Flow State is “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.” – Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, Wired Magazine
Eight component states are necessary to achieve flow:
- Challenge-skill balance: the challenge should be manageable, however, you should also be able to use the challenge to achieve new skill. If the challenge is too difficult, it will be frustrating. If it is too easy, it will be boring. A perfect balance between challenge and skill must be sought in order to achieve flow state.
- Clarity of goals.
- Immediate and unambiguous feedback: whether it’s from an outside source or internally, the impact of your actions should be measurable. A wrong note tells a musician they need to correct themselves.
- Concentration on the task at hand: your focus and concentration must be on a single task.
- The paradox of control: you can control without controlling. Activities are automatic, fluid, and effortless, yet every action is done with purpose.
- Transformation of time: the perception of time is altered during a flow state.
- Loss of self-consciousness: when experiencing flow state one often loses the feeling of being an individual and by proxy any self-consciousness experienced by the individual self.
- Autotelic experience: activities involved with flow state are done for an intrinsic reward, as opposed to an external one.
Cannabis used as a catalyst for achieving flow state
While research on cannabinoids and the effect they have on the brain are still sorely lacking, anecdotal evidence points continuously to marijuana stimulating a state of consciousness akin to flow state.
Cannabis can alleviate stress and anxiety, resulting in a relaxed mental state encouraging a loss of self-consciousness. Focus on the task at hand can be augmented with sativa, a strain of marijuana that increases energy levels. You can experience a quieting of the inner critic, hyper-focusing on the challenge in front of you.
A 2012 study suggests that cannabinoids encourage neuroplasticity within the brain especially when brain injuries are considered. With encouraged neuroplasticity, the argument could be made that new skills are more easily achieved. New connections fostered between neurons happen when new skills are learned and developed. Again, the studies about how cannabis affects neuroplasticity are still lacking but the future is promising.
An altered perception of time is regularly reported with cannabis use. A study done by London psychiatrist, Dr. Atakan shows that “70% of studies found that [cannabis] users experienced over-estimation of time.” This means that users reported the perception of time as altered while using cannabis. An altering of time is integral to flow state, moments seem to slow or speed up. You are so completely involved in the task at hand that the passage of time becomes irrelevant.
Flow state encourages overall life satisfaction
Feelings of euphoria are the result of dopamine released by marijuana. Flow state will promote ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain like dopamine. This can aid in making tasks intrinsically rewarding. You’re not performing based on external rewards such as promotion or praise from your peers, but because it provides an internal, genuine enjoyment. The experience is autotelic, meaning the reward is intrinsic.
According to Teresa Amabile of Harvard University, people who experience flow state have higher levels of productivity, creativity, and happiness for up to three days following. Flow state is linked to positive emotions, greater well-being, and overall happiness. Working towards an intrinsically rewarding endeavour not only benefits you in the short-term but also the long-term.
Flow state will expand your mind and inspire optimism within other areas of life. Luckily for creative cannabis enthusiasts, you can use marijuana as a mental catalyst to reach this state of consciousness.
Have you had experiences with flow state? Did marijuana play a role? Tell us your flow state story in the comments below.