How would you benefit from more time “in the zone”?
The neuroscience behind CBD, flow state and our capacity for productivity, happiness and complete focus.
Whether you’re writing, painting, working out, or cooking a holiday feast, sometimes everything just seems to fall into place. Time can seemingly stand still as we become completely immersed in the task at hand and productivity skyrockets. Athletes and artists describe an out of body experience, and there’s a general feeling of happiness and wellbeing as space and time melt around us. Sound familiar? Hold on tight, you’re entering the flow state. Eastern religions have been aware of the phenomena for centuries, but it’s only in the last hundred years that western science has investigated this condition. Also known as being “in the zone,” the flow state was named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975 and is identified by the following six criteria:
- Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
- Merging of action and awareness
- A loss of reflective self-consciousness
- A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
- A distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
- Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience
Can CBD offer a shortcut to a flow state? Although it’s possible to attain a flow state in 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted focus, that time can feel like an eternity in an age of constantly vibrating cell phones and news feeds. Tips to achieving flow state consist of eliminating distractions, picking an optimal time of day when energy levels are high, listening to music, working on a moderately challenging task, and defining a clear outcome. What happens in our brain to achieve a flow state? Enter CBD and a dash of neuroscience.
While taking a daily dose of cannabidiol can make many people feel relaxed, those same properties may also help you achieve flow state productivity superpower.
Scientists have shown that there are five neurotransmitters that become active when we enter a flow state: dopamine, norepinephrine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin. Research has also shown that CBD reacts with two of those neurotransmitters: anandamide and serotonin.
Anandamide is known as the “bliss molecule” because it produces joy in many of our daily activities, meditation, and play. It’s also believed that anandamide is responsible for the post exercise feeling of enjoyment that’s known as “runner’s high.” It’s also one of the two primary endocannabinoids in our body’s endocannabinoid system, our body’s internal system designed to achieve homeostasis. While cannabidiol doesn’t cause a high like THC, CBD has been shown to block the enzymes that are responsible for the reuptake of anandamide, therefore increasing the amount of anandamide in the brain and potentially helping someone achieve a flow state. Serotonin is more widely known for its mood enhancing properties and calming effects and research has shown that CBD mimics serotonin in the brain. Since achieving flow state requires a calm state of mind, many scientists believe it’s possible that CBD can provide a shortcut to a more serene starting point.
So what does this all mean? By interacting with two of the five neurotransmitters that are responsible for flow state, it’s theorized that CBD can jump start the chemical reactions required to get you “in the zone.” While we can’t guarantee you’ll be flowing like a Redbull athlete after a bottle of strawberry Gems it’s possible that you’ll be able to tackle your next 10k with a little more focus and less mental fatigue thanks to a cannabidiol kick start. Want to learn more about the flow state? Check out Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler.