Deep Embodiment Triggers a Flow State

According to Steven Kotler, the author of The Rise of Superman, one of the three "external triggers that will get you into a flow state is known as deep embodiment.

Deep embodiment consists of being deeply connected to all five of your senses as well as something called proprioception. This is sometimes called your "sixth sense." It's your sense of self-movement and body position. 

One of the ways a flow state unlocks your peak performance potential is through a process referred to as transient hypofrontality. This is where parts of your prefrontal cortex deactivate to become more energy efficiency. This increases your level of awareness and your processing speeds. 

Shutting down the parts of the brain associated with self-consciousness, our internal critic, and impulse control allows us to act more intuitively without having to be slowed down by conscious thought.

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Emotional Blocks

How to Achieve Deep Embodiment

For extreme athletes, being present and embodied is necessary for survival. As you've likely noticed in life, nothing quite captures your attention like taking a risk. Risk is another of the three external flow triggers.

For those of us who are not going to surf a fifty-foot wave or snowboard down massive cliffs this week, there are still many ways to achieve deep embodiment.

Personally, I regularly practice several meditations specifically designed to help you become embodied and access flow states more frequently.

I know. I know. I’ve heard all the objections to meditation – “I can’t sit still,” “I can’t stop my mind," etc.. Take a moment and read an article I wrote on why meditation is so hard for most people and how to overcome these blocks.

How to Meditate for Peak Performance

The number one hurdle I notice others struggling with with is not having a defined purpose or motivator for why you are meditating in the first place.

If you've tried meditating in the past because you heard it's good for you, you've likely struggled with it. When you lack a specific goal for your meditation practice you're going to quickly lose motivation long before you experience any general benefits.

In addition to an overall goal, each meditation must have specific target objectives for that session.

Pushing the edge of your skills-to-challenge ratio consistently is one of our biggest intrinsic motivators. Regularly pursuing your goals will result in your brain providing a steady release of dopamine, which is one of the primary drivers of behavior.

Another aspect of meditation I would recommend, particularly in the beginning, is to keep it brief.

I practice numerous types of meditation that vary in length. The one’s I utilize for flow and peak performance are no more than a few minutes. This also enables me to use aspects of them on the fly in a performance situation to move out of the struggle phase of flow and into the critical release phase of flow.

Processing Your Past Trauma

Any activity that has mindfulness as a component is great for developing deep embodiment. I'd recommend practicing some form of yoga, taking a mindful walk, or even an intense sport such as surfing. Don't limit it to just these three; there are many options available. Just remember, presence is key.

In my coaching practice, helping clients ground themselves is an early part of their treatment plan.

For individuals suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), the body often becomes the enemy. Learning how to ground out of a state of high anxiety or dissociative numbing is essential for beginning the healing process.

Grounding is achieved through providing stimulus to one or more of your five senses and mindfully tracking the body’s response. I may have a client smell different essential oils or touch items with various textures to achieve this task. This brings you back to the present situation.

If these techniques can stabilize someone having a PTSD flashback, they can definitely help you develop more body-centered awareness.

Most people are very disconnected from their body. This is one of the chief reasons we do not experience flow or peak states very often. Moreover, the "body brain" is capable of processing information much faster than the cognitive parts of the brain.

"You Gotta Get Out of Your Head"

To achieve flow and peak performance requires letting go and trusting the body and subconscious brain to do what your conscious mind is incapable of. 

How many times have you seen an interview, watched a sporting event, or viewed a film where a coach or mentor was admonishing and encouraging the person to get out of their head, relax, just have fun, and enjoy the process?

Similar to meditation, I find people tend to overcomplicate the process of becoming more embodied. It is the essence of simplicity.

Just start to regularly notice how your body responds to various activities in your daily life.

  • When you feel frustrated, where do you notice the sensations in your body? 
  • When you feel deeply connected with someone, where do you notice the sensations in your body?
  • When you are excited or anxious, where do you notice the sensations in your body? 

Honestly, that’s all there is to it. It's so simply we overlook it as a viable source of empowerment and growth.

Embodiment Is Key To A Fulfilling and Meaningful Life

If you practice this consistently you will begin to notice several important things:

  • You will experience life more fully by being increasingly more affected by the world around you. 
  • You will develop a greater level of connection with others.
  • You will notice more regular occurrences of flow states. 

Research shows experiencing flow states more frequently will result in not only achieving your peak performance but a greater level of happiness, fulfillment, and life satisfaction.

Engaging in activities that force you to be present and connected to your body and senses is the fast track into the flow state. Moreover, achieving flow can reduce the time it takes to learn new skills by up to 75%.

Take the time to reflect and identify the actions and events that have generated deep embodiment throughout your history. Then, begin to participate in these practices consistently. This will not only lead to a more exciting and enjoyable life but is one of the keys to unlocking your full potential.


John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.

John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance. 

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