Find your own personal source of Ecstacis and unlock potential: Stealing Fire
This week I have been (re)reading and discussing at length ‘Stealing Fire’ by Stephen Kotler and Jamie Wheal.
Stealing Fire brings to light the ways top performers (including Navy Seals and Silicon Valley’s top CEO’s) are finding new ways to help them reach their peak potential and achieve an abundance of ‘flow’.
‘Flow’ is a topic which I am passionate about and discuss at length with my clients, as I aim to take down the barriers between the Spiritual and Business worlds.
I consistently come up against businesses and executives who believe Yoga and Meditation is a means detachment, resulting only in a new simplistic life in the Himalayas mountains. This is far from the truth, and an archaic way of thinking which may cost companies their best employees if those at the top don’t gain a broader understanding of its importance and impact.
I believe there is a middle ground. One where the East helps the West. Where one can live a spiritual life but also use it to propel themselves forward professionally in abundance.
And this world is already emerging, surfacing in the new generation of employee, bubbling from the ground up in those who see themselves as ‘spiritual professionals’. The stay calm and centred through conflict and propel themselves through the ranks through original thinking and creativity.
Stealing Fire is a perfect depiction of how Eastern practices are being used in the Western world to enhance productivity and propel thinking to the next level. I’d like to share my take with you in the hope it starts to broaden thinking to propel your company in the right direction.
What is Ecstasis?
The book is centred around Ecstacis, a non ordinary state where creativity and productivity flourishes.
Plato described Ecstasis: “as an altered state where our normal waking consciousness vanishes completely, replaced by an intense euphoria and a powerful connection to a greater intelligence”. To make more relatable to our corporate world, it is the ability to absorb yourself into the task in hand so that you are driving it forward with a continued stream of consciousness - work no longer becomes work, it is flow.
In non-ordinary states, dopamine often skyrockets, while activity in the prefrontal cortex plummets. Suddenly we’re finding connections between ideas that we’ve never even thought of before. Some of those connections are legitimate insights; others are flights of fancy.
What does the book tell us?
Stealing Fire is a well researched and carefully structured book, which is detailed yet highly readable.
The book itself is made up of three parts; an exploration of what Ecstatis is and why it is so elusive, a description of the four ways in which people are finding Ecstatis (Psychology, neurobiology, pharmacology, and technology), and then consideration of how Ecstasis can be sustainable, given the considerable risks associated with some of the techniques used.
Before reading, I was slightly sceptical it might focus too much on the pharmaceutical approach to finding Ecstasis, which seems to have become popular amongst Silicon Valley influencers in recent years. Whilst the ‘take drugs, get high’ approach to Ecstasis is covered, the conclusion to the book uses a simple equation to put this in context regarding the time needed to achieve Ecstasis with the risks and rewards involved.
How you can find your own source of Ecstacis
The most critical point to convey is that there is a spectrum in which one can achieve Ecstasis. From the ‘hacked and extreme - activities such as avalanche skiing, to the slower more integrative approach - Eastern practices such a mediation and yoga.
In my continued research into the field, I believe there is a middle ground to achieving such states to enhance creativity and productivity on a more subtle and integrative basis.
To discover your own source Ecstacis ask yourself: When was the last time you were so absorbed in something that you forgot the time and even where you were? What activity most brings you alive?
Finding that ’livening activity’ you have uncovered your own source of Ecstatics - Perhaps for some thats running, others attending a music concert or could be simply a conversation with a friend.
Yoga is also one subtle way of igniting Ecstatcis to drive flow and creativity. Through shifting focus and attention from the day to day and onto an unrelated activity one can access layers of creative thought which otherwise might’ve been blocked. This concept underpins my classes and inspired new creatives paths almost instantaneously, it doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner- this is accessible to anyone who has a work related problem to solve.
If you have some spare time over this extended weekend I would highly recommend setting aside some time to devote to Stealing Fire.