The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How To Achieve Natural Highs

"Flow" state is the most sought-after athletic experience, and probably the highest common state of consciousness before we tiptoe into genuinely esoteric realms. Any physical activity sufficiently intense to require real attention, but graduated enough to continue for fifteen minutes can teach you how to enter this state: walking, swimming, rowing, yoga, jogging, whatever. Here's how you can do it:

Rate pain on a scale of 1-10, ten being the worst pain you've ever experienced.

Rate technique on a scale of 1-10, ten being absolutely perfect form.

Rate exertion on a scale of 1-10, ten being the most extreme exertion you have ever known.

Now: NEVER let your pain go above a 3. And work to keep your technique above an 8. IF you can keep pain below a three, and technique above an "eight" then and only then take your exertion above a 6. Hover the exertion around a 5-6. So long as your breathing is smooth and even, you are probably all right. Stay with the breath. If you do this, you will enter "Flow" state somewhere around the 13-17 minute mark. No commonly experienced "natural high" is its equal.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


Pagan Topologist said...

In the 1970's and 1980's, when I was running 35 miles a week, I regularly got what was called the runners high. I cannot run much anymore because of joint pain (knees) and I have not found anything else that works for me in this regard.

From where I sit, the runners high is different from the flow state. I can get into a flow state in a variety of ways, but none of them creates the euphoria of long slow distance running.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I've hurt myself (pain, probably connective tissue which took 4-8 weeks to heal) while keeping the pain level well below 3.

One of my friends says that the pain from damaging connective tissue has a very specific quality, and even slight pain can lead to trouble if it's repeated enough times. As might be expected, this is the kind of thing you can only find out the hard way.

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"I cannot run much anymore because of joint pain (knees)..:

I'd be very interested in techniques to compensate for such pain, or, better still, to repair whatever damage it signifies. I've done some running previously and would love to again. Apart from the indescribable exhilaration Pagan speaks of, such intense cardio is excellent for weight loss. I'd love to combine regular running and hiking with my intensive weight regimen to achieve my desired fitness goals. However, I too suffer from knee pain and stiffness that typical sets in the day after a strenuous hike or gym session. However, as long as I'm standing, I won't give up! The exhilarating yet sublime highs I've gotten from running and grueling weight-lighting are well worth the risk.

Pagan Topologist said...

Ethiopian Infidel, I have not tried weightlifting. Maybe I will see how it works. Thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, here's the thing about knee pain with running; there's just so many things it could be.

I've seen people fix knees with nothing more than taking Glucosamine/Chondrotin and having a very gradual progression. I've seen people fix knees by working on stride mechanics. I've seen people need orthotics and once thier foot is leveled the knee pain goes away. And I've seen people permenetly hurt themselves by trying to work through pain.

If you want to overcome the knee pain it can be done but I recommend finding somebody who can evaluate exactly what you have going on.

Steven Barnes said...

Nancy--was the pain level below a three the entire time? Or until you injured something? Did it only start hurting worse than that later? What was the activity? Were you maintaining good form? What do you think your mistake was? Lotsa questions...

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it