Blog Of Valence Digital
Why You Can (Finally) Stop Doing Drugs
How to get high as a kite -- Minus the pills
Let's Be Frank
Modern Civilization Is Fueled By Drugs
Coffee in the morning to wake up, another cup in the afternoon downed with your favorite energy drink to keep going, modafinil in the evening to stay focused during those pesky night classes, and finally some Pot paired with your opiate of choice to fall asleep. Tomorrow? Rinse and repeat.
So it goes for so many of us that rely on drugs for a competitive advantage, or to take the edge of. And, boy do they work wonders. The bad news is that in the long term, a reliance on drugs can have real repercussions on our health and well-being. We all know that.
Luckily, it's possible to get high, and outperform your colleagues, all without popping a single pill. Such is the magic of the natural high: your body's way of rewarding you with the kind of bliss and creative capacity that no drug can match. So let's explore how to radically alter our biochemistry to get kickass results, while high as a kite -- minus the drugs.
One of the more exciting techniques was invented by modern daredevil Wim Hof. Hof became an internet sensation by subjecting himself to extreme conditions: hiking Everest (in shorts), completing a full marathon in the Arctic Circle (in shorts), standing immersed in ice for almost 2 hours (in shorts), and running a full marathon in the Namib Dessert without water (in, you guessed it, shorts.)
Hof's secret? Breathing. Wim subjected himself to rigorous scientific scrutiny, not only during his stunts, but also while performing the breathing technique he uses to significantly raise his core body temperature while immersed in ice. The Wim Hof Method of breathing has been scientifically proven to have profound effects on physiology; including the voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response. (Study)
It also releases the feel-good hormones in your brain that get you feeling high as a kite, but don't take my word for it. Give it a shot.
Want to get high? Just takes a few puffs -- not of smoke -- but of breath. Ecstatic breathing techniques have been used for centuries around the globe and made popular by the West's adoption of yoga.
Inhale deeply. Really draw the breath in until you feel a slight pressure from inside your chest on your solar plexus. Hold this for a moment and then exhale completely. Push the air out as much as you can. Hold this for a moment. Repeat this warm up round 15 times.
2) 30 Power Breaths
Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. The belly is pulled inward when you are breathing out and is pulled outward when you are breathing in. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times or until you feel your body is saturated with oxygen. Symptoms could include light-headedness or tingling sensations in the body.
3) The Hold
After the the 30 rapid succession of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using too much force. Then push all of the air out and hold for as long as you can. Draw the chin in a bit so as to prevent air from coming in again. Really relax and open all energy channels in your body. Notice how all the oxygen is spreading around in your body. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex on the top of your chest.
4) Recovery Breath
Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. Release any tension in the solar plexus. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath once more. Drop the chin to the chest and hold this for around 15 seconds.
(And Other Action Adventure Sports)
Turns out dropping in on a wave alters your neurochemistry. Same goes for skateboarding, snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, or any other sport that requires you complete attention be in the here and now.
These activities force you into a flow state -- a term coined by Croatian psychologist Mihai Chiksenmihi that refers to an optimal state of human consciousness that facilitates peak performance. Chiksenmihi's work focused on life satisfaction, and showed how flow often contributes more to human fulfillment than any other environmental factor, including income, age, occupation, or status.
What modern research tell us is that it can also maximize performance. In his book, The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, Stephen Kotler explains how action adventure sports that require flow are subject to exponential improvements, as compared to other sports, whose practitioners improve at a linear rate.
In other words, not only does experiencing flow make you happier, it also helps to improve performance at an exponential rate. Kohler describes the ramifications of this concept in business. In a McKinsey study, top executives reported being five times more productive in flow. That means, if you spend Monday in flow, you can take the rest of the week off and still get more done than your steady-state peers.
"While most of us spend less than 5% of our work life in flow, if that number could be nudged closer to 20%," states the McKinsey study, "overall workplace productivity would almost double."
It would be a stunning transformation, considering a recent Gallup poll found that 51% of workers aren't engaged in their work, and that 17.5% are actively disengaged.
Flow means losing yourself in the moment, a project, and a stream of focus, and action adventure sports can show you (or even force you) to get there. Coincidentally, many of these athletes (including legendary surfer Laird Hamilton) use the Wim Hof Method of breathing to facilitate peak performance.
Yoga And Meditation
Too dainty for you? Too New Agey? I thought so too. I first started doing yoga while working on my second-degree black belt and becoming an instructor at the Martial Arts center I grew up training in. All instructors had to learn it well enough to teach it.
Little did I know that it would prove to be a course in How to Get High Using Only Your Body and a Mat 101. Martial Arts have a way of releasing powerful endorphins in their own right (try not being in flow while sparring with a guy who's trying to kick your head off) but yoga has a way of doing it without causing concussions or traumatic brain injury.
I challenge you to take a full yoga class and leave not feeling a powerful natural high, more enjoyable than any drug. So, set aside the pills, and get to know your yoga mat.
No surprises here. Sex floods the pleasure centers of the brain with endorphins and oxytocin. It's the silliest looking way to get baked. Just make sure you know the difference between the kind of sex that incorporates some sense of intimacy, and the kind of which horror movies are made of.
Saunas and ice baths have long been used for their mood-enhancing benefits. But a 2007 study by Nikolai Shevchuk found that cold exposure resulted in the "dopaminergic transmission in the mesocorticolimbic and nigrostriatal pathway." In other words -- all the mind-altering neurotransmitters we love about drugs -- without the drugs! (Study)
Next time you're in the shower, turn the water as hot as you can take it and turn it towards you lower body. After a few minutes, turn the water to full cold and point it towards your head and upper body for another few minutes. Then get out, lie down if you wish, and enjoy the most instantaneous natural high you'll ever experience.