Understanding the Origins of Flow Research

Steven Kotler
by Flow Research Collective
August 1, 2023
Whenever you see the impossible become possible, you see a state of consciousness called "flow".
Steven Kotler

This episode is a section from one of Steven’s audiobooks, called ‘Mapping Cloud 9: Neuroscience, Flow and the upper possibility space of human experience’.

In Mapping Cloud 9 Steven goes far and wide. The overarching intention is to bridge science and spirituality to explore how our understanding of peak experiences has evolved over time.

He covers early inquiries into altered and mystical states; the birth of positive psychology and research on high performers; pioneering studies on meditation and near-death experiences; as well as current explorations of psychedelics, flow states, and technological breakthroughs.

Today, we’ve got the whole of chapter 1 of Mapping Cloud 9 as a special treat for you.  

You will learn about Friedrich Nietzsche and William James as the first peak performance philosophers. 

We will also talk about the fact that the history of flow research took a weird turn.

Hopefully, it inspires you to leverage the growing body of flow research to step into new realms of possibility.

In this episode, you will learn about:

  • Exponential growth in human performance (6:20)
  • What does it take to do the impossible (12:00)
  • What is Flow (13:13)
  • Where did Mapping Cloud 9 come from (17:45)
  • The actualization of self-actualization(28:28)
  • RAUSH (41:20)
  • Flow is ethically neutral (42:19)
  • Nietzche’s Superman (44:55)
  • Principles of physiological psychology (47:53)
  • Phenomenology (48:27)
  • Sweet spot for attention (50:17)
  • The science spiritually (51:29)
  • The first study of near-death experience (56:05)
  • William James and the timing of now (57:57)
  • The foundation of the modern science of high performance (1:02:10)


Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning journalist. As the Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective, he is one of the world’s leading experts on high performance.

Steven’s work has been translated into over 40 languages and appeared in over 100 publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Wired and TIME. 

He also appears frequently on television and radio, and lectures widely on human performance, disruptive technology and radical innovation.


Like this episode?

Subscribe to us on iTunes and Spotify.

Watch more episodes

Peak Performance In Your Inbox

Pop in your details and we’ll send you 10 peak performance tips to help you spend more time in flow immediately.

Thank you! You've successfully signed up!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.