Which physical activities are most conducive to flow?

As I’ve argued before, an important commonality between meditation and flow is that both experiences involve in reduction of activity in our explicit reasoning system and an enhanced sense of integration (i.e. TIES). One can practice meditation for an hour or two a day, but what about the remaining 14-15 wakeful hours? What is the most meaningful way to spend the rest of our time? How can we increase the likelihood that we will experience TIES?

With these questions swirling in my mind, I sent an email to renown sports writer Steven Kotler,

On Apr 11, 2016, at 1:58 PM, Joshua N Pritikin wrote:

Are you aware of whether there are data about the relative conductivity of particular sports to flow triggers?

For example, tai chi is going to have a lot less immediate feedback than jiu jitsu.

On Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 04:40:54PM -0700, Steven Kotler wrote:

Hi Joshua-it doesn’t seem to work like that. A big part of which flow triggers we’re susceptible to is genetic. Different people respond to different triggers differently as a result. So this stuff is very individual.

I was surprised by Kotler’s answer. Perhaps he is correct, but I am skeptical. I concede that personal preference likely makes some contribution, but I bet there are also structural facets of physical activities that make them more or less conducive to flow.

To settle the question, my colleagues and I devised a survey. Our hypothesis is that the data will show that physical activities have different conductivity to flow. The null hypothesis is that all variation can be accounted for by personal preference. Here are some questions that we expect our data will be able to answer: Is basketball or baseball more conducive to flow and by how much? Is the difference bigger or smaller than the difference between miniature golf and badminton?

Please participate!