Altered States 101: The Ultimate Guide to Hack the State of Optimal Performance with Clay Moffat
What if I told you that there are other altered states of consciousness (besides the zone) that can also help us achieve optimal performance?
As crazy as it may seem, breathwork, meditation, MDMA, and psychedelics all offer altered states that can and do improve performance in certain areas of your life. Now, while Clay Moffat is a peak performance coach, and will do (almost) anything he can to help people get the edge, This is simply information to show you what’s out there and what people are doing.
MDMA and psychedelics the words might have you thinking of a EDM festival or events like Fear and loathing in Las Vegas with Hunter S. Tompson. The truth is both were routinely used in various types of therapy, and had some significant results until their respective banning by good ol’ uncle sam in 1985 and 1968. However, we’re here to talk about optimum performance, not therapy so let’s get on with it… Just so we’re clear, we’re not condoning the use of it, simply exploring what it can do. So how can they improve performance?
The benefits of MDMA and psychedelics for performance include:
Increased emotional openness: MDMA can help to lower inhibitions and increase emotional openness, which can lead to improved communication and collaboration with others. Think of barriers falling down when the ego steps aside, people put their differences away and just start to work together.
Improved creativity: MDMA has been shown to increase activity in the default mode network, which is associated with creativity and divergent thinking. Out of the box solutions to problems. This leads to paradigm breaking idea generation, admittedly, a lot of them could be quite useless, and, still a potential benefit.
Increased empathy: MDMA has been shown to increase activity in the areas of the brain associated with empathy and social bonding, which can also lead to improved teamwork and collaboration.
Now it must be noted that for performance enhancement, the drugs need to be used in small doses, or whats commonly known as micro-dosing. An amount that’s so small that you barely notice it, while it’s interacting with your nervous system, most specifically the amygdala, and the default mode network.
While some drawbacks that will be mentioned will only occur if you take a very high dose, there is another issue. Purity. Because they are obtained illegally, the chances of you getting the pure form are reduced and the dosing becomes harder to get accurate as does your reaction to what else is inside the substance. So, the drawbacks:
Both MDMA and psychedelics are illegal (for now). Schedule 1 controlled substances in the United States, so its use is strictly prohibited. Jail time, not cool. Probably want to perform at your peak in a different place…
Taking MDMA can lead to a number of negative side effects, including anxiety, depression, and even death. Can’t really perform to well when you’re 6ft under. (naturally this is for higher doses)
It’s not a magic pill: While MDMA may offer benefits for performance, it’s not a panacea and should not be relied on as a sole solution. Unlike meditation, the zone and breathwork, it is not something that you can produce by yourself, and as such, you can become dependant on the substance for the desired effect…
Psychedelics cause hallucinations and confusion. While some people may find these experiences to be positive and insightful, others may find them overwhelming and disorienting. (again, typically in higher doses depending o sensitivity).
You require something outside of yourself to perform, You are still reliant on something else, and without that aid, you lose the performance advantage.
On the other hand, the zone is an altered state that can be used to achieve peak performance and requires no external input. This means once you crack the code, it becomes repeatable, reliable and reachable. The Zone is a state of heightened focus, heightened awareness, and effortless action, it’s that continuation of time where things just seem to connect effortlessly and it’s as if you’re performing in a perfect world. There’s no problem that you cannot over come, and you respond calmly, powerfully, and compassionately.
The benefits of the zone are:
Increased productivity and performance. When in flow, people tend to be more productive and perform at a higher level than usual. This means more produced at a higher quality. Double win.
Improved mental and physical well-being. Being in flow state is associated with improved mood, reduced stress, and better overall well-being. Build better connections, more easily.
Increased creativity and problem-solving skills. Flow state is associated with heightened creativity and better problem-solving skills. Paradigm breaking powerhouse.
You own the process, and, with training and time, you can do it at will. You’re in control. (Clay Moffat’s personal favorite).
Lets get real, compared with death, anxiety attacks from bad trips, and jail, the “drawbacks” from using your own internal system for peak performance, can’t really compare, and, let’s just be fair:
Hard to achieve. Flow states can be hard to achieve and hard to maintain. (it takes effort, so do most things worthwhile).
Can be addictive. Some people may crave flow states and neglect other important aspects of their lives.
Altered states are common and are sought out by people of all backgrounds, silicon valley was most notably associated with micro-dosing LSD and psilocybin to get into peak performing states of creativity and productivity. Military commanders have invested in meditation retreats and entrepreneurs dive head first into breath work seminars to tap into altered states to improve performance, altered states are known for their powerful effects. It’s also important to consider the potential risks and drawbacks of any method you’re considering. While MDMA and psychedelics may offer certain benefits, they also come with major downsides like, having a bad trip, or getting arrested and being tossed in jail for possession of an illegal substance, even game over…
Now you might think that i havent gone into the specifics of meditation and breathworkcould and while this is true, it is because when performing either breathwork or meditation and you’re in an altered state, you’re typically not actively creating spreadsheets, art, or working, you’re fully absorbed in the practice itself. With regard to breathwork, you can absolutely perform breathwork processes while working to elevate your state however, the altered sates that breathwork produce are more like meditation and require full attention to the practice as opposed to being to make consciou progress on external tasks.
All of these pharmacolgically induced altered states are powerful, all serve a purpose and all can be used to achieve optimal performance. Whatever path you choose, “make sure that the benefits absolutely outweigh the drawbacks if you’re going to proceed”, says Clay Moffat. On the other hand, as the zone can be achieved through mental and physical practices alone, it offers long-term benefits and have minimal drawbacks. Ultimately, the best choice for continual performance improvement is the one that’s safe, legal, and sustainable.