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Get Into Your Creative Flow

Lesson 30 of 32

The Recovery Phase

Steven Kotler

Get Into Your Creative Flow

Steven Kotler

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Lesson Info

30. The Recovery Phase

Lesson Info

The Recovery Phase

We are at our last module. We are at the end of the day where you have made it. This is the recovery stage. On the back end of a flow cycle. At the end of flow you have burned through a lot neurochemistry. You've used up a lot of energy. On the back end of flow there is a built in recovery phase. There is a built in phase. This is where you get, tend to have a lot of serotonin still in your system so it tends to be a very calm, peaceful period. A couple things that are really critical about being in a recovery. When you're in recovery, most of the learning in flow doesn't take place in any other stage in the cycle. It actually takes place in recovery. You need deep delta wave sleep. When you sleep, your brain goes into delta. It's the slowest of the brain waves. It's when memories get consolidated. So you're doing your learning in your recovery phase. A lot of time people skip over recovery. This is really, really common. It's also really common with creatives who wanna get on to the n...

ext thing sometimes, right? So they won't give themselves time to recover. We see this all the time in work environments, right? You'll see in sales, for example, teams will get into flow states and they'll do fantastic things. They'll beat their quotas by 10%, 20%. On the back end, the boss comes and goes oh, that was fantastic. You kicked ass. That was great. Do it again. We're gonna cut your territory in half and we're gonna double your quotas. There's no recovery phase and suddenly the challenge skills balance has been tilted totally out of whack. If that's happening to you or if you're doing it to employees if you're running a company, you wanna change that. You need recovery on the back end of a flow state. As I said, sunlight, certain nutrition. You have to replenish the system and active recovery works better. So these six items are absolutely fundamentally critical for recovery and we'll go into them in a second. First thing I wanna tell you is this isn't always the case but it is sometimes the case. Flow is a huge high. It's a lot of feel good neurochemistry. On the back end, the recovery phase, you've burnt through a lot of that feel good neurochemistry so the recovery phase does not often feel good, right? First of all, you're very emotionally fragile when you're in recovery cause you don't have a lot of reserves. You've used a lot of energy. When your body has used a lot of energy, when you've depleted energy, right? Minor, minor, minor irritations can become huge fears really quickly cause you don't have enough energy so your body's in panic mode. It takes in that little bit of information, goes oh crap, I don't have enough energy right now to defend against it and it turns into a huge problem when it's a really small problem. That's very, very common. So one of the things that is non-negotiable for recovery is you gotta protect your schedule. You have to have built in recovery phases. There's no way around it. The easiest way to lock yourself out of flow for good is to not recover. To try to go from one flow state straight into the next. Right? This is also a problem we see a lot, flow's a really, really big high. A lot of people, once they get really, really high they don't like coming down. Right? So they wanna change to that next flow state as quickly as possible cause you're kind of greedy for it. You have to slow it down. You have to recover. You have to go slow to go fast. Sleep hygiene. We do not get enough sleep at all. Most of us, there are occasional exceptions, but most of us need seven to eight hours a night of sleep and it's nonnegotiable. If you really want to get good at flow, you need to sleep a lot. These are really high energy states. So if you're not interested in maximizing flow in your life and you just wanna sorta grind through your life, go ahead, don't sleep. But if you really wanna maximize flow you're gonna have to find a way to sleep seven to eight hours a night as much as you can. Best sleeping conditions, absolute pitch black. Keep your phones, keep any screens out of the bedroom completely. The light they emit really screws with our sleep patterns. Want it cold and you wanna get as close to eight hours as you possibly can. If you've never downloaded a sleep app, there's a lot of 'em at this point, monitor your sleep cause even people who think they're sleeping six, seven, eight hours a night put themselves on a sleep monitor, what you're gonna find is that we all wake up all night long on and off, on and off, on and off. You monitor your sleep you find you're probably getting six to seven hours of sleep. You're probably getting an hour less sleep than you think you're getting. So put yourself on a sleep monitor. Figure out how much sleep you're getting. The apps are really cheap at this point. Active recovery is really, really key. If you really, really want to kind of advance your flow cause it's just not enough to get sleep. You wanna do things like saunas, salt baths, massages. I personally have an infrared sauna in my house and I'm a huge fan of it. So at the end of my day, every day, I go into an infrared sauna for about 40 minutes. I spend 25 minutes reading and 25 minutes doing my breathing exercises. So I load my pattern recognition system, right? And I go through my breathing exercise while I'm in the sauna. So I'm maximizing my time. I'm putting it all together. Really, really, really, incredibly useful. Active recovery. Hydration. For every 1% we are dehydrated, cognition decreases by 5%. When you are at 2% dehydration, you are already losing your ability to focus completely. Your short term memory is going and you're gonna have difficulty doing things like solving math problems. So some of your logic rational ability will decrease. Hydration like mad. You also sweat a lot when we sleep. Most of us lose about 200 milliliters of water just when we sleep. So what we recommend, drink a glass of water before you go to sleep at night. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and hydrate all day long, especially if you're like me and you're pounding coffee. For every cup of coffee you drink drink two to three cups of water. Massive quantities of water. Yoga. First of all, as far as a deep embodiment exercise goes, low grade physical activity, I don't know of anything that is better than yoga for linking up the embodied cognition, for putting all of our neural networks together so they are functioning fluidly. Yoga, Pilates, Qi gong, these things they're build to rewire you. Most importantly, we sit all day long and they're saying sitting is the new smoking. I actually think it's worse than smoking but I'm biased. By the way, twist and detox, if you get online and you just type in yoga twist and detox it is a 20 minute program. It's the minimum yoga program I use. It's mostly built to stretch out your back. So I tend to do twist and detox and then five minutes of lower leg stretches. I try to do that at least three times a week if not more but you have to, otherwise your back is gonna start locking up and you're gonna end up with pain problems that are just gonna screw up your ability to make a living. Right? You have to treat your body a little bit like you're an athlete. Long haul creativity, being creative over the course of a career, you gotta take care of yourself. Trust me when I tell you that when you really get sick or broken or fucked up it's going to hamper your ability to do your job. This I know. This I've experienced firsthand. You really wanna take care of yourself. Lastly, in recovery, don't take your emotions so seriously. As I said, you're depleted. Everything is going to seem magnified. You have to just not take yourself so seriously. What I like to tell people here is the hangover rule usually applies, right? Anybody who's been drunk more than two or three times. When I'm hungover, I'm dumb, I'm stupid, I'm fat, I'm ugly, I'm a failure, I'm all those things. But I've been hungover a couple of times in my life as it turns out and I learn by the third time that I don't care that I'm dumb, stupid, ugly, fat, or all those other things. Today I'm gonna watch football cause I'm hungover and I'll deal with all that shit tomorrow, right? Same thing when you're in recovery with flow. Problems may start coming up. You may start thinking about it. Can't defend against it in recovery. You're not wired for it. Put it off. I will deal with these emotional problems when I'm recovered, when I'm back in struggle. That's when you're meant to process it. The other thing is, think about this. If we have to move from recovery into struggle, if we turn recovery itself into a struggle phase cause we're processing emotions that we shouldn't be processing at that time, there is no possible way to get ready for the serious challenge that is struggle. You're gonna get stuck right there and you're never gonna be able to move through the struggle phase and you're gonna lock yourself out of flow and you can do that for months at a time. Alright, the last stage of the creative cycle was verification. There is opportunity inside of recovery. You have no more feel good neurochemicals. It is a very, very, very good time to fact check your work cause you are under no illusions. I tend to read my stuff and kinda do edits on my stuff in recovery. I don't really go into it. I'm just sorta like taking notes on what I wanna do when I get back into struggle. But there's no more feel good neurochemistry. I cannot lie to myself. There's nothing there that is gonna make me like my own writing at all. It's all gone. If I happen to like what I've written when I'm in recovery, I know it's solid. I know it's good cause there's nothing inside me, feel good neurochemistry. I can't lie to myself in recovery. It's a really good time to fact check your work. Use the recovery phase just like you can use the release phase. Use the recovery phase.

Class Description

Do you want to learn more about flow? Take the Free Flow Profile to find out if you are a Deep Thinker, Crowd Pleaser, Hard Charger, or Flow Goer.

If creativity is already core to your life, then this program is perfect for you. This could mean you’re a copywriter at an ad agency, a scientist hunting a breakthrough, a coder designing software, an entrepreneur dreaming up your next start-up, a writer aching to finish that novel or a landscape painter trapped in the life of an accountant — all that matters is that generating novel ideas (and putting those ideas out in the world in some form or another) is core to your life and purpose.

Why Does “Flow for Creatives” even matter?

  • You keep losing the battle to be innovative in the rush to be productive.

  • You have writer’s block or coder’s block or painter’s block and the thing you used to love most in your life has become a source of pain and frustration.

  • You have trouble managing your emotions and fear keeps getting in the way of your good ideas.

  • You have trouble sustaining momentum on projects and tend to quit early rather than to finish what you started.

  • You have no idea how to gain access to groundbreaking insights and ideas when you need them most.

  • You don’t actually believe creativity is trainable.

  • You’re numbing yourself with substances and placating yourself with distractions as a way to ignore the fact that you’re not living up to your creative potential.

  • You get lost in the fixing to get ready phase, and never get down to business.

  • You keep bashing into creative walls but never breaking thru.

  • Your emotions keeping getting in the way of your desired outcomes. Fear of failure keeps you from committing to projects; perfectionism keeps you from making your work public.

Flow For Creatives can help.

It’s like an inspiration turbo-boost training program. It’s practical, experiential and experimental. You learn a new idea about Flow and Creativity, apply it to whatever problem you’re trying to solve, see what happens, then make it your own.

And, did you know…

  • When in Flow, your creative problem-solving abilities can spike by over 400 percent.

  • Research done at Harvard shows that the heightened creativity produced by Flow can outlast the state by a day, sometimes two—suggesting that Flow actually trains the brain to think more creatively over the long haul.

  • Creatives are more prone to depression than most people, but an understanding of the process can protect against this liability.

  • Creativity tops the list of 21st-century skills—meaning those skills that are essential for thriving in the modern world—yet 75 percent of people think they’re not living up to their creative potential.

  • The baseline brainwave state produced by Flow is also the ready condition for “Ah-ha” insight, meaning being in the zone makes you primed for breakthrough insight.

  • Fear blocks creativity, while Flow resets the nervous system, calming us down so we can avoid burnout and gain access to much-needed insight.

  • Unless you know how to train the brain properly, most people tap into their deepest creative potential at age 5.

  • Frustration is actually a built-in component of the creative process—it’s a sign that you’re moving in the right direction not a sign that you’re going about it all wrong.

Life is better than ever and we are feeling worse than evener. We are neurotic, stressed, unmotivated and it’s literally killing us. This class is for anyone that is serious about staying in their highest performing state.

*Warning: this instructor occasionally uses strong language. Viewer discretion advised*


Jeremy Richardson

I've watched and participated in many webinars and online classes, and this was by far one of the best. The depth and breadth of information that Steven covers in this class is not only really important, but he structures it in a way that is engaging and most importantly: PRACTICAL. I'm coming out of this with a clear list of ways to improve my ability to get into Flow while accomplishing all of my creative endeavors. I highly recommend this to anyone who would like to do the same!


This is amazing. Steven is hitting so many pain point for me about reframing my fear. He is also an amazing presenter. Thank you, Steven! I am excited, I am excited, I am excited!

Isaac Freed

Utterly mind blowing. Wow. A few hours listening to Steven Kotler felt more like a few days. He has done his research, and offers so much practical application advice that I will review this material several times. Well worth it, and highly recommended. Thank you, Creative Live!