On Love, Drugs and other lies about enhancing performance.

The very act of micro-dosing is a biological lie that the body is told to believe in.

We live in a culture where the bar is constantly being raised. A culture that is constantly in competition even against itself to beat their own personal best. This performance addiction is fairly common in high achievers and I have often been guilty of falling into this trap.

But sooner or later, the great abyss arrives – the burnout, the overwhelm and confusion. So much of our internal performance is compromised at the expense of external gain. It is no wonder that we depend on stimulants to keep going. What we think is high performance is a chemical dump of short latency neurotransmitters. For example, caffeine on-average has a half life of 5 hours. In this time, caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain which are normally responsible for making us tired.

Tiredness is a natural response of the body to drop into the parasympathetic state to rest and recover. When we prevent this process from occurring we are neurochemically in a cognitive deficit – a deficit that we “fix” by taking more stimulants. It does not matter if it’s bulletproof coffee, cocaine, micro-dosing LSD or an emotional hit to maintain the addiction to drama, performance or pain.  Don’t be fooled by the so called health benefits of substances that alter the natural balance of the nervous system. The truth is, neurotransmitters are short latency and depend on inherently addictive behaviour to maintain a volatile neurochemical balance with inevitable side effects.

The side effects of a nervous system on overdrive includes:

1. Anxiety from repeated stimulation of the sympathetic fight or flight response and the strategic avoidance of the parasympathetic state preventing the nervous system to restore balance. The dependence on an inefficient survival mechanism is far from what I consider – High Performance.

2. Insomnia due to the altered rhythm of the heart. When we sleep our body naturally descends into deeper states of rest and repair. It is natural for the heart rate of fall below 50 bpm during deep sleep. When this fails to happen, not only are we deprived of the restorative benefits of sleep but we are prone to more sleep disturbances – an accelerated heart rate results in 4am panic attacks and infrequent states of deep sleep.

If your solution to this is sleeping pills and more stimulants to keep going, then I’m afraid to say that this will only perpetuate the neurochemcial imbalance. The following image show my average monthly heart rate, which is consistently below 50bpm regardless of my workload, commitments and responsibilities. I don’t have a morning alarm, instead I have a sleep alarm that goes off based on my activity and recovery index provided by the Oura ring. Everything in my apartment from the lighting to my bed design is optimised for sleep performance.

3. High blood pressure and respiratory dysfunction go hand in hand. Shallow breathing induces an accelerated heart rate and is an unnatural response without an actual threat or physical activity. The accelerated heart rate is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and a myriad of metabolic dysfunctions such as chronic fatigue, digestive problems and challenges in building lean muscle mass.

If what you call high performance conflicts with the natural rhythm of the body, then it is far from it!

I make a clear distinction between high performance and high functioning. Whereas high performance is dependent on neurotransmitters, high functioning is an internal state generated by neuromodulators. Neuromodulators are long latency neurochemicals that accumulate from balancing the nervous system. The parasympathetic state induces self-regeneration through the human growth hormone (HGH) secreted by the pituitary gland. Brain performance is naturally boosted by Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which strengthens neural pathways and accelerates learning. However, contrary to popular belief, high performance has little to do with boosting brain activity which prevents your ability to listen to the body in the first place. Instead, the optimal state for performance is nothing less than love!

The very act of micro-dosing is a biological lie!

Love cannot be instantly manufactured with a dose of stimulants, MDMA or plant medicine. This is simply substituting one substance addiction for another. Love was never a drug. Love has to be nurtured like a fire that grows stronger. Love is an internally generated state driven by neuromodulation and oxytocin. Oxytocin naturally breaks the barriers that separates us, such as competition, comparison and performance addiction. When we are no longer trying to escape, our attention is restored to this moment and we connect with our bodies and listen to our heart.

There are countless flow on benefits of love. Here I will highlight three:

1. Your heart is responsive to this moment and this is know as Heart Rate Variability (HRV). When we listen to the heart, we are able to work with the precision of the moment rather than relentlessly hustle. The naturally rhythm of the heart informs us when to rest resulting in greater clarity. This clarity is precisely what works best in moments of complexity, chaos and ambiguity because we are not making a tunnel vision decision from a state of restlessness and panic, instead we see things clearly, have all the time in the world to consider all possibilities and are not manipulated by our own insecurities.

2. High HRV is highly adaptive. There is a common misconception that it is healthy to maintain the parasympathetic state. Having low arousal can numb you to existence. High HRV allows us to rapidly accelerate into burst activity and decelerate to the parasympathetic baseline just as quickly. To be clear, stress is not unhealthy. It is unhealthy to avoid stress. Our nervous system thrives on stress, whether it is progressive overload to build muscle or constant challenges to stimulate learning and growth. A strategic, slow exposure or stress inoculation builds the capacity of the nervous system to release stress in real-time. No mediation or stress management required!

3. Best of all, a balanced nervous system is self-replenishing. The compounding effects of a high functioning, adaptive and agile nervous system means you are well-recovered, adaptable to setbacks and responsive to change. This natural state of love is the prerequisite for Precognition.

When we normalise chaos, we do anything to maintain it.

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