Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, creates the same type of brain activity as experienced during flow.
The same phrases and concepts are repeated when experts describe what it feels like to be at the top of their game:
- Intense focus
- Stopped or slowed time
- Effortless concentration
- Loss of oneself in the activity
- Intrinsic, rewarding feelings
Multiple interviewees describe their experience during “flow” using the metaphor of water carrying them along … Former UFC champ Lyoto Machida talks about using meditation to attain mushin, a martial arts concept that, by his description, is in all respects the same as flow.
What is actually happening?
At Advanced Brain Monitoring in Carlsbad, California, Chris Berka and her colleagues looked at the brain waves of Olympic archers and professional golfers. A surge in alpha waves, Berka says, “represents focused attention on the target” and is always more obvious in experts than in novices.
Focusing on flow brain activity improves flow (positive feedback loop) too. Berka had novice golfers monitor their brain activity on a readout; they managed to produce the alpha waves characteristic of the flow state. The time it took to shoot like a pro fell by more than half!(The International Journal of Sport and Society, vol 1, p 87)
How can I activate the alpha band?
More research found another interesting study, one that recorded significantly greater alpha effects when after taking theanine (The deployment of intersensory selective attention…). What’s especially interesting is that earlier studies showed this effect in resting individuals, but this is the first showing the effect during a complicated activity. Maybe even a complicated activity like jiu-jitsu! This is why green tea extract or l-theanine supplementation can be a key component on the quest for Flow.