WHAT IS BIOHACKING?
As much as technology seems to be obfuscating and complicating our lives these days, it is helping even more to come clear. This holds true in cosmology, geopolitics, community, business, and, more than anywhere else, in the realm of personal health.
The vast reams of data that are suddenly available to us are being used to synthesize the mindset of traditional wellness with advanced information sciences into a new, syncretic philosophy that is known as Biohacking.
Its adherents come in all ages and from all backgrounds, and pursue their optimum for different ends, but they hold in common the belief that through diligence, data, and an open mind, the human mind and body are capable of far more than most of us think possible.
We are living in the dawn of the age of the Optimal Self.
HACKING OUR FREQUENCY
Anyone who has felt the difference after downing a quality double espresso cannot deny the reality that much of our conscious experience is determined by chemical processes. The same goes for feeling moved by a piece of music — whether pumped up to the sound of throbbing house music, or brought soothed by the sounds of the West African kora, the psychosomatic experience of sound has the power to thoroughly alter our state. By modulating the inputs to our biology, we can substantially change the frequency of the outputs.
Biohackers argue that the conscious experimentation in these fields can result in greater concentration, stamina, strength, memory, and, in time, higher overall wellness. When you combine the intentional manipulation of all of the sense doors — light, sound, smell, texture, taste, nutrition, and extending even to activity, thought, and outlook — is when you begin to truly ‘hack’ your own biology.
Recent advances in neuroimaging and performance tracking have established that the brain has several distinct modes of operation. The ideal state for decision-making, creativity, and responsiveness has come to be called ‘flow.’ In flow, Steve Kotler writes, “concentration becomes so laser-focused that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Our sense of self and our sense of self consciousness completely disappear. Time dilates—meaning it slows down (like the freeze frame of a car crash) or speeds up (and five hours pass by in five minutes). And throughout, all aspects of performance are incredibly heightened—and that includes creative performance.”
Biohackers train to access this state on demand by practicing meditation, breathwork, high-intensity training regimens, and by utilizing novel technologies that enable them to modulate their brainwaves with no effort on their end at all.
LIGHT AND SOUND
Twp of the most promising techniques to uplevel your daily flow are surprisingly simple.
Light therapy involves returning to a norm that was held through all time until the past century or so of electric lights: sunlight in the daytime, and true darkness at night.
By investing in a sunlamp, those of us who work indoors can simulate the biological effects of sunlight, which have been shown to boost mood, metabolism, and overall energy levels. And by wearing a true blackout eye mask to sleep — such as the Mindfold or Alaska Bear — even in the bright, beeping cities, your eyes are able to get the true darkness that they crave, creating a more restorative sleep and a healthier waking.
Similar qualities are attributed to binaural beats, a kind of frequency that, its adherents claim, possesses the same state-changing quality as light. Depending on the pitch, the note, and the megahertz frequency of the sound, they can shift your mindset towards rest, neutrality, or excitation.
Now that devices like the FitBit are mainstream, and even our cell phones are able to track our activity, it is easier than ever to understand deficiencies in our daily routines and what steps we might take to improve on them.
Biohackers have taken this measurement a step further. By carefully through putting their caloric intake, rest, exercise, projects, and goals into a customized algorithm, members of the quantified self movement are taking the inherent efficiency of digital systems to their everyday lives, and maximizing the time and energy that they are able to channel into whatever passion it is that motivates them. The EmWave2, developed by the HeartMath Institute, is a very interesting device that is able to measure brain waves – allowing us to convenient check in on our state of being before making important decisions.
TOWARDS MORE JOY
Biohacking must be considered in the context of larger movement towards merging the natural and the synthetic. When taken to extremes, there is something very dark about wanting to become more like a machine. But if we keep our true wellness in mind — greater joy, greater gratitude, lower stress, — the tools that this burgeoning movement is making available can be some of our best allies.