Jason Silva’s new podcast has California roots
‘Flow Sessions’ host says cannabis and the Bay Area are two crucial components of his new series
Looking for modern-day guides to the cosmic unknown is a tough business.
While previous options were limited to those who were willing to risk everything in advocacy for psychedelics and mind expansion—pioneers such as Timothy Leary and the recently departed Ram Dass—today there is a staggering chorus of voices.
Jason Silva’s “Flow Sessions” podcast, however, seeks to be a cut above the rest by featuring marquee guests, fascinating conversations and a focus that is both specific and flexible enough to encompass dialogue about everything from microdosing to the neurophysiology of human performance. Silva’s series is concerned with this latter concept, also known as flow.
At its most basic, the concept is a state of immersion in a given activity. If you’re a runner, you may feel flow at the peak of a marathon. Jazz musicians are also often cited, with improvised notes ebbing and flowing between instruments to create a greater sound.
Over the course of six episodes, Silva sat down with major figures including flow expert Steven Kotler and acclaimed author Michael Pollan to approach the topic from myriad angles. Available in audio as well video, the show’s first season premiered Nov. 5 with its final episode on Dec. 31.
A native of Venezuela, Silva attended the University of Miami before landing a role in 2005 as a presenter and producer on Al Gore’s Current TV network. In 2013, he became one of the hosts for the National Geographic Channel show Brain Games. His television gig anchored him to Los Angeles until 2016, but since then, he says his true home has been the road, thanks to a number of speaking engagements that keep him traveling constantly.
“I’m truly very nomadic,” Silva told SN&R. “I’m speaking all over the world and giving keynote speeches all over the planet. I speak on the subject of technology and innovation and creativity and out-of-the-box thinking and emerging tech disruption.”
When reached by phone in December, Silva was in Amsterdam enjoying a few days off following a summit on conscious technology in Egypt, an education summit in Qatar and an event in Brazil on the future of finance.
Despite his hectic travels, Silva still finds plenty of time to return to Northern California. If he isn’t taping his show, he’s visiting his brother-in-law’s operation in the Emerald Triangle or spending time with his girlfriend, who lives north of San Francisco.
“California is like a second home,” he said, which is fortunate, because “Flow Sessions” has relied heavily on the prevalence of quality thinkers in the Bay Area to fill out its guest list.
Silva also speaks of a “California ideology” that he believes is essential to the nature of the conversations highlighted in “Flow Sessions.”
“The California ideology is the intersectionality of the counterculture and the cyberculture,” Silva said. “In contemporary history, the concept can be traced back to when Silicon Valley began with all these technologists and engineers who were turned on by psychedelics.”
Though cannabis is not an explicit theme of the series, it’s no surprise that the subject makes its way into every chat.
For one, Silva is a big proponent of responsible cannabis use to achieve flow. For another, Silva’s brother-in-law is Michael Steinmetz, founder and CEO of the craft cannabis farmer distribution brand Flow Kana, podcast’s official presenter.
Conceived as an unstructured dialogue between Silva and his guests, the series digs deep on cosmic questions while still managing to remain lively. Speaking with Rick Doblin (executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and Kevin Kelly (co-founder of Wired magazine), Silva doesn’t simply seek to reaffirm his own beliefs, but instead to expand his understanding, along with his listeners.
The role of cannabis in these conversations varies with each episode, but one clear constant is that Silva sees pot as a tool to be employed for introspection—not simply a leafy substitute for boredom. That’s why, according to Silva, it made sense to bring Flow Kana on as a presenting partner.
“The podcast is not specifically about cannabis,” he said, “but I wanted to create an association so that people would see that conversations at this level are being brought into the culture by Jason Silva and by a cannabis company.”
“Flow Sessions” is Silva’s own attempt to alter the doors of perception—in this case that cannabis has no place in serious intellectual discourse.
“We’re trying to change the association people have with cannabis in their hearts and minds,” Silva said. “During reefer madness, cannabis was associated with stoner humor and eating Doritos and watching TV all day. I want people to watch this podcast, and then think, ’Oh my god, OK, cannabis is associated with this kind of discourse.’”