Monday, January 17, 2011

In the Zone⎯So What’s All the Hype?

My friend Kay was telling me about the first time she finally understood what being “in the zone” meant. She had purchased a treadmill for home and faithfully climbed on for her workouts. Kay was comfortable enough with her new routine and found she really didn’t need to hold on to the handlebars. This allowed her more freedom to move. On one particular day she climbed on, warmed up and began her routine. She found herself really getting into the motion. As her cares of the day melted away, Kay began to experience a feeling she had never felt before. She became one with her treadmill. In other words, she felt as if she was the treadmill. A euphoric feeling came over her just moments before she flew off the end of her oneness. Fortunately for Kay, she did not suffer any major injuries.

She painted quite a visual image and can’t tell the story without cracking up with laughter. Of course anyone listening would laugh right along with her. I’ve experienced my own “in the zone” moments and could relate with the feeling she spoke of. I find the moment I become aware of the zone, I too am launched back to reality. This has happened many times while snow skiing. I become so entirely focused I feel I am one with my skis. But the moment I break the focus and become aware of “it” I find myself tumbling down the hill instead. I would equate being “in the zone” to a hypnotic state of being. The moment you are aware of this state, you allow intrusive thoughts and therefore lose focus. I’ve worked hard at dismissing the intrusive thoughts when I have been in the zone and not fall quite so often, but usually I am unable to get back into the hypnotic bliss I was experiencing.

Since I am working at paying more attention to whatever I am doing, I am finding I am “in the zone” (in the groove, in the flow…) more often and can extend the zone-filled feeling the more I am “in the zone.” You could say, the more you practice mindful-awareness, the better and easier it gets. The one constant for any “in the zone” moment is single-minded focus⎯I am only thinking about what I am doing then basically letting go of thought.

Even if you were unaware of it at the time, I am sure you have experienced the “zone.” You know how time flies when you are doing what you love and love what you are doing. Here are a few examples of what can give me “in the zone” moments:
  • Gardening
  • Running
  • Skiing
  • Writing
  • Teaching
  • Meditating
  • Swimming
On the other hand, I am not in the zone when I am:
  • Multitasking
  • Talking on the phone
  • Watching television
  • Surfing the net⎯ that would be called zoning-out and for me that is not “in the zone”
Just what am I learning with all this mindful-awareness:
  • Being “in the zone” is a state of consciousness I won’t experience in my daily life unless I have the focus, or awareness in the first place.
  • Being “in the zone” is happiness at its best.
  • Being “in the zone” is bringing a sense of flow to the rhythm of my day.
Kay and I enjoy sharing the ups and downs of the different paths before us and are both working on bringing more awareness into our lives. Perhaps this post would be a good starting point for you to pay more attention and find your zone. After all, you never know when you might be snapped back to reality with an unplanned flight off the end of your treadmill.

© Copyright 2011 Michelle Clark
Picture by Sasha Wolff