Sat, Oct 9, 2010
I used to think of the ‘Zone’ as something that only related to sports or games. I started noticing when I played tennis or pool that there were occasional games when I could not make a bad shot, and my oponents were left gasping for air as limitless energy poured through me, and an intensity of focus came over me. Of course, it was not the case every game and there certainly were many more times when much the opposite happened.
I found that I wanted to study what elements were present when I was in this zone state, and I started to research. I came across a couple of incredible books – The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey and Golf in the Zone by Jim Fannin. Both of these books were written by individuals who had not only coached such players as Alex Rodriguez to fame and fortune, but had assisted in getting these incredible champions to their pinnacle performances by making a study of how to cultivate a zone state.
Jim Fannin, who personally coached Rodriguez from a barely known player with a less than average record to the Hall of Fame, created a formula based on his experience called S.C.O.R.E.
It stands for Self-Discipline, Concentration, Optimism, Relaxation and Enjoyment.
The idea behind his score system is that all of the 5 factors have to be in place in order to achieve this zone. If you are having difficulties getting into the flow state, go through each element of the formula and see which area is blocking you. Over time, it tends to be the same area that people struggle with.
A friend of mine whom I met through Jim Fannin, who coached me for a time, was a full time PGA golfer. One day he told me that his areas of weakness were time and again, Relaxation and Enjoyment. He laughed with surprise when I told him that these were my strongest areas and that Self-Discipline was what tended to do me in, which to him came naturally.
We all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to this formula. The key for me to practice getting and maintaining this state is to apply the formula by focusing first on Self-Discipline, which leads to Concentration; Optimism, Relaxation and Enjoyment flow naturally from there.
What has really been exciting for me in the past few years has been learning to apply the Zone state to my professional career and even my personal life. This has brought me to the writings and teachings of Esther and Jerry Hicks who call the Zone “the Vortex.”
Their philosophy is that being in the flow state is not just for special occasions, but is and can be cultivated as a day to day state. They also define it as an emotional state brought on by focus. The way to get in this state is by identifying how you feel and your emotional state, and deliberately moving up to good-feeling emotions through various “processes”. They use an “Emotional Guidance System” which can be used to figure out where you are on the scale. Here is a summary of the scale:
1. Joy/ Knowledge/ Empowerment/ Love/ Freedom/ Appreciation
4. Positive Belief/ Expectation
10. Frustration/ Irritation/ Impatience
11. Being Overwhelmed
16. Resentment/ Discouragement
19. Hatred/ Rage
21. Insecurity/ Guilt/ Unworthiness
22. Fear/ Grief/ Depression/ Despair/ Powerlessness
*Source: “Ask and It Is Given by Abraham-Hicks p. 114
Depending on where you are on the scale, you can “move up” gradually. When you get in the vicinity of Hope or Contenment, you are on your way into the Vortex.
Some of the processes for moving into the zone involve goal setting and visualizing and can be very effective. I use several of the processes on a daily basis, usually first thing in the morning to set the tone for the day, or any time I can sense that I am off course.
It is also recommended to get in a good state before going to sleep, where there is no resistance, rather than escaping into sleep. This way you wake up feeling good about your day.
All of these teachings are equally exciting to me and are ways that we can utilize our minds to capture the best of ourselves and evolve to a species that is high-functioning, successful and feeling good more of the time. These inner practices have the added benefit of leading us to be self-dependent, rather than dependent on external sources for our sense of well-being.