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Stalking The Elusive Zone - 07-23-2019, 02:03 PM

The first books I researched on the Zone were the Inner Game of Tennis and The Psychic Side of Sport. The first taught a kind of non-judgmental detachment while the second gave a shopping list of zone phenomena reported by athletes after zone experiences. After then going on to the Eastern disciplines of yoga, martial arts and zen, a more complete picture started to emerge. Early brain research was revealing that linear thought, like language was a left brain function, while the right brain was more the physical, emotional and non-linear creative side. Gallwey’s Inner Tennis revealed how the left can interfere with the right side’s learning and execution. Blakeslee’s book on The Right Brain suggested using a cross brain activity like humming a song to distract and occupy the left brain while engaging the right. But mental states emerged as a central theme in all these areas.

Herrigel, in his book, Zen in the Art of Archery wrote
"(...) The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull's-eye which confronts him. This state of unconscious is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art (...)" Wikipedia

That selflessness, the quiet left brain, and disassociated awareness were like descriptions found in Murphy’s Psychic Side of Sports book.

Two students, a psychology major and a linguistics major, videotaped the world’s leading medical hypnotist. Their research revealed two different language models. One was used to elicit specific sensory descriptions from subjects while the second was a more general language and metaphors, used to trigger inner resources, inherent in each of us.

The first became the basis for learning how experts organized their experience and executed their skills. By modeling expertise they were able to transfer skills from experts to non-experts by replicating their body experience. In recent years brain research has revealed that thought is embodied. The body is telling it about what it’s experiencing and the brain is encoding it in the language of thought, word descriptions and physiological cluster responses we call emotions. But what about trance states?

A hypnotherapist, Stephen Wolinsky, Trances People Live, made an interesting discovery. Due to the nature of his work he needed to learn how to become attuned to when his clients enter a trance. A patient arrived one day and before he even started he noted the client was exhibiting trance behavior already. Subsequent clients revealed that each person exhibited some trance signs. Suddenly a light went on. People function on a regular basis by entering trances and transitioning between them. People that had issues with certain states, phobias, compulsive disorders, etc. had gotten stuck in a trance state. His practice was turned on its head. Instead of trying to help people by putting them in a trance state and rearranging their mental living room, he needed to help them get out of a dysfunctional trance.

Stepping back from all this and examining it from the standpoint of the body talking to the mind, embodied cognition, the idea that a mental state is the solution to performance seems unlikely. In 1986, Leslie Cameron-Bandler and Michael Lebeau wrote a book, The Emotional Hostage. In their research they discovered part of that communication link coming from the body, emotions. A neat package of physiological and chronological situational information arrives and is processed by "head"quarters. They isolated that the message had a "functional intent". If you got mad because you were cut off in traffic, your immediate reaction was in the present and told you that your expectations of behavior, in the situation, had been violated. It also included a proposed (reactive), course of action. Luckily this is the moment we can decide not to act on that impulse. (Hands off the oozie). It turns out we have free "won’t", not free will.

Now to the main topic, the zone. The thinking that we need to get into the right mindset needs reminding of Wolinsky’s discovery. We need to get out of those mindset trances, a quiet mind is needed. Give up control and trust. The synergy of mind and body is for the mind to help with the decision making and the body to do the rest. Activation level in athletes has long been considered a key indicator of peak performance dynamics. Instead of a mindset, we need a "soma"set. This is a getting in touch scenario, literally.

Anxiety creates those mental bundles, along with word interpretations and works against a quiet mind. That inner dialogue takes attentional focus inside rather than outside where it needs to be to perform. The brain can helps us by directing focus. It can also choose the time frame, get out of the present into an anticipatory mode transitioning focus to a future positive outcome. What sound will the balls make as they enter the pocket? How does that fit into a pocketing pattern? Ask questions of yourself that activate the creative right brain side. Control your activation level by controlling your perceived context. Find an optimal level and bookmark it. Give a label to it. Associate a sound with it. Build a physical stimulus to trigger it. Anchor that feeling to something that can be used to toggle it "on". The body is where our sense of feel lives. Operating out of a body set comprised of heightened sensory awareness bound together with a touch and feel for the precision of peak performance lets an empty mind enjoy the ride.

Find a functional intent for any anxiety. Consider that the body is saying it’s excited and anticipating the challenge, good stress, not bad, fight or flight stuff. It’s activating energy needed to get the body into the right state. Giving it an appropriate label gives it both intent and function.

Thanks for your time and interest if you got this far. Feel free to comment. These are just perspectives to explore.

Last edited by Imac007; 07-23-2019 at 04:05 PM.
  
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my experiences with the zone
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my experiences with the zone - 07-23-2019, 07:29 PM

I first recognized the zone as an altered state in my teens. It was roughly twenty years later that I read a book by a world champion pistol shooter named J Michael Plaxco that delved deeply into the mental side and talked about the zone. Now I had a name for the state and he recognized not one but three levels of the zone. I now recognize one level again because I don't care about levels one or two, the good stuff takes place in level three.

I may have entered it before but the first time I realized I was in the zone was driving a six hundred horsepower car on a 3/8 mile dirt bullring. Doing the same thing over and over, going around in circles, but with slight differences every lap. I think that the best way to find the zone is to do something similar, like bouncing a ball off of a wall and floor as you work on the mental part.

I forget what Plaxco said was the first level, the second level I believe was narrow focus. From this narrow focus on one thing you sometimes entered the third level, focus on nothing and awareness of everything.

While there seems to be no guarantee of everyone finding the third level, which is what I always mean when I say the zone, I always found it driving circle track cars. Later, shooting pistols I found that the more often you enter the zone the easier it is. I quit the narrow focus stage and just turned loose with my conscious mind that thought in words and let the unconscious do it's thing. This led to a record that better shooters had been chasing for fifteen years, the first perfect score in a series of matches.

It is very hard to find the zone in pool because of constant interuptions. If you find it in one game you are likely to be jerked out of it between games. However, the longest I ever stayed in the zone was playing pool on a challenge table. The game was eight ball and there were a couple dozen challengers on the old nine foot table with bucket pockets. I claimed the table and for the next eight or ten hours other people served as rack boys. Never having to do anything but break and shoot, using a house cue for both, I slipped into the zone and stayed there. Nothing was a blur and I remembered tons of details but when the game broke up the next day as other players had to go to work I felt like I had been playing two or three hours. Walked into the place in daylight, it was daylight the next day when I left.

The zone lets you operate at your very best potential. Without the conscious mind interfering there is a direct connection between all of the information flowing in and your much more powerful unconscious mind. There is also a direct connection between your unconscious mind and your body. You operate with a finesse and accuracy that can't happen when directed from the conscious and the unconscious only functioning as a channel for the thoughts.

While it may not seem worthwhile to seek the zone for pool I have sought and found it for pistol stages lasting less than twenty seconds. I also strongly suspect SVB finds it when things are hill-hill and him breaking. It seems like he always has a successful break and runs out. Efren too always seemed to find a little more in that situation. Efren wasn't noted for his break but hill-hill he often found a money ball break or a break that left him little to do.

A good chance that some of the things I have said aren't right from a professional's viewpoint, this is how things seem to a layman.

Hu
  
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07-24-2019, 05:40 AM

I don't know how to describe it specifically but many times when I am playing (gambling) I loose focus completely on everything around me and then suddenly seem to wake up winner not remembering what happened.

How did I get there? Beats me. I just do.

Bill Stroud
  
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07-24-2019, 06:59 AM

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Originally Posted by bstroud View Post
I don't know how to describe it specifically but many times when I am playing (gambling) I loose focus completely on everything around me and then suddenly seem to wake up winner not remembering what happened.

How did I get there? Beats me. I just do.

Bill Stroud
There is evidence that memory tends to be mind state dependent. Taking victims back to the scene often triggers memories not previously available. Drug and alcohol induced states are often followed by amnesia. That said, a few drinks has been successful in returning some to recovering events. Execution is a somatic (body) task. Memory is a mental function. My muscle "memory" never shows up in consciousness, only bits and pieces are retrievable. Most physical functioning occurs at the unconscious level. Your description suggests functioning slipping into that realm. Certain triggers might help bring the events from the subconscious to the surface, but only events like conversations etc.. We never consciously remember how our muscles work or have access to those.
  
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Thumbs down our most important muscle - 07-24-2019, 07:36 AM

People firing rifles a thousand yards and further learn to control their heartbeat and even stop it for a few moments to fire between the beats. Most of the things that are thought to be beyond our control can be controlled with effort.

I remember an englishman who spent twenty years studying in india. All he had to show for it was complete control of each individual muscle in his abdomen. Most of us have the "six pack" muscles work all together, perhaps we can make them work in pairs. By making each one on each side work separately he could make his bare abdomen do freaky looking things. The locals considered him quite holy. I considered him crazy to have spent twenty years playing with his belly button!

Hu

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Psychic Side of Sports TOC
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Psychic Side of Sports TOC - 07-24-2019, 10:03 AM

In an attempt to stimulate others to talk about their experiences and share zone experiences Iíve located the table of contents of the Murphy/White book. Since it covered some mysticism and more psychic elements Iíve edited the table to be zone topic specific.

Its Table of Contents lists:

2) Mystical Sensation

Acute Well-Being

Peace, Calm, Stillness

Detachment

Freedom

Floating, Flying, Weightlessness

Ecstasy

Power, Control

Being in the Present

Instinctive action and surrender

Mystery and Awe

Feelings of Immortality

Unity​


3) Altered Perception

Altered Perception of Size of Field

Alterations in Time Perception

Extrasensory Perception

Out-of-Body Experiences

Awareness of the "Other"​
  
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07-24-2019, 10:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
I first recognized the zone as an altered state in my teens. It was roughly twenty years later that I read a book by a world champion pistol shooter named J Michael Plaxco that delved deeply into the mental side and talked about the zone. Now I had a name for the state and he recognized not one but three levels of the zone. I now recognize one level again because I don't care about levels one or two, the good stuff takes place in level three.

I may have entered it before but the first time I realized I was in the zone was driving a six hundred horsepower car on a 3/8 mile dirt bullring. Doing the same thing over and over, going around in circles, but with slight differences every lap. I think that the best way to find the zone is to do something similar, like bouncing a ball off of a wall and floor as you work on the mental part.

I forget what Plaxco said was the first level, the second level I believe was narrow focus. From this narrow focus on one thing you sometimes entered the third level, focus on nothing and awareness of everything.

While there seems to be no guarantee of everyone finding the third level, which is what I always mean when I say the zone, I always found it driving circle track cars. Later, shooting pistols I found that the more often you enter the zone the easier it is. I quit the narrow focus stage and just turned loose with my conscious mind that thought in words and let the unconscious do it's thing. This led to a record that better shooters had been chasing for fifteen years, the first perfect score in a series of matches.

It is very hard to find the zone in pool because of constant interuptions. If you find it in one game you are likely to be jerked out of it between games. However, the longest I ever stayed in the zone was playing pool on a challenge table. The game was eight ball and there were a couple dozen challengers on the old nine foot table with bucket pockets. I claimed the table and for the next eight or ten hours other people served as rack boys. Never having to do anything but break and shoot, using a house cue for both, I slipped into the zone and stayed there. Nothing was a blur and I remembered tons of details but when the game broke up the next day as other players had to go to work I felt like I had been playing two or three hours. Walked into the place in daylight, it was daylight the next day when I left.

The zone lets you operate at your very best potential. Without the conscious mind interfering there is a direct connection between all of the information flowing in and your much more powerful unconscious mind. There is also a direct connection between your unconscious mind and your body. You operate with a finesse and accuracy that can't happen when directed from the conscious and the unconscious only functioning as a channel for the thoughts.

While it may not seem worthwhile to seek the zone for pool I have sought and found it for pistol stages lasting less than twenty seconds. I also strongly suspect SVB finds it when things are hill-hill and him breaking. It seems like he always has a successful break and runs out. Efren too always seemed to find a little more in that situation. Efren wasn't noted for his break but hill-hill he often found a money ball break or a break that left him little to do.

A good chance that some of the things I have said aren't right from a professional's viewpoint, this is how things seem to a layman.

Hu
Hue,

I lived next door to an entire family of dirt track nuts for over 22 years.

Lol...i can still hear them engines roaring at all hours....literally nonstop.

They had several boys. Youngest was about 17 and oldest was mid 20's. All of them was dirt track crazy.

I would go and watch them making test runs and ...MAN O MAN....lol....it made me nervous just watching.

I heard their dad talk about getting what he called "tunnel vision zoned" after a few laps in on good days. This is what I remember him saying:

1. After getting in car, you develop a "feel" for how it vibrates (good or bad) under certain conditions.

2. After a couple laps or so, you start to mentally melt into the car as one....going off 1.

3. At some point.....different for most....usually the winners.....you become part of the track itself.


I knew a fellow that thought he was a good boxer because he was in a position to befriend a lot of "professional boxers". It cost him azzwhippens till he realized he wasn't what he thought/wished he was.

Do you know anyone like the "wannabe" boxer in the pool world?
  
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07-24-2019, 10:49 AM

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Originally Posted by bstroud View Post
I don't know how to describe it specifically but many times when I am playing (gambling) I loose focus completely on everything around me and then suddenly seem to wake up winner not remembering what happened.

How did I get there? Beats me. I just do.

Bill Stroud
I heard my neighbor say the same thing about winning at dirt track racing.

Ive heard him say:

I dont remember the "x" laps. Its like I was in a daze and when I came to, I was being given the flag and being diverted to the circle.

I always thought, damn, I hope he don't get like that driving around the neighborhood...lol


I knew a fellow that thought he was a good boxer because he was in a position to befriend a lot of "professional boxers". It cost him azzwhippens till he realized he wasn't what he thought/wished he was.

Do you know anyone like the "wannabe" boxer in the pool world?
  
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07-24-2019, 11:06 AM

This kind of discussion always takes me to one of my favorite books "Golf in the Kingdom" and the concept of True Gravity. Its fictional of course and a bit mystical but not all that far removed.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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07-24-2019, 11:08 AM

My way of finding the zone is to put some music on the jukebox and hit balls by myself for a while. The music opens up my right brain; it helps me stop thinking and start visualizing. People have used rhythm for thousands of years to put themselves into a trance. "The Zone" is a state of light trance.
  
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07-24-2019, 11:20 AM

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Originally Posted by logical View Post
This kind of discussion always takes me to one of my favorite books "Golf in the Kingdom" and the concept of True Gravity. Its fictional of course and a bit mystical but not all that far removed.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
Michael Murphy is author to both "Golf in the Kingdom" and The Psychic Side of Sports.
  
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07-24-2019, 11:37 AM

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My way of finding the zone is to put some music on the jukebox and hit balls by myself for a while. The music opens up my right brain; it helps me stop thinking and start visualizing. People have used rhythm for thousands of years to put themselves into a trance. "The Zone" is a state of light trance.
T.S. Eliot wrote

At the still point of the turning world.

Neither flesh nor fleshless; neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, but neither arrest nor movement.

And do not call if fixity, where past and future are gathered.

Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline.

Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.


That description of the oneness and the nothingness of the zone, plus the timelessness, all wrapped up in simple verse. He definitely knew the zone and being there.
  
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neighbors - 07-24-2019, 12:13 PM

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Originally Posted by jrctherake View Post
Hue,

I lived next door to an entire family of dirt track nuts for over 22 years.

Lol...i can still hear them engines roaring at all hours....literally nonstop.

They had several boys. Youngest was about 17 and oldest was mid 20's. All of them was dirt track crazy.

I would go and watch them making test runs and ...MAN O MAN....lol....it made me nervous just watching.

I heard their dad talk about getting what he called "tunnel vision zoned" after a few laps in on good days. This is what I remember him saying:

1. After getting in car, you develop a "feel" for how it vibrates (good or bad) under certain conditions.

2. After a couple laps or so, you start to mentally melt into the car as one....going off 1.

3. At some point.....different for most....usually the winners.....you become part of the track itself.


I kept my car in a commercial/light industrial area during the season. I might start it once or twice at home during the entire off season.

Some areas I agree with your neighbors and others, some I don't. The car became part of me, even the entire pack I was running in sometimes. I didn't find a groove by mental process, I felt where the car wanted to go and let it. I generally referred to driving as herding the car around the track and that was pretty much true. I pointed it in the general direction I wanted to go but then I felt the best path for the car in the conditions of the moment. I basically let the car pick the path of least resistance. Unless passing, that was the groove I ran lap after lap, perhaps moving slightly up or down or driving deeper into a corner as conditions changed.

One thing I have never done in the zone is lose track of what is happening. While I was fresh as a daisy after an all nighter I had isolated the players that had the potential to runout and always knew who I was playing. Them I gave no chance, others I seemed to open a window I knew they couldn't fit through. By playing the player I was able to coast a lot of the time.

Shooting a pistol I was aware of seconds like a clock in my head. Setting the record on a dark and stormy night outdoors I was trying to distinguish between wet cardboard and wet flat black paint. It was tough and the last two shots were into a diagonal area, not nearly as big as it looked. I knew I was well ahead of the clock after six shots, a mandatory reload, and four more shots. I paused for seconds before the last two shots then rapped them out a quarter second apart and about an inch apart on the target.

Back to the dirt track, mirrors weren't allowed yet I was aware of where maybe twenty to thirty more cars were on the track and exactly what my gauges showed. I also felt my engine, if it was singing perfectly or something was off in the slightest.

I didn't run a tachometer most of the time yet I knew if maximum RPM changed twenty-five RPM or so. When I did run a tach I often couldn't see it. The one on my sprint car was mounted on the bottom rail outside the car. People asked how I could see it. "Can't change rear end gears during a race, I read it and reset it when I get out of the car." I wasn't going to back off if I was turning more RPM than I wanted to so it didn't do me any good to know about it.

Nothing more fun than driving on dirt that you can do with your clothes on. I used to get out of the car and pull a tablespoonful of dirt out of each cheek from laughing half the time I was driving. That was the days of steel bodies on the full body cars and a friendly or not so friendly nudge now and then. If you accidentally gave somebody a hard shot you apologized after the race. If not you knew the favor would be returned at the least opportune time possible! A friend's wife watched every bump and nudge and each dent on his car had a name by it.

I wasn't driving at the moment, building a new car. I met another driver in the stands, we were both trying to empty the beer booth. He wanted me to meet his wife. He introduced me. Blank Look. Told her I drove #92. Still blank. That old red car. "THAT SON OF A ... hello, nice to meet you." "Yes ma'am, that son of a b!tch." We were all friends soon. I had already developed my policy of meeting everyone halfway or a little more. Clean drivers liked me, rough drivers considered me a very rough driver. All were right.

Dirt tracking and pool paid the bills sometimes but both were a lot more fun when they didn't have to.

Hu
  
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07-24-2019, 12:38 PM

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Originally Posted by RailBanger View Post
My way of finding the zone is to put some music on the jukebox and hit balls by myself for a while. The music opens up my right brain; it helps me stop thinking and start visualizing. People have used rhythm for thousands of years to put themselves into a trance. "The Zone" is a state of light trance.
Years ago, I worked with a bowling coach. We devised a program that used a soundtrack. After videoing each bowler at various times, a videotape was created of each bowling a perfect game with their best form. A soundtrack was chosen by the bowler. The idea was that the music would become anchored to the visuals and its music alone would trigger the video images similar to the effect of music videos. They were to watch the video quietly prior to play and bring a cassette we created of the soundtrack complete with bowling sounds. During play if they felt it would be beneficial to access the images of their best self, they had permission to play the tape on a Walkman with headphones.

Anything you can get associated with your zone and can be used to trigger its memory will work. I see from the rules that at least one version donít allow wearing of ear plugs or headphones during play.
  
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An action for a trigger
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An action for a trigger - 07-24-2019, 12:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imac007 View Post
Years ago, I worked with a bowling coach. We devised a program that used a soundtrack. After videoing each bowler at various times, a videotape was created of each bowling a perfect game with their best form. A soundtrack was chosen by the bowler. The idea was that the music would become anchored to the visuals and its music alone would trigger the video images similar to the effect of music videos. They were to watch the video quietly prior to play and bring a cassette we created of the soundtrack complete with bowling sounds. During play if they felt it would be beneficial to access the images of their best self, they had permission to play the tape on a Walkman with headphones.

Anything you can get associated with your zone and can be used to trigger its memory will work. I see from the rules that at least one version donít allow wearing of ear plugs or headphones during play.

The no headphones thing is fairly common. It might be better to have an action as the trigger. Walking up to the table, holding the cue in a certain way. Since we want to find the zone before aiming we don't want to already be down on the shot to enter the zone. If a person wears a cap or glasses perhaps resetting one or the other as they go towards the table could be the trigger. With a pistol I always felt like it was reaching for it or contact with the butt since the draw was part of the competitions I was in.

Might sing a few lines or whistle a few notes as you approach the table. Trigger yourself into the zone and probably annoy your opponent as you did it over and over!

I was shooting pool one night when somebody fell in love with the song about another bowl of them good ol' butter beans. It isn't a bad song but fifteen or twenty times an hour for hours, it begin to grate on my nerves. Soon I was singing along, loudly! Very out of character for me and a friend was trying to get me to sing it again the next night. I had a hard time making him understand that was just my way of venting knowing I can't carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it!

Anyway, I think an action trigger would be best in a pool environment or something you could go through mentally.

Hu
  
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