There’s no doubt that when we reflect on our lives, its often the most challenging or then perceived “darkest” moments of reality for us that may have been the greatest moments of our lives.
Would you agree?
Such moments could have been the catalyst for change and the very root cause of our growth.
Its those moments therefore that often warrant the most gratitude given how their nature transformed from a seemingly dark place to one of lightness.
As much as I agree with this based on my own experience, I also agree to another idea.
Its an idea that entered my realm of awareness once I started practicing yoga & meditation.
It’s the idea that another one of life’s greatest moments we can experience is when we are in “the zone”.
What does “the zone mean”?
I’ve often heard this phrase being used in the realms of sports where an athlete seems on the outside to have transcended their peers and is acting in a way which is fully aligned to themselves and the environment, they are in.
It’s a state in which they are clearly thriving on the inside as well as what they are showing on the outside. Almost in an “untouchable” or “un-playable” state.
Its like a sportsperson has tapped into something greater, a pool of higher potential only accessible to him / her at a given moment which manifests in superior skilful movement / scoring goals / running faster / jumping higher / seeing gaps nobody else can & operating in a way which is congruent with the internal & external environment.
Its as if things become / look & feel effortless for an individual to carry out something which otherwise would feel quite taxing.
I want you to remember this term “effortless” for now…it will come up towards the end of this article where I explain a way of achieving this state.
The fact that this concept is tricky to put into words, emphasises how interesting I find this point and therefore feel the need to bring it to your attention and share with you.
I believe we have all experienced this feeling of being “in the zone”.
That intangible feeling which only we know when we feel it. It could be when we are deep in our work where time just pass’s by in a blink of an eye, or when we are communicating to friends / family, and we feel consumed in the depts of conversation wanting to be nowhere else other than hinging on the words spoken to us and listening with intent whilst speaking from the heart.
No matter where you have experienced being “in the zone”, I want to offer a suggestion as to the principles behind where it may come from.
I believe it’s important to be aware of this principle given it could paint a method or blueprint by which we can live more of our lives.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to experience living “in the zone” more often?
I know I certain would.
A place where time stands still?
A place where your free of judgment?
A place filled with pure potential and effortless action?
A place where your “at home”?
A place where you feel undisturbed and left to simply be?
A place where you can inspire others without even trying?
…where do I sign up?
If I reflect on my own experiences of being “in the zone”, I realise a key point.
Such moments were very short lived, however created an impression that lasted a lifetime.
From my yoga practice, here is how being “in the zone” can also be described:
· Feeling stimulated, whilst staying rested & relaxed
· Neither pushing, nor pulling, just being
· Being present, yet not being available
· Staying grounded, yet flowing freely
· Being rooted, yet spreading far and wide
· Harnessing the sun’s active energy, whilst maintaining the moon’s calming energy
No matter which of the above makes sense to you, they are all trying to communicate one common thing.
“To be “in the zone”, is to witness being involved within two ends of a spectrum at the same time without actually being involved at all” (A.Lakhani)
This state is perhaps one of the most powerful, pleasurable, natural and aligned state ive ever experienced.
In this state, all possibilities seem endless, without form and never ending.
In this state, the meaning behind the word “abundance” seems to flow.
The most remarkable thing ive found is, it’s a state which we either experience “by chance” from time to time, or more profoundly, it’s a state that we can train ourselves to find via being aware of the connection between out mind / bodies and breath.
The concept of yoga is to use physical body and breath manipulation to somehow seek alignment between all x3 life forces in order to unify with universal energy.
It may sound very complex at first glance, however what struck me was how the first step in the series of steps which leads to this experience is probably the smallest, yet most significant in its impact. This step is to start to simply become aware of your breath.
From this, one can take the journey back inwards into the mind & body to be able to experience the feeling of being grounded yet flowing freely aka being “in the zone”.
So what are the benefits of this I hear you asking?
Why should I do this?
Good questions…. let me explain a little bit more before concluding.
You see, what I’ve come to realise is that if we carry out tasks or actions with the excursion of 100% effort, it can lead to what is known as “stress”. This can be mental or physical. Both however, when experienced for a pro-longed period can lead to “burn out” and all the symptoms that goes with it.
This area is well documented within the health & wellbeing space, so I won’t touch on it too much. However, this state has the ability to impact our weight, sleep quality, communication, behaviour etc…in a way which we probably wouldn’t choose for ourselves.
This then begs the question:
How do we carry out “actions” whilst not exerting 100% effort i.e. more effortlessly?
I like this question, its one I asked myself and one I was thankfully guided through by my yoga teacher & guru.
It may seem an improbably and impossible venture to achieve something with nothing? After all, we were trained within the realms of science and maths.
But id like to view at this concept through the lens of creative arts for a moment. A place where the lines are more blurred and order has no order.
What if it was possible to achieve something without putting in the perceived level of effort into the action, and instead put a smaller dose of effort in?
Thankfully, we know this to be true.
This is the way of Wu wei (an ancient Chinese concept).
It’s a Taoist philosophy which encapsulates this idea of “doing nothing” whilst taking action
i.e. all qualities of being “in the zone” as we learned earlier in this article (just like a sports person / athlete)
This can also be referred to within Buddhism as “the middle way”
“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings.”
Jelaluddin Rumi , The Essential Rumi
The answer I’ve reached for now to help solve the puzzle around how to achieve effortless action is as follows:
1. In whatever action you have chosen to take, take some time to experience everything you expect to feel i.e. the primary feeling or sensation you expected.
2. Now, take your attention to the equal and opposite sensation of this primary sensation and be aware of what this feels like i.e. a secondary feeling.
3. Deeply experience the secondary feeling / sensation as it was not what you may have intended / expected to feel in the first instance. It may not have been part of your narrative or story (realms of your awareness)
4. Take time flitting between the primary & secondary feelings and sensations now becoming aware of them both together with your mind switching between them as opposed to you physically
5. Using your breath, surrender to both, allowing them to simply be without your involvement. Become the “watcher” or “the witness” as my guide says and caste no judgment.
In this state, you are taking action, with the association of taking action. You’re allowing yourself to simply be and nothing more.
As we explored earlier, in this state perhaps you are “in the zone”
Perhaps in this state, we have a place called home.
Perhaps in a place called home, we can unite…
…with each other
…with the entire world
Peace be the journey,
PS - I realise this may feel like a cryptic message which needs unpacking, and so I commit to just that in a follow up article or video.