How to get into the zone and unlock your full potential
How to get into the zone is a question that many athletes ask. The reason for this is that they all understand how amazing it is to be in the zone, and how well you are able to perform in that state. It is not something you can will yourself into, but there are elements that exist that help one to get into the zone, and if understood, can help to facilitate getting there. There are a number of aspects that are required to get into the zone, and I will dive fully into those in a future post. This post I wanted to focus on one element in particular which is being able to be in the present moment. This is a key element to being able to get into the zone, and it is something that can be practiced, strengthened and trained. That is what this post will cover.
Being in the present moment is also referred to as mindfulness. Something many people don’t know. Mindfulness is a bit misunderstood and therefore its embrace in the world of sport is hit or miss. A lot of people think of mindfulness as meditation and then the stereotypical meditation where one is sitting in a lotus position, trying to quiet the mind. However, the mind can not be quieted, and is not the purpose of meditation or mindfulness. Meditation is a form of mindfulness practice but not all mindfulness practices are mediation. Being in the present moment requires one to be fully focused on the task at hand, to view things in a non-judgmental way and to have increased awareness. Here are two beginners practices for training this.
1.Find a quiet space, sit or lie down, and start to focus on your breath. Just observe it, don’t try and change it in any way. Count each breath to help with staying in the moment. Count to 10. While doing this thoughts will arise, when they do, accept that they are there and then gently try and bring your focus back to your breath and the count. This teaches you how to be in the present moment, and how to bring yourself back when distracted, and learn to control where you focus goes after a thought enters your mind. The initial thought is normal, but can you stop it there, and not continue that thought into many more thoughts. When you get good at a 10 count push it to 20, and so on. Eventually might just be best to use time instead of the count.
2. Same as above, find a quiet space and either sit or lie down. Here you are going to be doing a body scan. In the body scan you will start with your toes and work your way up the body to the top of your head. Here again you are just scanning your body for sensations. You are not trying to stretch or tense and relax the body, simply pay attention non-judgmentally to the sensations and see if through your awareness and breathing into the area you can release any sensations that you would like to release. This exercise helps to connect the mind and body together, and learn how to be aware of sensations and through that awareness and the breath adjust if need be. To also views sensations none judgmentally, to just sense it. This will help an athlete make adjustments as needed in competition. When there is excess tension somewhere that could be impacting their performance.
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