A Skaters Dream - In the Zone
Have you dreamed of something you just love doing and found yourself feeling in perfect rhythm while doing it… like in the Flow State Of Mind… I have…
I know… or I think I know how LeBron James, Conner McGregor, Tom Brady and just about any top star talent feels when they are at the apex of their craft. I would like to describe to you how at least I feel when I am in the “zone.”
First, you should know that it’s a proven state of being. Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) has spent years studying “The Zone” which he calls “The Concept of Flow.” More to come about his thoughts later.
Now, This is my perspective on my “zone.”
My zone starts before I even put on my skates. I start with an intense stretch session that typically lasts for about 30 minutes. During those 30 minutes as I’m stretching and thinking about what I will be doing as I’m skating and how it makes me feel.
Once I get on the floor, I spend about five minutes just warming up slowly going around the track or rink until my body feels warm enough. This is where the fun starts. As I start to feel the zone take over me, it is as if I am slowly drifting away from my current state of being. Basically what I feel like is that my muscles take over my body. I feel as if I am on top of the world and I am the best skater in the facility. I do not notice anybody but only for small glimpses.
I feel across my face a huge smile plastered from ear to ear and my body is full of a buzzing energy. During some points, while skating, I can feel every single muscle in my body that I’m using especially in my toes in other parts of my feet. The music becomes incredibly muffled, and I feel as if I am drifting away from my surroundings. I feel extremely focused while skating to the point where I do not notice any person who is around me other than potential threats (beginner skaters or haters).
While I immersed in the zone I do not feel pain nor do I feel fatigue. I seem to be able to skate as hard and as fast for as long as I want to. I have described it to some people as if “the feeling of being a God.” And just as fast as I have fallen into my zone I will fall out of my zone. Bringing me back to reality and feeling mortal once again. It is at that point that my body aches and screens for a break and to be rehydrated.
During my short breaks, I generally spend them drinking plenty of water, stretching and evening slamming my fist into my muscles to break up the lactic acid that is formed. 5 to 10 minutes later I am back out on the rink.
Now that you have an idea of what it feels like to me to be in the zone, I would like to take a couple of minutes to explain in greater detail what Mihaly theory of flow is defined as.
State of Flow—a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. – Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi
Dan Peterson paraphrases Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi work on “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” (Harper & Row, 1990); in his article “How Do Athletes Get ‘In the Zone’ of Peak Performance?” Dan explains in his words what Mihaly talks about in his work. Below is an excerpt from Dan’s article informing his readers of what is required to reach the flow state.
- Challenge-skills balance is achieved when you have confidence that your skills can meet the challenge in front of you.
- Action-awareness merging is the state of being completely absorbed in an activity, with tunnel vision that shuts out everything else.
- Clear goals come into focus when you know exactly what is required of you and what you want to accomplish.
- Unambiguous feedback is constant, real-time feedback that allows you to adjust your tactics. For example, fans and coaches will let you know how you’re doing.
- Concentration on the task at hand, with laser-beam focus, is essential.
- Sense of control is heightened when you feel that your actions can affect the outcome of the game.
- Loss of self-consciousness occurs when you are not constantly self-aware of your success.
- Transformation of time takes place when you lose track of time due to your total focus on the moment.
- Autotelic experience is achieved when you feel internally driven to succeed even without outside rewards. You do something because you love to do it.
My question is… While you are skating and you feel as if you are in the zone, what do you feel like?
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