How to Stay Focused
Being In The Zone.
It was as if time disappeared. His mind was clear.
There were no distracting thoughts.
His body flew through the air. The basket looked as big as a crater.
He let the ball roll off his fingers and swish!
People were cheering, but he didn’t even know they were there.
The loud raucous applause was only a whisper in the distance.
He’s a baller and he was in the zone.
Zoning out is what athletes call it when they are in the zone.
The idea is that for a few moments, you forget about time and
your problems, and are completely focused on what you are doing.
The name “the zone” came from baseball. First baseman Jim Bottomley
once said of Ted Williams, whom he called “the greatest hitter who ever lived,”
“He’s in the zone.” The term stuck. So, if you want to be in the zone,
start by forgetting time.
In the sport of chess, the zone is a special state where you feel so in tune
with your opponent that you can read his next move in advance.
In life, the zone is when we are in a good mental state.
We are focused, nothing distracts us from our goal.
The movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, starring Matt Damon as Rannulph Junuh,
a fictitious character, who has a natural talent for golf, but his psyche was
damaged in World War I. It’s the first golf movie with a Zen theme.
Bagger Vance is a mysterious character, played by Will Smith. He appears to
help Junuh with his golf game. He tells Junuh, “Play your own game”.
Junuh has lost his confidence since the war and is preparing to play in a
tournament with golf legend, Bobby Jones.
Here is some of the Zen advice Bagger gives to Junuh:
“But there is only one shot that is in perfect harmony with the field.
One shot that’s his. Authentic shot. And that shot is going to choose him.
There’s a perfect shot out there tryin’ to find each and every one of us.
All we have to do is get ourselves out of its way. Let it choose us. Mm.
Look at him. He in the field. Can’t see that flag as some dragon you got to slay.
You got to look with soft eyes. See the place where the tides and seasons and
the turnin’ of the earth all come together. Where everything that is becomes one.
You got to seek that place with your soul, Junuh.”
In sports the zone is kind of Zen like. It puts you into a kind of flow that
makes mistakes seem irrelevant and success seem inevitable. In life, being
in the zone is similar to the zen-golf story in Bagger Vance. It’s all about being present.
In the book version Bagger says, “before time was, I AM”, a mystical reference with
Zen and Biblical associations. The I AMness is pure presence.
Being in the zone, is being present. Meditation and mindfulness practice
are the best tools to maintain presence.
As Bagger says, “All we have to do is get ourselves out of its way. Let it choose us”.