Getting Into the "Zone"
As it happens, I'm a professional in the arts/entertainment industry (3 time Emmy winner, etc.). I mention this because I don't know anyone in this biz that is successful without knowing about "the zone".
Walk into any studio in the midst of creative work and you'll find a room full of people in the zone. The zone is as critical for creative professionals as it is to DI - and I hope that I can contribute some useful information here.
What is the zone?
Technically, the zone happens when you enter a state of "alpha" brain waves - these waves are slower than the "high conscious" beta waves.
Beta waves are between 13 and 30 Hz, while alpha is around 8-12 Hz (a Hz is a cycle per second).
Reaching the alpha state is the object of many forms of meditation, and it is very helpful for focus and certain types of activities, especially creative/skill oriented ones.
Beyond the technical description, the zone can be said to be a state of mind where ideas spontaneously appear, and one may find insights and intuition to be very strong.
However, this state is *less* aware of surroundings, and sudden changes in surroundings can *abruptly* knock you out of the zone.
How do you know when you're in the zone?
You know it when you know it - and like many things, it may take alot of practice. At the same time, thinking about being in the zone can knock you out of the zone (i.e. if you start going "oh wow yea, I'm in e zone baby! I rule!" then you will most likely leave the zone rather abruptly...
How to get in the zone
I've been meditating since I was a child (hey, I *am* a native Californian!), so I find it very easy to find the zone in almost any environment - though some are easier than others.
Just as how you shot the dice is different than how I shoot the dice, How *I* get in the zone may be different than you *you* need to do it. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts:
To begin zone training, do it in a quiet and private environment that you are intimately familiar with - i.e. your home - with no distractions (no kids, wife, blah blah blah).
Sit in a comfortable position. We'll leave the yoga lotus position for later - right now it is important to be comfortable and supported. The problem with lying down is that the following exercise may cause you to go past alpha into theta and even delta - if you are lying down, you'll go to sleep - but we don't want that - we want you to be able to control and stay in the alpha zone.
Sit upright - Lay Z Boy or couch - put your feet up if you like, but keep your head upright and RELAXED.
EYES: There are a few schools of thought here - eyes open or closed, and if open, focused on a single object, or allowed to wander slightly.
Some prefer closed, and this can lead to very deep alpha, and theta. Open, you'll remain more alert, but for the beginner, it may be harder than with the eyes closed.
If you try with your eyes open, try setting a candle at your eye level about 10' in front of you, so you can look at it comfortably. Dim the room, and stare at the candle. Blink as needed, but don't look away from the candle.
RELAX. Let every muscle in your body go limp. (See deep relaxation exercise below).
Clear your mind - this is harder than it may seem - but think of nothing. How? Start by looking at the candle. Think about the candle and only the candle. Don't think about anything else. Think about its color, its brightness, its flicker. Eventually you'll run out of things to think about the candle - and you'll just *stop* thinking. Don't try to think about anything else, just let your mind float.
By now, the candle will appear to be floating - let it float and go with it. remain calm and relaxed.
You'll "find" the alpha state at the moment you have no conscious thoughts, and no awareness of your body, when you feel like "floating".
Deep Relaxation Exercise
This is an "eyes closed" exercise.
Sit as above, and then say this OUT LOUD to yourself (alternately, you can record this onto a cassette tape, and play it back to yourself):
"I am still and calm.
My feet are very heavy, I cannot move them. Their weight is pushing them down toward the earth.
The weight of my feet is moving over my legs, and my legs cannot be moved for they are too heavy, their weight is pulling them toward the center of the earth...."
Continue this all the way up your body and over your arms. You will find yourself in a deep state of relaxation.
Clear your mind as above - here, think only of the heavy weight of your body, think of how deeply your are relaxed - do not control your thoughts, allow them to wander through your mind.
Verbal Suggestion Exercise
Verbal suggestions are very powerful - and you are very receptive to them while in the alpha zone.
Here again, you can record your verbal statements and play them back. They can be anything you want, but keep them short and simple. Have at least a second or two between statements.
Do one of the exercises above (candle or relaxation) and then add the verbal suggestions.
For the DI, perhaps:
- "I have complete control over the dice"
- "Dice control is easy"
- "From every throw of the dice, I learn new things"
- "I set and grip quickly"
- "My grip is always correct"
- "I cannot be distracted"
- "Casino heat does not bother me"
- "I can stay focused in any environment"
- "The casino is a relaxing and fun place to be"
These are the *basics* - but with experience and practice, you will find that you can go to the zone at virtually any time, and any place.
More advanced techniques, such as yoga, can also be very helpful. Here in Southern California, there's a yoga studio on every street corner (just about), but I'll wager that even the smallest towns have *someone* that teaches yoga. And yoga is *EXCELLENT* to body fitness, an important characteristic for the DI.
I hope this has been helpful.
Dances With Dice