Learning how to get “In the Zone” and competing “In the Zone”.
A runner once described to me what it was like the first time he experienced racing “In the Zone.” He described running easily, fluidly, with a high level of focus, much more energy than he usually experienced, and much less pain. He was clearly aware that something was very different–in a very good way.
The advantages of performance hypnosis are so significant that at today’s level of competition, most world-class athletes in a great variety of sports must learn to get themselves “in the Zone” in order to be competitive.
This is not a new skill. I have found that individuals who have studied Karate, Kung Fu or Tai Chi and have learned good focus do not have to be taught the basics of self-hypnosis. They already know the skill of being “In the Zone”. The emphasis on focus and meditation in oriental disciplines was created precisely because it puts competitors in the zone and allows them to enjoy its advantages.
How Hypnosis helps athletes get “In the Zone”.
This illustrates the fact that Performance Enhancement Hypnosis is a skill that is learned, not a procedure that is done. Alert hypnosis training involves activating specific areas of a brain structure called the cingulate gyrus, and using this center of “higher focus” to direct and enhance brain functions in the deeper brain–the limbic system, midbrain and brain stem. We tend to refer to these areas as the “unconscious” or “subconscious” mind. What these words really refer to are the areas of the brain that are not directly responsive to words and language. Hypnosis functions as a translation device, taking the cerebral cortex language of words and converting it into the deep brain language of images, emotions and sensations.
Performance Enhancement involves several essential skills in order to achieve “In the Zone” focus. These include:
1. Learning to optimize stress levels so that there is complete focus, complete balance and readiness, with no wasted effort on muscle tension
2. Eliminating fear blocks and fear symptoms, particularly fear of failure.
3. Learning on command, using an anchoring technique; to vividly revisit memories of success, confidence and achievement. This effectively floods the consciousness with the neuropeptides that are specific to feelings of success and confidence–a great advantage during competition
4. Focusing on the level of relaxation/readiness that allows reflex-trained skills to take over, so that the body does what it has been trained to do, what it knows how to do, without interference or override from a nervous consciousness.
5. Visualizing over and over the details of a successful performance or competition.
6. Eliminating self-defeating beliefs, distorted thinking, and negative emotional patterns that interfere with performance.
7. Focusing on the skills of a masterful role model.
These skills can be helpful for getting In the Zone and staying In the Zone to a great variety of competitors and performers, from golfers and tennis players, to team sports, race car drivers, bullriders, singers, gymnasts and track and field athletes–the list is unending.
Good performance hypnosis has a language all its own. It does not use the more traditional hypnotic emphasis on sensations of deep relaxation, heaviness, peacefulness, or warmth. Performance hypnosis inductions use language like “balanced, ready, focused, energized, with no wasted effort.” The inductions look and feel different, helping a client get “In the Zone” in an active and alert state. The client often enters this state with eyes open, fully mobile and talking. Even so, the cingulate gyrus is activated, potent training can be done at a deep brain level, and performance levels can improve dramatically.