by Eric Leskowitz, MD, David Meggyesy, Greg Warburton, Barry Robbins and Scott Ford | Sep 30, 2020

Getting Into The Zone

Nondual awareness is the goal of many spiritual practices because it represents a state of mind that transcends the sense of duality, of a separate ego or self. It is also the end result of an approach to tennis that USPTA coach Scott Ford calls “the flowing present”. This simple technique described below is adaptable to any sport involving contact with a ball and to any life activity that involves meeting an object with your attention. It’s an altered state of consciousness that can be accessed anywhere, at any time.

Playing sports in this Zone of non-duality has been linked to a wide range of positive physiologic changes (Leskowitz, 2017), ranging from autonomic stability and cortical balance (Dietrich, 2003) to enhanced stress resilience. It is the Holy Grail of enlightened sports performance, and in fact the benefits of achieving nondual awareness are as great in the living room as they are on a tennis court.

Here is Coach Ford’s 60-second practice that trains you to create a “nondual visual field”, as you develop the expanded visual field experienced in peak performance states. It stands in stark contrast to the constricted, dualistic visual field experienced in normal performance states.

Scott Ford:

Practice: Look straight ahead and focus sequentially on three different objects in your visual field. Then soften your visual focus and let it rest in the empty space directly in front of you at a comfortable arm’s length.

If you have trouble judging your visual depth of focus, put your index finger up in front of your eyes at a comfortable arm’s distance and focus on your fingernail. Then drop your finger out of the picture but leave your eyes focused on the point where your fingernail was located. Once you’ve located that empty point in your visual field, rest your focus on it for the next 60 seconds.

This sounds easy, but it’s not. It takes practice to control your visual focus. Start by resting your focus on the emptiness of your visual field for ten seconds, then twenty, and then try to rest your focus on emptiness for a full sixty seconds. You’ll get better with each try.

What follows is a compilation of strategies and principles compiled by expert practitioners of mind/body/spirit sports training techniques. The sporting world is always looking for a competitive edge, an extra advantage. So it’s no surprise that this world can provide optimum leading edge therapies as well. The integration of therapeutic physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development being described here is the multidimensional equivalent of cross-training. This alignment creates “Integral Fitness”, a synergy where each dimension of growth expands and enhances the others. This is an interactive process the Greeks called antakolouthia– “the mutual entailment of virtues”, the quest to create a fuller, more realized person.

By not striving to “keep your eye on the ball”, you create a nondual visual field that leads to a nondual performance experience. Regular 60-second practice sessions of non-dual visual field training can, over time, turn into day-long experiences of playing and living in the Zone.

Watch the Video: The Flowing Present (18 minutes)


 PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6

* This article was originally published in The International Journal of Healing and Caring, Volume 20, No. 3


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