“I had an ‘Ah-Ha’ moment in March, 2014. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of an idea just crystalizing out of nowhere. The ‘Ah-Ha’ is often so perfect that you find yourself wondering what took so long to discover it.
I was struggling to define my unique, experiential approach to being in the zone with student-athletes. My style includes elements of meditation, visualization, and even some hypnotherapy. Inherent in this model is an emphasis on the strength and future potential of each client I treat. Essentially, I practice peak performance positive psychology.
But I knew I was doing more. I facilitate a sensory experience for student-athletes. In session, I guide them to recreate the zone they experience when competing at their highest level. These zone exercises are the catalyst that propel each individual to access and maintain their peak performance zone while competing in their sport.
Zone exercises also enable student-athletes to more easily implement the principles of positive psychology that enhance confidence and generate extreme self-support. The zone exercises were initially characterized by an eyes closed, meditative state of relaxation. Subsequently, I began facilitating eyes open, active, alert zone experiences.
Incorporating eyes closed, relaxed zones, with eyes open, alert zones, enables clients to naturally translate their experience from my office to real time play in their sport. This desired, yet mysterious zone, manifested in competition, is now understood to be an accessible, powerful tool.
The student-athlete can, via specialized zone exercises and the principles of positive, strength based psychology, rapidly step into the flow and confidence that characterizes their peak performance zone. Yes, the zone lives inside of each person.
So what about this ‘Ah-Ha’ experience? I was reading an article on PhillySports.com about the Penn State University men’s basketball team using mindfulness meditation as their as their primary tool for mental focus training.
Tim Frazier, Penn State’s all-time leader in assists, describes his experience: ‘The game moves so fast, it’s hard to focus on the here and now. Meditation slows me down [mentally], keeps me more relaxed and focused.’
Michael Baime, an internist and director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness states, ‘Elite athletic performance is mostly a mental game. Mindfulness practice really isn’t that different from athletic training. If you want to get neuroscientific about it, mindfulness practice changes the structure of the brain through which awareness operates. Just as running increases the strength of the quadriceps muscles, mindfulness practice strengthens the executive control function of the brain.’
Mindfulness meditation is about being in the moment. Specifically, it focuses on the experience of breathing and stillness. If a thought interferes with the experience, the meditator is encouraged to be curious and accepting while refocusing on each comfortable breath.
Zone exercises enhance perception and sensation. Revivification of the sights, sounds, and feelings of past successes and the magnification of future achievements are routinely experienced in this experiential process.
Mindfulness meditation is a critical element of the zone exercises. It provides a calming, peaceful space for student-athletes to experience prior to exploring, for example, their history of success zone; their future memories of success zone; or their extreme self-support zone. The mindfulness meditative state is a foundational element to the peak performance zone exercises I facilitate for clients.
And then it hit me. ZONEfulness®
ZONEfulness® is the integration of mindfulness meditation, peak performance zone exercises, and positive psychology. This book is a deceptively, profoundly simple guide designed for student-athletes to generate and maintain peak performance by accessing the zone that lives inside of them.
Finally, please enjoy the experience this book has to offer. You will have the opportunity to immediately exercise your zone and incorporate powerfully calm zonefulness techniques into your athletic performance, and your life.”
- Joe Dowling