Truly being in the Zen Zone consists of becoming “one” with what you are doing each moment you are actually doing it. It is an idea that is extremely relevant to the health of a football program, where hundreds of people work together to achieve a common goal. That’s why Missouri football preaches the Zen Zone and its teachings.
Being in the Zen Zone is being completely present, absorbed in and connected with your body, your trust and the task at hand. When you are totally engaged in the process of doing, you become, in a sense, what you are doing and suspend all judgments of yourself, others and your performance. If you begin to reflect, deliberate, question, condemn or judge along the way, you lose your pure connection and become and separate from the task. There are times for thinking and reflecting but there are also times to connect totally to what you are doing and to leave your conscious thinking behind. When an entire football team can accomplish this, it is a pretty incredible thing.
So, how does one enter the Zen Zone? How does Missouri football encourage Zen performance? It’s all about committing to the cause. Once you’ve done that, it is simple. Follow these steps:
1. Rid yourself of obsessions.
A mind that is filled with obsession is a mind that will not let the athlete focus and perform to his potential. Some desires are so powerful that they often have the potential for obsession. When obsession absorbs you, you become a slave. It makes you lose all the freedom to which you are entitled, and it hinders your focus and ability to perform at your best. Such desires include:
– the desire for victory
– the desire to out-psych your opponent
– the desire to worry about other expectations
– the desire to play your best and display all that you have learned
– the desire to over-awe the enemy
– the desire to not make a mistake
– the desire to focus on mistakes when competing
2. Train your mind to think the right way.
Pretend to turn yourself into a doll made of wood. It has no ego, it thinks nothing. Let the body and the limbs work themselves out in accordance with the discipline and teaching they have undergone. This is the way to win. If you are thinking, you miss the point. If you are in total focus at that moment of the play, never concerned about the consequences, then you are on your way to the Zen perspective.
3. Focus on the experience, not winning or losing.
Have nothing on your mind; have it cleansed of all obsessions. Be relaxed and confident because you have prepared.
4. Enjoy the play.
The event is the focus, the one play is the focus. Relax and enjoy. Certain things cannot be forced. You must free yourself to let them happen.
5. Don’t think. React.
You don’t have to consciously try to win in order to win. During the game you get absorbed in the experience. Be in the present, trust your body, allow the performance that you have trained for and ingrained in your mind and body to unfold. Let the winning take care of itself.