Let’s be clear on one thing – you don’t enter “The Zone” by following instructions. The zone cannot be taught. The zone is our true nature, our ‘naturalness.’
Our naturalness is akin to our “effortlessness.” (See the June 2018 Instinctive Golf Blog, Wu Wei, on this site). The zone is a place of effortlessness and efficient activity. It is accessed by quieting the mind and awakening the body. It is a place of trust where we access the extensive experience, memory, capability and potential of our nonconscious neural/muscular system.
From the time we were born, we explored bodily movements – such as learning to eat, learning to handle utensils and tools, learning to walk, learning to do anything by trial and error, exploration and discovery. Parents may not have been thrilled when we batted our milk glass or mishandled (threw) our food, but we learned!
All our bodily experiences get stored in our non-conscious central nervous system. The brain evaluates successful and unsuccessful movement, releases the unsuccessful, and stores the successful in our neuro/muscular system so they can be automatically called upon.
For more detailed and enlightening information about how the brain and nervous system learns by experience, I suggest reading PGA Master Professional Michael Hebron’s book Learning with the Brain in Mind. Michael Hebron states, “Ultimately, the only information and skills that help one experience meaningful long-term learning are those invented, experiences or organized personally …… What does it feel like?”
What I learned from the book is that effective learning does not ask us to fix anything or follow directions. Effective learning embraces curiosity, experimentation and innovation. Exploration and self-discovery may ultimately be our best “teacher!” Can you even fathom entering the zone while trying to fix something in your golf swing or trying to follow instructions?!?!
Once you have experienced the joy of a successful golf shot with the feeling of pure impact integrating through your hands, your body and your neural/muscular system (no matter a short pitch or a long drive), the feeling and experience reside there forever. The big question for our golf game is, “How do we call upon this feeling and movement so our golf swing can become automatic.” The simple answer is to access the zone. But, how do we access the zone?! We can’t consciously think our refined instincts into being. It is when we quiet our conscious thinking and analyzing mind that we can access our nonconscious kinesthetic instincts stored in our neural/muscular system. We do this through a subtle intention, not through conscious effort.
When you allow yourself to bask in the joy, wonder and fascination of your body’s subconscious abilities and potential you will experience AWE and FLOW ……and invite the experience of the zone. For a deeper explanation of the zone, see the October 2020 Instinctive Golf Blog, The Zone, on this site.
When you let go of conscious attempts to control your golf swing, trust in your nonconscious kinesthetic abilities and effortlessly allow their expression, you will invite the experience of the zone. Relax, let go and trust, and you are likely to experience the peace, tranquility, wonder, excitement and joy of experiencing The Zone!!