Have you noticed that the people who are dedicated to extreme sports seem a little ‘different from most other people? Extreme sports enthusiasts seem to have that “darn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” attitude that runs counter to the thoughtful, considered way most people lead their lives. They can’t really help it when they are in the “zone”. When they are in the zone, all the matters is the mission . . . their whole life is no more significant than the moment of execution. Those who study such things as the psychology of athletes call the “zone” that temporary state of mind where an adrenaline high, awakened by a high-risk endeavour, is (at least temporarily) the absolutely dominant influence in your life.
The zone, as described above, may seem to symbolize a period of extreme irresponsibility. Still, it is actually a period of extreme focus and near-maximum control – it is a mental state that is similar to, but more intense than, taking that first-ever dive off the high dive at the deep end of the pool. It is also called “the adrenaline effect.”
An important body reaction
Adrenaline is an important key to the body’s reaction in times of stress, danger or anger. At those times, your brain increases the adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and blood flow. In addition, it increases glucose production (glucose is the “food” your body burns when you exercise) and increases physical stamina — in short, you feel invigorated. This process is called the “fight or flight response;” it gets your body “primed for action”,. . . and it’s somewhat addictive!
These enthusiasts are called, somewhat facetiously, “adrenaline junkies,” To these extreme sports devotees, it is a colloquialism that fits. They crave activities that require intense concentration and extreme performance, activities such as bungee jumping, skydiving, hang gliding, mountain climbing and auto racing. Adrenaline junkies, however, are not just into extreme sports. You will find them living extreme lifestyles. These are the same people you will find making their living as SWAT team members, emergency response personnel and members of military Special Forces such as SEALS and Green Berets. Professional gamblers and stock market traders are also “addicted” to the possibility of an enormous win or an enormous loss — the possibilities of which will get anyone’s adrenaline flowing.
How do you find your “zone”?
So how do you find your “zone?” It is not as difficult or as strenuous (or even as addictive) as it may sound. To some extent, those who go in for and, to some extent, become addicted to extreme sports and the adrenaline high are extreme examples of those in the zone. In simpler and less extreme terms, the zone means determination and focus.
You “psych yourself up” for any particular activity (it might be an action sport or it might be passing a mid-term exam) by becoming determined to accomplish your task and by focusing on learning what you need to learn and doing what you need to do. While you are in that mental state (that zone), you are so focused on your objective that what other people say, think or do is mere background noise. You picture the task and see yourself accomplishing it.
What’s really happening here?
What’s happening is that you are learning to harness the power of your mind. Your body — your muscles may be doing the work, but your mind is making the work easier, making the task more comprehensible, making the task more doable. It is the extreme sports version of the “Power of Positive Thinking.” Wow! Deja Vu from 1952! That’s when Dr Norman Vincent Peale’s self-help book was first published and when the seeds were first planted that would grow into millions of success stories.
The power of the mind is an awesome thing! Your mind is like a super-computer that is programming itself every minute of your day with ideas, concepts, idle thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires. The key is staying positive! Staying with the computer analogy, there is a saying amongst computer programmers: “GIGO,” that means “Garbage In — Garbage Out;” in other words, the result of any effort will only be as good (successful) as the effort put into it.
Normally, so the experts say, humans use only a small fraction of their mind’s potential. The amount of additional potential that you might be using when in your zone has not been quantified and is not important — what is important is that, whether participating in an action sport or trying to learn a line of poetry, the focus and determination you use will make success more possible. The only limitations we have are self-imposed — that’s the secret of the zone!