The Zone

beta 3
This is your brain. This is your brain on alpha waves.

Most people have probably heard of The Zone, and many of us have experienced it — that mental space where everything flows, things seem to fall into place without effort, and Time has no meaning. Artists, artisans, athletes, authors, drivers, gamers, inventors, mail sorters, mathematicians, meditators, readers, scientists — almost anyone doing anything that requires reflexivity or creative thought can sometimes find themselves in The Zone.

But fewer people know how to get there at will.

“At will? What are you talking about?” You. And Doubting Thomas.

I know it can be done because I can do it.

I learned how in The Sharper Image store (when they still had brick and mortar stores), and I didn’t spend a dime.

Maybe you remember the alpha v. beta brainwave craze and the bio/neurofeedback machines that proliferated during the Seventies. The idea was to relax the normal beta wave brain activity to a lower level, the alpha wave, thus opening the mind to The Zone.

The Sharper Image sold a little bio feedback machine. You stuck your face against a kind of funnel-shaped frame that connected to a little box of electronics that emitted a sound and showed the wavelength of the wave you were experiencing — beta or alpha. If you changed from one wave to the other as you were in the frame, the machine would show you that, too.

I don’t know how it worked without electrodes like today’s neurofeedback machines have, but I was there with some of my sisters and friends, and of the six of us who tried it numerous times, I was the only one who made it change and achieved the coveted alpha wave state. Every time. Which the store personnel apparently found pretty annoying, especially since it was clear we had no intention of buying the thing. Or anything for that matter.

Anyway, I could feel myself doing it. It was like opening all the windows in my brain to let the buzzing out. Like focusing on Nothing in the mid-distance — a lot like those Magic Eye pictures that your eyes have to focus behind or in front of to see the 3D object emerge (or recede) from the computerized deconstruction of the image.

It’s a useful skill for constructing 3D models in your head, which I do as a seamstress when I alter or design, or around the house to figure out exactly what I need to create in order to fix something I’ve never fixed before. It’s the best problem solving tool I have.

And if I can do it, anyone can.

“And that’s an encouraging thought.” Gandalf the White, who probably spent more time in The Zone than anyone else in Middle Earth. Except maybe Galadriel.

What are your experiences in The Zone? What were you doing the first time you realized that’s where you were? What’s the surest way for you to get there?

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Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

6 thoughts on “The Zone”

  1. Hi Sue! This is something that happens to me a lot but I’ve never thought of it this way. You’ve put it beautifully! As a kid I would read to get into my zone. Tomorrow when the war began – was the first book I read that my mum had to physically shake me to get me to focus on what she was saying. I’d been reading for three hours. This still happens with books but more often then not I’m writing, with a pad and pen. It never happens when I work on my laptop. Maybe it’s the feeling of the words flowing out of many mind and through the pen and straight onto paper. Fabulous post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Glad to meet you! I used to feel that way about pen and paper writing. In fact, I resisted using any kind of word processing program for a very long time. But once I got into it, I found it was so much quicker, easier to manipulate, and conducive to editing, I was hooked. I still handwrite thank you notes and birthday cards, but other than that,.. I don’t even write a shopping list anymore.

      So you can block out all extraneous noise? That’s quite a feat. I find having someone talk at me when I’m focused on Nothing breaks the flow and it all goes away. lol. My son’s excuse has always been, “You didn’t look like you were doing anything.” So I bow to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know it would make my very limited time I have for writing go much faster. Maybe I have to train myself to do it? Yep. I do most of my writing on public transport so blocking everything out is essential. Even phone calls get ignored if I’m in the zone, I just don’t hear them. Ha! Poor you, maybe you need a sign to put on your desk or a writing hat so they know to let you be.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello, Sue. My name is Katie..I’m the “Catherine Mary” on Six word stories” that you’ve been ‘liking’ lately. Thank you, btw, for liking them..I, unlike so many I’ve met from “Six words” am not an aspiring writer…I;m just someone who likes to blog and Tre introduced me to that site. I must say, I’ve had a good deal of fun doing that…it was because of that site I tho’t I’d come round and read you…Your “Sonograms” blog left me laughing so hard…you must have been a comedienne in another life, lol! But this one well, I’ve never known it as “The Zone” never heard it called that..my mom did neuro/bio feedback when I was a kid..had a hand held model she used to reduce migraine headaches…but I’ve been in “the Zone” most of my life…like you, I have 3D images come into my head…I’m not a seamstress, but I do embroidery, crochet and knitting…I can look at one half of one pattern and the other of a 2nd pattern, see it in my head completed, therefore I know it will work before I begin…it isn’t limited to crafting either…at one point in my life because I had a big family, my ex husband was often astonished when he’d draw a picture of what was wrong with some part of our car…he was frustrated because he couldn’t find the problem…I’d take one look at the picture ( sometimes it was a list of things he’d tried already) and tell him exactly what the issue was and how he could fix it…if it was a list I’d see it and there would be one thing he’d not written down and I’d tell him because I could see the car engine in 3D in my head and knew where the issue was and most often what it was that was wrong. You asked for people to tell you their experiences..this is mine. Although the exhaustion that comes with midlife sometimes leaves me blank screened, most often I still see things in that 3D perspective when I am doing any sort of project…even re-arranging a room. There that is for what it’s worth…it’s somehow comforting to know someone else does what I do. Thank you again, Sue. Katie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am excited to meet you, Katie. Thank you for sharing your experience — it is comforting to find other who understand. It’s going to be fun interacting with you on your site, too!

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