Monday, October 10, 2011

On "the groove"

I've noticed something. There are times when I am "in the groove", whether I'm working, or playing.

Some After-Action Report observations on these moments, in no particular order. Your experiences may be different; I would love to hear about them!

-- I am not aware of the "larger world": I am completely focused on what I'm doing. This is not to say that I forget about the "larger world", just that it is not important. What I do remember of it is brought to conscious thought only if it's relevant to what I'm doing, and only then for actual application.

-- I am usually enjoying it. Either what I'm doing itself, or the conquering of it.

-- I am usually completely fascinated by the beauty of whatever processes are involved, either physical, mental, or spiritual. (Usually, in fact, it is the unique combination of the three that is fascinating and beautiful.)

I know it's hard to imagine that there is beauty in everything...but there is. A subtler point I've noticed lately is that it's usually the finding and revelling in this beauty that -puts me into the groove-.

-- My ego (or rather, my awareness of it) is usually either completely wiped out, or vastly reduced.

-- When I spend a day "in the zone", I'm very tired afterward, but it's the best tiredness ever. :) And while my body and mind might be exhausted, I'm still refreshed in a way that I have yet to come across any other way. Once I've gotten a good night's sleep after one of these days...the next morning is the absolute best. If I cultivate this, I find it easier to slip back into the zone. If, on the other hand, I allow myself to indulge in a little lazyness and just bask in the "good feeling", it goes to waste. Not only does it go to waste: sometimes it even becomes negative! i.e., my productivity actually dips below average for a few days.

-- There are rhythms and cycles to a) when these "zone days" happen, and b) how intense they are/can be.

So here are a few take-aways I'm going to try to put into conscious practice, and see if they hold true:

1) Find the beauty in everything. Frequently, this is related to Christ somehow. Sometimes, I can't see how, but I can still see the beauty and thank Him for it. Find it. Revel in it.

2) Don't worry. Worrying is counter-productive anyway, not to mention spiritually damaging, since it comes from lack of faith.

3) Don't overwork or underwork yourself. "Whatever you do, do it with your might," yes. But also, take care of the body that allows you to manifest that might. Note: your brain is part of your body. Learn what makes it tick, and don't be stupid.

4) For those times when you just have to overwork yourself, do it in a planned fashion, and take a couple of days off afterwards to recharge. Then GET BACK TO IT. Learn to find the "sweet spots" in your body's (and your mind's/spirit's) rhythms for each different kind of "zone".

Schedule your work and play (remembering that most "play" is actually also work) around these "sweet spots". There are some days where being mentally "in the zone" just is not going to happen. Even these days can be useful, if you've planned for your "grunt work" (any repetitive, relatively mindless tasks) to be done then -- because this is another kind of "zone". For these days, what little mind you have available can be focused on the task at hand. If even this is not possible, focus it using memorized prayer or short, repeatable passages from Scripture.

(Note: you should be doing this all the time, and the focus should not be originated in the mind, while the heart does other things. Rather, it should originate in the heart, and be carried out by the mind. Nevertheless, this is especially important on days where you are doing "mindless" tasks, so as to keep what mind you have from wandering into sin.)

Something I've also noticed lately: If I cannot (or rather, could not...sometimes "can" and "could" are two different things) have at least my heart (if not my mind and body) in prayer while doing a thing, that thing usually turns out not to have been a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. NOTE: These take-aways are by no means things I've mastered. In fact, they are things I'm going to start consciously doing. MAYBE, by the grace of God, I'll master them one day. :)


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