"When someone is in a state of flow, that person's brain is not thinking about anything - it's just processing things through chunks at a total instinct level." - Kevin Maney
These last few weeks I have been exploring aspects of focus; my levels of focus in different environments, recognising triggers that inhibit focus, as well as strategies to help improve my focus and peace of mind.
One of the main triggers that affects my focus and creates “overthinking” is when I place expectations on myself or my performance. For me this is mostly when I am training or competing. If I plant the seed of “I want to do well at this,” my mind immediately creates an irrational fear of not achieving that goal. The noise in my mind gets louder, the voices become self defeating and self destructive and I lose presence and focus with the world around me.
I have tried distracting myself by focusing on my movement, breathing, and positive affirmations, but have found that I can achieve the greatest state of flow when I focus on not focusing. If I let my mind focus too strongly my mind starts to over analyse and create unnecessary fear or barriers to my success. This happens particularly with movements or skills that I feel are not my strongest.
In order to achieve a focus of not focusing I am learning through meditation to allow the distracting, destructive thoughts to come and go. Simply resisting them only makes them come back stronger and louder.
The state of “not focusing” is a form of dissociation. It also allows us to dissociate from the physical pain that we may be feeling during a workout, and helps us reach that red line if thats where we want to go.