Tag Archives: The Zone

The Second Cornerstone: Mindfulness

Go the the current Great Being post

In last week’s post we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance is achieved mainly through Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. We included tools to increase Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control.

The need to be master of one’s own attention has gotten progressively greater over the centuries as a result of information overload and its distractive effects. We have given this condition the name Acceleritis™, the vast increase in the amount of information needing to be processed by our brains each day. ADD, ADHD, and a fairly obvious reduction in the general population’s ability to stay focused on one problem long enough to solve it, have been the result.

Watch a video about the cure for Acceleritis.

The need for Mindfulness has never been greater.

The Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, recommend three yogic mental/emotional methods to achieve the conscious and willful control of our attention.

  • Concentration is the focus of the mind on a single object.
     
  • Contemplation is the focus of the mind on a single subject.
     
  • Meditation is the contemplation of the Self.

What then is Mindfulness?

We define Mindfulness as the optimal allocation of attention for maximum effectiveness. When one is mindful, attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This helps us understand our own motivations in the moment, to consider not only our needs but the needs and probable responses of others, and to greatly improve what fighter pilots call situational awareness. This is in sharp distinction from our typical behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open.

It takes attention and effort to be mindful, but practicing persistent mindfulness not only allows us to be more present in each moment, it also allows us to shift into a higher state of consciousness to reach the Observer state more often and launch into the Zone or Flow state, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking with a solution orientation — overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution — are the cornerstones of what I practice to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of my life. Try this approach for yourself to see if it works for you.

Best to all,

Bill 

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI". It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

Bill interviewed on RBDRFor those interested in my work in the media business world you might like to watch my video interview with Bob Lederer on Research Daily Report in which I sum up highlights from the ARF Re:Think 2015 Conference in New York March 16 – 18.

Positive Thinking

Go the the current Great Being post

People are always saying to me, “Bill, you’re one of the most positive people around.” While I take it as a high compliment, I am always thinking “How do I convey that there’s more to it than positive thinking?”

Positive thinking is an idea all of us know by now, and it is not easy for most people to practice it when faced with perceived threats, disappointments or other mood negators.

You Have The Power

I actually didn’t set out to be a positive thinker. Like all children I wondered about everything, I just wondered more systematically, and in a bulldog fashion. A philosopher by nature, I really wanted to figure things out. The positive thinking came along with a lot of other discoveries.

As a philosopher I am attracted to pragmatism. This moves the mind toward positive thinking as a side effect. From a pragmatic point of view, one does not start with positive thinking, but with questions like what is our goal or purpose, and then what means will get us there. In the context of pragmatism, anything but positive thinking is an obvious waste of time and energy! Negative handwringing is staying in the problem definition phase when it’s time to move on to the solution phase.

Having been led to positive thinking via pragmatism, I was then able to see the value of projecting positively, pre-visualizing positively, and communicating positively as simply more effective at achieving goals. I didn’t do those things out of a belief in thinking positively; I did them because I saw that they worked.

Here are some other attitudes or strategies that I find work well along with positive thinking:

  • Have fun, because fun is conducive to reaching Flow state.
  • Develop long-term goals and then work toward aligning your short-term goals to your long-term goals.
  • Consider “What can I control or change, and what must I accept?”
  • Take the right action and let the chips fall as they may.
  • Pre-visualize successful outcomes.
  • Non-attachment to outcome is key.

Positive thinking is one of the cornerstones of success, leading to Flow state or Zone-level performance, ability to withstand and meet challenges, ability to be happy. I highly recommend it as a daily practice.

Mindfulness is another necessary component that works side by side with positive thinking. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on mindfulness in the next post.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI". It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

If You Aren’t Enjoying Your Self, Something’s Wrong

Go the the current Great Being post

Assume that if you are in a bad mood or feel a negative physical symptom, this is a direct internal communication to you. Your subconscious is trying to tell you something! This is an autonomic alarm system we all have.

If for example your current activities are not in alignment with your goals, or if you have set a goal that is not in alignment with your core values, parts of your mind will try to bring this to your conscious attention any way they can, and often the signaling will involve feelings of distress or something not quite right.

Maybe it starts out one day as a bad mood you don’t even realize you are in, and then escalate as the signal strength is gradually increased in an attempt to finally get your attention. If this persists long enough it can turn into physical symptoms. It is all about communication — in this case, internal communication.

Act as if you deserve to be happy

The highest priority then is to decode the message and thereby reverse the emotional or physical quandary. Don’t get lost in the suffering and forget to decipher first, ahead of anything else. Act as if you deserve to be happy at all times, whatever the circumstances.

Getting lost in the suffering is what most of us do at most times, and this is a life-threatening waste of time. It also blocks your quality. There’s no point in soldiering on in a bad mood because whatever you do in that state will not be in the range of high quality / high effectiveness. Better to let the work fall even farther behind while you figure out what is bugging you and dispel it by taking the action required.

How Can You Find Your Way into Flow State?

One of the primary characteristics of Flow state (aka the Zone) is that the individual is doing something s/he loves to do, fully immersed in the playing of that game as a game, without over-motivation to win or over-concern of failure — and above all that, free of attachment. This mood is a clue that you are in the process of moving into higher effectiveness, you just go with the flow, enjoying it — and if you don’t distract yourself by subtly gloating over it, you go all the way into the Zone.

If something is bringing you down, that is going to block the Zone. Set aside your work, get yourself somewhere where you are uninterruptible, and see inside yourself to detect the source of the bad mood or sick feeling.

Are you attached to something that you fear not getting? Or are you attached to something not happening that some part of you expects will be happening anyway? What could it be?

You might find that taking notes helps, especially if you let the pen just write, without editing, because different neuron clusters become engaged when you go from just pondering to also writing notes. Shifting modalities like this is like sweeping a searchlight around inside your psyche.

Another way to shift modalities and bring different neurons into play is to turn aside from actively thinking about the question and instead just cultivate emptiness inside while paying sharp attention. This is a powerful shift of neurons, known to many writers. For example, adman James Webb Young’s 1960 classic A Technique For Producing Ideas speaks about a need to set aside all thought about a project after studying and thinking deeply about it, and sure enough flashes of inspiration will appear out of nowhere (usually within three days in this writer’s experience, frequently within hours nowadays after decades of practice).

A more common experience we’ve all had is when trying to think of a word or name. It is on the tip of our tongue and we keep trying the same file drawer in our mind, certain that with enough effort we will remember it. But we don’t remember it until we give up and then it easily pops into our head a short while later. Same principle.

You Deserve To Be Happy

Remain open to the existence of all possibilities where you have not proven — with evidence that would stand up in court and to scientific public scrutiny — that some possibility does not in fact exist. Do not tolerate bad moods or sickly symptoms in oneself without seeking out the root causes and taking effective action to remove those causes.

Banish negativity as ineffective time-wasting! Rechannel your energy into a stimulus to discern the root sources — and then plan and implement effective actions to remove those root causes of the negativity. And remember to respect yourself and everyone and everything else. Disrespect blocks solutions and creates new problems.

Our purpose steadfastly remains to improve the creative effectiveness of our readers thus improving decision making. Test this method over the next week or lifetime and see if it works for you. There is no downside risk in the test — it can only help you, or at the worst change nothing.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI". It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com

Useful Transcendence Techniques in Mental Wrestling

Volume 3, Issue 37

Fluttering saffron leaves wave at me through all the windows that surround. It is another ecstatic autumn day here in the Hudson Valley. Inside the house, décor projections of Lalita’s beauty catch my eye as I sit to write to you.

The subject as always is living in the Flow state (the Zone), and employing psychotechnology to get there. My recurring theme: it’s easiest to get there through an earlier state of awareness, the Observer state.

Educators at their best have toyed with the notion of providing courses in Thinking (click and scroll to Majoring in Thinking),  allowing students to major in it. The second article at this link uses the term “metacognition” to describe thinking about thinking, and being cognizant of one’s own prior thought. This is exactly the Observer state if one is focused only on the thinking dimension, but instead of thinking out of the box, folks ought to consider getting out of the box called thinking. There is also intuition, perception, and emotion to be cognizant of within oneself. The Observer state then is to be aware of all of this stuff that is going on within, without losing observant attention to the apparently-outside world. So in the end it is all about attention.

Brilliant psychological work has been done by Piaget in recognizing the high abstract level of thinking he dubbed the Formal Operational Level. In my new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, I suggest that as a race we reached this level for the first time when cave paintings and then written language appeared, which happened only very recently in our embryonic species career. This triggered such acceleration in information input to each of us that we mostly operate below the Piagetian level due to distraction. More recently other brilliant psychologists and researchers have named a new even-higher level of thinking called Systems Thinking; however, one is still locked into the trap of acting as if thinking is the whole of the self. Flow state and even Observer state require that one is in one’s body feeling the emotions, receiving the perceptions, and attuned to the subtle guidance system of the intuition. In fact the intuition is the most valuable platform in terms of Systems Thinking, where the more precise term might be Systems Perception.

Within the sphere of the emotions there is a crucial dimension called motivation. Here the leading psychological minds of the twentieth century include Maslow and Erikson, each of whom offers a specific set of levels the individual passes through on the ladder to the highest states of consciousness. At Maslow’s highest stage, one is motivated by morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts. This is a very good description of the Observer state, and the spontaneity part of it is suggestive of the Flow state.

In fact it is the lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts that best characterizes the Observer state among Maslow’s list of terms. Below the Observer state one is operating through a distortion lens caused by wounds one has received and habitual defensive patterns one has robotically adopted to cope with these wounds.

Wrestling the angel in transcending the wounded ego self, which is the true/higher inner jihad, one learns the traps one’s opponent (the ego) gets one into, and the escapes by which one extricates one’s higher true self. Incoming gets autoclassified by the ego self and this autotriggers certain reactions —look for these reactions and let them float downstream, disidentifying with and annihilating them. This keeps or gets one into the Observer state, the launch pad from which Flow can occur. Emotional reactions to be on guard against are: anger, negative judgment, unease/fear, envy, and irritation/impatience.

These emotional reactions are signs of the nonacceptance of fact, and the existence of prejudice in oneself. One is projecting a subjective expectation rather than observing objectively. This reduces one’s problem-solving ability, bringing one down below the Formal Operational Level.

Woodstock Roundtable host Doug Grunther, himself a psychologist and dream therapist who has interviewed many deep thinkers, commented in a recent radio interview with me that “higher” states of consciousness ought to really be called “deeper” states of consciousness, because these states come from deep down within oneself. I would agree and add that they come from deep down within the One Self too. So in what sense are they “higher”?

The stated purpose of my nonprofit Human Effectiveness Institute is the improvement of decision making. Our objective in understanding psychotechnology and getting more people into Observer and Flow states more often is so that we can run ourselves and the world better, be more competent, more effective, more creative. “Deeper” may be more descriptive and explanatory, but “higher” illustrates the rise from lower dysfunctional levels.

Takeaway: notice and nullify the prejudicial instant reactions of anger, negative judgment, unease/fear, envy, and irritation/impatience. Accept the facts and get on with finding creative and effective solutions. This will bring more pleasure to you and yours, and radiate outward as positive energy to the ends of the universe.

Best to all,

Bill  

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com. 

What Is Death?

Volume 3, Issue 35

A great man passed away the other day. Joseph Lambert served his country in Vietnam, never flinching from the dirtiest jobs to protect others from having to do them. It was possibly the latent effects of Agent Orange in which he was once hip deep that ultimately took him. 

Unbeknownst of this loss to mankind, I was in a magical apple orchard in upstate New York watching my granddaughter Gabrielle pick apples, red and gold. A small deer looked at us and ballet’d from the glade. Shifting, slanting spotlights played from the skies through the autumn colors. Gabrielle’s mood changed abruptly seeing the foreleg of a small deer lying in the leaves.

Sex and death: Woody Allen’s favorite themes. We know what sex is, but do we really know what death is?

 Delivering a eulogy at my father’s death years ago I said “We come into this world, we know not from where; we leave, and we really know not to where we go. Science tells us that the universe conserves matter and energy, neither can ever be destroyed. If Nature conserves these things, would she not also conserve something much more valuable — consciousness?”

Since humankind has wondered, there have been two schools of thought about the nature of reality. Accidental Materialists, may be the dominant group today, if not in what people say then certainly in the way they act. This group believes that matter is the primary substance of the universe, and that the universe is an accident, and so is life, consciousness, and love. For about a hundred years until the second half of the 20th century, Western psychology believed that consciousness was an epiphenomenon, that the decisions we think we are making are just rationalizations of the actions we took driven by electrochemical and mechanical causes.

The other group, which in Plato’s time were called Idealists, believes that consciousness is the primary substance of the universe, and matter/energy are representations which exist within consciousness. This position is actually more defensible from an empirical epistemological viewpoint. Since all we truly know exists is consciousness, because it is the only phenomenon we perceive directly, the rest is coming through consciousness to us. In this worldview the universe is not an accident, has always existed, and the Big Bang is a recent local event in a larger picture.

From unusual direct experiences I have had all my life, my conviction is that there is only one Self, and everything in the universe is that Self having fun. However in some of Its manifestations, due to self-misidentification by the local self, that fun is perceived by the local self as suffering.

If I’m right, there is no death. At the end of a song, one might say that the music dies, and yet that song may be sung again and again after that never to be sung exactly the same way.

The local self may then awake in a new place, with the potential to remember the prior place, and to string it all together. If the Original Self as consciousness might be subject to information theory and thus behave the way software does, these avatars could each re-evolve over a series of lives the needed computing power to again inhabit fully the Original Self as a new personality aspect. I develop this idea in more detail in my soon to be released new book You Are the Universe: Imagine That.   

If through unusual experiences one can gain realization of the self as being the One Self, the fear of death evaporates and the way one lives one’s life undergoes a profound change. Attachment to trivia falls away and in living the moment, Flow state (the Zone) becomes one’s natural state.

Joseph
O Nobly Born
Thou art embarked upon the great journey
Once again back in the arms of thy Self
Aiming always toward the Light
You whose great Light hath always shined
Love giver to all you perceive
Constant steady in your saintly support of the All in Each
You are Home.

Best to all,

Bill

P.S. I’ll be reading from and signing the latest edition of my book MIND MAGIC at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY on Sunday, October 20 between 2 and 3 PM. Please stop by if you are in the area.

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.