Most tennis players will work to train their bodies but fall short when it comes to an integrated training of body and mind for better performance. You can take hundreds of tennis lessons from a variety of pros and you can practice for hundreds of hours to perfect every stroke so that you learn how to execute a proper forehand, backhand, an overhead, a volley. But when it comes to the moment of truth—when you’re in the heat of a match—when you find yourself at the net and the ball is careening towards you like a bullet, what is your mind doing? If your mind is bombarded by thoughts of panic, lack of confidence, concern about what the opponent will do, or negativity, chances are good you’ll feel tense, edgy, stressed and dump the shot in the net or hit it out.
Most athletes are highly dependent upon performance which is generated from the ego mind. They approach the game with concerns, anxieties, impatience, and fear about their performance. Their ego is tied in to the success of their self image and the ultimate reward of winning. “Although winning may be desirable, the passage to winning when it is driven by anxiety and impatience or fear of the end result--which is in the future--blocks you from the present where the seeds of success are planted,” says world-renowned spiritual master Yogi Amrit Desai.
UNDERSTANDING THE ZONE
When you learn core principles based on the ancient wisdom teachings of the Amrit Method, you are able to cross over from stress to success and enter the Zero Stress Zone. Every one at one time or another has experienced being in the “zone.” It’s that effortless place where you suddenly feel like your game has merged—everything has come together--you almost feel suspended in time or time has slowed down and the tennis ball even appears bigger and more accessible. Every shot seems gracefully accurate and the game just flows. And yet in the end, you don’t understand how you ever played so well or how you got there or how to recreate that experience again. So by understanding—and being conscious--of the Zero Stress Zone, you can learn how to perform from the core, repeatedly. You can create a conscious cross over from your stress producing levels to an effortless free flow that delivers optimal performance.
Much like a performer or an artist, an athlete who performs at the top level often disappears into the performance. The doer vanishes into the doing of the moment. Any conflict or fear a player carries through his ego mind disappears as well. The anxiety about winning or losing also evaporates and the door is opened to the power that’s inaccessible through training and hard work alone that we come to depend upon. Players who are anxious and impatient are losers from the beginning. The real secret is to disappear into the play.
ACCESSING THE INVISIBLE POWER
“When you see the great performers who have reached the pinnacle of performance, it is not because they have just mastered the skill or the technique that makes them the best,” notes Yogi Desai. “It is the invisible power behind the technique and the skill which often goes unnoticed. It is the confidence, the clarity that allows the performer to be relaxed and focused and to remain free from fear of success or failure, winning or losing. To enter the state of creative expression—to enter the ‘zone,’ you have to go beyond the fear or tension of winning or losing. You have to enter that magical inner place of power.
A player who is excessively focused on the end result cannot be totally present and therefore cannot deliver the best performance. Fear of failure or anxiousness to succeed causes tension that blocks you from being in the flow of energy in the moment. It blocks you from being in the “zone.” The moment you disengage those blocks [of fear or anxiety] and you are integrated, the energy begins to flow in a very coordinated, impactful way. And then “it is the wisdom of the body that guides your stroke rather than your mind,” says Yogi Desai.
LETTING GO OF ATTACHMENT TO THE OUTCOME
Often when a player enters the “zone,” onlookers might comment that he’s playing “out of his mind.” And that’s just the point. It’s not that he’s crazy but he has disconnected from the ego mind, free from tension, anxiety and fear, and is present in the moment, in the now. The player is no longer being vested in the outcome or worrying about the results by which he might ultimately be judged. Yogi Desai says: “The more you move from moment to moment, the more you are able to stay in tune with the inner game.” So if you are caught up in the ego mind and move with impatience and anxiety about the success you desire in the future, you throw roadblocks in your own way that prevent you from performing in the present. You are so busy thinking about the next moment that you fail to recognize what’s required in the current moment. That quick volley that you just dumped into the net ended the point because you were so intent on the outcome. So it’s critical to be in the moment with attention steadfastly on the ball, being focused, being present.
CULTIVATING AWARENESS FROM WITHIN
It’s all based upon how to be in direct response to what is present so the power comes from beyond the fear or anxiety of the ego mind. The game has two basic components. The first part is, of course, the technique. You need to develop the skills to perform. But the second—and most important—part is “how to create a quantum leap from the dimension of the linear ego mind into the non-linear intuitive wisdom of the body,” says Yogi Desai. ”You accomplish this by withdrawing from the concerns about the end result and allowing the innate wisdom and creativity of the body to resurface and carry out the strokes. You’re learning to have the master key on how to tune into the dormant innate wisdom that can handle every stroke and every detail of stroke with acute wisdom and awareness.”
USING THE SIMPLEST TECHNIQUE
One of the most powerful ways to achieve this level of performance is by using a Straw Breathing Technique from the Integrated Amrit Method (I AM). It’s an amazing tool to use when you’re feeling tense or unfocused. As you walk back to the baseline between points, just take a deep inhalation through the nose and slowly exhale through gently pursed lips as if you’re blowing through a straw. Make the exhalation a little longer than the inhalation. You can have your eyes open and just focus on the strings of your racket. Do this breathing technique several times and it will serve to shift you from the tension-producing ego mind to a more relaxed integrated state of being. In fact, the slow, elongated breath signals the nervous system to calm down. It can be effective in just a minute or two. So it’s a good idea to practice this breathing technique off the courts so that you can more readily access the inner power it can deliver when you’re in the middle of a match. Make it part of your training routine.
The Integrated Amrit Method is designed to help you not just be successful once in awhile or accidentally or in an unpredictable way but regularly when you need or want to achieve integration. Once you learn the art of entering the Zero Stress Zone, you can perform at your peak any time, on and off the court or in life!
Want to learn more? Order Embodying the Power of the Zero Stress Zone just released this year and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or StonewaterStudioBooks.com. Or check out my special coaching system at IntegratedLifePlan.com