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Imagine performing at your best in front of thousands – full of confidence and joy.

“This is when everything goes so perfectly that you slip into a gear that you didn’t even know was there.”

We all have that secret gear. That’s what psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “chick-sent-me high”) found. His research showed that optimal experience occurs when body and mind are stretched to their limits in order to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. He called it being ‘in the flow’. Csikszentmihalyi said:

“Such experiences are not necessarily pleasant at the time they occur. The swimmer’s muscles might have ached during his most memorable race, his lungs might have felt like exploding, and he might have been dizzy with fatigue — yet these could have been the best moments of his or her life.”

Here are seven characteristics of flow or zone according to Mental Training Consultant Karlene Sugarman:

• Relaxed: The best performances occur when you are just slightly above your normal state of arousal, not at the extreme end of the spectrum. You feel relaxed, but you are able to move with great strength and ease.

• Confident: You exude confidence and pride, and it is evident in your performance. There is no fear. You don’t let a lapse in performance undermine your belief in your overall abilities.

• Focused: You are totally absorbed in the moment. The only thing you are concentrating on is the task at hand. You have no real sense of time.

• Effortless: You are in a state where you can accomplish great things with little or no effort. Your mind and body are working with one another in perfect unison. That sort of connectedness and moment of greatness is an awesome thing both to witness and take part in.

• Automatic: There is no interference from your thoughts or emotions.. You are on auto pilot, just reacting to whatever comes your way. Your body just seems to know what to do.

• Fun: When you’re in the flow, the enjoyment is incomparable to anything else.

• In Control: You feel that no matter what, you are in control. You own your own destiny. The authority is yours, and no one else’s. You have a feeling of mastery.

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