A long time ago I used to play a lot of racquetball. One day I was playing against a friend of mine against whom I usually won. We usually played best-of-seven, first person to win four games.
He was winning three games to zero and he was about halfway through the fourth game which he was ahead by quite a bit but then something clicked inside of me and everything changed.
Scientists, psychologists have often been interested in something called the flow state, where you train yourself to a very high level of skill. Usually some type of competitive sport. Then when you’re operating in a very high level of skill your consciousness seemingly takes a backseat.
Flow State Magic
You shift from being in the middle, controlling all of your actions, thinking about all the stuff that’s going on to suddenly watching everything happen. It’s a very pleasant state to be in and it doesn’t usually last very long. It’s something that psychologists, sports psychologists have been studying for quite a long time.
We have a common idea of the role of our self-awareness and our consciousness. We usually have this idea where we have this idea of us inside and then we perceive stuff that happens outside of us.
Then we use our self-awareness, our understanding, our consciousness to make a decision about how to respond to that stuff that we see happening outside of us and then we respond. It turns out that this is probably, almost certainly, not correct.
God And The Brain
I was watching this very interesting series of videos about God and the brain. The guy giving the series of lectures, there was 24 lectures, was a neurologist, a medical doctor of neurology, and he was explaining all the different ideas associated with how the idea of God relates to our thinking.
They do all kinds of experiments where they measure which areas of the brain lights up when people meditate, when people pray, when people are doing regular non-religious or spiritual type tasks. One of the questions that they talked about was the role of human consciousness, the role of our consciousness, why do we have this never-ending self-awareness.
What we have, self-awareness when seemingly not a lot of other animals do, and one way to look at this is to think about how we learn new skills. All new skills have to go through those four famous stages of being unconsciously incompetent when you don’t know that you suck.
Four Stages Of Learning
Being consciously incompetent, that’s you when you know that you suck and then consciously competent where you don’t really suck, but you have to think quite a bit about doing whatever it is you’re doing. Then you get to the final stage hopefully, you’ll get to the final stage of being unconsciously competent.
When you can do the skill without needing your conscious mind. If you look at all of our new skills as having to pass through our consciousness then one way to look at our consciousness is as a new skill generator. A skill learning tool. An aspect of our awareness. An aspect of our thinking that allows us to learn new skills.
Not a lot of other animals, in fact, few other animals can learn a lot of skills, self-directed skills like we can. A lot of animals can be trained and humans can be trained, but no other animal can decide and choose which skills to learn. That might be the whole purpose of our self-awareness to choose what skills to learn.
Another way to look at a skill that has been trained to the level of unconscious competence is as a new instinct. This might mean that the whole purpose of our consciousness, the reason that we evolved a sense of self-awareness was so that we could learn new instincts. That the purpose of our conscious mind is to be a new instinct generator.
When they hook up people’s brains to these machines that measure which parts of the brain’s are lighting up, when they notice that we perceive something outside of us and then our muscular system tenses up and gets ready to respond to that, and only after that happens does our consciousness start to wake up in and notice what’s going on.
Based on the scientific sequence of events, their best estimate for what our conscious mind is in the moment when they’re measuring in the moment flow of activity is an after-the-fact storytelling device. We watch stuff happen and then after it happens, we need to pretend that we were there at the beginning and we decided to choose what would happen.
Flow State Sandwich Making
Another way to look at the flow state is as thinking about lower-level skills. Like if you’re watching TV and you decided to make a sandwich, you wouldn’t really need a lot of your consciousness to make that sandwich. In a way that’s kind of a small example of a flow state, but that’s not really interesting to psychologists.
Most people can make a sandwich. Most people can drive to work without needing to think. The part that psychologists are most interested in is that very high level of skill, especially competitive skill. It’s one thing to train yourself to do something complex, like play a very complicated song on the piano.
It’s something else entirely when you’re in a competitive sport when you don’t know what’s going to happen next, that you’re still kind of in that flow state, where your conscious mind is not required to perform at a very high level.
Once I realized what was about to happen, my mind kind of shifted. What happened was my intention shifted. Up until that point of our racquetball games, my main intention had been to win the game. Every time I lost another point it made me more frustrated, which made me less likely to achieve my intention.
I was stuck in a negative cycle. Every time I wanted to win and every time I didn’t get closer I got more frustrated, which made it less likely that I could perform well. What shifted was I suddenly realized that if I lost in this game, I wouldn’t be able to play racquetball for at least another couple of weeks.
Since I very much enjoyed playing racquetball, I decided to just forget about winning or losing and just enjoy playing. Once I shifted, I suddenly played very well. In fact that was probably one of my only flow state experiences. It lasted through that game in the next three games.
Enhanced Flow State
I ended up beating my friend four games to three. That’s one of my most fondest memories of having that flow state while playing sports.
it happened because I shifted my attention from wanting a specific outcome to just being in the moment and enjoying the experience.
Mind Persuasion has plenty of books and courses to teach you how to speak hypnotically and persuasively.