Category Archives: The Zone

Open Your Present

Created March 11, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Past, Present, Future. Select the middle one. Now open it.

What would it be like for you to learn how to open your present moment?

You’d have to be so much in the Now that you’d be momentarily less aware of your past and the hold that it normally exercises over you.

Without the past looming you would temporarily free of assumptions and expectations, lenses and filters, and your eyes and other senses would be naked.

What you see in front of you and all around you might not seem as familiar as it always did before.

The stunned silence overtaking your inner dialog might momentarily remove the self-not-self dichotomy so basic to everyone’s perspective. There would just be events flowing and unfolding “within you and without you”. No apparent self. Oneness happening.

Depending on the circumstances, something might happen that could cause you to dart back into your protective shell.

Or, if you were lucky enough the moment could be sustained. If allowed to loll in that return to nature, an idea might arise in your mind but as words form you might dismiss them as incomplete and unnecessary. All words would suddenly seem inadequate, that the real experience of life could not be contained in them, that wherever you are now as strange and miraculous as it might seem would never be something you could accurately bring back and report to humanity and share with your loved ones.

However, if you continued to experience moments like these where the awe and wonder of existence and the universe were more than enough, even without analysis and understanding, to enjoy as if encased in rare music and art of which you are a kaleidoscopic part…

Then that state would become friendly and familiar and you could incorporate the repeated experiences in your life, and maybe even begin to be able to turn on the state at will, opening your present moment and becoming one with it, part of the flow of time, an essential facet of the universe and fully at home and at peace in it.

The Flow state takes many forms. The most popular representations of the Flow state are the performer/athlete instance, being “on”, in the zone, and the scientist/artist form, the “aha” moment, “eureka!” The spiritual levels of the Zone are above these manifestation levels.

In my book You Are The Universe, I write about a theorized five levels of Flow state, four of which I’ve experienced and have memories of. They crystallized in my mind when I read about Oscar Ichazo’s postulated 15 levels of consciousness, said to have been derived from Ouspensky, which would have been influenced by Gurdjieff and perhaps Madame Blavatsky. My map is probably an inaccurate representation of reality and also a distorted view of Ichazo’s thoughts. But it works for me.

Oscar called it level 48 (meaning 48 limitations) when the body goes into Flow and you are moving perfectly and performing perfectly and effortlessly so that everything appears to be doing itself. My friend Eric Mart said that Oscar called this the basic professional state.

In 24, you are in ecstasy, your feelings are in Flow state, Ananda.

12 is the level in which your mind is operating in Flow and every word is a bon mot perfect for the moment, you are thinking in Shakespearean poetry.

6 gives you synchronicity in which you are aware of things that there is no contemporary explanation for, and around you, things are happening which you understand the meaning of, and which benefit you, as if your subconscious is controlling them.

Some years ago, a person I was mentoring had a habit that I tolerated as amusing although it had her stuck in her own evolutionary growth at a certain step. She read in my mind what I was about to tell her but she was not fully getting the point of what I was trying to clue her in on. She was attached to guessing the right answer and so continually interrupted me.

One day at my home on Moonhaw Road with bright sunlight flooding in and not a cloud in the sky, this routine was going on. Suddenly as she opened her mouth to guess my next words there was a clap of thunder drowning out her words. This went on about ten times, perfectly timed to when she started to talk, even though she waited and tried everything to get a word in edgewise. I believe that was level 6.

3, the highest level of Flow, I theorize would make a person capable of willing things to happen and have them happen in reality. Perhaps we all have this and it is merely happening very slowly so that it takes years to accomplish your mission.

The present culture has directed us away from such things as this, lumping under the term “magical thinking” anything that sounds as if it is far-fetched. Instead, we are inculcated into behaving according to the expectations of others, in a typically defensive stance with a sense of dependency on outside crutches, and a need to compensate for our inadequacies of life. My friend John Zweig was saying the other day that this is the way marketing is done now, products and services are there to make our lives worthwhile, we are portrayed as being needy without them. Ads often take the form of problem-solution. However, some ads depict the product or service in terms of the experiential enjoyment it brings, which does not convey any lack in the ad experiencer.

A few years ago, I was an expert witness in a patent case. A very aggressive young lawyer was cross-examining me and hoped to unnerve me by whipping out my book You Are The Universe and asking me what level of consciousness I am now in. I answered that I was in the Observer state, which is the highest state under the Flow state, and the state that my book Mind Magic is designed to bring on. 

We won the case. Not that it had much to do with that incident, which merely illustrates the degree to which our present culture is excessively closed-minded about the further possibilities of consciousness.

But if we open our present, we discover for ourselves that the world is truly a much more magical place than we have been led to believe. Not that “magic’ automatically implies “supernatural”. There is nothing more supernatural than nature itself. It’s all science once we figure it out. We have figured out maybe one percent of all there is in this giant puzzle universe to figure out. We impede our own expansion of knowledge to be so cramped in our implementation of the scientific method.

Opening your present is paying unfiltered attention without going-in locked-down constraints. When you do this, you open yourself up to more awesome experiences by allowing for all possibilities and not assuming that you or even the human race now knows everything.

When you open your present, you receive the gift.

Best to all,

Bill

Holiday Blessings

A holiday gift to you from all of us here at The Human Effectiveness Institute and songwriter Stan Satlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooF8CDQIpDE

Outsmart Hasty Closure

Created December 22nd, 2020

Built into each human being before birth is an information-processing program whose apparent purpose is to help us understand our external and internal experiences.

It works as follows: certain experiences or perceptions trigger a feeling of dissonance in the mind; you pay closer attention to and think about these until you have a feeling of having absorbed their information, at which point the feeling of dissonance goes away and we say that you have achieved closure.

 Hasty closure can be defined as those instances in which it would have been useful to you to think further before closure. In the Observer state or Flow state peak experience states of consciousness – we are “above” or “behind” the autonomic mind (Ego) and Hasty Closure does not occur.

“Acceleritis”  — the condition caused by having too many things to pay attention to all at the same time, and pretty much all the time — makes us impatient if we are in “normal waking consciousness” – the autonomic mind (Ego aka The Robot). When we do not fully understand something, the drive for closure becomes palpable within our minds. We may become frustrated and maybe even apoplectic, especially if additional variables continue to be introduced — a ringing telephone, someone comes in with a request or sends us a text or e-mail, etc. If we are living in a state of continual impatience, our minds will do anything to get to closure as quickly as possible. If we run our lives and our minds in the usual impatient way, we will lack insight into this process, and so we will be eager to grab our mind’s first offering of a way to closure.

To help you distinguish which of these states you are in at any given moment, here below are some of the signs of hasty closure. When you spot these signs happening within yourself, you are jumping into the Observer state!:

  • One of the most obvious effects of Acceleritis is the increased tendency to see things in black/white terms rather than in shades of gray. “She is always out to get me.” “That guy is never right.”
  • Positions based on beliefs rather than on personal empirical experience. “A company should always be sharply focused on just one thing.” “Religion is just superstition.” “The White Race is supreme.” These beliefs likely came from other people who were influential in your life, including your parents.
  • Negative Charge. The presence of negative emotion such as tension, fear, anger or irritation. These feelings are evidence that you are seeing a situation a certain way, and on top of that, you have subconsciously already decided on a strategy for dealing with it. With such a negative premise, this is not likely to work.

Often these closures will trace back to experiences you had many years ago that you interpreted in a way that locks you into a certain inflexibility, and which trick you into believing you have learned something empirically from your own personal bad experience. But you’ve been fooled by the takeaway you received from that experience; the real lesson is somewhat subtler than the lesson you articulated to yourself long ago.

Typically, you may have overcompensation bias. You were too open, you thought you learned a big lesson, but now you are too guarded — “falling off the opposite side of the log”. You may have been too generous and now you’re too stingy, too severe and now too gentle, too trusting and now not trusting anything or anyone. And so on. You learned the wrong lesson — it wasn’t black or white, it was finding the right spot between them for each situation.

A powerful strategy for jumping into the Observer state is to doubt your own last thought/feeling. Before going off half-cocked, look back at what you just thought or felt, and demand proof before you choose what action to take. This ensures that all of you, your whole self, is in charge, not taken over by a part of you.

You may have an investment in accepting some thoughts over others, such as thoughts that make you look smart to yourself. Just knowing that you can be biased goes a long way to seeing past any bias you may have lurking in your head.

Don’t take anything to extremes. This post is not meant to turn you into Hamlet, never able to make a decision. You must in fact become more decisive, simply not hasty: think things through thoroughly and then take action. If you sense something is dragging on too long and you have needed to take action for some time, you really need to get away by yourself for however long it takes (within reason) to plan out what to do decisively.

Enjoy the peak experiences of the holiday season,

Bill

Transforming Our Emotions

Updated July 2, 2020

Today our lives are lived in a pressure cooker as never before. Our movements are constrained, we are both cut off from social behaviors we need, and also often cut off from the alone time crucial to our sanity and effectiveness. In the complex accelerated culture in which we live (we call it Acceleritis™), self-mastery of our inner space, or even awareness of what is going on in there, is extremely complicated. Neuroses can arise like biocomputer viruses, and spread through society by intercommunication between people, through our thoughts and ideas and through moods upon which neuroses depend.

Be the masters of our emotions

Two recurring neurotic themes most of us can relate to involve money and frustration. Our culture is set up to cause most of us to worry excessively about money. Money is often the leading indicator of our feelings of self-worth, belonging, achievement, status, freedom, wellness, potency and security. I’m probably leaving some things out.

Frustration can mount, for example, in the workplace when co-workers and bosses don’t go along with the inspiring ideas we have about how to do our job better. Or when society does not encourage (or recognize) an inborn skill or talent and instead of channeling us into a career we love, we find ourselves doing work we can tolerate but that may do little to bring out those inborn talents.

Over time the mix of frustration and money fear can turn to a growing anger, often bottled up inside where when left to simmer and build it can become one of the causes of illnesses of the mind and body. We fall into a counterproductive cycle. We become blocked from getting into the Zone, where ideas, action solutions and clever ways to break through would lead us to create a path to more money, security and happiness.

With the emotions as a wrapper around our whole mental experience, thoughts flit along the surface of the mind. Emotions program thoughts and vice versa. Everything affects everything else in there.

We can ignite the start of a new cycle by seizing the control point where the avalanche starts — our emotional mood. Becoming aware of our emotional state and then working mindfully to take back control of the emotive space around our psyche is key. Detachment from outcome is the core of heroism. A sense of humor gives perspective. Willingness to face the worst with confidence in oneself (and for many, confidence in God/the Universe/a Higher Power) confers a courageous fatalism that has been rediscovered by all of the heroes in history.

In order to (re-)program our emotional wrapper, detachment is not enough. We are emotional beings, hardwired to have some emotional drama going on in the background at all times. Getting into the Zone aka Flow state requires awareness and management of that background emotional mood. If we are not proactively programming it in alignment with our intentions, it will continue to program itself.

Each of us needs then to work to transform negative emotion, the nemesis of the Zone, into positive emotion — which means remembering all we have to be grateful for, and all there is to look forward to and be excited about.

We may experience challenging (even heartbreaking) trials but we need to be able to shift our focus to see them as opportunities that reveal what we are really made of.

Happy Independence Day!

Best to all,

Bill

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Getting Your Team into the Zone

Originally posted August 25, 2011

The Zone or Flow State is something we all have observed in other people such as supreme athletes or musicians in moments of peak performance — people doing something extremely difficult and doing it perfectly — it seems like magic or even a miracle — we are riveted, transfixed, watching it happen.

Science has begun to acknowledge that this state is real and measurable. Master Marvin Chun who heads Yale’s Neuroscience Department notes that what appears to be chatter crossing the corpus callosum between left and right brain dies down with the onset of the Zone. This is just one notable example of scientific measurements of the Zone in recent years.

In The Theory of The Conscious Universe, the Zone is the state in which information leaks in from outside the local self; as if the membrane separating you from the rest of the universe has suddenly become semi-permeable. We postulate that the heroic personages recorded by history who have moved us in the direction of more noble ideals were in the Zone when these ideas hit them, as were the great scientists who intuited amazing truths about reality. The Kabala uses a diagram of consciousness called The Tree of Life in which there is a dotted circle representing the Zone where one receives information in an extrasensory manner — “inspiration” as if breathing in information. This sphere is called Da’at or Da’ath. In fact the word Kabala means “to receive” and “the received”.

In an earlier post we postulated a theory of what we call Holosentience, which speculates that the Zone occurs when all parts of the brain and mind* are working together as a single unit, like a finely tuned orchestra. This contrasts in our theory of Holosentience with the everyday state of consciousness I call Emergency Oversimplification Procedure or EOP, in which a part of the brain and mind, a sub-sentience, operates as if it is the whole sentience. This sub-sentience has been called the ego. I see it as the software layer of the brain, which is built up of proteins into neuron clusters mostly in the early years of life. Experiences drive this buildup and in this way unassimilated memories become unassimilated motivations. Under the regime of Acceleritis™ — information overload generated by the type of culture we have become — EOP is now our dominant coping style.

EOP keeps us out of the Zone. The way from EOP into the Zone starts with the Observer state, an interim state in which we detach from identification with the voices of ego in our head, our thoughts, while remaining aware of these voices or thoughts for what they are — ingrained robotic reflexes. The Observer state combined with practicing an activity we love leads to the Zone. Emotional distraction by the ego’s excessive desire to win, or the ego’s fear of failure, is the final barrier to the Zone — that is, when our practice and training has reached the point where the Zone is physically within reach of our skills.

In To Have and Have Not, Hemingway’s protagonist Harry Morgan ultimately concludes that “one man alone… ain’t got no chance.” This has never been truer than it is today with the accelerating information overload totally out of control as we head toward a precipice of seemingly impossible economic challenge, miniaturization and increasing availability of weapons of mass destruction, carcinogenic environmental conditions, and spiritual bankruptcy. The world more than ever needs for people to be able to work together as high performing teams. And so the headline of this post, Getting Your Team into the Zone — even more important than getting yourself into the Zone because one person alone in the Zone might not be able to make enough of a difference. We need critical mass.

So how do we do it? How do we evoke Zone performance in a whole team, of which no single person is ever in total control, even if he/she is technically “the boss”? You dear reader are probably the boss of your team while you and your team are a part of your boss’s team — a common situation in corporate life. How do you get your own team into the Zone, and then how does your team get the larger team of which it is a part into the Zone?

Obviously you don’t expect this to be a one-trick answer. We are all too sophisticated to believe it could be that simple, or we’d all be there already. It isn’t simple, it’s incredibly complicated. But one can extract simple principles that work, and enough of these simple principles put into practice will produce a high performing team.

Let’s start in this post with one of the most mission critical principles. It’s about negativity.

Negativity is counterproductive to team Zone performance because it spills time and energy. The Zone is a state of ultimate efficiency and so anything wasteful is guaranteed to block the Zone. Explain it to your team this way: negativity gets in the way of solving whatever it is that has caused the negativity. Take negativity as an alarm that tells us we need to define the problem clearly, generate creative solution ideas, make decisions on an action path, and take that action. Negativity is just stalling that whole process and wasting time — which is no way to create team high performance.

The thing about negativity is that it does not emanate from the whole brain and mind. Negativity comes from the sub-sentience. It is a well-worn reflex. When confronted with a threat, the holosentience reacts with an optimal response to that threat, if the person is in the Zone. If the person is in EOP, the sub-sentience reflex is fear that may be compounded with a sense of helplessness, doom, defeatism, self-loathing, anger, frustration  and other overlays, triggered by a cascade of energy lighting up interlocking neuron clusters. The negativity of these feelings is typically communicated to those in the vicinity including animals even if only by body language and the pheromones in perspiration. These micro clues of negativity further reduce the likelihood of an effective real world response to whatever the challenge is, by encouraging foes and undermining the support of potential allies.

Teams can engage in frequent training sessions to talk about the value of becoming high performing members of high performing teams, and ways to get there. Bringing in outside speakers helps overcome the inertia and subconsciously gives “permission” for sudden change to be realistically possible. The word “training” may or may not be used; some people feel that once they are adults there is something insulting and/or embarrassing about the word. Maybe call them Zone sessions to keep the goal in mind and remove the connotations of “training”.

Team members are directed to deploy negativity detectors within their mind at all times. When a person detects the auto-negativity, he/she should be able to remain in the Observer state by not siding with the negativity, not making it one’s own, but rather seeing it as a bodily reaction, an old habit pattern, and something that can be risen above into a state closer to the Zone (the Observer state being the access path to the Zone).

Now, something must be done with that negative energy in order to transmute it into something else, otherwise it is more difficult to overcome the feeling in oneself. Remaining the Observer one can look at the negativity in a new way, gaining insight into oneself and others, and creating conditions conducive to new solution approaches. Why am I being negative? What haven’t I tried yet? What is the goal? What are the obstacles? What causes each obstacle? Analysis is the place to channel the negativity.

Anything can be described as a game. And people and animals love games. By making more things gamelike, the possibilities for making a high performing team out of a demoralized griping bunch of cynics become realistic. Consider it a game to make negativity off limits in one’s own mind. You can’t initially stop the negative impulses from arising but you can get better and faster at judoing those impulses into opportunities for analysis and creativity.

You might hear yourself groaning inwardly in a meeting in which so-and-so repeats his endless habit of blaming everyone else for something. Quickly gain control of your inner self and do not identify with your inward groan but attribute it to a robotic reflex of certain neuron clusters. Okay thanks, neuron cluster, you did your job, like an alarm clock, painting a certain event as a clue that something needs fixing — in this case it is something that you never took it on yourself to fix because let’s face it, your chances of changing so-and-so seem pretty slim, so like everyone else you’ve just lived with it. Maybe that has always been a cowardly reaction that you’ve shared with everyone else. So maybe today is the day to start to consider the right action instead of dodging it.

That doesn’t mean impulsively jumping in and trying the first thing that comes to mind, although sometimes that works. It might be better to use the energy to run some simulations in your mind of what you could say and how it might be received. As long as you know you have successfully rechanneled the negativity and you are on the case with some fresh ideas as to how to help so-and-so out of his blaming mode, you needn’t rush into action in that same meeting. Just keep processing the action ideas until the time feels right and you are yourself feeling centered in a moderate frame of mind and in the Observer state without negativity or ego attachment — then you can flow with the moment and put out a new thought that might help so-and-so break his old negativity habit of the blame game.

If the team knows that high performance is the goal, this helps everyone look at things in a new way: it is more gamelike, more intriguing, it isn’t the same old.

The first two principles to move your team toward the Zone therefore are to set the goal, and to reveal the trick of rechanneling negativity inside yourself. More principles of high performing team creation in posts to come.

Best to all,

Bill

*The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014 . In the Theory of the Conscious Universe, the brain is the energy emanated by the Original mind, wound into matter, and our experience transcends dependence on the brain as we are a part of Original mind (and the whole of its experience of selfness). In modern day materialism, the mind is an energy field emanated by the brain. In ultra-behaviorism, the mind is an impotent epiphenomenon of the brain, making believe it is calling the shots but is really just along for the ride.

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