Getting in the "zone"

When I first started playing over ten years ago, I vividly remember one jam at our music club that stuck out in my mind. We all sat in a circle and played a song as the turn came around to us. I was sitting next to a guy that clearly had been playing for some time and I was fascinated as I watched him play and sing his song. His eyes were closed, he was in some state of ecstasy / delight as he played and it mesmerized me.

At that stage, I had to severely concentrate to be able to lead a song and the idea of closing my eyes was completely foreign.

Recently, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve been what I call “in the zone”. Really just lost in the song, all sense of time disappears and it’s a blissful feeling. It seems to be something that one can’t deliberately turn on / off.

I discussed it in detail with a friend who’s been playing for many years and he was able to relate immediately. He said it used to happen to him but hasn’t in a while. When I questioned him as to why, he said he no longer plays from memory and has to pay attention to his song sheets on his iPad to play (he does a regular coffee shop gig).

That made me think about anything that’s changed that might be contributing to me being able to get in the zone. Besides the fact that I play all my songs completely from memory, I know recently I’ve started playing a lot more without looking at the fretboard, at least for a number of my songs.

It’s been a neat experience discovering this ‘zone’ and it comes and goes as if on a whim. It’s not something I can turn on or off deliberately.

For any beginners reading this, I’ve posted it so you know there are various nuances that come the longer you play, so stick at it as it’s all fun fun fun.

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The zone is a good feeling. Complete immersion in what you’re doing, almost meditative. It can happen for other activities too, not just guitar. I used to get it when I coded.

I’ve slipped into the zone a couple of times when playing songs I know by myself. Before I know it an hour has gone by. It’s great. To be able to relax enough to do that in front of others confidently is next level stuff.

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And for bonus points, who can say his name “Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi” who wrote all about ‘the zone’, just called it ‘being in flow’

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