FLOW: The Game

In the following stages, we learn to understand the research, characteristics, psychology, and biology behind the state of optimal performance. Based on that understanding, we explore how our brains work, develop our strengths as learners, train our ability to trigger creative insights and breakthroughs by finding the zone, learn about group flow dynamics, acquire methods to break through struggle, and gain tools for improving our areas of weakness. We learn to understand our own biology and apply that understanding to our own lives by making our biology work for us. To max out one’s performance, first one must accept and master humanity’s inherent habits.

GIG 2.1 - Optimal Experience

Driving Passion & Meaning

Learn how to enter the zone, fuel your passion, and make art that inspires! Enhance your relationship with your music to get the most out of your experience as an artist.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.1 - The Philosophies of Deep Work

  • Choose the deep work philosophy that best suits your work, preferences, and lifestyle.
  • Deploy accurate work.
  • Play and experiment with the different philosophies according to the situations and conditions in your life.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.2 - Breaking Through Struggle

  • Using adversity: Embrace struggle
  • Visualization
  • Willpower
  • Growth mindset
  • Motivation: Hard goals
  • Clarity: Clear goals
  • Peak exists
  • Mindfulness (meditation, breath work)
  • Cognitive reframing
  • Using your senses: Visual / Sound / Feeling

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.3 - The Challenge-Skills Balance

  • In which areas are you coasting? When do you feel bored and uninspired? Where do you need to dial it up? When is the challenge-skills balance too low? In those moments, you need to step up and increase the level of challenge.
  • In which areas do you feel overwhelmed? When do you procrastinate? When do you feel anxious in what you do? When is the challenge-skills balance too high? In those moments, you can chunk the task into smaller bits, which lets you better deal with the challenge. It is about getting into the right frame of mind to perform at your best.
  • What are my unconscious habits in each case?
  • What do positive results look like?

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.4 - Trust: Worst vs Best

  • First, make a list of the worst possible outcomes that could happen. Mention the activity itself. Include all possible consequences.
  • Then, list the best possible outcomes that could happen. Mention the activity itself. Include all possible benefits.
  • Next, double check your goals. If necessary, redirect them toward the expression and experience of the music’s meaning.
  • Finally, simply make the choice to trust yourself after reexamining your goals. Accept both possible outcomes. Trust and believe that you will survive the outcome either way.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.5 - Trust: Awareness Inventory

To restore our trust and confidence, we just need to increase our awareness of the knowledge, skills, experience, and abilities we already have:

  • Visual Awareness
    • Recall a time when you played with pure joy and confidence.
    • Run images and movies through your mind that are evoked by the music.
  • Sound Awareness
    • Remind yourself of how your music sounds when you are playing well.
    • Play that superb sound in your head.
  • Feeling Awareness
    • Recall how specific body parts feel that you use when playing.
    • Think about the feelings that the music brings up in you.
    • Remember what you intend to express with the music.
    • Notice any release of tension in your body.
  • Understanding Awareness
    • You prepared for this moment.
    • Remind yourself of all the learnings you have been through.
    • Remember all the progress you have made and the obstacles you had to overcome.
    • Your body stores the entire knowledge base.
    • Think about all the many times you have played that song well.

After going through the awareness inventory, all that is left for you to do is to trust in your abilities. You have done the work ahead of time. Now, count on your skill in moments when it matters, when you have to perform.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.6 - Letting Go: Becoming the Music

Lose yourself in the emotions of the music, becoming a musical portrait.

  • Pick a song of yours and play or sing it while only focusing on the technical aspects such as rhythm, pitch, intonation, articulation, timing, etc. Ignore the mean­ing for now.
  • Then, repeat the song.
  • This time, allow your personality to merge with the meaning of the song.
  • You become the music.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.7 - Inviting Distractions

Cultivate an attitude that momentary interruptions are part of the game. It gives us confidence in our abilities to continue playing after sudden interruptions.

  • Set an alarm randomly so it goes off unexpectedly while you are practicing.
  • Part of the purpose of the exercise is to get distracted.
  • The challenge is to be aware of how long it takes to refocus on your music.
  • What is the recovery time from an external interruption?
  • Repeat the exercise and take note of the changes in your recovery time.

Once we have learned to deal with momentary disruptions, their power to distract us diminishes while our recovery time shortens.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.8 - Finding Your Drive

Motivation is about drive. When we align as many intrinsic motivators as possible, we find our drive. The most potent motivators that form the building blocks for our drive are passion, curiosity, purpose, autonomy, and mastery. This is what motivates us the most to succeed. Like autonomy and mastery, we can also cultivate curiosity, passion, and purpose in the same way. When multiple curiosities intersect, that is where we find passion. We need burning passion for the things we want to do. Curiosity is the natural beat of the creative heart. So, let us take curiosity and turn it into passion. From there we turn our passion into purpose:

  • What are the things that you are curious about?
  • Think of five, and be as specific as possible.
  • Are there any intersections of multiple curiosities?
  • What are the biggest problems and global challenges we face on this planet that you feel need to be solved?
  • Think of five.
  • Could any of the intersections of multiple curiosities possibly be a solution to one of these problems?
  • Is there a way to contribute to finding a transformative solution for a global challenge, something greater than ourselves?
  • What would be the reason for you to go after it and engage in it?
  • Explain in one sentence.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.9 - Why Choose Music?

  • Reflect and journal about the following questions:
    • What are your reasons for choosing music?
    • How does playing and listening to music make you feel?
    • What does sharing your music with others mean to you?
    • What opportunities does your music give you that you do not otherwise experience?
    • Answer truthfully.

When answering these questions, reach into this very personal and truthful part of your being.

TRAINING: GIG 2.1.10 - The 100 million Dollar Question

  • How would you spend your day and life if money was infinite?

GIG 2.2 - Optimal Creativity

Breaking Through Creative Struggles

Break through creative blocks to boost your musical creativity and trigger creative breakthroughs.

TRAINING: GIG 2.2.1 - The Magic of Maybe

  • On a scale 1-10, how much novelty, complexity, and unpredictability is there in what I’m doing?
  • Think about how you can experiment with novelty, complexity and unpredictability in your day-to-day routine.
  • Identify one high-impact pattern interrupt and deploy it on a daily basis. Be creative.
    • Immerse yourself in a rich environment:
      • Go hiking in nature
      • Move your 90- to 120-minute session to a spot you’ve never been before
    • Get your news from an alternative source
    • Incorporate a new form of movement into your exercise routine
    • Start brushing your teeth with the opposite hand (use your right hand if you’re a lefty and vice versa)
  • Test and run the experiment. Be playful and creative.

TRAINING: GIG 2.2.2 - Building Your Knowledge Base

  • Read 30 minutes (or 25-50 pages) each day outside your core discipline.
  • Pick something outside your field but still relatable to your art. Something you are curious about. Novels and nonfiction both work. For our creative performance, learning something new is extremely beneficial.
  • The same applies to listening to music. Listen to a new song every day. Something outside your core genre to discover new ways of inspirations and how to interpret your art.
  • You can also build your knowledge base for your musical creative expression and inspiration by learning more about other art forms (visual arts for example: painting or graphic design)

TRAINING: GIG 2.2.3 - Idea Generation Training

  • Make it a daily practice to come up with 10 ideas every day.
  • Every morning, think about 10 solutions for a project you are currently working on.
  • It can be a piece of music, a song, a single passage of a song, lyrics, a video, or something else.
  • Example: Think about different ways you could interpret a song.

TRAINING: GIG 2.2.4 - Meditation for Creativity

  • Experiment with open awareness/monitoring meditation to enhance your creative performance.
  • The following example is a Guided Meditation for Creativity by Headspace:

If you’re ready to put those creative muscles to work, it’s time to try a creative visualization guided meditation. Whether you’re tapping into your creative juices for the purpose of writing or art, or you’re trying to creatively problem-solve, this creativity-enhancing guided meditation may help.

Take a moment to get comfortable, keeping the body upright and relaxed. Keep your eyes gently opened with a soft focus as you become aware of your surroundings. Once you’re ready, take in a few deep breaths — in through the nose and out through the mouth. When you’re ready, close the eyes on an exhale, allowing the breath to return to its natural rhythm.

Then, settle back into the space around you. Become familiar with the different sensations and sounds. After a few breaths, bring the attention back to the body. Check in with the body, scanning for any sensations of discomfort. Remember the intentions behind your meditation today. Shift the attention to your breath as you become more familiar with your body’s reaction to the breath. Where are you feeling the breath? Focus on the rising and falling sensation of the breath, and as you continue to watch it, imagine a tiny speck of light in the middle of your chest. This speck is your creative spark. As soon as you realize it’s there, it begins expanding outward in every direction. This bright, spacious light speck continues to expand, first toward the edges of the body, then beyond the body, into the space around you.

Imagine this speck going beyond your immediate surroundings. It’s expanding within the city, perhaps the entire country, continent or planet. Allow this space to continue expanding as far as your mind can imagine it to go, as if there is no limit. Imagine this while still being aware of your breath moving in and out through the space. Allow the mind to rest in this space, free of any expectations. Feel the breath moving in and out and just rest the mind. Let go of any focus and allow it to do whatever it wants to do. Gently begin bringing the attention back to the body: feel its weight, notice the sights and smells of the space around you. In your own time, gently open your eyes and maintain the posture for a few seconds. Take this time to appreciate giving yourself these minutes of recharging your creative mind.

TRAINING: GIG 2.2.5 - The Wandering Mind

Make a mind-wandering practice part of your daily routine:

  • Hikes
  • Yoga
  • Stretching
  • Staring at a wall
  • Taking a shower
  • Taking a drive
  • MacGyver method
    • At the end of a struggle phase, write down the specific problem you are dealing with. Include as many details as you can come up with and walk away to enter the release stage. Your subconscious mind takes it from there. Writing by hand seems to be more effective than using a keyboard. Working with your subconscious intentionally is a skill you can get better at over time. As with so much in life, quality practice makes progress. Think about what activities have worked in the past.

GIG 2.3 - Optimal Performance

Boosting Productivity & Motivation

Tackle your boldest musical dreams by creating higher quality music, in less time, with greater ease, and with way more fun.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.1 - Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP)

Based on the 'Find Your Drive - Training (GIG 2.1.3)' define a mission statement for your life – something infinite that will beat until your final breath. A deeply unifying purpose. A powerful breed of motivation, also known as MTP: massive transformative purpose. That is where passion and purpose intersect. What is the thing you are here to do? What kind of impact do you want to have on this world throughout the time you are here? What contributions do you want to make to the world? In which way do you want to take responsibility as a valuable member of the global human community? “Find something you would die for, and live for it.” A purpose like that gives us a life that we are more dedicated to working for. It is a kind of work we feel more fulfilled by.

The Attributes of an Effective MTP:

  • It is uniquely yours.
  • It feels true for you and you are proud of it.
  • It is driven by emotional energy such as wonder, awe, excitement, or pain, which fuels your drive to pursue big dreams.
  • You are willing to commit your life to it.

Explore your MTP:

  • What area has given you the greatest excitement and wonder?
  • What is an injustice you’ve experienced that needs to be resolved?
  • What did you want to do as a kid before the world told you “No”?

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.2 - Setting Goals

Differentiate between performance (achievement), learning, and experience goals:

  • What does your music mean to you?
  • What are your experi­ence goals?
  • What are your performance goals?
  • What are your learning goals?

Goal Foundation

  • MTP
  • High Hard Goals
  • Annual Goals
  • Monthly Goals
  • Quarterly Goals
  • Weekly Goals
  • Daily Goals
  • Clear Goals 

Goal Specification

  • Duration
  • Measurable
  • Definable
  • Binary

Clear Goals

  • Set your goals from your MTP all the way down to clear goals.
  • Keep a weekly and monthly review.
  • Evaluate your goals every quarter or bi-annually
  • Keep it all in your calendar.
  • When setting goals for the next day, try to keep the challenge-skills balance in mind and increase or decrease the goal challenge accordingly.
  • In teams and bands, we need to have shared goals to get more group flow. Set group goals together and act on them.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.3 - Weekly Strategy Session

How to get control of your workweek? Pick a day at the end of the week. It can be either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. That’s up to you. Spend about 30 minutes once a week and follow this four-step process:

  • Review your current week
    • Look back at the current week to make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks.
    • Look for tasks that weren’t completed, meetings that were canceled or phone calls you never made.
    • Move anything you didn’t complete to a new date and time in the week ahead.
    • If you move something more than three weeks in a row, delegate it or delete it.
  • Review your goals and projects, and add those tasks to your calendar
    • Review your goals each week, from top to bottom and modify goals accordingly.
    • Assess weekly goals against monthly goals.
    • Decide what you need to accomplish next week to meet those goals and block off time on your calendar to do the work.
    • Know your Top 3 Goals
      • We need to focus on the things that are most important in our life and work. What are your top 3 goals right now, in your work and in your life?
    • Set Weekly Goals (3WP’s)
      • For each week set the 3 most important tasks you want to achieve in that time.
    • Set Daily Goals (3DP’s) 
      • Based on that, for each day, set the three most important tasks you want to achieve that day to help you achieve the weekly big 3’s.
  • Review your task list
    • Before adding any additional tasks to your calendar, make sure the task will further your most meaningful work and that it aligns with your goals.
    • Be careful not to over schedule your time.
    • Then, map all of it on your calendar.
    • You can leave some time of your calendar (about 30%) open for unexpected meetings and activities as well as time to reflect and think.
    • Initially, this will be the toughest 30 minutes of your workweek because you have to decide what you will work.
    • Eventually, you should be able to do this planning in just a few minutes.
  • Evaluate your goals
    • We need to keep track of what we're accomplishing. It will inform our progress, therefore help us achieve our goals.
    • Which goals have you made progress on? Which goals are you struggling with?
    • Only by measuring your progress will you know how much farther you have to go, and what adjustments you need to make to reach your goal. Measuring your progress involves looking at the numbers.
    • Now that you know where you're succeeding and where you're struggling, think about why.
    • If you're succeeding at one goal of every weekday, how have you met your goal?
    • Apply this to goals you're struggling with. Examine the weeks and months you've met your goals and the months you haven't. What is preventing you from meeting the goal?

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.4 - Performance Goal: Deep Embodiment

  • Play with the deep embodiment trigger to strengthen your performance goals by using your kinesthetic sense.
  • Pick one of your songs.
  • First, just imagine how your body is performing (playing/singing) the song.
  • Make sure you feel bodily connected to the mental image you are creating. The image has to be con­nected “with your body's own kinesthetic way of knowing.”
  • When you feel comfortable with this kinesthetic practice of the song, perform (play/sing) it out loud.
  • If you think you need more rehearsal, keep practicing by using your kinesthetic sense.
  • When you feel more comfortable and confident, perform the song again with your instrument.
  • Notice if your body feels more familiar with the song and can more easily follow along due to the stored kinesthetic memory.
  • You can use these techniques in any situation in which you are in a state of waiting and have time to kill.
  • Musician­ship and our body's kinesthetic sense are strongly related: “Many musicians spend a great deal of their time practicing ‘away from their instruments’ and find it to be musically effective, as well as offering them a chance to work on their music when they wouldn't otherwise be able to.”

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.5 - Experience Goal: Become the Music

In the adventure of finding Flow, we chase the experience. The goal is to have an autotelic experience. With that attitude to our music, we never lose sight of our experience goal. “The ultimate goal of our playing or listening is to merge into the music.”  That is when we enter the zone as the merging of action and awareness unfolds. We let the music speak through us. To get there, we need to feel comfortable with experiencing ourselves within the act of performing. Our personal musical experience needs to come through, Green further points out.

  • First, set an experience goal before you start playing (e.g., do not worry, feel relaxed, do not feel anxious, immerse yourself, release any tension, enjoy the music, etc.)
  • Start playing one of your songs and change the focus of awareness. Focus on your breathing.
  • Then, set your focus on the goal of becoming the music that you are playing.

Music begins to take on a whole new meaning in life. When life itself turns into a state of vital engagement through continuous Flow experiences in music, it feels as if life itself depends on music.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.6 - Learning Goals: Incremental Learning

We want to engage in the incremental learning cycles at times during the day when we feel that our mental acuity is the highest.

  • Pick a song or piece of music that is a work in progress.
  • It has to be something challenging that you want to learn.
  • The incremental learning cycle is between 7-30 minutes.
  • Try your best to accomplish playing it well.
  • You will probably make error after error.
  • As you keep failing to that point of frustration, you want to keep making mistakes within that set time frame.
  • Feeling exceedingly frustrated then liberates the neurochemicals that signal the activation of neurons, and that plasticity needs to happen.
  • Then, attach something positive to that feeling of frustration to release dopamine in your brain.
  • After a nap, NSDR protocol or restful sleep, repeat the exercise.
  • You’ll start to remember certain things and feel that the motor pathways work.

That is how we can create an optimal neurochemical circuit for our learning. These shorter incremental learning episodes are within the ultradian cycle. See how many incremental learning bouts you can do in a day. This is intense work as we try to accelerate plasticity.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.7 - Autonomy

  • Divide your life into main categories: social, work, health, etc.
  • Think about how much you are in control in each of those areas.

Take the Autonomy Scale: ACCESS HERE 

  • The following questions concern your beliefs about work and jobs in general.  They don’t refer only to your present work
  • Choose how you feel about each statement on a scale of 1–7 (1 = disagree very much, 7 = agree very much).
    • Aim for accuracy and belief.
    • The higher the score the more autonomy you have.
  • With everything below a 6 – ask yourself:
    • Could I control this situation and gain more autonomy through a strong internal locus of control?
    • If YES, change the situation to increase autonomy.
    • If NO, change your perceptual lens to increase autonomy (MTP, High Hard Goals).

To get more Autonomy:

  • Make your own schedule
  • Get enough sleep every night
  • Engage in deep work activities
  • Chase flow in the secondary flow category regularly
  • Have an internal locus of control

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.8 - Maintain Focus

  • Practice how long you can maintain visual focus, with blinking if needed.
  • Set a target at the level of your computer screen or instrument.
  • It can be anything you want to look at (a piece of paper, for example).

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.9 - Awareness: Focus on Sight

  • Focus your awareness on sight.
  • While playing one of your songs, play from memory and just focus on your instrument and visualize it.
  • While listening to one of your songs, visualize yourself playing the song.
  • Allow the feelings expressed by your music to create movies and images in your mind.
  • Reflect on:
    • the quality of your concentration and attention
    • the occurrence of any distractions
    • your feelings and the way you felt
    • the quality of your playing
    • your technique
    • the way you are listening

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.10 - AwarenessFocus on Sound

  • Use sound as a focus and listen with full awareness to silence the inner critic.
  • While playing one of your songs, focus on the sound of your playing.
  • While listening to a song of your choice, focus your attention only on the music.
  • Avoid any distractions.
  • This helps you to relax, brings your attention into the present, and provides critical feedback about how you are playing.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.11 - AwarenessFocus on Touch

  • Use the body to quiet the mind.
  • While playing one of your songs, focus on the touchpoints between your body and the instrument.
  • Feel the material and structure of the instrument.
  • Focus on the vibrations.
  • Feel the pulse in your body.
  • Imagine the instrument is an extension of your body.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.12 - AwarenessFocus on Feelings

  • Another way to bring your awareness into the now is to set your attention on your feelings, says Barry Green.
  • What feelings does the music you are playing and listening to intend to express?
  • What feelings do you come up with?
  • While playing one of your songs, listen for the feelings that the music expresses.
  • While listening to a song of your choice, listen for the feelings that the music expresses.
  • Let the music carry you away.
  • Notice how your body feels due to the music you are playing and listening to.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.13 - Focus on One Task

  • Pick one activity each week (washing dishes, brushing teeth, socializing with a loved one, etc.).
  • Make it a priority to be deeply present and focused in that specific activity.
  • Treat it as a meditation.
  • As time goes on, you’ll have more of these deeply present moments in your life.

Be playful with the different exercises. Test them to see which practices work best for you.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.14 - Connect with a Feedback Buddy

  • Connect with a ‘feedback buddy’.
  • Hold each other accountable.
  • Identify the feedback that works best for you.
  • What kind of feedback is most useful for you?
  • What is the one thing holding you back?
  • Are you over-stimulated or under-stimulated?
  • Are you on the way to burnout or do you need to amp things up a notch?
  • How are you going with your daily habits, such as your morning and evening routines, active recovery protocols, clear goals, and 90-minute uninterrupted sessions of relaxed but intense concentration?

With time, as we receive and give more feedback to each other, we gain more experience and become more familiar with each other’s preferences. This process might take a little while to get right, but it is also great training for practice understanding in the form of showing patience and kindness to one another.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.15 - Risk

  • Play with risk. Start practicing those things that scare you – but approach it in a certain way.
  • You can learn to identify fear in your system, either as a tightness in your body or a tightness in your thought pattern.
  • Think about other similar situations in terms of facing something that scared you, a challenge. Think about the way you felt, and what you did to overcome it.
  • How did you approach that situation?
  • What internal psychological skills did you use?
  • Get clear on those skills, practice them, and know how to judge the progress.
  • Measure how well you used those skills to understand the psychological space you create by practicing them.
  • On a scale of 1-5, how high are the consequences within what I’m doing?

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.16 - Deep Embodiment

To leverage the deep embodiment trigger, we need to strengthen our ability to interocept. To strengthen your connection to your five senses, which means improving your sense of the internal state of your body, choose from the following practices and play with them:

  • Daily movement practice / Mobility Exercise
    • Stretching, bending, foam rolling
  • Common calming sensory techniques
    • Repetitive, rhythmic movement (swaying or rocking)
  • Common alerting sensory techniques
    • Physical labor, movement breaks, frequent changes in position, touching toes
  • Mindfulness activities
    • Body scanning visualizations (yoga nidra)
  • Active recovery
    • Yoga, massage, breathwork
  • Mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy (MABT)
  • Martial Arts
    • Tai Chi, Alexander Technique, Pilates
  • Dancing

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.17 - Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness

To leverage the deep embodiment trigger, we need to strengthen our ability to interocept. To strengthen your connection to your five senses, which means improving your sense of the internal state of your body, choose from the following practices and play with them:

  • Take the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) Diagnostic: ACCESS HERE
  • The MAIA is an 8-scale state-trait questionnaire with 32 items to measure multiple dimensions of interoception by self-report.
  • In the questionnaire below you will find a list of statements.
  • Please indicate how often each statement applies to you generally in daily life.
  • Choose from a scale of 0-5 (0 = Never, 5 = Always)
  • Once the questionnaire is completed, the scores will be automatically calculated below.
  • The higher the score, the better. Start with the lowest score to improve and work your way up to the top.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.18 - Team Building Activities

  • Band Meetings:
    • Insightful and uplifting conversations happen when we are in motion and in a rich environment, nature works great for this.
    • Have you ever taken a phone call while walking? You’ll notice that the call is smoother and flies by without you realizing where the time went. Why? You were using an external flow trigger of deep embodiment to tap into your environment and use your body.
    • Schedule important meetings/calls with band members or collaborators while all of you are outside in nature, walking OR while you’re on your phone walking in nature.
  • Group meditative practices: meditation or breathwork. Try it out before rehearsal sessions.
  • Willow in the wind exercise: Use this practice for a couple minutes per member to build trust among artist and further create moments of weightlessness, which is another way to play with the deep embodiment trigger.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.19 - Evaluate Flow Triggers

Putting flow triggers into action

  • Experimentation is key when it comes to figuring out what works for each one of us. By reverse engineering valuable conditions for a life in Flow, we can get to the root of which of those triggers we most like to play with. Reflect on your times in Flow while making music. Can you identify any patterns or similarities among those moments? Which triggers did you play with?
  • Test and experiment with putting those triggers into action. The challenge is to apply and master the individual triggers according to your own unique preferences and situations. This requires a lifetime of continuous learning and exploration, as we are equipped with a lifelong curiosity. In our world, learning never stops.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.20 - Building Your Trigger

What are the moments and activities when you feel closest to serene focus in your life besides making music? It can be something as simple as jogging, taking a bath, playing ball with a friend or loved one, swimming, taking a shower, or listening to music. Something fun and enjoyable. What matters is that you feel most relaxed and focused while engaging in the activity. If you can’t find anything that feels serene in your life, meditation as a perfect activity. After identifying the activity, the next step is to create a four to five step routine you need to go through before you engage in the activity. Common practices to create the steps for such a routine involve music, meditation, stretching, and eating. At the beginning, you start the routine an hour before the serene activity:

  • Eat a light snack (10 minutes)
  • Meditative breathing exercise (15 minutes)
  • Stretching routine (10 minutes)
  • Listen to a specific song according to your preference (10 minutes)
  • Serene activity --> Have fun!

Follow this routine daily for about a month. In the next step, after you have fully internalized your routine, go through the routine before giving a performance. That way you transplant the routine from being the prelude of one activity to the prelude of another. Stressful environments turn into serene ones while you remain fully present. By creating your own trigger, a physiological connection is formed between the routine and the proceeding activity. The beautiful part about this, once we internalize the routine, is we can use it for any other activity. Every personal routine must be determined by our individual preferences.

In the next step of the process, after we have internalized the routine, we gradually alter it. The goal is to achieve the same physiological effect with lower maintenance and more flexibility. We take the routine and make incremental and slow changes. If we keep the changes close to the previous version of the routine, and choose similarities over differences, “our body and mind have the same physiological reaction.”  When practicing the routine each day, we can shorten each step of the routine slightly each time, and we can also start doing individual steps in a different setting or environment if necessary. By gradually following this approach and, over time, shortening each step to just minutes or even seconds, we can get to a point at which we only have to think about the song, do a deep inhalation and release, or just visualize a movement to trigger getting into the zone. This approach is systematic and based on the principle of incremental growth.

Build Your Trigger:

  • First, list and discuss the activities or thoughts that you know foster a state of serene focus in you.
  • Next, you need to create a routine of these and carve out time to practice them on a regular basis, and then, after a time, use the routine to cultivate a sense of presence and calmness before important and charged moments.
  • Create a plan for slowly and incrementally (via a series of very small changes) condensing your routine for inducing serene focus. When you create a plan like this, you need to take into account the power that visualization alone can wield.

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.21 - Flow Blockers Checklist

If you feel like you’re blocked out of flow, run through the Flow Blockers Checklist: ACCESS HERE

TRAINING: GIG 2.3.22 - High Flow Checklist

  • 90 minutes for uninterrupted concentration/focus
  • 5 minutes for the MacGyver method
  • 20 to 45 minutes a day for a release activity of some kind
  • 5 minutes a day for setting clear goals
  • 25 minutes for pattern loading/building your knowledge base (reading, listening, maybe editing?)
  • 25 minutes for active recovery
  • 5 minutes for gratitude
  • 10 minutes for mindfulness
  • 8 hours for sleep

This is aspirational. Get there over time, slowly. Do not get demotivated if you are not there yet. Move in that direction step by step. Quality practice makes progress. Learn through experience and testing.

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