Ever drive or ride somewhere and once you arrive you don’t remember a thing about the actual journey? Seems most people can relate.

Ever been playing a sport and felt as though you could do no wrong, felt time slowing down, or felt as though a very difficult move, trail, or play was easy? Seems many people, amateur or pro, can relate in some way.

I discuss being in the Zone during my Ride & Reach workshops, and describe it as being a non-dual experience, meaning that we typically live in a dualistic state, there is me (subject) and the world out there (object), and when they become ‘one’ we enter the rare non-dual state…as soon as we think to ourselves, wow, this is cool, the experience ends because all of a sudden we create a duality! Pro’s typically can be in this state for longer periods of time, and often can enter it by choice, but it is still quite elusive.


Photo by Margus Riga-Absorbing the Scenery in Mongolia

One of the participants in my class asked if the first example, the driving without knowing it, was an example of a non-dual state, and in a sense I see why it may be classified as one, but I resisted it for a variety of reasons, and so would rather call it ‘zoning-out’ for these reasons:

  • It’s more toward ‘going to sleep’, or numbing out
  • it’s unintentional, not chosen
  • More likely to make mistakes or go the wrong way
  • It’s an unintentional removal of oneself from the world, an escape, putting your body on habitual autopilot mode.

Whereas, being in the Zone is:

  • A highly awake state, it’s alive
  • You are brining something new into the world
  • I find it is an intimate state, at least afterward upon reflection-I guess it doesn’t get anymore intimate when you are one with everything!
  • It is very memorable, every little detail, and you want it to happen again

Evidence for being zoned out might be having lost your keys. And evidence for being in the Zone might be deeply enjoying every little detail in the process such as a hard climb being experienced as euphoric rather than as a suffer-fest.

Being in the zone is not always rosy either; have you ever needed to react to a scary or dangerous situation, perhaps when a loved one is at risk and you need to act–this is in the zone, and chances are you remember things from that situation quite vividly. And similarly, zoning out is not always bad either, it may just be the best thing for you after a crazy day, just as long as it is chosen and not indulged, for instance knowing that it’s time to zone out for just a short time and having at least an idea of how long you’re planning to zone out for!

I have practiced meditation for more than 5 years, and the number of times I have zoned out randomly has decreased, and my ability to choose to be in the zone has increased. So you can practice being in the zone by bringing more awareness to your daily activities or engaging in practices such as meditation; or you can practice zoning out by not practicing anything intentionally at all. I like feeling alive and awake through all I do, even the hard things in life, so I choose, at least as best I can, a life of practice.

This is a rich topic with so many more distinctions and is one of my favourite topics to explore, so let me say this is to be continued…but in the mean time, please chime in below with any comments of your experiences or if you can relate….Cheers!