Flow State, Meditation, and the Chaotic Billiard Room
I discovered something useful tonight about happiness..flow state..and the fragile and sensitive nature of our beautiful game
I often go to play at the local pool hall. I get immense joy playing and competing, when I’m playing well. For me, snooker is as as close to meditation and flow state as I know. Well next to graphic/web design, my other happy place.
I’m fully aware how to get into flow state, and I know under what conditions I probably won’t as well (lots of distraction.. noise.. people). I played someone tonight who “turned me off” by his style.. mannerisms.. etiquette…table manners. At first, I blamed him for my poor result. But then I realized he is trying to find his flow state as well.
I tried extra hard to lead by example… hoping it would have an effect on him. It didn’t.
DISCLAIMER: I’m about to take you into some woo-woo, magic crystals, meditation discussion from this point forward. If you can just postpone any doubt for a few minutes, you will may just learning something interesting about the mental side of this game.
The last month or so I have revisited a concept I first heard about 10 or so years ago: Abraham Hicks. Abraham Hicks is closely related to The Secret. The basic premise is that you manifest in your life that which you focus on. Tony Robbins, a world-class performance coach says “Where focus goes, energy flows”. Put another way, happy people see good things, and sad/depressed people see bad things.
So how does this relate to snooker?
Well in snooker, one of things we are all trying to find again – from the amateur right up to the top professionals is “flow state”. Flow state is that beautiful place when you hear nothing and see nothing but the table in front of you. It’s almost like you can feel the object ball floating into the pocket. You can see lines, and angles, and cannons. It’s a beautiful feeling, but it’s often temporary. I believe its one of the reasons we never let snooker out of our blood. That feeling of focus, concentration and flow state is so pure and so rare in people’s lives. It’s almost like we are outside of ourselves for those moments, experiencing something magical, beyond ourselves.
Abraham Hicks, the author I mentioned earlier, talks about flow state in a different sort of way. She calls it “vortex” and suggests that we are always near it, but venture too far out. We think life is supposed to be painful or difficult, but it isn’t. Life is supposed to be joy, happiness, laughter, fun. That same feeling you get when you are in flow state in snooker.
Anyways, enough about Hicks for now. Go hear the audios off Youtube if you like. I know it works for me and I don’t go too deep into the weirder side. It helps me to feel good and get my work done, and that’s all I care about.
Now back to the distractions I experience earlier tonight at the club…
During a break.. I remember that Abraham Hicks said something crucially important in regards to finding vortex (flow state):
“OTHERS don’t need to do anything to help you.. you get to choose.. “.
I went back inside my mind looking for joy.. I tried to remember what was it about the game that made me truly happy. Of course, it was potting balls, seeing lines, making breaks. I stayed there in my mind.. and the result was wonderful.. I played well enough to win, not my best, but I enjoyed it because I found some access to flow state again.. I stopped worrying about winning or losing. Even though there was lots of distraction, I tried to focus back on the game and my own joy. The outcome was what you might expect: I won.
I left the night feeling successful because I found access to vortex even when the world around me was chaotic and full of interruption..I didn’t play to the standard I’m capable of.. but I left the place with a smile in my heart..
LESSON: The tiniest things can throw you off.. when you take your eyes off happiness for even a few minutes… Especially in activities where you think flow state doesn’t matter.. it always does.. always.. The experience tonight reminds me of the poem, “IF” by Rudyard Kipling (http://mayur.ca/if-by-rudyard-kipling/)
I think I need to pursue meditation…I heard it helps you stay inside throughout the day
BONUS Takeaway: How to get your flow state in snooker
Simple. Just ask yourself this one question: Why do you love this game so much? In the answer lies the clue. In the answer lies the reason you go back to the table, and in that answer lies the road signs back to playing well when all around you are distractions and chaos.
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