Sun, Feb. 23

Stillpower, not willpower

I started writing May’s column for this paper a couple of weeks ago. With each attempt to put words on paper, I ran into inner roadblocks. I couldn’t make anything work. The writing usually flows for me, and this just wasn’t flowing!

A few days ago my son, Ethan, sent me an article in which the author interviewed a sports consultant named Garrett Kramer. “Mom, I think you’ll enjoy this. It sounds like stuff you write and talk about,” Ethan said.

As I read it, the article made me realize that I had been attempting to generate column ideas from my intellect. This month, for some reason, I had forgotten my usual practice of becoming still and centered, allowing an idea to arise from a place deeper than my mind. Once the subject matter arises, I can then use my mind to shape the column as a sculptor shapes clay. The mind is not in charge. It is simply an instrument in the hands of that deeper awareness.

In the article, Kramer advocates something he calls “stillpower.” For athletes, getting in the zone necessitates becoming inwardly still rather than trying harder. The stillness opens them to possibilities rather than narrowing their view into a specific focus. Then training does not take place from intense struggling toward a goal. It happens from un-attachment to whether they win or lose, becoming fun instead of work.

Stillpower is about stopping the frenzy in all arenas of life. It means the opposite of grinding out solutions and forcing performance results. It involves letting go of the instinct to control outcomes. Kramer coaches people to take their foot off the gas and to stop trying to be “in the zone.” When we stop controlling, we begin to tap into a success mindset that has given up striving for success. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

The result is a true “in the zone” mentality that manifests as the ability to become absorbed into the present moment, without regard for past or future. It feels easy, effortless, and free from force.

Our society has trained us to view the mind – with its logic, its rationality, and its tendency to label and control – as the highest state from which to operate and move in the world. However, says Kramer, it really represents a lower-quality state of consciousness that makes life more complicated. When I operate from this state, I feel like I’m paddling a canoe upstream against the current, and everything seems like a struggle.

So in writing this column, I stopped paddling. I quit struggling harder from that lower mind-state, and I became still. I allowed the current to turn the canoe around into a downstream direction.

Then the writing became effortless, with no more wrangling to get ideas on paper that went nowhere.

I had found the zone.

The name of Garret Kramer’s book is Stillpower: The Inner Source of Athletic Excellence. To contact Marta, write or call 928-451-9482.

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