A friend has requested that I elaborate on how to induce the mindset of the zone in oneself, so I will attempt to do so, though it is an exceedingly subtle maneuver to attempt consciously. I usually find myself in the zone by an accidental inversion of awareness, which consequently bumps me out of the zone. The moment one becomes self conscious, one is usually exiled from the zone, since there is no self in the zone.
The zone is where one dissolves into the world (real or imagined). Here are examples of fairly common moments in which I have caught myself zoning: tending a campfire, washing dishes, cooking routine meals, cleaning, cutting wood, running, gardening, painting, meditating, and, of course, passing into sleep. It seems to me that these activities (all prehistoric in origin, I’m now realizing), rather routine and undemanding (once one has mastered the formal requirements) allow my mind and body to synchronize in their exertions, without the need for higher cognitive processing. This doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention to what I’m doing. I am. I’m simply not “thinking” about it. I’m “doing” it (and thinking about absolutely nothing else either). My mind and body are allowed to be the continuum they actually were before the prejudices of acculturated cognition were internalized (particularly in the West, I should add, where ratiocination is worshipped). Again, these particular activities are simply ones that work for me. Any activity, or nonactivity, for which one has mastered the form of the experience, is a potential bridge into the zone.
Incidentally, watching television doesn’t do it, because, despite popular belief, conscious thought (even if at the lowest level) is constantly provoked, self-consciousness continually pricked, when one is watching television. Campfires don’t do that to you. They don’t make appeals to a you. Physical necessities may become spiritual necessities only when one forgets to divide experience into constituent parts… into even the physical and spiritual.