Flow involves what is called a “Parallel Interface.” It is the causal interface of flow. But this flow interface is causal for a curious reason that deals with another term – “nondual.” A parallel interface is a nondual interface, and nondual means “not two” or “one without a second,” and to understand flow reality, it helps to understand that flow reality is also nondual reality.
There is plenty of information out there on nondualism, but what I’m talking about here is the experience of flow reality being a nondual experience in which past and future are transcended to co-create nondual presence. Form (past) and empty space (future) are seen in parallel, their temporal and spatial information is input to the brain in parallel streams, and these parallel streams of information about the immediate past and immediate future combine to co-create the immediate flowing present. Opposites combining to co-create the spatiotemporal dimension that is one without a second – the Present.
The Present has no opposite. The opposite of the past is the future. The opposite of the future is the past. What is the opposite of the present? It has no opposite because it is the co-creation of opposites. The past and future combining to co-create a nondual spatiotemporal dimension that transcends and includes its dualistic opposites.
The nondual reality of flow is the nondual reality of moment-to-moment transcendent presence; flowing presence. The higher-order experience of flow in sports is the experience of co-creating nondual reality, where subject and object are not two; where past and future are not two; where you and your opponent are not two.
I know how crazy that sounds, but nondual reality, when seen from a dualistic perspective is going to sound a little bit crazy. Why wouldn’t it? We are so conditioned to see competition as a contest between opponents that any perspective in which you and your opponent are not two is going to rattle the cages of conventional wisdom. If it didn’t, then conventional wisdom would have figured out how to get in the zone a long time ago simply because you win more often when you compete in a flow state, and conventional wisdom in sports sees winning as the ultimate goal. Being one with your opponent sounds a bit squishy and counterintuitive compared to our conventional concepts of competition. If you’re going to play, then play to win, right? Play to beat the crap out of your opponent. Nobody remembers who got second place. In conventional competition, it’s all about the win.
But what if you could still win by transcending winning altogether? What would that feel like in the competitive arena of sports? What would it be like to win the competition with your opponent by being one with your opponent? What would it be like to win the rivalry competition by winning a different competition altogether? Your chances of winning the rivalry competition are much greater when you win the competition to co-create flow. In other words, when you compete in the zone, you will usually win the rivalry competition, but to compete in a state of flow, you must first create the nondual reality of flow, and that co-creative process involves a much different form of rivalry competition. It involves a competition between two ancient archrivals: the Egoic Self and the Authentic Self.
You see, the Egoic Self is the self of your normal performance state, while the Authentic Self is the self of your peak performance state; the “selfless-self” of nondual flow reality. And when you compete in your sport, there is the external competition you face with your opponent and the internal competition you face with yourself. One competition you can see; the other you can’t. One competition exists on the field; the other exists within you. And it is this interior competition that must be won if you intend to compete in a state of flow.
In flow, the real competition is not the opponent without, but rather the opponent within. This outside opponent is included in a flow competition, but the real opponent is on the inside. Your Egoic Self is the opponent you must defeat for your Authentic Self to compete in the zone. All the subject-object nonduality, the oneness of you and your opponent, the Present dimension that has no opposite, all of it takes place when you co-create a flow state in competition. But the real competition is the co-creation of flow is itself because that’s where the real competition between who you think you are and who you really are plays out its unseen rivalry.
Competing in the zone is never about winning. It’s always about awakening to your Authentic Self.