F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton & Meditation: “The Perfect Zone of Clarity”

by | 23 Mar 22 | Mind

After winning his seventh world Formula One title, many have been keen to learn the secret of Lewis Hamilton’s ongoing success:

‘After a dominant victory in Spain in August 2020, one of his most convincing victories of the season, he talked about being in a “perfect zone of clarity” through the race, a mental space all sportspeople look for, but find only when performing at their very best … He’s been working on the question of how to get there more often ever since.1

The “perfect zone of clarity” is one in which the conscious and subconscious operate in harmony. The repetitive training of fine motor skills over a considerable number of years, often beginning in childhood, creates in sportspeople a deep trust in the execution of physical tasks pertaining to their specific sport. In time this high degree of familiarity allows for instinct, unmarred by conscious decision making, to dictate their physical actions. The “perfect zone of clarity” is when they no longer consciously evaluate each decision and are able to decide the right course of action at each juncture because they are not overthinking or second-guessing themselves. Experience has embedded winning formulae into their psyche, and certainty in their sporting abilities subdues doubt to predicate the clarity required for instincts to guide them.

Lewis has described this zone as a dream like state in which his actions require no effort, as though he is functioning on some mythical automatic setting. He has been experimenting with different forms of meditation to enhance his access to this state of being. In meditation for most people this zone arrives after fifteen minutes, because this is how long it takes for the mind to surrender. During the initial stages of meditation the mind will object to letting go by projecting thoughts, and it is key to not engage these thoughts and let them pass by.

Many people turn to guided meditation, however this prohibits complete surrender as the action of listening and imagining are engaged consciously. Practitioners follow the voice and conjure in their mind’s eye, for example, a serene image of a beach at sunset, the feel of the sand underfoot, and imagine walking beneath dusky skies of pink, blue, and orange, and all whilst consciously engaged. Albeit a peaceful state, technically this is not the “perfect zone of clarity” because the conscious mind is active in creating the experience dictated by the guide.

The “perfect zone of clarity” requires the surrender of the conscious mind to the unconscious. In Murāqaba we focus on the colour blue, because blue is a natural colour and heals the mind allowing it to let go. The initial stages of Murāqaba are focussed upon forging a connection to blue, be it either through imagined blue light, or rain. Once achieved the conscious mind surrenders because of the natural qualities resonating within the colour blue. What follows is the awakening of the inner senses, which with practice can lead to the “perfect zone of clarity.”

The difficulty for Lewis is that he is searching for this state of clarity whilst driving a Formula One car at over 200/mph. This is also an advantage as the levels of focus required to drive F1 cars at this speed demand the mind does not go astray. Loss of concentration for an F1 driver quickly results in losing control of their vehicle. Therefore, focus is as paramount as it is for Murāqaba. The F1 driver is focussed on driving at breakneck speeds, and the practitioners of Murāqaba focus on the colour blue to allow inner senses to dominate. Both rely on focus.

In a 2010 biopic three-time world F1 champion Ayrton Senna (d.1994) described how whilst fully engrossed in driving his Formula 1 car at well over 200/mph, faster than he had ever driven before, he looked up and saw the face of God. Senna was a devout Catholic and read the Bible before each race.2 Clearly his faith contributed to the visionary experience he received as he pushed the limits of human endeavour. For Senna the “perfect zone of clarity” was the face of God. This is not surprising owing to the degrees of focus involved. Sufi’s have performed Murāqaba since the dawn of Islam to gain Divine gnosis by following the same basic principle of focus. Energy flows where your focus goes, as they say. Those focussed upon Divine revelation will attain it, and those focussed on perfect clarity will receive that also. All that stands in their way is doubt.

Lewis may not understand how, but if he continues to meditate he will increase his chances of entering this perfect zone. The clarity gained whilst meditating in a calm and quiet setting will emerge as he pushes the limits of driving excellence. By practicing meditation regularly he will be able to access this state consciously, but this does take a number of years to master. He has built trust in his physical and cognitive skills over the course of his career. Now he must strive to equally trust his inner senses, for it is this trust, faith, belief that will enable him to consciously manifest the “perfect zone of clarity.”

If he continues to practice I’m sure he’ll be able to get there, as the effects of his meditative practices are beginning to shine through. Recently Lewis offered this reflection on meditation:

‘In life, we wake up and we get into our things and we forget to take a moment for ourselves, which is what I do now with meditation. We often take things for granted. So, try not to take things for granted, and be grateful for the blessings we have3

1. Benson, Andrew (2020) “Lewis Hamilton: ‘I want to have a positive impact’- world champion on staying home & helping people.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/55010313 (last checked 13/01/2020)
2. Kapadia, Asif (2010) “Senna.” Studio Canal: France
3. Ibid
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