I love speed. As a kid, downhill skiing thrilled my senses. I began to realize why speed possessed me the day I discovered motorcycles. The danger of speed demands intense levels of concentration and awareness. I found myself operating at higher levels, a faster frequency of observation and response. I noticed that my mind was forced into silence. Words and thoughts became dangerous, possibly fatal distractions. I found it crucial to pay attention only to driving. Internal chatter was effectively eliminated and I operated from a primal, visceral core. Free from my usual thought-clogged consciousness, I felt light and quick. I was exhilarated, able to focus, with razor-sharp intensity on the immediate millisecond. On rare occasions, I felt hollow, like there was some other force in control. All I needed to do was to step aside and allow it to happen through me.
Compelling evidence suggests there are deeper psychological implications to training on racing simulators. More than just playing a game, parts of ourselves are being exercised and strengthened by the experience. Electrical impulses from the brain travel through the body, streamlining hand/eye coordination and attuning fast-twitch muscle fibers. Pupils dilate, palms sweat, adrenaline is released into the blood and consumption of oxygen increases. This experience is material to the brain because at the primary level of experience the brain doesnt differentiate what is real and what is imagined. Simulated or real, to drive a lap, one has to go through the same decision making process. The nervous system has to respond as if it were an actual race. Understanding this phenomena, todays top drivers like Villeneuve and Montoya train on simulators to perfect their skills.
The human imagination is a powerful force of unlimited potential. Our minds ability to adapt and raise ourselves up to whatever the present circumstances demand is limitless. These simulations provide situations and intensity levels that force our brain to respond. And our guts must follow. This creates the opportunity for heroic feats. A reason to go beyond our normal state of being and push our capabilities to the fullest. Sports psychology books might liken this to being in the zone.
There are a few fascinating similarities between racing and meditation. They cut through the peripheral layers of socialization to reach a deeper level of experiencing. Both are solitary states that invoke a feeling of hyper-awarness and sensitivity. The verbal mind is unneeded and is an unwanted distraction from a different purpose. The present moment is so riveting that it galvanizes one in its totality of focus like what sometimes occurs during singing or sex.
I suspect the appeal of extreme sports is that they compel one to exercise and expand awareness and abilities. This flexing of the visceral muscles intensifies us and refreshes to the core. The advantage of simulators is that they are able to safely create this thrilling state and be accessible to everyone. Our love of adventure and daring is being exercised and strengthened. The experience creates an opportunity to let flow the heroic in us all.