Improve Sports Performance
Use of MindSpa on a regular basis will train your mind to maintain the peak performance state. Our unique technology is the result of years of rigorous application and testing with virtually thousands of individuals in various areas of athletic performance. Among those we have assisted throughout the world in bringing home national and international championships are many well-recognized professional, elite and Olympic gold medal-winning athletes.
Your current training regimen remains just as important as ever. Think of MindSpa as an additional athletic tool helping to assist you in training your mind, just as physical practice optimally trains and fine-tunes your body.
Developing a state of focus is critical to success. As a dedicated athlete, you have experienced this state, perhaps often, in your own performances. Great achievers routinely enter the “flow state” — the state where mind and body are in balance and work as one. In this state, you are removed from all outside distraction and totally focused on intent to achieve your goal.
Remaining in a calm and focused state of readiness – an accelerated performance state – is an innate skill you can successfully master. The more you practice, the more natural it becomes. In time, when you are in the middle of the toughest situation imaginable, you can call upon this skill to take you exactly where you need to be. You will find you are able to effectively block out those distractions that may have caused you, or are currently causing you difficulties.
Left and Right Hemispheres
Our physical brain is divided into left and right hemispheres. Our mind reflects our physical brain and also operates on the principal of two hemispheres.The left hemisphere is primarily where logical, critical thinking takes place. The right hemisphere is primarily the creative, problem-solving side. The left continually speaks to us while the right usually listens, absorbs and interprets.
When the left and right hemispheres are in balance, it brings greater clarity to our thought processes. In this state of balance, also known as bilateral balance or synchrony, you are able to think more clearly, make the right decisions and create attainable goals and objectives. It is achieving this state of bilateral balance that will allow you to consistently rise to new levels of achievement.
The difficulty is in knowing how to naturally and effortlessly maintain this optimal state of mind/body balance. What happens is when we operate primarily in the creative right hemisphere, it may result in making it difficult to bring creations, hopes and desires into full reality. Creations may become incomplete because they lack the necessary substance, structure and sequencing.
Conversely, when we are primarily analytical, operating in the left hemisphere, we can be so busy thinking that it can cause other difficulties, typically manifesting as increased anxiety and disruption of focus. This can happen because instead of being centered and focused on the present, we are either thinking about things in our past, the distractions immediately surrounding us, or on issues in the future, thus creating a state that produces anxiety.
This anxiety and lack of focus reduces our capacity to produce what we really desire to accomplish. There exists a point of balance where the optimal performance state becomes natural. When you can maintain this balance, the mind enters the calm, totally focused peak performance state.
Calmness, Stress and Balance
A calm and balanced state is an optimal performance state. For the purposes of definition, the calmness we refer to is different from the normal term for relaxation. Relaxation is a form of letting go of both mind and body for regenerative purposes. How we define calmness is a state of performance readiness where mind and body are in tune, ready to act in synchrony.
Calmness helps you view stress-producing situations from a new, more productive perspective. It allows you to thrive on adversity. It helps you to create new options and new ways of responding to tough situations that allow you to reach your ultimate goals. It is that perspective that allows you to master your situation.
Stress and how you respond to it are important factors in peak performance. Maintaining a certain edge is positive, but too much stress impacts performance. Productive stress is like fine-tuning the strings of a violin. The strings and bow have to be under a certain level of tautness to sound right. It is that precise balance between too much and too little, and the relationship between each string, the quality of the instrument and how that instrument is played that produces a perfect performance.
You are also a finely-tuned instrument with many interrelationships to consider on your way to perfect performance. We help you to create balance between the various elements.
When you relax your mind, it helps you center your thoughts and focus more intently upon your goals. Centering your mind allows you to function with less effort because you are expending less emotional energy. When your emotional state rules your thinking processes, anxiety increases and, ultimately, your performance suffers.
Note: Utilize these exercises to help improve your overall success. While it is recommended, it is not required to do these exercises while you are conducting a session. They are provided as additional aids.
Developing Performance Breathing Skills
Performance breathing is also commonly known as diaphragmic breathing; to breathe from deep in your abdomen instead of high in your chest. This is a natural way of breathing; it is the way infants breathe when they are relaxed. Learning to breathe for calmness and centering will help you be more effective, especially when you are in competitive pressure environments. Give yourself time to master these exercises for maximum benefit.
Many of us have a habit of breathing from our upper chest rather than from the diaphragm, especially in times of stress when we can get out of touch with our body and mind. As we become more stressed, we enter into what is called the instinctual “fight or flight response.” Our breathing becomes quick and shallow and our adrenaline levels rise. Adrenaline will pump us up temporarily, but soon it will leave us feeling drained of energy.
Start by taking a minute or two to close your eyes and imagine yourself in a situation that really stresses you out. Maybe it is your coach, perhaps it is being down by a point with only seconds to go, perhaps it is public speaking, or driving in traffic, or an argument with a spouse or mate, or a tense feeling right before a major event. Whatever the situation, place yourself there right now. Really be in the situation. Make it as real for yourself as possible. Then answer the following questions:
What do you feel?
Do certain parts of your body feel tense?
What does it make you think about?
Ok, now notice your breathing; is it shallow and high in your chest?
Are you breathing a little more rapidly than usual?
Do you feel anxiety in your stomach?
Are your palms or forehead a little sweaty?
When you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it means you are really visualizing the situation. You are in touch with it and you are now aware of your body and the physical and emotional messages it is sending to your mind.
Now, while you are feeling this anxiety, anger or discomfort, focus deeply and do the following diaphragmic breathing exercise:
Take a deep breath. Now bring your breath into your entire body. Visualize it actually entering your body as a soothing form of energy. Feel it move down into your abdomen. You know you are breathing correctly when you place your hand on your stomach and feel it moving up and down. Your chest should be relatively still during this exercise.
Follow your breath as it enters your nostrils and goes down into your lungs; visualize it entering your bloodstream, moving up to your brain. Follow it as it brings relaxation to your body. Imagine this breath is giving you a boost of energy. Feel it as it enters like a purifying force that clears out all anxiety and negative feelings, replacing them with calmness and serenity.
Conduct this exercise slowly and deliberately. Breathe three, four or more times over 30 seconds to two minutes so you can get a good sense of the exercise.
Now how do you feel? You should notice how it quickly relaxes you and releases tension and anxiety.
This is a skill you can use any time and at any place. When you use this exercise with MindSpa on a regular basis, it will help condition your mind and body to automatically release into a relaxed and focused state. These kinds of exercises can become automatically remembered at a deeper level. With regular practice, they will become instinctual. Later on, try it for a longer period of time or during any session. At times of emotional stress, such as before or actually during an important competition, you can call upon this exercise to help center and focus yourself.
Developing Focus Skills
You have probably experienced at some point your coaches, your trainers, your teammates or even your parents telling you to stay focused! Get centered! Concentrate! And stay with it! It can be very frustrating. What happens is you get out there telling yourself you have to remain focused, in doing so; your focus can actually go off, as it can break your concentration. You are stuck on reminding yourself to stay centered, so your new focus is trying to be something, instead of just being in the correct state of calm focus where your mind is quiet yet alert.
Focus is all about being in the present moment. When you are in the moment, staying completely on task, you are automatically remaining free of internal and external distraction. There is nothing but you and what you are doing. It is when you begin to think about something that has already taken place, or trying to prepare yourself for something that has yet to happen that you lose focus. Staying in the moment is one of the most important skills you can develop as a top performer.
Having goals seems simple enough, but having the right goals requires careful thought. If your primary goal is simply to win, then losing can become a detriment to future performance instead of a motivator in overcoming adversity.
With a rare exception, it is unrealistic to expect to win every time, but what you can do is set a goal to perform at your very best. In this way you can feel good about yourself knowing you are meeting your primary goal. Winning becomes a result of your goal. The occasional loss simply becomes a step in the road towards overall success.
Losing is always a disappointment, but your personal self-worth stays intact. You can hold your head up high because you know you are still building, you are moving forward. Your goals are tied to something deeper and more meaningful – being the best person you can be in any given situation. This gives you greater inner strength; this becomes the seat of your personal power.
Tensing and Releasing
The practice of tensing and releasing is another very effective method for releasing physical tension. While doing a session for relaxation and rejuvenation, center your attention on individual parts of your body. You can start from the top of your head and work down. As you progress through each area of your body, physically tighten your muscles. Hold this position for a few seconds, then let go and move on to the next area. Remember to continue to breathe as you conduct this exercise.
Start with your head and neck. First take a slow, deep breath and tense up, but not to the point of pain. Hold for a few seconds. You may continue to breathe while maintaining tension. When you feel ready, exhale deeply as you release tension and be conscious of how you feel.
As you move to the next area of your body, take a deep breath. Move down to your shoulders, arms and hands, then the chest area and middle back region, down into the abdomen and lower back, then to the buttocks, the upper legs, lower legs and finally the feet and toes. You can take as much time as you want to complete this exercise. However, when time is a factor, this exercise can be effectively completed in as little as ten to fifteen minutes. It can be highly effective to help you let go of body tension and move into a performance state, or towards restful sleep when done before bedtime.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is similar to tensing and releasing, except you are focused only on the releasing. You should also give this exercise more time, as it is more subtle and requires extra time to feel and work through each muscle group.
Start with the forehead and take deep, complete breaths. Let the muscles relax. Then go to the eyes, cheeks, back of the jaw, allowing your lips to part slightly. Let your tongue fall and allow it to flatten out. Move to your chin, then the back of your neck. Feel all the muscles back there. Feel your internal organs just begin to relax. Now work on the base of your neck, then your shoulders, arms, hands, fingers…
Keep releasing each zone of your body; find the tension spots and just let it easily leave you. Use in conjunction with abdominal breathing. This exercise should take you at least 20 – 30 minutes or more. It is a great body awareness exercise and can also help you locate particularly tight spots. It helps you become more aware of your body and what it is feeling. While you are doing this, notice what thoughts arise. Acknowledge them and let them go along with your tension, like clouds passing on a lazy summer sky.
Any of these exercises done together with MindSpa sessions will enhance total effectiveness. Best of all, what you will discover is an increase in your energy level, improved ability to stay focused and better results in your activities. Be patient with all these techniques. In time you will master them and find yourself operating at a higher level of achievement.
Imagery and Visualization
This is among the most important sections to read and understand. The skills you learn here will go deep to the heart of your performance.
Nearly every professional or top-level athlete uses imagery and visualization in one form or another to enhance performance. Many coaches have long understood the power of these exercises. You can use it to tap your full potential. Knowing how to use these exercises properly will have a profound influence on your performance.
Some trainers and sports psychologists, and even some noted authors, treat imagery and visualization as the same exercise. In fact, they are different in a fundamental way. Imagery is a deeply subconscious experience. Visualization takes place at a more conscious level. Understanding the differences and understanding how to use imagery and visualization can make a difference towards reaching and maintaining high levels of success and accomplishment.
Imaging involves using your mind to create or recreate the result you intend to produce. When accomplished properly on a subconscious level, your body and mind are living the experience. The electrical activity in your muscles mirrors actual performance. Your emotional state is firmly rooted to the imagery you are producing.
To your subconscious mind, there is virtually no difference between the imaging of the experience and the actual experience. You are totally immersed in seeing, feeling, smelling, even tasting the activity in your mind.
The true power of imaging provides you with a key to open your full potential. At the subconscious level, when you begin to see and live the person you are capable of being, you will become that person. You can move from a state of wanting to a state of being. This is actually an ancient concept, in some philosophies this has been described for eons as a state of beingness. Internal imagery is most effective. Picture yourself actually accomplishing the feat (from your mind’s eye), rather than viewing yourself from the outside looking in.
Here is another way to look at it. Assuming you are already a high-performance athlete, as a high-performer, you have moved from a state of wanting to be a high-performer, to a state of being a high-performer. You may have subconsciously started being a high-performer as a child, though you may not have fully realized it at the time. Or it may have only dawned on you at a conscious level that you are a high-performer after winning several key competitions. Either way, deep down inside, you knew you had what it takes to make it.
You were in a state of becoming what you knew inside you are. At this moment, you are in the state of being a high-performer. Now that you are a high-performer, you may want to be a champion – an all-star – or remain one. You want to reach or remain at your full potential. You can learn to take the leap from wanting to being.
Champions are made from the inside, out. To understand the power of imagery and visualization, let’s use an example of one of the greatest all-time athletes, Mohammed Ali. He was a master imager and visualizer. He not only saw himself as the greatest of all time, he lived it even before becoming it. He intuitively understood the power of the state of being the greatest all-time boxer at the deepest levels before he became it. It went beyond thinking or wanting.
His vision was clear. He shared his vision with all who would listen from the start and never wavered. He let everyone know, especially his opponents; “I AM THE GREATEST!” This is a good example of making a leap from wantingto being. He didn’t merely want to be the greatest, in his whole being he already saw himself as the greatest.
He was able to create the reality he envisioned. Losing a match later in his career did not take away anything from his greatness. This is because he knew, and those around him intuitively knew, that his greatness was tied to something far deeper within himself. Winning was not his first goal, it was a result of his goal to be the greatest.
What is also remarkable was the way he could take the power of his mind and use it to influence his opponent’s state. Athletes often try to “psych out” each other. Ali took it all the way by allowing his opponents to beat themselves. He helped them create an internal emotional image of losing to him. Just watch his old fight and pre-fight films and see.
During the majority of his career he won before he ever got in the ring, and his opponents lost before the first punch was ever thrown. Their goals were primarily tied to two things: wanting to beat Ali, and to the opposite, wanting not to lose to him. This prevented them from going within, like he did, to create a state where they knew they were better and could win.
Using Self-Guided Imagery to Improve Your Performance
As mentioned, imaging takes place at a deeper level then visualization. The more deeply relaxed you allow yourself to become, the more vivid the imagery. Use a relaxation session of 30 minutes or more and allow a few minutes to relax into the session. Start by visualizing a picture of your performance. Build the picture, build the scene, make it appear big, place it right in front of you, bring all your senses into it; taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing.
Once it is clear, enter the picture, become fully part of it. Become aware of how you and your muscles are feeling, your energy level, your surroundings, other participants, the sounds, the smells, the temperature, the light. While you are deeply relaxed, use this time to make it even more real, notice little things that pass you by when you are performing. Observe everything to its fullest.
Now you have choices. You can go directly into your performance, work through the various aspects of your performance, do it perfectly and see yourself succeed. Or, you can go through all the activity leading up to your performance, notice everything that goes on around you, and then enter your performance. You can perform your entire activity or just a part of it, this is your choice.
You will start to develop an inner sense of timing. As the session near the end, slowly allow yourself to drift back into waking consciousness. As you are finishing, give yourself a little praise. Let your inner self know you can succeed at any level you choose. Tell yourself you are capable, deserving and worthy of success. You can rise to new, higher performance levels. Always believe in yourself!
It is when you are in these deep states that your subconscious mind is open to suggestion. It is at this level, beyond your normal ego, where you meet your true confidence. This is where your true intent speaks to you with honesty. If you are having performance blocks of any kind, it is here where you may find they are self-imposed, caused by influences that you can change. You are ultimately in command of your life!
Visualization is another equally important form of mental practice. Visualization is the act of using your mind’s eye to see yourself perform an activity. It is not all-immersive where all your senses become totally involved as in imaging. Still, it is very effective in helping improve performance. The deeper theta sessions are excellent for assisting in visualization exercises.
Visualization: Closed Eye Method
Before you begin, pick one part of your skill that needs improving. Start out on something small and workable, save the big things for when you really start to build your confidence and ability with this skill.
Take your time with the session. Allow it to release you to a point where your mind is clear and empty of daily thoughts. When you are really feeling relaxed, bring a picture into focus. Do you have it? Now, make that picture larger, make it more colorful. Now make it brighter. Go back again; make it even larger and more colorful and brighter in your mind until it starts to become real. Center that picture; fine tune it in your mind. Just let it happen naturally. Just go with whatever is happening. It will all come with time. Enjoy it, make it fun.
Ok, now you have a fairly clear picture, if it is not a clear picture, you may have a fairly clear feeling of being in the activity. That’s ok too. Some people are more “feeling” than “seeing” oriented. Your normal thinking is slowing way down. You are there; you are part of it now. Move into the activity, immerse yourself into the picture. Can you feel or see success? What is your body telling you? Listen to it as it translates your subconscious, turning into feelings in your body. Just observe your feelings without trying to change them. Allow the entire picture flow through and around you.
Go back and practice this day after day. See yourself in the same situation overcoming blocks and reaching new levels of performance. Give yourself the opportunity to allow it to work for you. You are using the power of your own inner mind to reach further than you ever “thought” possible, simply by letting go of conscious thought.
One note of reminder: You have to set realistic parameters. Set your goals as high as you want, but make them attainable goals, goals that your subconscious will accept. That is the key; to see yourself as what you truly are capable of being.
Visualization: Open Eye Method
By now you are using MindSpa and are beginning to know what it feels like when you move into a focused/relaxed state. Take the first few minutes to allow adequate time to reach that state.
Start a video tape of either yourself performing at your peak, or of someone else you admire performing at their peak. Watch the tape with a non-critical mind. Be a disinterested observer. Just stay in your relaxed state and allow your inner mind to absorb.
You can also use this with a tape of a performance you are not happy with. Watching the tape with a non-critical mind is the key. Just accept the performance for what it was. At a deeper level, below thinking/analyzing, you will be able to absorb the performance and reach beyond it in the future. If your intent is to use past performances to create a higher level, then it all becomes part of one positive experience.
Additional Suggestions for Using Visualization & Self Guided Imagery
Visualize Success: To enhance your confidence, see and feel yourself achieving your goals and performing at your top level.
Preparation: Proper mental preparation before a major event is very important. Mentally familiarize yourself with the environment you are about to enter. Rehearse your performance or key elements of your performance in your mind in the place you are about to enter.
Goal Motivation: Focus on your ultimate goal. Knowing exactly what you intend to accomplish is a powerful motivator to success. Stay fixed on your goal. Keep it near to you at all times. Know your reasons for doing what it is you are doing.
Past Performance: Imagery and visualization of past and upcoming events, going over what you have done well or not so well can help maintain your persistence and intensity level while preparing.
Focus: Move into your performance. Notice when you commonly become distracted and identify the underlying cause. Tell yourself to remain on focus. Then go back over and see yourself in a relaxed/focused state. Practice this until it becomes second nature.
Self Motivation: Use imagery and visualization to reinvigorate or take your drive to new levels. Move yourself into your activity and let yourself know that you are special and you are gifted with skill. Offer thanks for those skills and find your own purpose in life for being handed those gifts.
Affirmations & Self Talk
Great performance and great performers develop by internally saying the right things in the right way. Knowing how to use and create positive affirmations – self talk – will have a profound influence on your success.
It is important to become fully aware of what you say to yourself and, just as important, how you say it. Every word you say to yourself has meaning to the subconscious mind. Throughout your waking hours, consciously or subconsciously, you are constantly running scripts and subscripts in your mind that are both positive and negative in nature. Becoming aware of the correct way to run these scripts is a tremendous tool for performance enhancement and creating the outcome you consciously seek.
The subconscious part of the brain receives communication in a very simple, straightforward manner. Rather than “importing” words, it works on a much more fundamental level. It feels emotional content and sees the image attached to a thought. It does not “filter out” negative sayings, but registers “trigger words,” along with the emotional feeling and visual pictures.
For instance, to say “I will not fail again” is registered by the right side of the brain in a simple visual/emotional form as “fail again!” The emotion being provided to the subconscious is the act of remembering and seeing a past failure. This can then re-register in the conscious, left side of the brain as a troublesome, underlying feeling of failure without being able to put your finger on its source. Therefore, sending, on a regular, consistent basis, a positive emotional/visual image of moving towards success allows you to put the innate power of your mind to best use.
Positive and negative affirmations can have an equally powerful influence on your performance. This is why it is important to be aware of the ways in which you communicate with yourself. You are your own author of your own internal script! You decide at each moment what is going to be imprinted on your brain.
(You may notice that this is written in a positive style to provide you with a sense of the greater possibilities of positive affirmations.)
Affirmations are best absorbed under circumstances where your mind is still. The best affirmations are short, clearly defined and positive. We offer some simple, but powerful lessons on creating and constructing affirmations properly. Correct construction techniques will have broad positive impact. It is a form of mental practice worth developing that can change your entire outlook on life and produce remarkable results.
Constructing Personal Affirmations
Keep affirmations short
Short, simple statements work best. This is because simple construction makes it easy for your subconscious to absorb it as positive visual/emotional content.
Make them clear
Clarity is important: They need to be specific in nature and easily understood so the content fixes itself in your subconscious.
Focus on the positive
Be aware of the words you use and the power they carry. Keep negative words out even when trying to use them in a positive way. (See examples below)
Make them realistic
You have to be able to believe in what you are saying to yourself for affirmations to be effective.
Construct them in the present tense
Stay in the present moment. Staying with the “here and now” is what helps you remain in focus. It also helps you avoid constructing negative statements based on past performance.
Say your affirmations out loud to yourself
Bring your auditory processes into this activity to help make affirmations more effective.
Write them out
This simple, physical act helps fix them in your mind. Writing them out is an important exercise because it brings not only visual and auditory, but the kinesthetic into the activity as well. The more senses you bring into the process, the more effective this exercise will be.
Place your list where you will see it and read it every day. In addition, update and review your affirmations on a regular basis so they stay fresh and current. Affirmations should be with you always.
Share them with others
When you are part of a team, work with your group or teammates to create a set of shared goals. Shared goals create greater results.
Use your most important affirmations several times a day
Repeat your affirmations quietly to yourself throughout the day, especially when going to sleep or waking up in the morning and when doing sessions.
Here are some examples of positive and negative affirmation constructions.
“I am a winner!” “I can’t allow failure to occur!”
“I act with decisiveness” “I am doing my best”
“I am essential and capable” “The team is counting on me”
“I am smart” “How can I be such an idiot?”
“I possess great inner ability” “I am not as talented as some”
“I am a good person” “I don’t like who I am”
“I possess inner strength” “I have no willpower”
“Stay loose” “I’m stressed”
“I am worthy” “I have little impact on the team”
“I am a leader” “I will try lead to us to victory”
“Success if up to me” “Failure it is not acceptable”
“I possess limitless potential” “I give it all I have”
“I am capable of success” “How did I blow that?”
“I see success” “I won’t let that happen again”
When self-talking, watch out for words like: don’t, won’t, stop, etc. These are self-limiting terms and place the focus in the wrong area – on the negative. Negative self-talk is fear-based and a very common and efficient way to move into a defeatist mode. It creates emotional anxiety because you are focusing on not doing something. It is an attempt to move away from possible failure instead of towards success. Keep your intent on the positive. Feel good about what you are doing and who you are!
Anxiety causes a loss of focus and a loss of concentration. If you make a mistake during an important event, immediately place your focus back on what you want to accomplish. Take a slow, thoughtful breath, release the previous moment and immediately move back into performance mode.
When using words like “take” or “control,” be aware that these words represent outside influences. A better usage is a word like “release” or “bring.” The sentence; “I will take control of my life” may be better said; “I have the power to succeed in my life.” When you speak of taking control, it tells your inner mind you feel like you have a lack of control. “I want something I don’t have.” Pay attention to statements of this style.
Additional examples of positive and negative short phrase beginnings:
Positive / Negative
I Can / I Can’t
I Am Able To / I Have To
I Have / I Want
I Love / I Hate
Today / Some Day
Towards / Away
Opportunity / Problem
Challenge / Difficulty
I Am Able / I will try
I Do / I Don’t
Relax / Stress
Possible / Tough
I Have Confidence / I Worry
Win / Lose
Possible / Impossible
A final word on affirmations…
It is easy to focus on the negative we perceive in ourselves. It is also easy to look for weakness in others as a way to try to bolster our own self-image through comparison, but it takes the focus off our own strengths and subconsciously makes us focus on our own weaknesses. It is through the power of positive thinking that each of us can fully open to our true potential. Learn to focus on the positive and release the negative. Use what you already possess within towards its best and highest purpose.
If you are part of a team, your coaches will spend a lot of time working on team dynamics. You are well aware of all the fundamentals of working as a unit. You know the success of a team starts with you. However, there is more to the equation. You have within you the power to be a leader. You have the power within you to carry the team to higher levels of performance. As you become more skilled at mastering peak performance states, the other members of your team intuitively recognize and feed on your positive energy. Use it to help them rise to higher levels as well.
Anchoring is the recall of a previous experience by using one element of that experience to bring back the entire experience. The purpose of anchors is to recall and place oneself in the same peak performance state that led to previous success. The use of anchors can help improve performance and consistency.
Many athletes unconsciously use anchors without realizing it. For example, often athletes repeat the exact same physical motion, like shaking their arms and hands in a specific manner before each competition. It is a common anchor preparing the athlete to perform.
There are endless anchoring examples; they can be some small physical movement, or some possession that is touched right before the start of each competition, like a ring or part of a uniform. It can be a certain phrase a coach may use, or a touch by a coach on the shoulder that sets the anchor. It could even be a certain ritual that is followed before each competition, like the tying of shoes in a specific manner and order that sets the anchor.
General examples of anchors are music and smells, which can provide powerful recall. It could be a song heard for the first time you were with someone you cared about. This can instantly take you back to that experience. Or, it could be walking through a county fair and smelling something that instantly takes you back to your childhood. The anchor signals the body and mind to re-experience a previous event.
How to create a physical anchor
- Place yourself in a deeply relaxed state using one of your favorite sessions.
- Remember the feeling, experience, and/or action from an event you want to anchor. For most, it is going to be a previous outstanding performance.
- Use all your senses: see, feel, hear, smell, even taste the past event as vividly as you can. Immerse yourself in the event so when you look down you can see your feet and hands, and when you look up, you can see everything that is around you.
When you are completely in the experience, make it even brighter, add more color to it, feel the sun and air temperature, hear what is going on around you, become aware of every element so you are reliving the experience. The more you can add to your experience, the stronger your anchor will be.
- Now that you are immersed in the experience, notice what positive things you are thinking or saying to yourself like; I am relaxed, I feel ready; I know I am going to win, I can taste success! You can also use individual words such as; Yes! Go! Great!
- While in the peak of your experience, say your word or words out loud in a strong, enthusiastic voice. Now create a physical anchor by touching a part of your body, such as your wrist, a part of your face, tapping your foot, touching the top of the roof of your mouth with your tongue, or by making a fist, as examples. Now let go of the anchor and gently come out of your experience.
- To test if the anchor is working, break your visualization by thinking about something unrelated to it, such as what you had to eat over the last two days. Once you are mentally on to other things, activate your anchor. If it works, the feeling and experience you desire will come back. If you need to make the anchor stronger, repeat the previous steps and work to increase the experience, making it even stronger.
Now that you have successfully created an anchor, you can create additional ones, if you so please. For example, use MindSpa to place yourself into a deeply focused/ready state, and then when you are at the peak of your experience; create an anchor to recreate that exact experience of being focused, feeling good and being relaxed. Also, begin to become aware of the anchors you are already using and continue to develop from there. You are going to find that this simple tool is very powerful once you begin to consciously use it for performance.
Experiment and play with anchoring, it works!
We communicate subconsciously to others through our posture. Our posture reflects our inner thinking. Any inner turmoil affecting confidence is reflected through posture. You can have an immediate and profound effect on your state of mind by shifting your posture, even slightly.
Try this simple exercise and experience right now how effective correct posture can be. Pick up your shoulders and raise them up and back. Straighten your back. Lift your chest up and forward. If your legs are crossed, uncross them and place your feet flat on the floor, pointed at a slight angle out from each other. Now take a couple of slow, deep breaths. You will notice an almost immediate effect in the way you feel. Amazing! This is also a good standing posture to assume. Use this exercise the next time you are feeling a little anxious, excited and uptight, or a little down.
Posture is very powerful when it is done with conviction. When you look like you are trying to “posture” for others, it can have the opposite effect. Why? Because that type of posturing is fear-based instead of success-based. We read each other’s unconscious signals and act upon them. As you begin to feel confident, your posture reflects that.
As you become more aware of the positive and sometimes negative ways in which you carry your body, you can begin to learn how to carry yourself in a more positive fashion. As you practice, this will become second nature to you. This helps strengthen the all-important mind/body connection.
Rest and Proper Nutrition
If sleep is a problem, you have to look at mind/body interaction. In other words, you have to look at all aspects of yourself. It could be as simple as a chemical imbalance due to ingesting the wrong foods and fuels. Our bodies are tuned towards receiving proper nutrition. Feed them the right things and our bodies and minds will respond in a positive manner. Invest time to learn about proper nutrition and develop a balanced diet.
Working on your body and developing correct nutritional needs is the easy part. The next is working on your mind to correct sleep imbalances. The challenge is to release the inner material that is preventing you from proper rest. When you learn to release it, it allows you to create a balance.
When you begin to create balance of the two major elements, mind/body, you will find sleep becomes easier and more regenerative. Each part is related to the whole. You will function better on every level as you develop all aspects of yourself.