By Michael Spino, Ph.D- Co Founder of SEC.
Utilizing a mind/body approach to sport had its emergence in the field of sport psychology, and forever since has been a necessary primary element of scrutiny for understanding and possible application of training and playing. Once the awareness of the integration and the knowledge of its existence becomes coach or athlete knowledge it can no longer be completely denied. Some may deny giving mind/body training application a try, but actually do so at their own peril. It could be a main element missing in a coach’s repertoire or player’s arsenal towards improvement. If a coach or player is unsure of what mental training and mind/body integration is this introduction may make the path ahead clearer. While keen observation of a player or coaches strong mental skills or fantastic bonding of a team is an element of why sport is such an incredible backdrop for our journey in life. It is what potentially gives life purpose and joy. Moreover, for our populous who loves sport and cannot live fulfilled lives without it, inner awareness is always an asset. These are some of the questions to be explored in the upcoming third annual Sports, Awareness and Consciousness Festival that will be held July 13-15th in San Raphael, California (www.sportsenergygroup.com)
Therefore, below are some suggestions and pointers of how to apply and integrate mind and body into the sport experience. Hope they are valuable for those wanting to take the first step in becoming what we in SEC call Omni athletes, can contemplate and for the seasoned coach a few ideas for expanding mind/body applications
The point is that there has always been an underlining search and belief in the sports culture of coaches and groups experiencing the dynamics of athletics and wanting to know more about the method of capturing the union of mind and body in sports. The SEC sports festival and the Omni athlete (see our website for this definition) podcasts and presentations organized by SEC’s Executive Director Josh Crist demonstrate that coaches, teachers and mind/body sports leaders have stories and anecdotes of how the mind /body phenomenon has is integral to their athletic and coaching regimens.
What the over 30 podcasts about the Omni athlete have displayed is that there are numerous ways to explain and teach our integral mind and body playing and coaching. I believe if a coach or mind/body practioner observes an opportunity or a problem with themselves or an athlete and seeks a resolution that is both physical and mental they are an integrated coach or as we call at SEC an Omni person. Whether the language is connoted as mind/body integration, flow experience, displaying extraordinary powers, or any other definition of unity of mind and body, when practiced and explained, it is an example goal of our SEC group.
Each method has its own foundation
We each have our approach to mind/body sports performance and its preparation practice that has served us well through our years of coaching and teaching. No one can lay claim to an absolute correct technology of mind/body teaching, and as one grows in their usability the choice and finesse of integrating mental training with physiological a full grown practice can emerge.
Ones own experience and thought helps to form one’s methodology. My research and practice demonstrated to me that relaxation is a prerequite for mental trainings that are effective, and that other techniques such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery, distraction visualization, skill application and various event rehearsals (to name a few) each have their place and part in a unified mind/body sport application program,
Self reviewing and tracking what works and forming an athlete or coach mind/body repertoire is one of the exciting ventures of becoming an operational Omni athlete or coach. There are numerous ways of peaking both mentally and physically in sequences and cycles throughout a year. In these cyclical patterns, each athlete or coach begins to discover there individual method and with each perfected method and technique it becomes more apparent what to instill in each training and coaching situation.
We take from our teachers and apply to our mentored
Each one of us has our influences, teachers and mentors in this regard and has taken their work and adapted it to our own situation. Each contributes to one aspect to the puzzle of discovery of our own Omni teaching method. Now beginning my way into my mid 70’s, what becomes important is the legacy left behind? Moreover, it needs to be a legacy of truth and repeatability.
Study uncovers some amazing discoveries
I begin to understand that time isn’t just linear in regard to applicable knowledge. What has occurred even 500 years ago can be discovered, forgotten and in some manner resurface and be rediscovered. It is all a matter of perspective and commitment of the moment. Further, in terms of the exploration of the manifestation of the mind, ancient traditions displayed rigors of practice in particular epochs that allowed big breakthroughs that could be applied to mental training practices today. Moreover, these truths may fade momentarily but ancient writings and passed down traditions are apt to surface anew and be added to our ways of practice today. We are all beneficiaries of the past, guardians of its truths, and builders upon generations of our forefathers’ discoveries. The mental training one does today, like the sesshins we teach in our present practices place our roots in our past and the new discoveries and combinations of practices place our future roots in the future.
Recently a book I wrote 50 years ago, Beyond Jogging: the inner space of Running. (DistrictVision.com) was reissued by an avant garde fashion company called District Vision. They perceived the book as reflecting the origin of the mindful running movement an element of the new popularity that running is now experiencing. It was hearting to experience this and relive a lot of the excitement of being first published those many years ago.
The reissue of the book Beyond Jogging: the innerspaces of running was accompanied by an article written for Vogue magazine (April issue– www.vogue.com/article/district-vision-republish-cult-book-beyond-jogging) that traces back the origins of mind/body sports programs to the Esalen Sports Center, which was formed, by Michael Murphy, George Leonard and David Meggyesy in the early 1970’s.
That the owners of District Vision perceived the book as the fountainhead from which the mindful running “movement” emerged is similar to a throwback element at the heart of the 3rd annual Sports, Energy and Consciousness festival, held this year again at Dominican College in San Raphael California on July 13-15th. (www.sportsenergy group.) This group, which a few stalwarts founded six years ago as a forum for and place of practice for the mind/body integration approach to sport is growing exponentially each year and is now having a international influence in the way sport is being practiced and acted upon throughout the world.
GENERAL TRUTHS AND PERSONAL MEANS OF DELIVERIES
In my almost 50 years of teaching, like most teachers, I have done some practices from the very beginning and others have grown from my practice. Following are some of these insights and others applications I make that others may or may not utilize as teaching tools.
General Truth: To the integrative mind/body athlete or coach, arriving at a desired goal should simultaneously have both a mental and physical cycle of development
My personal insight and application:
I begin my physical running training with a cycle of endurance training logging maximum miles and aerobic type training to build toward goals for the later season. As this is a high effort physiological endeavor I utilize a beginning meditation program and after practice progressive relaxation to “check” body functions and begin the roots of positive mental training. I was fortunate in reading about my coach, the late Percy Cerutty that in the 1950’s he was the first coach to utilize visualization in his training and I also had the good fortune to be ‘plugged’ into the vast knowledge of the area by my association with Michael Murphy who once gave me a copy of his teacher Aurabindo’s, The Life Devine
1) Tests along the way show development and performance. The researcher in me believes in “repeated measures.”
General Truth: Assessment is the way athletes and coaches know they are making progress—Whatever your sport and especially leading up to the season, make sure that you know what constitutes progress both physically and mentally.
My Personal Insight:
Segments have particular repeated measures assessments. For instance, a race is an assessment and writing down your mental impressions demonstrates your insights. However, some trainings “build up” the athletes such as a series of different intervals to build abilities whether mental or physical and assessments as workouts such as a series of 400’s that let the coach or athlete know their capabilities at that moment.
2) Keep a diary and jot down moments of mind and body clarity.
3) Write down and analyze the techniques you are using to accomplish your goals, and know which practices are set up for which accomplishments. As a beginning mental trainer or coach there are sequences of mental training that work best however with seasoned practice a mind/body technique that fits the situation at hand becomes a more detainable tool.
4)Let your goals be physical, mental and spiritual- A big insight is sometimes stronger than a big result or PR.
Good on ya sport–Ride on pioneers!