MOVING THROUGH TO PEAK PERFORMANCE- THE SEC INQUIRY
By Michael Spino, Ph.D/ Founding Member of SEC
WHERE WE COME FROM…
For six years a group of six people have steadfastly pursued the notion and practicality of how and what constitutes developing a program of peak performance through sport– We call ourselves the Sport, Energy and Consciousness group- by coauthoring a book and holding an exploratory festival or conference the six of us have been instrumental in continuing or reviving a ‘movement’ now spanning almost 70 years.
The first indication of formal mental training in organized sport began with an explosion of new records at the 1956 by the Russian federation at the Melbourne Olympic Games. Through the appearance of the Esalen Sport Center in the 1970’s ( I was its second executive director after David Meggyesy and Bob Kriegel) we carry on this tradition.
INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
Almost all sport people recognize the mind’s relevance, capabilities and necessities for performing optimally in sport and life. Further, moments of transcendence in sport have been categorized and trumpeted for decades, however, how this power and transience joins body, mind and spirit in action and performance on a consistent basis for one to become a mind/body athlete remains somewhat mysterious.
SEC’s POTENTIAL PATH FORWARD
The SEC group is exploring the aspects of the mind & body peak performance in sport and life and may have only touched the surface of its multi- aspects. Although we may be still at the fringes of the discovery there is a clear understanding that, as Esalen Institute founder, Michael Murphy, says of us, “they are pioneers at the edge of the frontier”. Thank you Michael, and now we are attempting to conceive what does this entry look and feel like, and what can make it more clear and reproducible.
There are stories! And these are recorded in legend and tribute. Small groups mostly , who applied mental training systematically with ongoing research, have drawn a circle around the elements identified as mental training techniques (notably the East Germans of the past, and now the Wingate group in Israel, ongoing the work of Swedish pioneer and mental training writer Lars-Eric Unesthal, and others potently around the world). It’s true we now have some clues of where the straits and pathways through the wilderness are as pioneers and as others join us we are becoming more aware of the new frontiers, their configuration and their process.
HOW TO ATTAIN MIND/BODY PEAK PERFORMANCE- PROCESS AND GRACE
As people of a spiritual nature we identify with the existence of ‘grace’. That is, a group or person who can find that certain flow in life and sport, gratefully receive it and fly along with thanks to discover, among other things, the meaning of life, and a sense of personal transformation —it occurred to me years before my formal study of the mind/body phenomenon. Years ago (1970) I wrote a story about a transformational running experience I had in college in which I literally ran in a state of high performance and clear clarity. I named the story– ‘Running as a Spiritual Experience. The experience and writing about it changed me personally into a seeker of peak performance knowledge. The story reverberated with many others apparently. It has been reprinted many times in many publications and even the SAT exam as the reader notices its uniqueness and identifies within it how sport can transform one’s life.
Apparently, universally, there is a quest for sport and peak performance in the heart of every sport person. While this is a valued attribute of the sporting ifestyle it is most times a fleeting acquisition. The reason for this is impermanence of guidelines to peak sport is the lack of a methodology to achieve it.
WHY PEOPLE QUEST THE MIND/BODY/SPIRIT CONNECTION
While the present culture has many ways forward to achieving exceptional action, the underlining avenues to mental insight are ancient wisdoms has no manner of short cuts are guaranteed for getting to the mind/body peak experience. In fact, it may be said that the current culture seeming to demand quick fixes and needing instant satisfactions is a hindrance. Yet, we live in dramatic culture of bright people with creativity always ‘yearning’ for improvement and this thrust for better outcomes needs to be taught mental trainings however a particular discipline is required.
NECESSARY STEPS AND GRACE
So, let’s go step by step through what we know about mind & body acquisition of knowledge, and the best chance of attaining it. There are perhaps no perfect steps to attaining peak performance however what is laid out here is, I believe, is a high percentage possibility for success.
OH THANKFUL GRACE
To begin with we must always give space for the possibility of GRACE–reaching an illuminated and higher states of awareness that come naturally as an omnipresent gift. This possibility is enhanced through introspections such as religious belief and the human discipline of consistent practice and the quest to excel. These are fortunate byways, however there is also the planned alternative for mind and body positive integration and action. Planning for excellent alignment between mind and body interaction has a scientific and technological guideline and SEC is about discovering and implementing this mind/body technology.
WHY THE SEC IS A PLATFORM OF KNOWLEDGE FOR OTHERS TO BUILD UPON
The relevance of SEC is that we are presently six people coming at sport, energy and consciousness from different directions and perspectives. As former professional athletes and guru inspired deep understanding (Big Mind) technologies, the understanding of EFT application and human application placement of positive spirit in sport, the way to gain mind/body experience through tennis, and forming community through the ongoing group and practice of transformational practices, and my own way of applying principles of mind& body in sport in a company called True Champion.
We (SEC) have written a book together and staged what we called a sport festival in which other mind & body entrepreneurs and coaches as well as some recreational athletes attended. What we are aiming for in the future is a type of GESTALT. That is from the edges of our linking work to fill in and bring other techniques and the means to take what we coalesce into the a methodology and option for mind, body and sport in action.
TRUE CHAMPION AND PERIODIC SEQUENDCING TECHNIQUE (sm)
The rest of this article is about the processes and approaches that I have discovered and continue to find out about through being a hard core athlete, coaching great athletes, and not so great athletes, teaching 100-‘s of spirit oriented running workshops, taking the information into an academic field and gaining my Ph.D from research in Kenya and the rigors of academic institutional pursuit at the prestigious European sport university outside of Paris, Lille2 in Lille, France.
I believe in process- it may not be the only way but for achieving the mind & body connection, for most people, I think the primary way. I call this Periodic Sequencing Technique because attaining one mind & body ability skill leads to the next and the mind can also join physical practice. Mental training and practiced abilities are done separate from sport action and within the experience; separately as well in tandem with physical practice
THE STEPS TO MIND AND BODY OPPORTUNITY
Lars-Eric teaches that to get more complex mind and body interactions one most start with deep relaxation techniques, and once this ability is achieved move on to more complex and mental/physical activities for a full mental training routine.. Like math one skill process needs to be must be near perfected before moving forward. One can find a full rendition of these techniques on my website (www.truechampionllc.com)
A FULL SEQUENCE OF MENTAL TRAINING FOLLOWS THE PERIODIC SEQUENCE BELOW:
FULL RELAXATION—USUALLY 4 TO 6 WEEKS
If this can be done in the build-up phase so much the better
For True Champion this means building up relaxation techniques through mindfulness sitting and progressive relaxation techniques of tightening and relaxing muscles accompanied by color visualization
SKILL DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION—TWO WEEKS THREE TIMES A WEEK- THEN USED WHEN APPROPRIATE
Closing one’s eyes visualizing the skill wanting to perfect- like throwing a perfect strike in baseball and then executing it.
BODY IMAGE DEVELOPMENT- ONCE A WEEK FOR THREE WEEKS
This is a guided imagery in which a person builds up their body image capacities by visualizing their perfect self performing an aspect of their sport performance
SOFT EYES ACTIVE VISUALIZATION- PRACTICED A FEW TIMES A WEEK AND THEN WHENEVER WANTED EITHER IN PRACTICE OR A COMPETITION SITUATION
By utilizing the ‘soft eyes’ (looking in while also looking out technique) a person is aided by a positive internal image to perform at their ultimate best
During the progressive relaxation (we call it full body recovery in True Champion) a mental rehearsal is done leading up to important events and especially championships
In the weeks and months leading into 2017 the SEC group will stage a second Sport Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area. Look for it’s announcement on this website (www.sportsenerergy.com) and we look forward to being with you and sharing the projects and opportunities of our minds, bodies and spirits in sport.