We know our brain is split into two parts – the right (creative) and the left (logical), which is used more frequently in day-to-day scenarios. What is interesting is the benefits, which occur if both of those sides are engaged at the same time in a balanced capacity, firing up neuro pathways and linking up both sides. There are multiple ways to achieve this state, starting with breathing techniques practiced through yoga, meditation etc. A not so prominent way, which is also a bit more ‘woo-woo’, is the so-called Visualisation, which is sometimes used in sports coaching practices.
Visualisation manipulates emotions and feelings through the use of imagery. Put it into this basic scheme: your mind produces emotions, which are then turned into feelings and transcribed into physical sensations. Using visualisation can help eliminate negative emotions and embodied experiences, which might hinder your racing career.
Japanese Samurai warriors would go through every single possible death scenario (negative emotional patterns), visualising and translating them into physical sensations
For example, let’s say you rolled your ankle last season. This directly affected your confidence and is now automatically regarded by your mind as a weak spot, or a spot which can break again. This example is one of the possible and very standardised negative and embodied emotions. It has been proven that these negative patterns can translate into a set of physical manifestations that are very common for active athletes (obstacle racers even so): lowered immune system, depressed mental function and capability, and directly affected confidence and performance.
Speaking of which, visualisation as a practice can help boost self confidence or in a way desensitise some of those negative emotions. Ancient tales tell of Japanese samurais who, before deadly battles, would go through every single possible death scenario (negative emotional patterns) and visualise these experiences translating them into physical sensations. This would ‘prepare’ their mind and body and change their behaviour in the trenches drastically, because – simply put – they were not afraid of anything. They had already considered all possible outcomes and thought through them beforehand.
You too can implement a simple visualisation technique, to help yourself overcome the various obstacles you’ll encounter. Here’s how you can practice to fight through the trenches or bumpy life roads with confidence:
1. Begin by allocating time to not doing anything, e.g. 15 mins with no phone, no internet and no people. No other things to be done. I, myself, like to do this early in the morning, before racing or right before going to sleep.
2. Define your objective, goal or an aim in as much detail as possible.
3. Absolutely clear your mind from the usual ego dialog by concentrating on your breathing. You can and should practice this in general to relieve naturally-occurring anxiety, overwhelm of day to day activities and other such mental burdens.
4. Begin by visualising an image, a clear mental snapshot you can recall again and again. If your goal is to become a champion, picture yourself at the finish line with a medal around your neck and a big grin on your face. You should always practice overcoming negative thoughts on a specific scenario (just like the samurais did).
5. Once the relation is achieved you can move on into transcribing those feelings, which should translate into physical sensations (elevated heartbeat, perspiration, minor muscle contractions – similar to what you would be experiencing if the scenario were really happening):
– Visualise having already achieved your identified goal
– Place yourself into that situation
– Hear yourself speaking as that person
– See yourself performing within the new role/situation
Do this twice daily and you will virtually rewire your brain to aim for a specific experience and your body will be used to such physical sensations. Simply put, this will encourage you to take action and achieve your goals. It will also boost your mental game with direct impact on your confidence, self-belief and GRIT.
Let us know if this works for you and if you have any other way to do this by commenting below.
Roger W. Sperry’s Split Brain Studies – http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/split-brain/background.html
Eric Barker – Samurai Secrets at always being best – http://theweek.com/articles/450892/samurai-secret-always-being-best
ROBERTS, S. M. (2011). The Impact of Mental Imagery on the Confidence of Student-Athletes (Doctoral dissertation, Defiance College)