How They Use ‘The Mind’ To Break Through Limitations & Achieve Peak Performance
Whether you work out at your local gym trying to pump up like a champion or are training to run in the Boston Marathon, the ‘secrets’ of Olympic champions can help you achieve peak performance. You already know the best workout routines, training schedules and nutritional guidelines. What you don’t know is how to train your most important muscle – your mind.
You’ve heard it over and over: All the bodybuilding in the world is not going to earn you a peak performance at that exact moment you need it if your mind is filled with self-defeating thoughts, doubts, and worries. And you believe it! You’ve trained hard for a competition or event. So, what can you do to align your mental performance with the physical excellence you’ve been working so hard to achieve? What is the key to unlock the secrets of peak performance?
The brain has been accustomed to looking at the world in a certain way; it takes more than just saying the words to get it to work, you need to train the mind. A kind of training is needed, mental muscle training, and this comes through exercising in specific ways, like physical training.
Altered states such as self-hypnosis, meditation and relaxation training open the mind to deep programming. They have a long track record as the most rapid and effective ways of eliminating hurdles by replacing them with positive images. Dan O’Brien, the Olympic decathlon Gold Medallist, who is considered the world’s greatest athlete, is just one of many who can testify to their effectiveness, calling them a “Godsend.” How do we enter such a high-performance state? What are these positive images? How can they be placed in your mind?
Would you rather listen to this Peak Performance article? Well, you can!
Here are seven steps to peak performance. These techniques have been used successfully for years by such peak performers as the San Francisco 49ers, the U.S. Olympic Track and Field and Martial Arts teams, and the Canadian Winter Olympics skating team. No matter what your sport or goal, they will work for you to make winning easier. These steps are described in detail, with a self-applied training program in Dr. Miller’s book, Deep Healing: The Essence of Mind/Body Medicine.
First, meet the challenge of entering the Peak Performance State, in which the body is relaxed and the mind is focused. Achieving this is best done through a step-by-step approach.
Relax the body deeply. Start with the feet and move up through the body to the top of the head. Next, empty the mind of distracting thoughts and bring it to laser-sharp focus. Many professional athletes have coaches and sports psychologists who recommend Dr. Miller’s tapes and CDs. These tapes and CDs can be your personal sports psychologist.
Our catalog has three recordings ideal for this purpose: Optimal Performance, I Can, and Run to Win. Later, once the body is in the habit of relaxing at will, you won’t need the tapes and CDs any more.
2. Activating Your Imagination, Flexing Your Mental Muscles.
While in the relaxed state, draw up a memory of being at a truly stimulating and inspiring place, where you felt great to be alive. It could be on top of a mountain or at the Grand Canyon, or the ocean. Just relive those great feelings, and take a deep breath! Feel it as if you are actually there now. Your image ideal is one of overall health, vigor and comfort of your mind and body.
3. Mental Image Rehearsal.
While still in the relaxed state, access what I call a Reference Memory, a specific time in the past in which you experienced the kind of excellence you want to reawaken and amplify in yourself now. The important thing is how you felt at the time. Let yourself feel it in the present and how it makes you feel now; the passion, intensity and emotional power. The key is to bring these emotions into the moment and feel them vividly. This gives you access to the powerhouse inside, the ‘psychic fuel’ that drives you. Your emotions are your high-energy fuel for victory. Visualize yourself going through this scene, seeing yourself as an admiring spectator would see you. Now step into this scene and actually live it through.
If you can’t recall an example of the kind of personal best you are now aiming for, then relive peak performances of someone who has achieved what you want to. Who do you admire the most; who is your hero, role model, or sports idol?
Imagine him/her performing perfectly, and visualize it clearly. Next, step into this image and imagine this is your body, and your victory, and, again, feel it strongly. Filling all your sensory channels with congruent data will enable your nervous system to produce that performance you want when you want it.
Spend five or ten minutes a day reliving one or two powerful reference memories, complete with a code name (such as “The Long Shot” or “My Grand Slam”) and a picture symbol or icon. Repeat a positive self-affirmation such as, “I move in harmony with my body,” or “I succeed because I am relaxed, confident and strong.” (Contrary to popular belief, “real men” do say affirmations. Ask any ‘peak performance’ champion.) Relive that experience as vividly as you can.
When all the muscles are deeply relaxed, it is easier to reprogram the nervous system in the patterns of excellence.
4. Revising the Past.
Simply put, this secret is, “Get Over It!” If you have distracting thoughts, images or emotional baggage from previous losses or personal defeats, that seem to affect today’s performance, you will need to face and get over them. Here’s how. Holding on to the feelings of potency and self-confidence we developed in Step 3, be aware that:
• this memory is in the past
• that the past is gone forever;
• its only value is to point you towards success in the future.
Be aware of what you need to do differently in order to avoid such defeats in the future. Now review that event with a strong positive feeling and the awareness that you have learned what you needed to learn and can release that memory forever. Repeat this on a number of occasions until the memory no longer has the power to bring you down.
5. Establish a Definite Mental Workout Plan.
Just as your body needs a physical workout plan to perform optimally, your nervous system needs a mental workout. Then when that moment arrives when you need to prove yourself a champion, your neuromuscular system will be well versed in how to perform optimally. This is best done through Future Image Rehearsal.
Reawaken the feelings of passion and confidence you developed in Step 3 and let the spotlight of your mind shine forward toward the future. Fast-forward to that point in the future when you will want to perform at your best – to your game, match or other performance.
Start by picturing yourself at the beginning of this event. Now slowly live this scene through from beginning to end, visualizing your performance being as perfect as you can imagine. Go ahead–stretch your performance beyond prior limits, performing better, easier, stronger, with more confidence and flow than ever before. Visual a personal best!
Now Rewind, step into the scene and live it through from beginning to end. Feel yourself in your high-performance zone, achieving all your goals and enjoying every minute of it. This transmits clearly to your deeper mind the performance you want in the future, strengthening the body-mind communication.
6. Tackling the Unknown.
What situations have you avoided that you can now tackle with the help of your empowering reference memories? Start by applying these techniques in real-time on small challenges, and then build up to applying them at the big event. Just as physical muscles are strengthened by gradually increasing the resistance load, you strengthen your mental muscle by successfully applying these techniques in ever more challenging situations. Make sure you have made all preparations necessary for doing a great job.
7. Peak Performing.
Learn to carry the self-confidence, the enthusiasm, and the inner image of yourself as a winner with you through everything you do – at home, at work, in the gym, all day long and throughout your life. You are fully prepared and rehearsed. You are entirely positive in your emotions surrounding the event, and know they will empower you to perform at your peak. You are already a winner! Above all, make sure you look back on your successes and feel the emotional reward of a job well done.
Remember, as with all techniques, practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the stronger the mind-body bond will become, and the more easily and reliably you will bring forth the mental, emotional and physical performance that will take you over the top. Olympic Gold Medallist Dan O’Brien did it, San Francisco 49er Roger Craig did it, countless athletic heroes have done it and so can you.
As Roger Craig testified, “I was listening to all his (Dr. Miller’s) tapes, and they helped me so much, I was so highly motivated and physically tough, it felt like I took the team to the Super Bowl myself … I thank Dr. Miller all the time.”
For more information on how to achieve peak performance in every area of your life, read Deep Healing: The Essence of Mind–Body Medicine by Dr. Emmett Miller or purchase one of the tapes or CDs mentioned in this article by visiting our Online Store which is full of Guided Imagery, Meditation & Self-Hypnosis CDs, MP3 Downloads, & Books.