04 Aug Inaugural Sports, Energy & Consciousness Conference Day 3
I awoke on Sunday and was not as fresh as the previous 2 days. My nights’ sleep was disrupted by disrespectful hotel tenants and a bad bout of allergies. I packed and was out the door for my mile walk to the Dominican University for some more body work with Eric Burch, The Body Whisperer www.limitlessbody.com. Erin is a long time physical therapist and her session was focused on body alignment. We spent 45 minutes figuring out how to stand in a way that is most efficient for our body. Her approach also provided the subject with a powerful stance which led into a discussion about Amy Cuddy’s Wonder Women stance. While Amy Cuddy’s work is exceptional it is not sustainable…Erin was helping us build a posture that not only elicited the same physiological responses of Amy Cuddy’s research but provided us with a very sustainable approach. At the end of the session we tied ourselves up in elastic bands such that it put us in the correct posture. It felt amazing but so far removed from our habitual way to stand.
I next attended Scott Ford’s “The Future of Integral Training: The Transformative Power of Sports”. Scott and I had briefly met when the SEC Group came to Denver in October 2015. Scott is a Denver native and we had been trying to get together but we never could make it work. Scott had sent me a copy of his book, “Welcome to the Zone” which I read in April 2015. Unfortunately, it was quite complex and I felt I really needed to experience his approach. This session was my chance! I was at the session a little early and interested in how Scott might apply his parallel mode processing to golf. He had some golf clubs at the tennis court and we began applying his approach. This is where it really clicked for me after having read his book…he basically had me swing the golf club and say “now” when I felt I was at impact. The first couple swings were difficult as I was early and late on saying “now”. Then I started to nail it every swing. The interesting piece of the experience was the focus on saying “now” took me away from worrying about technique all together, which is the secret to getting in the zone!!! Scott really had something here that set the groundwork for immediate states of deep concentration. We then turned to his tennis exercise which requires the player to imagine a glass pane in front of them. The key is to hit the ball before it reaches the imaginary glass pane. If you hit the ball prior to it reaching the pane you say, “yes” if it gets past the glass pane you say, “no”. I am not a tennis player and have been notoriously bad at tennis. This simple instruction had me returning 10 foot volleys with ease. The secret to this whole process is the expansion of awareness from not focusing on the ball. By focusing on the pane of glass you take a more open approach from a consciousness perspective. In Mastery training we call this soft eyes. This is easy to experience, simply soften your gaze such that you are not focusing on one thing…while your vision my blur initially, you will notice how it expands significantly. Now attempt hard eyes and pick something to focus on. Focus only on that object, notice the difference and the how it feels. We discussed how Roger Federer returned a serve from Andy Roddick that was 150mph. There is no way he could pick up the ball at that speed. He was using a different approach which Scott calls parallel mode processing. The opening up of consciousness allows the athlete to bring more of the environment into their awareness and allows the brain to respond to multiple lines of stimuli. Scott then discussed the temporal experience when engaged in this process. It provided a very interesting perspective but very effective if understood. In Scott’s book “Welcome to the Zone” he explains this temporal experience this way:
I thought that was pretty trippy!! But it made a ton of sense. This can easily be applied In golf. If you are experiencing a golf shot correctly, this temporal experience is similar. The wrong way to approach the golf shot is focusing on the ball, each part of the swing, the target singularly. It is all experienced at once simultaneously. This experience is the non-dual engagement of sartori in sport. There is no time, only the present moment devoid of past or future…they are there but being experienced as one. Most people do not realize they are engaging in this experience when playing sport but it is there in all its beauty…the ever-present oneness of enlightenment. This is exactly what Scott & Barry Robbins from ITP International were attempting to communicate. Transformation happens in sport and Barry did a great job of supplementing the ITP methods to help athletes set the groundwork for feeling into the experience. In ITP we center ourselves in the hara which sits a couple inches below the navel. It is here we bring our attention when balancing and centering. We then centered in the hara and practiced our tennis volley. We also took a very integral approach to experiencing the power of the “we” space. As we were volleying with our partners there is the experience of oneself in a concentrated state…in this state we are so focused there is only the experience and nothing else…thus the zone. But, if one can observe through the “witness” (perspective from outside the self/ego) there is this really special “we” experience that takes sport to a whole new level. As I hit the ball back and forth with my partner something else formed as the silence of our concentration set in. My partner was quiet focusing on her pane of glass and I fell silent focusing on mine…but in the middle of it was this beautiful co-mingling of awareness for each other. While we were experiencing the zone we were also hitting the ball such that the other could easily return it…we cared not only for ourselves but for each other’s experience. Such is the case in competitive sport especially when the stakes are high. In golf, match play brings about this experience. In football, the dual between WR and CB or between QB and Safety. We love the challenge of competition because of this interplay of the “we” atmosphere that is created. Without the other, no “we” experience is possible, competition is not possible.
After Barry & Scott’s session we had the last and final session of the conference. It was a panel in which we, the attendees, provided feedback to the panel of SEC. Much of this session focused on the ability to keep the momentum going through social media, email outreach etc… There were many comments regarding how it was difficult to network with others. I provided feedback that there should be more dyadic interaction. We only had a couple opportunities to really engage each other in activities. These activities inspired two relationships for me personally, but there were too few. In the best conferences I have attended people are looking for each other to go to lunch, dinner and spend time with during breaks. This was not the case because there were not enough interactions. For me, there were a ton of positives from this conference. The sharing of information and methodology was unlike anything I have seen. Most people in the human performance field keep all the secrets to themselves…in this case not only did the attendee experience the method, they learned how to apply them with athletes as well. This conference, was 20 years late for me…but I was so glad I was there. I do not think the SEC Group was extremely happy with the turn out, but they executed well. I hope this continues on and the message gets out to the mainstream. Only time will tell.