04 Aug Inaugural Sports, Energy & Consciousness Conference Day 2
Day 2 started out bright and early. I did not have a car so I had to walk to Dominican University and the festivities began at 7:45AM. I was up and out the door by 7am to make sure I was in time for “The Kata”. Obviously, a familiar activity for me but it’s always a treat to enjoy a community Kata.
After the Kata, it was off to individual workshops and sessions, and there were many to choose from. I chose Greg Warburton’s “Championship Mental Training…Adding the Missing “How to/What to Practice.” This was a great session because Greg shared with us exactly what he does with his baseball players. Greg has been the consultant to the Oregon State Baseball team amongst many other NCAA Division I baseball teams. Greg leverages Energy Psychology and specifically focuses on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This is a technique in which the subject taps with their fingers certain acupuncture points in the body while focusing on a particularly stressful or positive performance experience. Clients I have worked with shared this technique with me a couple years ago. I have also observed its use with athletes struggling with the “yips” i.e. pitchers, golfers, etc… . Greg has a 7 step process which he explained in great detail – outlined in his book https://www.amazon.com/Warburtons-Winning-System-Transformational-Training/dp/1478711183/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466622799&sr=8-1&keywords=warburton+winning
Greg then grabbed an audience member and proceeded to display his technique with the volunteer. This gave us all a great opportunity to witness and learn how to use these skills ourselves. Just this short example displayed immediate results with the volunteer.
After experiencing Warburton’s Winning System it was back to the main hall for our first panel discussion, “Emerging Applications in Performance Training”. Much of the dialogue here focused on how training, coaching and athletic experience is evolving toward more of a spiritual practice. Catt Tripoli discussed how her bodybuilding practice is becoming very contemplative and how she prefers to workout alone. Much of the discussion centered around Pete Carroll’s discussion from Friday night. There was also a discussion on how to language the contemplative/spiritual element with athletes. The discussion is not easy if an athlete has not experienced a peak moment in sport. Athlete’s worldviews may not allow space for considering a divine experience on the field. So, how do we language these experiences and how to achieve them? A very difficult question which many people are attempting to answer.
It was then off to lunch. I took a nice long walk to Whole Foods grabbed some stuff and headed back to campus for a bench and some shade. The temperature was about 75 and there was a beautiful breeze coming off the ocean. It was surprising to me that I saw so many people at Whole Foods who were attending the conference but nobody was courageous enough or interested in interacting. I left them to their own desires and enjoyed my time alone. As I began to get ready for the afternoon session I saw Jennifer who I met at the Keynote the night previous. She was having trouble deciding which session to attend. I invited her to join me at Michael Spino’s “What research tells us about Applied Mental Training: One Size does not fit all”. In this session, we learned about the greatest runners of all time, Michael’s adventures throughout the world working the best runners, many anecdotal stories from his life and the intricacies of sport psychology. Dr. Spino expressed how influential this particular article was in his career and how it shaped how he approached athletes:
Feltz, D.L. & Landers, D.M. (1983) The effects of mental training practice on motor skill learning and performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology,5(1). 25-57
This articles conclusion states that less than 50% of mental training is effective. The reason for this is because “one size does not fit all” in mental training. Thus, we need a specific approach to specific sports and specific individuals. Michael was very excited to share many of his amazing stories but if one followed his process for working with athletes, you could tell it was developed over many years of working with hundreds of athletes. The questions Michael asked prior to working with each athlete included:
What is the best arousal level?
What is the function of your mind & body connection ie: linear or rotational?
Should you utilize internal or external visualization practices?
What does the research convey about the best mental training for your particular sport?
This was an outstanding session and I grew to admire Michael immensely for his humbleness and willingness to share. Check out his website: http://truechampionllc.com/
Next on the agenda was another panel discussion called, “Team Chemistry and Fan Energy”. This talk was facilitated by Eric Lesowski, MD and much of the talk focused on research from his DVD, The Joy of Sox: Weird Science and the Power of Intention This followed much of the research I have done and included much of the work documented by Heartmath. Dr. Lesowski attempted to measure fan energy at Fenway Park and displayed statistically significant results during a game. Interestingly, his highest readings were measured during “Sweet Caroline” which is traditionally played at Fenway during the 7th inning stretch. There was a ton of discussion afterward and I personally shared a story regarding a study that was highlighted at the Association of Applied Sport Psychology Conference in 2013. The study stated there was no such thing as momentum. I vehemently disagreed with the student who displayed the study and asked the panel about our challenge with scientific reductionism. They stated, all athletes themselves, that anyone who has played sport knows momentum exists. Specifically, Dave Meggyesy (former NFL linebacker) completely opposed this view and talked about momentum in basketball and football games where it can be easily witnessed.
We then briefly watched a video created by Ken Wilber as a keynote. The schedule was a bit off so we only watched a half hour. Much of Ken’s discussion focused on his fairly new approach, “Waking up & Growing up”. Waking up focuses on experiencing different states of being and Growing Up focuses on conscious evolution. I am familiar with the approach from going through Wilber’s Integral Mindfulness course. After the brief 30 minute intro of Ken’s keynote we were dismissed and I walked downtown and had a nice Thai dinner.