Starting your day with a positive uplifting mindfulness practice can be a game changer in your ability to process the rest of the day in a calm & responsive vs. quick tempered & reactive way. This mediation called “Morning Ritual” is my all time favorite. I have easily listened to it over 200 times in the last year. If you have not yet tried Insight Timer, I highly suggest you download the app and give this guided 10 minute meditation a try. I guarantee it will put you in a better, happier, focused, & peaceful state of mind.
Rehearsing Responses to Emotional Triggers…
In the book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”, Dr. Joe Despenza talks about rehearsing how you “want” to react to a particular situation. Just as you may visualize yourself performing a physical activity or mentally rehearsing a race or sport, you must rehearse your communication and/or responses to an emotional trigger situation. Dispenza says that if you want to be or act a certain way, create it in your mind and rehearse it.
I will use myself as an example. I have a very bad habit when someone challenges my opinion or disagrees with me to get VERY defensive and react abruptly and aggressively with a response. I don’t want to react that way, but I have been this way most of my life. Instead of giving up and saying, “that’s just how I am”, I instead assess past situations and then create a calmer, more appropriate response. I first tell myself that the person disagreeing or challenging me isn’t doing so out of hate or malice, they simply have a different opinion or maybe are simply asking for clarification. I then mentally rehearse how I would have, and will now, respond differently. I do this in my mind during a meditation and by doing so I begin to literally rewire my brain to respond better. If I just think to myself “I don’t want to snap at people, I want to/should respond better”, I am not creating dialog and a proper mental response. Like anything it takes practice, and I can tell you that it works! I have been much more successful in responding vs. reacting to situations.
Use mental rehearsal before going into a difficult meeting with a client, friend, or boss where you know you would normally be angry, afraid, etc. Create your response to other drivers on the road. One thing that helped me long ago was something my karate sensei taught us. He said “when someone reacts negatively towards you, says something rude, or someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of reacting aggressively with a counter attack think to yourself, maybe this person has had a really bad day, maybe they just found out some really bad news. Show them grace and be kind.” I have done that several times and it’s really cool how you feel after. My point with that story is CREATE your response to those situations now if that’s your trigger. Try this. The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of telling them there “number one” with your special finger simply smile, maybe wave and literally say out loud “I hope everything is ok and you get where you are going safely”. Trust me on this one. It’s a really good feeling.
In this episode Spartan Pro Alyssa Hawley gives us a detailed review of the recent Seattle Super, which was full of mud and failed obstacles by all.
We also talk about:
– Her mental coaching and how she “calmed her mental chatter”
– How to stay present during a race and not focus on what’s ahead or obstacles missed
– How coaching athletes through there first Spartan race has brought a whole new meaning to OCR races
– The importance of self talk pre-race in preparing for difficult situations, failed obstacles, challenges during a race
– And fun facts about Kangaroos and someone’s obsession over wallaby’s 🙂
***Disclaimer*** Due to an audio issue Alyssa’s voice has a slight echo. Our apologies.
CLICK HERE to listen or download from iTunes or Stitcher
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength – Marcus Aurelius
Most of us are familiar with the concept of mental toughness and/or having an “unbreakable mindset”. I have been practicing mental toughness for years as an endurance athlete and coach, but only realized recently that what I have REALLY been practicing is mental resilience. Being able to gut out the last several reps in a hard workout, pushing through the pain during the last few miles of a race, or being able to handle difficult situations in life, like being exhausted but still mustering the strength to get through the day. That is mental resilience. Defined as“the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress”, mental resilience is something we all possess, but most of us rarely tap into.Allow me to give you a few examples.
I first really learned how to differentiate mental toughness with mental resilience at a men’s retreat last fall. A former Army Special Forces Operator came to our event to talk to us about this topic and take us through a workout. The workout was a 10 minute Sandbag Get-up test, where each man would hoist an 80lb sandbag over his shoulder and proceed to complete as many Get-ups as possible within a 10 minute time period. During the test you could switch shoulders as needed and you could put the bag on the ground BUT only for 5 breaths, then you had to pick it up and continue moving. Quitting was not an option. Each man had a partner that was responsible for counting your reps out-loud and motivating/pushing you to keep moving. This was the longest/hardest 10 minutes of my life, but I did not quit. I completed 65 get-ups. His top tier athletes complete 120 (insert big eyes emoji). After the first few minutes my lungs were on fire, my legs quivered, and I felt like my soul was dying but I did not stop. I focused on one rep at a time, pushing air in and out of my lungs, and knowing that this would eventually end. After the exercise was complete he explained to us that this was a test of our mental resilience. He said that he aloud us to take the “break” of 5 breaths when needed, BUT every break was a small version of quitting… What??!!! He then explained, in a life and death situation such as combat, you MUST possess the mental resilience to keep moving and not stop. Otherwise you die…
Former Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine, founder of www.unbeatablemind.comsites in his book Unbeatable Mind, that the human body is capable of 20 times more than we think we are. He calls this our “20X Factor”. During the infamous BUDS Hell Week, the candidates are put through continuous training for 5 ½ days, 24hrs a day, while constantly being submerged in the freezing waters of the Pacific Ocean. During this literal hell week the candidates are given only 4 hours of sleep. Why 4 hours? Because that is the minimal amount of sleep the human body can have in that time frame without literally dying. This continuous beat down day in and out while freezing, hungry, and tired breaks the candidates physically for sure, but moreover it breaks them down mentally. It is often said in BUDS that it’s not the strongest or fastest guys that make it through, it is the guys with the mental resilience that they cannot and will not stop or be broken. In a life or death situation such as combat, you MUST possess the ability to push forward regardless of circumstance. Once the candidates realize they CAN keep going, a whole new realm of possibility and confidence sets in, and their ability to withstand mental and physical stress is multiplied 20 times over.
Taking it down a notch from military/combat situations, I have experienced and seen mental resilience at every Ironman triathlon that I have ever raced or supported. We see it all the time in athletes and has been talked about for several years now in endurance events like Ironman, yet instead of being called mental resilience, it is referred to as the “Central Governor Theory”, wherein an athlete has the ability to mentally override a fatigued broken down body and muster up the power to run faster towards the end of the 26.2 mile run of an Ironman after the 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike portions of the race. I have witnessed athletes barely being able to put one foot in front of the other for 24-25 miles of an Ironman but as soon as they “smell the barn”, here the music at the finish line or sense that they are close, almost miraculously their once completely broken down legs go from doing what’s known as the Ironman shuffle into a full blown run. Personally, every Ironman I have ran I have experienced this. As soon as I reach mile 20, knowing I only have a 10k left to run my pace increases significantly. It hurts like hell, but I have the resilience to persevere through the last few miles faster than before. I could just shuffle to the finish, but I grit my teeth, literally put my head down, embrace the pain and run like hell.
The aforementioned scenarios may sound interesting, inspiring, or down right insane, and you may be saying to yourself “well that’s not me”. “I’m not a Navy SEAL and don’t ever see myself racing an Ironman”. So I give you this final example of being a new parent. Although I have not had the experience of being a new parent, the stories from friends, and clients telling of constant sleepless nights and fatigue for up to a year or more, are well known amongst this group of folks. I use this as an example of mental resilience because often times in the absence of a tiny little life to maintain, if someone were to experience that level of sleeplessness and fatigue they would surely shut down, call in “sick”, etc. Yet because they have no choice, they forge a mental resilience to push through the fatigue and carry on with life, work, and responsibilities. It is in no way shape or form easy, but remember, mental resilience isn’t about not feeling pain or discomfort, but rather diving head first into it and not looking up until you have accomplished the mission or the goal. Mental resilience is not a “want to”, it’s a “have to” mindset.
In this episode Mo and Alix discuss the importance of lifting heavy weight and how/when to incorporate into your training plan. Whether you are an endurance athlete or just trying to be health conscience and reduce your risk of bone loss and strength as you age, EVERYONE needs to lift heavy occasionally. Contrary to popular belief, lifting heavy, when done correctly WILL NOT make you big…
Also, Mo goes into deeper review of the Muse mediation headband. Learn how you can take your meditation and mindfulness practice to the next level.
CLICK HERE to listen or download from iTunes or Stitcher
In this episode Miles and I chat with one of the Beasts from the Northeast, see what I did there :-), Frankie Disomma. This was an AWESOME interview and Frankie gives us some great insight and advice on:
- How to train with a busy travel schedule
- How to train in an office cubicle… Seriously 🙂
- Why the Burpee Pull-up is his favorite “go to” body weight training exercise
- How doing “miles of lunges” has been part of his hip injury rehab
- Why you should treat your goals like the flame of a candle
- How to stay focused during an injury
- Why you should ALWAYS run with socks :-0
- Planking during conference calls and more!
Seriously you will be motivated and educated at the end of this show!!
CLICK HERE to listen or download from iTunes or Stitcher! Also, if you like the information you hear and know of someone that could benefit please share our episode with them.
Follow Frankie on IG: @frankiedisomma07
Muse Headband Review…
After many meditation sessions, guided, repeating mantras, and some with sound only for a year now I thought I had a pretty solid grasp on “being present” and focusing on my breath, a visualization, or something similar. Then I discovered the Muse Brain Sensing Meditation Headband; you can check them out at www.choosemuse.com. I called their headquarters for more information and spoke to one of their representatives for about 15 minutes.
I was intrigued by the ability to quantify our ability to focus on a single thing, such as breath. When wearing the muse headband during a meditation it can detect when your brain begins to lose focus and your mind begins to wander. It then gives you instant feedback based on what you are listening to. For example, if I am meditating and listening to ocean waves on the muse app, the water sounds calm like small waves washing onto the shore. When I lose focus on my breath the smooth calm waves become louder like crashing waves, nothing violent that or excessively loud, but enough to bring your attention back to your breath. After each session the Muse app gives you a diagram comparing the time during the session that your mind was calm, neutral, or active (see photo above). Your goal is to increase your calm time and reduce your active time. The ability to remain focused on a subject/object/etc. is crucial to maximize your ability to visualize during meditation. For me, I thought I was able to remain focused, but turns out my mind begins to lose focus each time I exhaled. It was quiet interesting and really made me think about how to remain focused. This has actually helped me stay focused during daily tasks. It’s pretty cool.
Using the Muse headband just before working on an important project/assignment as a busy adult, on a paper or studies if you are a student, or even prior to exams can help you retain a calm focused mind. I recently saw a news segment about meditation where a 5thgrader would meditate prior to a test to help her stay calm and focused. I think incorporating the Muse headband could help increase focus and a sense of calm presence even more. If you practice meditation or even if you are thinking of beginning a meditation practice, which you should J, I encourage you to give the Muse headband a try. In our fast paced, over-stimulated, multi-tasking on top of other multi-tasking world, having the ability to calm our mind and thoughts and truly be present for just a few minutes a day could be just what you, I, we need.
In this episode Miles and I chat with Conquer the Gauntlet co-owner David Mainprize. David gives us some great insight on:
- What it takes to run/put on a race, the costs
- Why volunteers are so important
- His new kids specific race series
- You’ll also learn why Mo and Miles will never be race owners/directors 🙂
This is a great interview and if you have kids that want to get involved in OCR this is definitely an episode you will want to listen to!
CLICK HERE to listen or download from iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud
Check out CTG Youth series at www.conqueryouth.com
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflection on experience” – John Dewey
As I have mentioned in previous posts about learning from failures and facing obstacles head on, it is important in your breathing and visualization practice that you reflect on those times. Reflect on what you could have acted, responded, or chose better and learn from that moment. Also, reflect back on the good choices that you made during times of stress, doubt, or conflict and log those moments into your mental memory bank so that you can refer back to them when needed.
Reflecting back to a time or situation where you made a better choice, response, etc. and really reliving those moments can have a profound impact on your ability to make better choices in the future. Let’s say for example you had to deal with a client, co-worker, boss, friend, or relative that was challenging and negative. Reflecting back to a time where you were able to remain calm and respond vs. react to diffuse the situation, you can mentally prepare yourself for the next encounter with a similar situation with this person. As doubt, anxiety, or even fear creep into your mind before the next meeting, reflect back on your win and say to yourself, “I was able to control this situation before, that means I have the power to do it again.” Then go into the meeting confident and mentally prepared.
Daily reflection is also important and can help you not only with clients, but also with life itself. It is quite easy to do and can be done at the beginning and end of each day. Here is how it works:
At the beginning of each day ask yourself these questions…
When doubt, fear, worry, or anxiety become present today I will:
Two positive things I will do today are:
I will be mindful of my reactions/responses by:
At the end of each day answer these questions…
Today I was able to control my fears, doubts, worries, and/or anxiety by:
Things I could have done better/responded better to were:
Tomorrow will be a great day because:
I encourage you to get a notebook and write out each question from above along with your answers. Do it daily and in doing so, you are creating a reflection journal as well as creating your own roadmap to success. Look back, learn, succeed.