If you listen to Barry Robbins – Co-Founder of the SEC Group and former nationally ranked athlete – you’ll hear a very clear focus in his words on what his body experiences when he’s competing.
This language isn’t an accident and we’ve heard it from our other guests in various forms.
For World-Champion bodybuilder Catt Tripoli, it was about being clear with how AND WHAT she was communicating to her body while performing:
Am I clear in my request of my body?
Robyn Meagher, a 2-time Olympic runner believed that her sustained peak performance came from the combination of her mind and body working together. The richness of her experience was critical to her success:
Mind with Body
And for Trevor Tierney – the best lacrosse goalie on the planet for 10 years – he knew early on in his career that experiencing what was happening between his mind and body during games was a key to success:
It’s the guys that have the mental strength, react in games and let their bodies do the movement they’ve trained to in games that make it to the top.
What we hear by listening to these high achieving mind, body and spirit competitors is the impact their intuition had on their performance. By being able to intuit the data their body was sending to their brain, they were able to step into their peak performance state more consistently.
When they got stressed and their emotions threatened to derail their state… they intuitively felt the emotions rising from their body and were able to direct their attention to remaining calm and focused.
When they felt like they had plateaued in their careers… they called upon their body’s intelligence to point them in the direction of their next mountain top.
An omni athlete is an intuitive athlete.
Here are three strategies you can implement into your training and competition right now to become more intuitive and unlock the mind/body communication that will allow you to access your peak performance state.
1: Understand the Science of Your Mind/Body Connection
Barry mentions this multiple times in his interview. Your body literally processes an unfathomable amount of raw data every millisecond, which it sends to your brain who is then responsible for synthesizing that information into actionable data.
Put simply – your body is telling you every moment of every game whether you need to cut left vs. right, swing at the pitch, strike the ball, take the shot, etc. long before you need to. Much of this intuitive knowledge stems from your core, your Hara or your center.
This isn’t an esoteric notion, it’s hard science. Your “gut feeling” about what’s next is actually your body sending data to your brain on what it’s experiencing in the moment. It’s called the enteric nervous system and there are hundreds of millions of neurons connecting the brain to this super-computer managing your gastrointestinal tract.
It’s clear that these peak performing athletes have leveraged the power of science to help them understand the value of cultivating their intuition.
2: Recognize the Power of Moving Meditation
Many athletes struggle with the notion of meditation because they simply have a hard time sitting still and quietly for extended periods of time. It’s easy to beat yourself up when this happens. This kind of negative self-talk creates a negative reinforcing loop that promises to pull you away from your peak state.
The truth is that cultivating a meditative practice (which will help you develop a more intuitive connection with your body) just requires finding stillness and quiet in your mind. For many athletes this is a state that naturally occurs during their sport or training.
Catt Tripoli talks in her interview about how she used the gym as her moving meditation. She brought her focus and attention specifically to each exercise, movement, muscle and fiber so that she could listen to what her body was telling her.
She didn’t beat herself up about not being able to sit in full lotus for an hour every morning. She found a way to create space and stillness in her mind – so that she could observe her thoughts rather than experience them – by doing something active that she already enjoyed doing.
Feeding your body’s desire to move and be in a state of action, while stepping back from your thoughts will create the space you need to begin hearing the intuitive wisdom your body is trying to communicate to you.
3: Practice Emotional Awareness
In her interview, Robyn talks about the impact emotions can have on connecting with the innate wisdom of your body and accessing your peak performance state.
“People have a harder time getting into their body when they’re overwhelmed with fear”
When you are in the middle of a game and a play doesn’t break your way, you don’t make the save, your teammate drops the pass, you don’t finish with the time you want or your coach makes a bad decision it’s easy to get overcome with emotions like fear, anger, doubt, anxiety, spite and uncertainty.
It happens at every level of athletic competition. When your emotions take over your body, your decision making and the steering wheel of your performance unconsciously it becomes difficult to listen to your intuition.
Trevor Tierney says it well in his interview.
There’s something to getting upset about a ball going in that’s going to keep me from doing well the rest of the game.
He knew early on in his career that a lack of emotional awareness and intelligence would translate into poor performance.
Developing emotional awareness is simply a matter of taking a moment to recognize the emotions you are feeling. It’s not about judging whether you should or shouldn’t be feeling angry, happy, sad, confused, excited, depressed, etc.
It’s just about becoming aware that you are experiencing a particular emotion. An easy way to begin cultivating emotional awareness is to listen to the cues your body gives you.
When you feel your heart rate begin to escalate, your breath shorten, the butterflies in your stomach or your eyes become unnaturally murky your body is trying to communicate to your brain what your emotional state is.
By catching these cues from your body, pausing, assessing what emotions you are feeling and how those emotions are effecting your state you will become aware of your emotions from moment-to-moment.
This awareness will feed the intuitive loop of wisdom from your body, allow you to control your state more consistently and train into your peak performance state intentionally.