Image Image Image Image Image

Performance

RSS

20

Aug

Sebastian Linda – The Journey of the Beasts

There are so many amazing men in this video I almost don’t know who to feature in this post. Clearly all the skateboarders involved deserve recognition, but I think what really drew me in to this clip was the camera work, the editing and just the overall vibe and energy of it. Sebastian-Linda.de, the remarkable filmmaker, gets the credit for this.

 

This man is AMAZING! Wednesdays are for AMAZING MEN Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE

This first video is “The Journey of the Beasts” – It is the longest, but is the one that turned me on.

The Journey of the Beasts from Sebastian Linda on Vimeo.

The Epic & the Beasts

The Revenge of the Beasts

 

18

Dec

People Are Amazing 2013

Today, as the end of the year approaches, we look back at many Amazing Men from 2013. This video full of extreme stunts was edited together by the Compilation Channel.

These men are AMAZING! Wednesdays are for AMAZING MEN Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE

28

Aug

Ozell Williams is a Tumbling God

Wow. Just Wow.

I feel like power tumbling has become a theme in online videos. Most are impressive, but don’t really stand out from one another. Ozell Williams does!

You can find more info about him on his website here: http://www.ozellwilliams.com/
This man is AMAZING!

Wednesdays are for AMAZING MEN
Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE

21

Aug

Neil Hilborn – “OCD” Poem

Wow. Just Wow.

The intensity of the energy just barely kept in control makes this performance riveting. Both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.

This man is AMAZING!

Wednesdays are for AMAZING MEN
Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE

16

Jul

How does it Feel to become an Expert?

things sound worse

“Often times when things sound worse ’tis truly that your hearing has improved.”

I woke up one morning, long before the alarm, to the feeling of these words repeating in my head. I grabbed a pad of paper I kept near the bed, wrote them down, and then fell back asleep.

Have you ever known a “film expert” who doesn’t seem to enjoy watching movies as much as the rest of us? Ever known a musician who is critical of every band she hears? They notice the flaws in everything. Imagine what happens when they try to make their own movie or album. Do you think that they could silence their inner critic long enough to create something? Is ignorance really bliss?

Have you felt that at times your life is getting better while at others it seems to stagnate or just get worse? Do you have good moments and bad moments? Of course you do. We all do. The reasons for this are many. The world is a tumultuous place. Most things are out of your control. Some are not. You can have some impact on your circumstances. Most of the time this is what we focus on. How can I change my life?! I am all for making big changes. Growth and transformation are my bread and butter as a life coach. But there is something else I always work on with my clients.

There is one thing that is not bound to circumstance but is incredibly maleable. Rarely do we acknowledge just how much it changes our experience of the world.

Most of us know that when we are in a good mood things roll off of our back. We can see the light in everything. When we are in a bad enough mood even the smallest comment might shake us at the roots. Have you also noticed that this process happens in cycles? Good day. Bad day. Good mood. Bad mood. We all cycle through various states of being; more resilient/less resilient, more flexible/less flexible, more positive/less positive. People talk about a lot of different reasons ranging from hormones to how much sleep we have gotten to the time of the month. “Upper Limiting” is another concept worth understanding that I will likely talk about in the future. (The famous coach Gay Hendricks quite literally wrote the book on that)

What I am talking about here is something a bit subtler. This isn’t about self-sabotage. This isn’t about how a night of drinking makes you feel depressed the next day (it can).  What I am talking about and what the phrase I woke up hearing refers to is a natural bi-product of being self aware. When we are self aware, we are self critical. At any given time we have the ability to look at anything we are doing and judge it according to the highest standards that we hold. Right now I am writing this article and I am feeling ok about it. I am not as deeply into a flow state as I’d like. The words are coming out comprehensible, but they are far from the most poetic thing I have ever written. I am doing my best, but I am also being my own critic.

When I read this in the future I will have a new judgement of it that I necessarily can not have now. Why? Because I, and therefore my perspective, will have changed. How often do you acknowledge changes in your perspective?

What would happen if I were to take a writing course tomorrow and then come back to what I have written? Might I hate something I love today? Might I see a better way to say this very sentence right here? I might. Does it mean that what I wrote got worse or did my perspective simply change?

Why is this helpful to be prepared for?

Engaging our critical abilities can be an asset or a curse. Seeing flaws in what we have done can hurt. It can take the wind out of our sails. Paradoxically, it is also a sign of progress. When you look back at something you made yesterday or last decade and you see a million ways that it could have been better do you feel a bit ashamed of what you did? Or do you well up with inspiration and immediately want to create the greatest thing you can in this moment right now? Do you realize that you have improved?

In my experience with myself, my friends and with my coaching clients I notice a tendency to feel defeated by the limits of past efforts. Listening back to a recording of that song you wrote while in high school often makes us laugh at how silly we once were. Rarely does it inspire us with how aware we now are. This doesn’t only happen when looking back at past efforts. With anything we do our ability and our awareness are constantly surpassing one another in a game of leap frog. Get a little better on the guitar? You will suddenly think you sound amazing! Hone your ears a little more….now that same ability falls short. And the cycle continues! This happens in seconds. We can suddenly become critical of what we are creating while we are creating it. If we fail to see the opportunity in our perspective we might just quit.

Here’s the issue.

It is my experience that those who fail and, more importantly, those who quit, tend to let their increasing critical ability defeat them instead of letting their increasing ability to perform and be critical inspire them. What about you? Which side of the equation do you tend to focus on? Do you remember how much improvement you have already made each time you see room for more growth? Do you recognize that you are seeing a flaw you hadn’t seen while you were first working….so you can now do better? Or does your ability to be self critical always take center stage and make you feel defeated because you “never get it perfect”?

Sometimes, when things sound worse to you, they haven’t changed at all, but your perspective, your ability to see both the beauty and the flaws has changed. If you are not gentle with yourself, if you are not aware that your perspective evolves, you might get lost in judgement and fail to honor the growth that is happening on both sides of the equation.

This post is from a series called Insights that are inspired by the work I do with my clients as a Life Coach.

If you are ready to live with more joy, more passion and more purpose then I would love to be of service. Contact me to find out how my Life and Career Coaching Program can kickstart your journey.

04

Jun

Play the Tape

play-the-tape

Michael Phelps has won more Olympic medals than anyone else ever. I have heard a number of stories about how he achieved this. Some people cite his natural physique, his arm span, the size of his feet, his height or the fact that he is double jointed. Some talk about his diet, his workouts, his unwavering commitment, his attitude, his bong hits (really). Some say it was his coach.

As a coach myself, sure, I want to think that his coach had a positive impact in some way. Confirmation bias somewhat aside, one thing that his coach taught him struck me as absolutely brilliant and Phelps has said many a time just how big an impact it has had on him over the years.

Michael Phelps coach, Bob Bowman, taught him how to “play the tape”.

Playing the tape is a catchy way to refer to his use of visualizations to prepare himself for races. In years past many assumed that the best (and perhaps only) way to prepare for an activity was to do it. Practice makes perfect became a truism we all believed. Don’t just sit there, get up and do it! Well, not so fast the science now says. Back in 2002 a psychologist named Alan Richardson studied how visualizing free throws compared to actually shooting them. The results were clear. Those who spent 20 minutes per day visualizing improved almost as much as those who physically practiced. We learn by doing, but we also learn by imagining doing.

Now I am not suggesting that you couch potato your way to success. Clearly the best results come when you combine the two methods. Go out and work your but off, but then, when you are not on the court, or holding your instrument, or in the office or doing anything that you want to excel at, you should learn to hold a vision of exactly how you want this pursuit to go in the future.

Another key element of visualization is relaxation. Anyone who has been in the zone, who has stepped into a FLOW state, knows that we can only drop fully into the moment when we are free from any concerns about the future or the past. Anxiety is our enemy when it comes to performing at the highest level. To this end, it is incredibly useful to practice deep relaxation while visualizing things going perfectly. But this is not only about visualizing a perfect world. Visualizations are also incredibly useful for preparing to overcome obstacles you may encounter. As Phelps once said about his visualization practice, “I do go through everything from a best-case scenario to the worst-case scenario just so I’m ready for anything that comes my way,”

Picture the high pressure situation you would like to conquer. Can you see the ideal unfolding of events? This is the first step. This is your “tape”. Once you know what is on the tape, it is great to “play the tape” before bed, upon waking, or just before your big competition, test, interview, performance, presentation etc. But once you get that down, once you have written the tape and you can play it at will, you are ready for the next step. Now, can you allow yourself to CALMLY see something going horribly wrong, but then also see yourself overcoming this obstacle and being massively successful regardless. This is the expert version of visualizations. The goal is not to leave yourself stranded with the difficulty, but to sink deep into a relaxed state and experience yourself overcoming any and all obstacles. Here is where playing the tape really becomes powerful.

Philosophers have said for years that our minds can not tell the difference between what is real and what is only inside the mind. Dreams are real until we wake up. The mind works in mysterious ways. Some have postulated that dreams are actually a way for us to practice life before it happens; to re-live events that did not go as planned and to play with possibilities that the future holds for us. This is pure speculation, but what is abundantly clear is that people who are masterful often have a clear vision of how they want things to go long before it happens. This is not about being attached to outcomes. This is about resonating with and stepping into the reality that you want to create for yourself.

Tiger Woods was taught to visualize his golf ball going exactly where he wants it to go from a very young age. Jim Carrey once wrote himself a check for 10 million dollars and carried it with him every day until he actually started making that much money. How’s that for a vision of the future? Arnold Schwarzenegger used visualization to see not only exactly how he wanted each and every muscle in his body to grow during his body building years, but also to hold a vision of himself as a movie star when his body building career was coming to an end. Each of these people learned to believe deeply that something would happen long before it actually did.

Much of what we are discussing here is about belief. As I have discussed before, belief is an incredibly potent ingredient when trying to change a habit or stimulate growth. The powerful, yet simple act of “playing the tape” will never happen if you don’t first let yourself believe that there is a possibility of being successful. So play the tape. Try it when you are in bed with your eyes closed. Let visions of your future joy and success fill your dreams and wake you from your bed. Cultivate belief in your every fiber and let these ideas, emotions and actual skills work there way into the very fabric of your body and your mind.

03

Jan

Will Power is a Muscle

marshmallow experiment

Perhaps you have heard about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment? Young children were offered a marshmallow. If they could resist eating the marshmallow for 15 minutes they were promised (and given) a second marshmallow. The researchers were testing the children’s ability to delay gratification. They then looked to see how this correlated with future success. Follow-up studies found that the children who were able to delay gratification longer were described “10 years later by their parents as adolescents who were significantly more competent.” After 12 years the ability to delay gratification also correlated with higher SAT scores. “ A 2011 study of the same participants indicates that the characteristic remains with the person for life.” Differences in the groups showed up in brain scans. (wikipedia)

Skeptics have since pointed out a number of flaws in this experiment including the then ignored importance of the child’s most recent experience with these or any adults. If said experience inspired trust the child was more likely to wait. If they were led to believe that adults may not show up with the second marshmallow the child would not wait. The study was measuring not only the ability to delay gratification, but the child’s momentary state of mind as determined by numerous factors. There is a complex mix of nature and nurture at work.

I have heard this study cited when people are trying to argue for inherent traits or personality types and against the possibility that we can transform who we are when we are young. “See, those who couldn’t delay gratification with a marshmallow can’t stay home and study for their SAT’s!” The study does imply that most people do not undergo massive shifts. Most children remain in the same environment with the same parents and similar activities. What happens when they are adults and can choose to seek change? While few adults do consciously seek growth and transformation it is my experience that those who do seek growth can grow beyond the patterns and inertia that they were handed as a child. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had not overcome many of my own patterns and I would not continue working as a life coach if I were not seeing these types of shifts in others on a regular basis.

A 2000 study published by the American Psychological Association looks at over 100 previous papers and studies and suggests that self control is a muscle. Like all muscles, it appears to fatigue during a period of extended use. The authors, Mark Muraven and Roy F. Baumeister state that “exerting self-control may consume self-control strength, reducing the amount of strength available for subsequent self-control efforts. Coping with stress, regulating negative affect, and resisting temptations require self-control…..when a situation demands two consecutive acts of self-control, performance on the second act is frequently impaired.”

This makes the situation a bit more complex, but also gives us a more nuanced understanding. Children in the experiment may indeed have more or less baseline self control, they may also have just experienced a more or less nurturing or stressful situation. Being stressed appears to be taxing on the same system that regulates self control. Children’s who’s home is less relaxing or more taxing may have shown up in a depleted state. Many of them likely live in that state regularly. And what happens over time? If the muscle analogy has some truth to it then our self control muscles should not only tire with use, they should be susceptible to be strain from over use and growth from proper use balanced with rest and recuperation. The rest piece is crucial to me. Those who live in a stressful environment may never get the opportunity to recuperate.

A 2006 study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology set out to see how participants responded to exercising their “self-regulation muscles”. They set out to see if using our self control in one activity (here actually joining a gym and going regularly) would correlate with an increased ability to control other activities that require will power. Their conclusions? “participants also reported significant decreases in perceived stress, emotional distress, smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption, and an increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending and an improvement in study habits.” They went on to say that their 2 month program “produced significant improvements in a wide range of regulatory behaviors. Their conclusion is that exerting self control in one area develops an increased reservoir of self-regulation which all activities can tap into.

Thinking about self control in this manner should help us to be more compassionate both with ourselves and with others. When you give in and eat a piece of cake you know you shouldn’t or skip a workout you feel you need how much do you consider the many strains on your will power that you have already endured that day? The same is true when we judge others. How often do you know the full story of others lives? Can you possibly know every stress and anxiety someone else is already dealing with when you see them act in a way that you deem as less than ideal? Anyone who has ever lifted weights knows that it would be ridiculous to judge yourself as weak on the last rep of the last set of an exercise. Push your muscles hard enough, they fail and you can barely lift your arm. We don’t judge ourselves weak because we recognize all of the work that has come before this last lift. How about when it comes to your will power? Can you recognize that at times your reserves are full and at others they are depleted? Can you grant others this same consideration? I ask two things of you:

  1. Please, be gentle with yourself when you need rest.
  2. Recognize that massive change is possible when you are ready.

29

Nov

Worksite stress reduction through a Transcendental Meditation Program

If you read this blog than you likely know that the scientifically proven benefits of meditation are many. I wrote recently about a study showing how just 8 weeks of training can effect a lasting reduction in stress and anxiety. Studies that look at the impact on individuals in a testing environment are becoming increasingly common. Less common are attempts to look at how meditation effects people inside a work environment. Can meditation really help us at work?

The authors of a March, 2005 study published in the Journal of Social Behavior & Personality were looking to see if meditation could have an impact on occupational stress. Numerous studies have determined that when workers are experiencing stress there is a significant and measurable cost added to doing business. A highly stressed employee might be pictured as a car driving with its breaks on, stress being the breaks. As the authors of this study note, “when researchers look at compensation claims, reduced productivity and increased absenteeism, added health insurance costs, and direct medical expenses for related diseases such as ulcers, high blood pressure and heart attacks…The costs of stress are variously estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars annually, or 12% of U.S. GNP”. Clearly any business looking to reduce costs should be interested in inexpensive means of reducing occupational stress.

Practicing meditation is free, but can it be show to reduce job site stress? The authors of this paper note that it has previously been shown in studies that Transcendental Meditation (TM) produces a “unique state of restful alertness that is not achieved during ordinary eyes-closed rest.” TM has also been shown to improve cognitive performance and increase self confidence in clinical settings. These studies certainly imply that stress would be reduced in a testing environment, but what about in an office?

Researchers went to a South African marketing research consultancy firm of 80 people. They measured stress levels in employee using both psychological symptoms such as employees self-reported incidence of nervousness, irritability and headaches as well as objective measures such as blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to the impact on individuals the study aimed to investigate the consequences of individuals stress levels on the business as a whole by analyzing metrics such as staff turnover rates, perceptions of company climate and some measures of company wide productivity. Researchers described the atmosphere at this firm as being one of “frenetic activity attendant on frequent deadlines and the need to coordinate hundreds of part time field workers.” Sound familiar?

Employees were told that their superiors wished to evaluate to two potential approaches to stress reduction, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and TM. Participation was voluntary and about 85% of employees opted to take part. 61% of these (49 people) eventually learned TM. They received 1.5-2 hours of instruction on 4 consecutive days with follow-up at 2 and 6 weeks and 3 and 5 months for a total of 16 hours of training. The results?

Employees trained in Transcendental Meditation techniques did show a significant measured decrease in occupational stress symptoms. The major reduction started about 2 weeks after beginning training. Participants also showed a significant decrease in blood pressure (BP). A few participants who were in the hypertensive BP range at the start were later measured to be in the normotensive range, a significant health improvement. The authors reported that, “The blood pressure findings of this study are consistent with blood pressure findings previously reported in well-controlled randomized clinical trials.” What is perhaps more hopeful is the fact that there was also a measurable reduction in the stress levels of those who did not receive training in either technique. This supports the hypothesis that having trained meditators in a work environment can have a positive impact on the stress levels of all employees. Calm people may soothe an environment much the way that a hysterical person can disrupt it.

Looking at company wide financial figures there was a net gain of 9.2% while “sales growth rate doubled from 6% before the intervention to 12% after.” With adjustments for inflation this amounted to “double the average real growth rate for the seven years prior to the
intervention (6.3%).”

A common question is whether meditation is any more useful than simply resting. As these authors report, “a meta-analysis of 32 studies has found that the physiological effects of the TM technique are significantly greater than ordinary eyes-closed resting for the same period of time.” In other words, there is more happening in meditation than simple rest. While putting aside time to be still is profound in and of itself, the techniques do appear to offer other benefits above and beyond what the untrained person will likely access without training. Looking at my experience, and those of my clients, I would say that this difference that meditation can make is profound.

 

If the thought of shifting your life seems both exciting and daunting, I would love to support you on your unique transformative path. Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching program can kickstart your journey.

 

15

Nov

Study Shows Meditation Can Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Depression in just 8 weeks?


Once again, scientists are showing that meditation is great for you. This time we get to see how even a short, 8 week course, can have a lasting impact on how people are effected by emotionally challenging stimulus.

study recently published in the neuroscience journal Frontiers finds that participating in an 8-week meditation course can have lasting effects on the brain. This is not the first study to use neuroimaging to measure changes in the brains of meditators, but it is unique. Many studies have tracked changes in the brain during meditation. Being in a meditative state has been shown to have measurable correlations with an increased ability to focus, reduced anxiety, relief from depression, stress and a general decrease in emotional triggering to external stimulus. There have also been documented increased immune responses measured during meditation. What makes this study unique is that the scientists attempted to look not for changes during meditation, but for lasting changes that continue after meditation has ceased. This study was designed to explore “the possibility that meditation training leads to enduring changes in brain function, even outside meditation sessions.”

The scientists involved asked if “meditation training may induce learning that is not stimulus- or task-specific, but process-specific, and thereby may result in enduring changes in mental function.” Researchers looked at fMRI data before and after the 8 week meditation course to see what lasting changes even this brief training may offer.

All participants were new to meditation. “Healthy adults with no prior meditation experience took part in 8 weeks of either Mindful Attention Training (MAT), Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT; a program based on Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation practices), or an active control intervention.” The control group participated in an 8 week health education course without any meditative training. (Frontiers)

This study looked specifically at a part of the brain called the amygdala, “which has been shown in research to perform a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions.” (wikipedia)

3 weeks prior to the training and 3 weeks after the training all participants were shown a series of images intended to elicit a positive, negative or neutral emotional response. This is a widely used technique in many areas of consciousness research that allows the researchers to monitor the brains activity in a variety of situations using brain imaging techniques such as fMRI. What these researches found is that those who took part in the 8-week meditation programs showed significant changes in how their brains reacted to emotionally charged imagery that subjects in the 8-week health education course did not show.

The participants in the mindfulness group showed a decrease in right amygdala response to all three types of images. This supports the hypothesis that mindfulness meditation can  improve emotional stability and response to stress. Essentially, meditation appears to help one to cultivate emotional resilience.

The participants in the compassion meditation group also showed a decrease in right amygdala response to positive and neutral images but not to negatively emotional images. The participants who reported engaging compassion practices the most in their own time outside the class showed an increase in response to negative images. These are images depicting human suffering. Participants trained in compassion resonated more with others suffering. This is perhaps no surprise. The curious thing is that the ability to resonate with others suffering actually correlates with a decrease in our own suffering. Anyone who has volunteered their time to help those in need is likely familiar with this phenomenon. Resonating with those in need feels good. Empathy is a rewarding experience. Apparently meditating on compassion increases this capacity with some degree of permanence.

Perhaps this is why serious meditators can seem so blissed out. It may also help to explain why over a decade of meditation has led me to become a life coach. I truly do love being of service.

 

If the thought of shifting your life seems both exciting and daunting, I would love to support you on your unique transformative path. Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching program can kickstart your journey.