Posts Tagged ‘visualise’

Creating Highly Memorable Memories

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Frequent  |  Emotional  |  Unique

 

We learnt in the previous post how easy it is to visualise yourself an effective memory – the two skills outlined in this post will massively help to increase recall.

And there is another skill available to increase this even further – Creating Memorable Memories.

Repetition - ReplicationMemorable memories are exactly that – memories we remember! We store a vast array of options in our minds, our neurological points of reference, blueprints to choose from, patterns we have used before and observations. So when we are faced with a decision to make, our brains search the archives for the most suitable option.

What makes one option more suitable than another? Well nothing really, nothing analytical anyway. We choose one above all others because it stands out as more frequently used, more emotionally charged and unique.

When asked for an instant solution, our brains don’t look for the most effective long term solution, it looks for the most memorable or flagged option.

So how do we ensure our new visualised option is the brains first choice?

Put simply: we tick boxes, neural boxes!

First, we make sure it ticks the most frequently used box, by completing the visualisation frequently and in large number of identical repetitions.

Then, we ensure it ticks the emotionally charged box by completing the visualisation AND rewarding ourselves with it’s completion deep within the visualisation.So every time you visualise, also visualise the rewards that come with its success, including your own satisfaction, the adulation of those around you and the rewards of being number one! This pumps the body full of serotonin and dopamine – the natural pleasure chemicals.

Thirdly, tick the box of uniqueness. By making the visualisation unique it not only ‘flags’ it neurologically as a preferred option it also allows instant recognition. So in the case of our future black-belt in the previous post, we asked him to visualise each of the 9 patterns in a different colour.

If he applied a purple colour to a specific pattern in his mind he would also colour his hair purple, the mats purple and his uniform purple – making this pattern stand out as the preferred option over all the other patterns. The word or thought purple also created the neural trigger. No longer did he have to remember the pattern step by step, he just fired off the purple trigger and each move flowed into the next move. This also allows him to begin anywhere within that pattern and not rely on one move depending upon the next.

These three keys to this form of visualisation can be applied to any set of moves, skills or repetition process.

And so here we are… only a couple of years have passed since my son was having trouble with three consecutive moves in a row, and now he is going for his black belt completing a large number of sequential moves and skills. So I am not only a very proud father, I am also very pleased we could provide him with the tools to improve his sport, his education and ultimately his life.

Visualising Yourself an Effective Memory

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

The closer we get the practise environment to the performance environment, the better the cognitive connection.

 

VisualisationThis month my 12 year old is going for his Black Belt grading, in the full-contact sport of Taekwondo. He is pragmatically learning the set sequence of moves (patterns), weapon sequences, self-defense, sparing and board breaking techniques as part of the requirements.

There are 9 pattern sequences containing 9 – 38 individual moves and all need to be completed with controlled intention, faultlessly.

This whole process is something he is finding quite grueling, especially for someone who up until a few years ago couldn’t remember three things in a row without becoming frustrated and disheartened! His difficulty in recalling sequential instructions was the reason, after much research, we selected Taekwondo to help him. He could complete one or sometimes two tasks, then have difficulty recalling the third – irrespective of the topic (for example: get dressed, then have breakfast, then clean your teeth).

In the larger picture, this was affecting his education and confidence. So finding a way for him to learn these skills and engage in a sport he enjoys (and will therefore stick to) was key in helping him train his ability to build order and sequence into his life.

Although learning effective sequencing is a necessary skill most of us take for granted, we had to learn it for ourselves at some time and doesn’t come easily for some. So learning these 9-38 move patterns has been no easy task for my son! It is a learned process for all of us and like any other skill needs to be learned, practiced, perfected and then maintained in order to be sustained.

If the above challenge sounds familiar to you, the great news is there are a couple of key tricks of the trade (the mind trade that is!) we can apply to speed up the process in increasing your efficiency and recall rate.

We have discussed a couple of forms of visualisation in previous posts such as Point to Point Visualisation and Re-Patterning Visualisation – all highly systematised, easily compartmentalised, and cross-platform applicable.

This form of visualisation is no different and it calls on some of the core skill-sets you have already learned.

With all visualisation the closer we get the practise environment to the performance environment, the better the cognitive connection and therefore recall will be. So in my son’s situation, the first step was to have him visualise the patterns in his Taekwondo uniform, on a similar flooring and under the same sensory conditions (noise, smell, feel etc).

Our emotions are major contributors to our ability to remember something. Think back to your childhood, the memories that are at the forefront of your memory are those that hold the most emotional weight!

So with this in mind, we also took away his vision (temporarily of course) with a blindfold, as our eyesight overrides our memory. This is an important aspect of embedding visualisation and effective memory creation, allowing our brain to build its own connection and recall the pattern uninhibited by external influences. This gives some personal ownership and therefore some emotional weight to the skill (or pattern).

Just these two skills alone will massively help increase recall.

“Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind
through repetition of thought.”
~ Napoleon Hill

How to Correct Poor Technique and Master Your Perfect Skill in 4 Simple Steps

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Re-patterning Visualisation: Using the ADDA Process (Associated – Disassociated – Disassociated – Associated) allows you to correct poor technique. The key is becoming masterful in perfect practise every time.

Sometimes we find ourselves confronted by a skill we have learnt either inefficiently, or inherited poor technique, or have attached undesirable emotions to it (such as an injury).

The solution is to change the neural pathway to correct the skill.

We can of course break our old blueprint for that skill and completely re-learn the skill again. If time allows, this is the ideal option as it is cleaner, more replicable and more stable.

However often the skill needs to be corrected on the run or within a short period of time. So the next best thing is Re-patterning Visualisation – or ADDA.

The basic process of this technique is to emulate both the analytical and emotional flags and neural pathways associated to a successful technique and cross platform them over to the skill requiring attention. This ‘models’ success and neurologically associates the new skill with the successful skill.

Here is the Simple 4 Step Process to Re-patterning Visualisation:

Step One: Associated

Some basic equipment is useful for this technique: a blindfold and some earplugs. With eyes and ears on (blindfold and earplugs) imagine the best performance of a skill that you ever completed. Completely immerse yourself into that precise moment and associate, look through your own eyes and see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt and acknowledge the success and rewards you received. Completely be there in that moment and really relish in all the details.

 

Step Two: Disassociated

Still with eyes and ears on (blindfold and earplugs) – put yourself in the commentary box. This time replay that successful performance as an observer, or a commentator. As you WATCH your successful performance, precisely explain to a third party exactly the skill-set you demonstrated, outline what made that performance so successful, focus on details, and teach that third party how they can replicate that successful skill.

 

Now we are going to correct
the technique of a skill
that
holds undesirable emotional baggage
or has a very poor
previously learnt technique:

 

 

Step Three: Disassociated

Take one large step forward – still with eyes and ears on (blindfold and earplugs). Think again about the skill that requires re-patterning. As an observer watch the lead up to the skill, discuss how the play is going, again focus on details and where you are and just at the point where the OLD version became the poor technique or held that emotional trigger – reinvent the outcome, continue to describe the event in detail but this time make the skill technically perfect and make it successful with a positive emotional outcome. Continue to describe the event to the third party.

 

Step Four: Associated

Replay the NEW version of the OLD skill seeing from within, completely associate to ‘that’ new event, look through your own eyes and see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt and acknowledge the success and rewards you received. Completely be there in that moment and focus on the specific details.

Visualisation 101: Point to Point Visualisation for Athletes

Friday, June 17th, 2011

When physically practising a sequence or learning a new skill, we have known for many decades that no one learns perfectly the first time.

Completing a skill-set or sequence exactly the same way each and every time, and even escaping physical, emotional and psychological fatigue when working through countless repetitions is beyond human control.

So the reality of learning a ‘perfect’ skill or sequence is unlikely, yet there is a recurring question directed towards athletes every day to be just that – PERFECT – or to continually replicate something they have previously done or achieved or should achieve.

Is it any wonder the burnout rate is escalating in young athletes?

So how do we overcome these high expectations when in reality we know it is physically a mammoth task they are expecting?

For years, athletes and coaches have recognised the huge benefits of visualisation training to hone a specific sequence or skill. You can watch the effects of this technique played out each weekend on pitches, in gyms and poolsides, as athletes are seen with their eyes closed mimicking their skills before they perform them.

As a Mind Coach, on the surface this is an encouraging sight to see, athletes taking mental preparation seriously. I have to wonder, however, have they missed the point, are they really making the most of visualisation’s full potential without consideration of the cognitive training?

From the number of clients contacting our office looking for help, I am inclined to think, perhaps they have [missed the point].

When I first ask a client, be that an athlete, coach or coaching body to show me what specific visualisation training they have been doing – typically they will close their eyes and loosely go through the motions with arms waving and bodies twitching as they vaguely picture themselves doing whatever it is they are trying to perfect. This form of visualisation is basic ‘point to point’ visualisation – and unfortunately normally done exceptionally badly.

To visualise winning a race or completing a skill, or remembering a sequence is one thing, but if it is done one-dimensionally, from an observational distance (disassociated) and with little attention to detail – we know irrespective if it is a perfect technique or a sloppy technique – it will be imbedded into our neurology with the same intensity and same neural paths.  So best to make it a good one!

Visualisation is a much broader, deeper and far more effective tool than just waving your arms and body around with your eyes closed and hoping you are neurally flagging a blueprint for success.

  • It has applications that can hone the exact technique of a specific skill or a complete routine
  • It can correct and free areas of past emotionally damaged – those which have heavy emotional attachment such as those associated to injury or disappointment
  • You can learn high risk physical skills without ever putting yourself at physical risk of injury or even death
  • It can help you control your heart rate, your oxygen intake and distribution
  • It can lower anxiety, raise adrenaline levels, cement strategy, set neural patterns of rhythm and many, many more practical applications

… if applied correctly.

It can be as complex or as simple as you like and the only boundaries to its effectiveness is your own imagination, dedication and knowledge.

Visualisation, I believe, is one of the most misunderstood and under utilised skill-sets available in sport today. Many athletes have dabbled in it at one time or another as a tool. However, people are typically unaware of it’s hidden potential or how to really maximise on it’s effectiveness, so is left out of the mainstream coaching / training structure.

It really is the ‘cousin nobody talks about’.

So how do we realise the full potential of this skill we call visualisation?

The first thing to recognise is we have been visualising since childhood. As highly visually stimulated young children we play-out scenarios in our mind to work out the most effective option available to us, which has less risk and which one will please others.

If we are born so highly visual, it makes sense that we use mental pictures more than any other sense to give us a realistic perspective of our situation and then problem solve.

So when decision making, our subconscious will play a multitude of visual options to us, being as specific as possible, including benefits and drawbacks, past experiences and externally observed scenarios – then when the decision has been made, our brains will again replay the winning option for confirmation and loading it up as a viable option in our subconscious.

This is constantly building new neural pathways in our neurology, ones that we will then store and utilise in the future – If faced with that or similar situation again.

Our brains constantly search for a viable, already established option before looking to actively problem solve and build a new path – its incredibly efficient that way. So the skill of visualisation is nothing new to any of us, is highly effective and time efficient. However, creating the conscious mechanics of visualisation is new!

We tend to go wrong with this form of cognitive training if we allow our unchecked and highly creative imagination to run wild, rewriting our pragmatic decisions with emotionally charged disasters. We do this based on our creative potential to imagine the worst possible outcomes, to create crazy scenarios and manufacture our own personal dramas.

Yes, that’s right we create the issues we most fear and want to avoid long before they could ever be a reality. And we cannot not think of what we are thinking of, so subconsciously we gravitate towards those disasters at an uncontrollable rate of knots.

Rather than thinking “How do I make this the most effective and efficient pattern possible?”, we think “What if I fall, trip, lose, die or even worse – embarrass myself?”

All based on emotional triggers rather than skill-set, and on fictitious outcomes not yet a reality rather than reality itself. And as they are so emotionally tagged they are slotted into our outcomes with ease and self generated importance.

So what are the effective mechanics of visualisation, and how do we keep the creative ‘emotion monster’ at bay – leaving the pragmatic stepping stones of success to lead us forward?

Well, the secret to effective and replicable visualisation is in the detail and making the practice as realistic as the event!

We have five senses to satisfy in order to paint a perfect picture. They are our Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Gustatory and Olfactory senses and each are an important piece of the puzzle that make up the big picture convincer.

By creating an environment that is as realistic to the desired outcome as possible allows our brain to create an accurate neural flag and pathway. This will also increase our chances of having our mind select that created pattern when called upon in the real situation.

How do we create the perfect template?

1. In the details – Gather as much information as possible, for example, if you race F1, get a detailed map of the track; the weather forecast for race day; find out the optimal approach for each corner, down each straight; the optimal time to drop a gear and accelerate away and when to hold back; build a neural success strategy (KPIs or motivation milestones); design a verbal chant or verbal sequence that calms you down or enables you to focus.

2. The specifics of the set-up – Sit in your vehicle, with the vibrations of the engine rippling through your body; wear your racing suit, gloves, shoes and helmet etc; smell the high-octane fuel in the air; and the sound of other vehicles around you.

3. Then visualise – your race down to the last gear change, every twist and turn of the track, the language pattern you tell yourself in your mind, the neural success points you have set, you coming across the finish-line and the reward you give yourself for winning the race.

Visualise this first from a spectators point of view (or imagine watching yourself from a hovering helicopter) seeing yourself doing these very strategic and specific maneuvers and skills. Then complete the same visualisation again, seeing the race from your own eyes – looking out over the proceedings.

The first disassociated observation will allow you to clinically observe perfect technique without any emotional discoloration before becoming emotionally associated to the perfect performance – making it both replicable and memorable.

It is then you will have as near to perfect replicable neural pattern as possible.

And all without error, fatigue or any real chance of injury.

 

 

 

So to recap – The 10 Steps to creating the perfect point to point visualisation:

1. Gather as much specific information as possible about the end objective

2. Create as realistic an environment as possible

3. Build neural success points into the picture (Milestones)

4. Design a verbal chant or verbal sequence

5. Tick the box for each and every sense, same clothes, same smells, same sounds, same feelings, same weather etc

6. First visualise the event from a disassociated perspective (From the sideline or from above)

7. Then visualise the event from within yourself, see what you would see, hear what you would hear, feel what you would feel, smell and taste what you would taste

8. Be as specific as humanly possible about the visualisation

9. Make it as replicable as you can

10. Repeat until you feel comfortable that it is in your head – then do it one more time!

11. The Bonus point – Reward yourself for your achievement. This will stimulate the brain to release serotonin and dopamine, the body’s pleasure chemicals. This natural high will cement the emotional trigger required to replicate for the same reward.

These are the basics to visualisation and we are only just getting warmed up! Stay tuned for future posts as we dig deeper into how visualisation can transform YOUR performance.