When I speak to athletes about their development, the conversation for them mostly revolves around the physical aspects, stress and recovery, physical nuisances such as strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve taken to challenging that paradigm. To get to the core of the athletic potential first. To get the understanding of the sequencing correct first.
Athletes often fail to realise that all aspects are mental, not physical. We have an unconscious auto pilot that puts many mechanical parts and processes in our lives into an unconscious soup.
Most people have very low levels of awareness around the more mundane aspects of life, such as walking, eating, sitting, even going to the toilet, in fact most of a human beings day revolves around unconscious movements, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, emotions and actions all going unchecked.
It is not a stretch then to understand the core reason of why our development does not occur at the rate we would like.
If we want to understand the process then awareness is the vehicle that brings that understanding, it is the conscious perception that provides the athlete with their development and ultimately the fulfilling of their potential.
If you can’t remember eating your dinner, taking a shower, what you said to your mother on the phone, driving home from work and you are unconscious of it, then we can see the issue with the habit that we carry into training.
Most of the time we are absorbed by our own stream of thinking, not by what we are actually doing.
We are disconnected from reality by a story about what is happening, or a story about something else entirely.
Many athletes train unconsciously the same way they live.
I’m not making a judgment or making it wrong, it’s just a simple fact.
When we view our process as a mere physical act, we drive it into the unconscious like everything else.
If you are able to think about the argument you had with someone while you are training, then you are simply not present with your training, you are wasting energy, nothing is benefiting in that unconscious soup.
As Carl Jung once famously quoted, “until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”.
The first step is to catch yourself in story, catch yourself being carried away from the here and now by a stream of thought.
In my own study around human consciousness I have found incredible founts of inspiration and possibility hidden in the pages of ancient texts. They have been present for thousands of years, and yet humanity still suffers from the same torment of its own mind that it has done for the last three thousand odd years.
Athletes would do well to pay attention, the power of mindful awareness and attentiveness is unlimited.
We are limited by what we believe and think within the physical analytical unconscious stream we get carried by.
What we need to realise as athletes is that one hundred percent of the game is in fact mental.
If it’s happening in your body it’s because it first occurred and was triggered in your mind. The conscious flow runs through the mind/body.
It’s an energetic stream that any meditator can tell you is at the core.
In simple terms, your brain sends the signal to move and the body moves, what a miracle that is.
Moreover, it doesn’t take a genius to understand the more aware you are the faster and more efficiently that movement occurs, if you remove the lag, you remove the sag.
You turn a duality into a singularity and instead of standing outside it, you are it, the power is direct.
It’s about clarity of mind! If you want immediate clear information it needs to be direct and awake.
If you can’t remember what you just did for the last hour because you plowed through it unconsciously, then how can you logically expect it to develop?
You need to develop mentally.
Perhaps that is why we refer to it as Developmental!
Note it is not develop-physicality. There is no physicality without awareness, in fact you could argue there is no world and no life without awareness, it is primary, first in the chain of command.
It is not working for us as a species to put awareness onto autopilot, it just keeps plotting the same course over and over when we do that, sound familiar?
If it’s development, its mental. If you need a science explanation for something that was proven thousands of years ago that’s ok too, its there and it’s called neuroscience; the brain is plastic, neuroplasticity, the brain is malleable and lays down new pathways when the practise is repeated and enough awareness has been brought to the table.
So many athletes put the cart before the horse, unconsciously making the same mistakes again and again.
The unconscious nature of it leads to injury, over reaching, over training, under eating, over eating, self judgement, doubt, fear, anxiety, depression, projection, expectation, pressure, resentment, self abuse, to name but a few of the aspects that we lay at the feet of fate and life, and it’s not true.
All of the above and more are wrapped up in a simple lack of awareness. It’s a simple propensity to allow the unconscious to rule our lives.
Like training coming out of this unconsciousness requires work, simply anchoring back into what ever it is you are doing is the first step to taking back your own power.
When you begin to truly make your process conscious you begin to once again allow the true process orientated drivers to show themselves, the desire and the will start to make their presence felt and the word flow begins to take on new meaning.
You are what your deep driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.
In the end all achievement is powered by our desire, by the will and the heart. All great achievement by man has been fuelled by these innate qualities that arise in our being.
Sport like life is a human condition. We are not machines. Humans are full of holes, it’s the holes we refuse to acknowledge that get us into trouble.
There is an uncomfortable void in all of us, a separation from something greater that we all sense on some level.
As long as we are trying to fulfil that void from outside ourselves, we will always be making demands of life that life cannot fulfil.
We ourselves are always the answer.
Everything else is the finer practical details.
The devil is in the details. Don’t get lost in the details.