• Kurt Hardesty

Meet preparation and the competition mindset

Here are some basic things to focus on when preparing for a competition or peak performance event.  In theory, these things should be done all the time, but it is extra important to do them if there is an event in the future where you want to perform well. I've broken them down into 3 categories of mind, heart, and body.   Mind Focus -  Extract yourself from any fantasies or virtual worlds that are not a required responsibility.  Avoid gossip, pop culture, politics, video games, social media, anything on screens, etc; return that mental energy to the body. Let go of previous ideas or understanding about technique.  If the technique has not been practiced enough to happen thoughtlessly, there’s no reason to think about it in the race.  Be ok racing without any techniques or preconceptions so you can see what is really there when you try your best. The mind will shut down at 100% effort and it will prevent 100% effort if not shut down. Don’t try and make yourself better with a mental understanding.  The event is not the time to understand or fix anything. Be curious about what is there, good or bad. Try not to judge or understand anything beyond what is required to make good decisions in the moment.  Keep thoughts on the self and on personal movement or breathing. Keep the mind out of anything not personally experienced and away from ideas known about through second hand sources. Let go of pride.  Pride takes two forms :  One is fear of embarrassment or under-performance.  A feeling of not wanting to be seen performing. The other form is attachment to past, unrelated, or unproven accomplishments.  Both forms of pride prevent optimum performance to an equal degree. Feel average because you are average. Perfectly and equally capable of improvement or failure. Stop thinking for yourself. Thinking for yourself consumes an enormous amount of mental energy and focus that could otherwise be used to boost performance.  Try to only follow (good) instruction and allow people you trust to think for you.  This lets you use your mental energy to access peak performance.

All these practices  free up energy for greater focus and control. Heart/Cardio/Strength Clear the heart:  Admit wrongdoing to anyone you have wronged.  Forgive other people of any wrongs committed in the past.  Get into good standing with authority and peers. Let the heart rest in a state of passive obedience to authority.   Let go of or reveal any secrets that weigh on the conscience and eat up mental energy by creating thoughts of justification (If it is safe to do so.  If any secret or wrong doing seems unsafe to reveal, talk to a trusted elder or authority who is not entangled in the situation. If possible try and place yourself under wise authority figures. If not possible, remain obedient while attempting to inspire wisdom in those over you).

These practices reduce constriction in the heart and lungs and allow for greater blood flow, strength, and endurance. Relax as much as possible.  Throughout the day, focus on the feeling of weight and water in the body, let the mind go slack and create an experience of resting being.  It is a feeling of falling or resting into the heart or into the belly. Experience gravity as a constant flowing and falling current. Use this current like a sail boat uses head wind to fuel your actions as much as possible. Observe the area of your heart with the same blank openness with which you look at a movie or computer screen. Do this as much as you have time for. Try to relax any denial about reality.  Accept how things are, that it is ok for them to be that way, and accept that they can change - both good things and bad things.  Not in a lazy way, but in a way that increases clarity for action(or non action, as things will change even if you do nothing).

Listen to and encourage other people.  Be aware of right and wrong and choose right, but do not judge yourself or others or feel better or worse than anyone.

These practices increase clarity, centeredness, and precision of movement.   Body Diet:  Avoid eating for pleasure or anything that causes guilt or shame.  Only eat for nutrition. Eat to 80% full and stop. Reduce the intake of processed or man made foods to a minimum.  Avoid sugar entirely(The Weston A. Price foundation seems to have the most reasonable and evidence based dietary guidelines and I’ve seen many people become very healthy following their guidelines) Relaxation and tension:  Every day, move every joint in the body through its full range of motion 10-50 times, simply noticing what the range of motion is and what the joint is able to do. Every day contract and relax every area of the body 10 - 20 times.  Try to be fluid with the impulses to contract, play with moving them from side to side, front to back, and from high elevation to low elevation. Be total with the impulse to relax(which feels like an opening, dissolving, or yawning). Notice what the range of relaxation and tension is for each area of the body. If it is tight, work on opening it, if it seems too lax, work on generating tension.

Stretch regularly -  Find a position that lets you feel tension in the body and simply notice it with no reaction and no agenda. Do not actually try to directly stretch or mechanically lengthen the tight tissue. Stretch just enough to engage and feel the tension in the body.  Tension in contact with an empty mind will dissolve on its own. You can sometimes experience success at this by imagining the tension dissolving into the water of the body or similar visualizations.   Alignment -  When standing or sitting, the abdomen, chest cavity, and head should all feel balanced on top of each other like 3 stacked water balloons filled with water that is slightly attracted to the water in the other balloons like a magnet.   If the stack has to tip over or lean in any direction, increase the feeling of magnetic attraction between the balloons to maintain the same feeling of balance, attraction, and connection as when standing or sitting.  

These practices reduce inflammation and injury and increase energy levels.

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