What Do Star Trek, Michael Phelps, & SuperMax All Have In Common?
What does Gene Roddenberry, Michael Phelps and some SuperMax prisoners all have in common?
They have all learned to develop incredible skills, and train in, higher levels of performance, by using their minds…
If you're a fan of Star Trek then perhaps like me, you have imagined how cool it would be to have your very own holodeck, A holodeck or Holographic Environment Simulator, is a dream bit of virtual reality tech.
With it, pretty much anything you can imagine, can be projected into a virtual reality world that you move around in and interact with everything in it, just like you can touch, smell, hear, see and feel in the real world around you.
Any place you've ever been or want to visit, any experience, scenario or personality, real or fictional can be programmed and represented inside it.
To your brain and nervous system it feels totally real.
It's no surprise in the 23rd century that Gene Roddenberry's characters in Star Trek make good use of such awesome technology - for recreation, fun, fantasy and of course training.
Although the technology that the holodeck works on doesn't fully exist yet, that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy doing some of the same things with the most powerful processor and simulator that you carry around which you all the time.
Take Johnny Perez, as an interesting case of survival of solitary confinement.
Johnny is an ex-con living in the United States who served 13 years in prison in upstate New York, three of which were in solitary confinement.
Solitary confinement, also called Supermax or being in the "box" involves being confined to a small cell for 22 to 24 hours a day. SuperMax prisoners are not allowed to participate in leisure activities, interact with others or have any kind of hobbies.
Many people faced with such harsh constrained environments go insane. Yet Parez says he came out solitary confinement "a better man than I was when I went in."
So what did he do, that so many others don't that allowed him to thrive?
He went inside his mind and used it to imagine travelling through time, replaying past painful conversations but extracting lessons from them, he imagined alternate endings to past situations. And meetings he was yet to have.
He had a method he practiced daily:
"I used to lie in bed with my eyes closed," he said, "thinking about my past, thinking about my future, planning for the future. Some of it was based on reality, and the other-borderline fantasy."
He mentally created his own holodeck. Filled it with people, events and ideas that kept his mind sane in the absence of external stimulation.
He spoke out loud to himself, he become purposeful about what he did with his "mental space", how he used it and what he filled it with.
He intentionally guided his mind, activating his frontal lobe and training his nervous system to go there quicker, and stay in his mind space for longer.
With practice he became very skilled at it.
He became better from it.
Imagine being held in a confined space ten feet by six feet for 3 years, and at the end of that experience you come out a better person than you were going in.
That's real personal development, and something accessible to all of us (to different degrees), if we intentionally practice using our imaginations and creating powerful training simulators in our mind.
You see, mental imagery is an ideal and remarkably portable training tool.
So why not make better use of it?
Imagine yourself doing an activity or skill you want and you will improve - it's known as the carpenter's effect.
The bottom line is - what the mind vividly imagines the brains treats as real and the body responds and adapts accordingly.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and other top performers make use of this powerful training simulator.
His coach got him to follow a routine during his training to help his performance become even better.
Every night before he went to bed he visualised a slow-motion video of what he imagined to be the perfect race. In the morning he'd do the same thing as soon as he work.
When he entered the pool for his training sessions, he then tried to replicate that perfect race performance every time.
He got so good at this when the Olympics came, his swam the perfect race again and again, winning a total of 18 gold medals in 3 Olympics to date.
Next time you want to raise your game in any area, don't try and force yourself to perform better.
Close your eyes.
Imagine yourself performing really well.
Repeat it over and over, making it viscerally real. Slow it down, expand it out. Feel it.
Then open your eyes and let your best self show up.
If you want to take this process to a whole other level you can use self-hypnosis or recorded a guided visualisation on your phone and make a habit of running the program twice a day. You'll be amazed at the difference 60 seconds to a few minutes can make.
To learn more about the power of hypnosis and it's greatest myths click here.
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