I have recently returned home from my first intensive block of studying and training in clinical evidence-based hypnotherapy in Bournemouth. I have to say it’s all rather exciting and fascinating, although at times overwhelming with the vast amount of content to take in, and the studying and research (self-discipline) that lies ahead during the next coming months. Saying that I have met the best bunch of people from many walks of life on the course and I know there’s a good sense of group support there (and many laughs…that’s right!).
We worked on numerous techniques of inducing and deepening hypnosis, using suggestions, coming out of hypnosis and many NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Obviously, the use of these techniques to enhance endurance and performance in running interests me greatly so I decided to put some of them into practice….
I had my running goal set which was simply to maintain a good rhythm for 60min on a hilly off-road track and keep myself motivated and engaged with a positive mindset. I set off at a decent pace bringing awareness to my body, with an alert and attentive mind, and imagined an invisible thread pulling upwards from my shoulders and head (a position often associated with meditation). I felt as if I were a few cms taller and that my feet were lighter on the floor. Running started off as if I was having to make less effort than normal and more flow.
After a few hills the thought came to me that my feet were feeling heavy and things seemed like they were dragging (which is a physiological response to the thought).
I responded immediately to this negative cognition by imaging that thought being squashed in a black ball and in my mind I said vehemently “Fly off!” (with the same vehemence as if I was saying an expletive!) The black ball would then fly away. Then using all my imaginative skills I visualised a pair of helium balloons attached by a valve to the back of each of my feet and filling my feet up with helium. I really engaged in this process visualising blue balloons and the sound of the air passing in to my feet and the sensation of my feet getting lighter and fresher as they filled with helium. Then to make the most of this I focused that with each breath the helium passed up higher and higher through my body making me feel lighter. It worked! Horray for helium balloons!
Things were going well until at about 40min into the run I was noticing my thoughts were lacking motivation as I was thinking about getting home rather than being present and engaged. A quick scan and I observed my posture had changed and my pacing was slightly sluggish. Quick recognition of the negative cognition (“I want to just finish this and get home now”) and I replaced the thought with the experience of finishing a race in which my two sons were waiting near the finishing line and the crowd cheering and a surge of energy. Just visualising this experience helped me revivify my energy back to the positive. I decided then to use more creative thought processes to turn the final stage of this run into something fun!
I felt like I wanted to change my rhythm and bring my knees up more so I imagined I was a marionette on a string and a giant marionettist was behind me who was operating strings effectively that were attached to my head, shoulders, hands, knees and feet! I first stepped out of myself and put myself into the marionettist who was controlling a wooden cross with strings and watching myself running with a longer stride and flowing. Then I stepped back into my body and imagined the feelings of those strings pulling me upright, lifting my feet off the floor, my arms moving in coordination. It really was fun engaging in this thought process and worked a treat! I felt lighter, motivated, my pace went up and my posture was better. I then imagined the marionettist pulling up the strings on my knees and my stride changed, I brought my knees up even more and my stride was longer! Again a good, positive physiological result in my body and what I lost in motivation had changed to enjoyment and fun!
I finished the run completing my goal and at a pace I was happy with. The feelings afterwards of satisfaction and gratitude for engaging in the processes left me with an extremely pleasant buzz which just set me up for the day.
I hope you enjoyed the way that I engaged my mind into changing negative cognitions into positive ones and can see that by doing this the benefits can be applied in other areas in life, and not just for running. Any situation which requires motivation and/or endurance can be changed when you have the mindset to want to actively engage in suggestions, visualisations and make them your belief that they will produce the outcome expected.
Helium and puppets for me totally rule!