Watching an exhilarating England v New Zealand rugby game one weekend, I mentally prepared for my own week ahead. I began to think about – ‘how the brain works under pressure’.
One of the professional challenges I set myself each week is to find a straightforward way to draw upon Mindfulness practices, in-order to find the techniques, examples and approaches that will feel grounded, practical and applicable to those I am due to coach.
During this mental prep for my week ahead, I was reminded of the ‘Red Head’ ‘Blue Head’ work Ceri Evans did with the All Blacks. This approach gives a framework to manage thoughts and emotions in moments of intense pressure.
‘Red Head’ is an un-resourceful state in which you are off point, panicked and ineffective. ‘Blue Head’ is an optimal state where you are on point and performing at your best. Through this work, the All Blacks use triggers to switch from red to blue. Using these triggers, the players achieve clarity, accuracy and increase their ability to deliver outstanding performance.
Mindfulness invites us to come back to self in moments of stress and tension. It reminds us that in those moments of haste and speed we can experience frustration, because events are not going as we might have liked them to however we can always re-connect with self. You can simply use the concept of using the colour blue to balance out red through a visualisation or mediation. This is a key self-practice I use for myself and for my clients.
If we can slow-down, we can come back to self, re-gain clarity, re-balance ourselves and gain control over our emotional resilience. It helps us to move forward from this place of balance with more personal flow, purpose and less stress. We are also likely to perform better!
Mindfulness greatly support’s my work as a Resilience Coach. In a work place/ organisational setting I advocate practicing Mindfulness. It can help us keep attention and focus in-order to be alert and ready to handle situations as they arise. This comes back to how the brain works under pressure.
It is in active and demanding situations that Mindfulness can become a real challenge. Therefore, committing to experiencing more Mindfulness when life is not so stretching, i.e. in the everyday things makes it easier to use the techniques to centre ourselves when we are in moments that require our ‘on point’ performance.
In Buddhist monasteries everyone learns to use the breath to stop mental dispersion and build-up concentration power. All too often in my work, I am engaged for Resilience Coaching because someone is struggling with sleep, maybe outbursts of short temper or changes in behaviour. These are just some examples of how less Mindfulness shows up when their Resilience is depleted.
The most challenging stages in life can create the most positive changes. Clients who work on learning Mindfulness, usually demonstrate how personal balance can support them in managing inevitable challenges with emotional stability. If we match anger with anger, we enter the cycle of in-balance rather than seeking to re-align the situation. Mindfulness can help us be in charge of our reactions and emotions, even in the most difficult of situations. Now imagine you are dealing with someone difficult (a Line Manager maybe), now try to quietly think about the bigger picture. Consider what may be driving their emotions towards you, rather than reacting to it on auto pilot (the unconscious). We can always draw from Mindful contemplation during the most challenging or emotionally charged situations.
Finding the time and space to unite the body and mind is important for performance under pressure. This is not just for a world elite rugby player or a Buddhist Monk, but for all of us.
Sometimes it may be difficult to create what we believe to be sufficient time for relaxation and stress reduction. However, by dedicating only a few minutes a day to practice Mindfulness strategies, you will feel empowered to be more in charge of your wellbeing. From here we can build up our ability to slow-down. There are so many opportunities to be Mindful and reconnect with self in 1 single day alone.
I hope this blog will help summarise why Psychiatrist’s, Psychologist, Resilience and Mindfulness Coach’s are using ancient practices to help our performance in the 21st century, be on point and balanced. If you would like to know more about my use of ‘Red Blue Balancing Techniques’ we have meditation resources available. Please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.