Research Paper By Mohamed Hamad Al Barasi
(Leadership Coach, SWITZERLAND)
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “mental training”.
But what exactly does mental training mean and how to use it properly?
In this paper, I will explain how the client can practice mental training to support the whole coaching process…
With mental training, you use the power of your thoughts to change your life positively!
No matter if you want to improve your performance in sports, lose weight or become more self-confident – mental training supports you in all these areas of life.
You can even improve your health thanks to mental exercises.
What is mental training?
Only what you can imagine in your thoughts, only what you can achieve in real life.
This is especially true for everything that has to do with your behavior. For example, if you see yourself as anxious, shy, and weak inside, you will never be able to appear brave and self-confident in real life.
You see that your inner world determines your outer world.
You can use this to your advantage: As soon as you imagine in your thoughts more self-confidence, more success, more health, or more positive charisma, this will also show in real life.
And this is exactly what you do in mental training:
With the help of various mental exercises, you imagine in your mind how you want to think, feel, and behave in certain situations. Through regular training, these mental images anchor themselves in the subconscious and then automatically show themselves in real life.
The brain trick: That is why mental training works
Maybe now you’re thinking:
“How is that possible? Just because I have an idea in my head, is it supposed to become reality?”
Answer: Our brain can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. That means it doesn’t matter if you train something in real life or “only” do mental exercises – the result is the same in the end.
You can create new experiences through your pure imagination or positive experiences of success, which your brain stores just as if you had experienced these things in reality!
It is even the case that mental training is superior to “real” training in many areas! Therefore check out the following experiment:
Study: At a high school in America the basketball team was divided into 3 groups …
Group 1 practiced basket throwing for 2 hours daily
Group 2 practiced 30 minutes daily and did an additional 30 minutes of mental training where they imagined throwing each ball into the basket
Group 3 did ONLY the mental training for one hour every day
After 3 weeks, the results in group 1 had improved slightly. Groups 2 and 3, however, achieved
MUCH better results, although, in reality, they had trained much less or not at all!
And you can use this effect in ALL areas of life…
What types of mental training are there?
There are numerous forms of mental training. Some of the best known mental exercises are.
- Meditation and all kinds of relaxation exercises (which train your mind to calm down and focus. Autogenic training (this is also a relaxation method based on autosuggestion. One goes through certain sentences in one’s mind, which relaxes the body and strengthens it at the same time).
- Affirmations and mantras (you recite positive words or sentences aloud or in your thoughts. With this you build up a positive self-image and can turn off negative thoughts)
- Mindfulness exercises (you train your mind to concentrate on ONE thing. Mindfulness is also great for stopping your thought carousel).
- Visualizations or Mental Images (you consciously visualize the exact situations you want to experience in reality. I will explain this method to you in more detail below…)
Each of these methods has a very positive effect on your life if you use them regularly. A combination of different exercises further enhances this effect.
The latter is particularly suitable if you want to achieve your goals or change certain behaviors…
What can I use mental training for?
The application possibilities for Mental Training are almost unlimited, so I will give you only a few examples here:
- in sports: improve your sporting performance or your chances of winning
more self-confidence and inner strength: see yourself appearing strong and self-confident in different situations.
- against stress: since mental training is a relaxation method, it automatically works against stress, virtually as a side effect
- of overcoming fears: in psychotherapy, mental training is used to reduce fears
to lose weight.
- against stage fright: train the perfect appearance or a successful presentation in your mental image.
- to support your health: many illnesses are psychosomatic, i.e. they originate in your head and can therefore be influenced mentally.
- learn to think positively: in all mental exercises, you concentrate on positive results and thus automatically draw more happiness and joy into your life.
- better relationships: your behavior always influences the people around you.
- for children: children have a great imagination, which they can positively use for themselves. The earlier children learn to actively relax and to recharge their batteries with strength and joy, the better.
These are just a few examples. Once you start using mental training, you will surely get many more ideas about what you can improve or achieve with it.
You (client) need:
yourself, your head, and a little bit of peace (at least in the beginning, later you can take the mental pictures even in the middle of a crowded subway or during a meeting at the office).
In the beginning, I recommend 15 – 30 minutes daily, so that you feel an effect after 2-3 weeks you will notice that you can call up the mental images in 5 minutes – but then the relaxation effect is missing, which is why I recommend you to keep the 10 to 15 minutes daily (more is always possible, of course)
- sit down comfortably (please do not sit TOO comfortably and do not lie down, otherwise, you might fall asleep)
- close your eyes and consciously take three deep breaths in and out.
- now imagine a concrete situation, which is exactly the way you want it to be.
- make the pictures as clear and vivid as possible.
- pay attention to the details: Where are you? Who else is there? How is the light? What is your position? What are you looking at? What do you hear? What do you feel? How exactly do you react?
- see yourself acting exactly the way you want to – the more real and vivid the images in your imagination are, the more effective they are…
- try to switch off your “inner critic” who wants to tell you that you will never reach this situation – it’s all about your wish now and NOT about reality! Be aware of this again and again…
Pay attention if you see your mental situation from the ego-perspective (= associated, i.e. you don’t see yourself, but would only see your feet when looking down) or if you see yourself as if you were in a movie (= dissociated)
Try both variants and feel when you have stronger emotions – this method is more effective for you.
No matter for which situations you apply these mental images – you will notice enormous changes in your life after 2-3 weeks.
Just like in a football match, of course, you don’t win by mental preparation in the cabin alone. You have to go out on the pitch and compete if you want to score a goal.
That is to say:
It’s no good sitting on your sofa visualizing forever. No matter what you want to achieve, you have to do it and not just dream about it.
The mental training prepares you optimally for it and ensures that you reach your mentally imagined goals more easily and faster. And it also ensures that you are more motivated to get into action and tackle your plans. But then you have to get yourself in motion!
The art of mental training: Daniel Gonzalez
Lars Leinhard, training begins in the brain