Using Sports Visualization Methods to Visualize Birth

For a few decades now, there has been a lot of research in the area of using visualization in sports to become a better and healthier athlete.  As part of their training, elite and amateur athletes commonly visualize the outcome they would like to achieve in their major sporting events.  They also visualize healthy muscles and bones; or for those athletes who have been injured, they mentally envision a healing process of the physical body.

For about a year now, I have been researching ways in which one could use these same methods as part of preparation in birth. I will be writing more about this topic, but wanted to share a recent article with my readers.  This article pertains to how one of the best athletes in Canada, Kate Allgood, has been using visualization throughout her athletic career.  Allgood also became a Sports Hypnotist so as to help other athletes learn the visualization process.

As in the case of sports, giving birth is a strong physical event that is connected to a mental state.  Strengthening connections between mind and body, beginning with visualizations of positive outcomes, could be just as helpful in improving bodies for birth as in optimizing them for sports.

Focus brings goals within reach

Sports hypnotist uses visualization to overcome mental blocks and increase stamina

Kate Allgood has been recognized as one of the best female athletes in Canada. She began her career in ice hockey at an early age, often competing against men, and winning. In order to maintain the mental fitness required for injury-free athletic performance, Allgood learned Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) to balance and restore muscles. She became a MAT specialist, then a certified sports hypnotist so she could help other athletes find their focus.

For her, sports hypnosis provided the means to block out all distractions, allowing her to concentrate on the physical precision and mental acuity needed to excel.

Identifying conscious and unconscious behaviors that impede or affect our fitness is the first step toward improving performance.

“We need to visualize our goals, mentally train for the changes ahead and consciously make the choice to modify our behavior for optimum result,” she said.

Sports hypnosis can help marathoners or triathletes who feel they have run into a wall in their abilities. Through hypnosis, runners can visualize the sights and sounds of running a marathon, including their own improved performance during that race. The next time they run, both mind and body will be able to recall this leap in ability.

Her clients at Balanced Bodyworks have included a Navy SEAL, a bodybuilding champion, recreational bikers, runners, golfers and yoga enthusiasts. She notes that well-known athletes like Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods have used sports hypnosis for visualization to “overcome mental blocks, focus on specific goals and increase energy levels and stamina,” Allgood said.

With some of her clients, she needs to make sure they understand hypnosis isn’t about swinging watches or making people do unnatural things they won’t remember later.

Allgood has tips for those who want to use visualization, whether through hypnosis or on their own:

• If you can visualize it, you can do it. For instance, if you are stuck riding a stationary bike at home or the gym, try visualizing you are riding through a forest or along the coast at sunset, or some place more enjoyable. It’s important to use as many senses as possible, Allgood said, so imagine the smells and sounds that go along with your mental picture as well. The more often you do this, repeating the same visualization, the easier it will become to transport yourself there.

• Accept yourself; set realistic goals. Allgood points out that failure is the mother of all setbacks. Start slowly, especially with a new exercise routine, and increase the goals incrementally with each success. This is where sports hypnosis can help a person become fully grounded in the present, including a realistic assessment of capabilities. Pushing toward improvement shouldn’t result in injuries or discouragement. She suggests picturing yourself doing bicep curls with light weights, focusing on proper form. Consider that every breath fills you with energy, warming your muscles. Remind yourself that it’s not about the amount of weight, but that you are taking care of your body and steadily increasing your program.

• Get rid of a bad habit before forming a new one. We all know the example of giving up junk food for a healthier diet. Allgood recommends picturing a buffet table of foods including cookies, nuts, chocolate candies and fruits. Imagine yourself picking up an apple and the raw nuts, passing on the processed sweets. She suggests imagining how healthy you feel both physically and mentally after eating these foods. Establishing positive habits and behaviors on the deepest level is possible with sports hypnosis because it taps into the subconscious mind, Allgood said. These positive habits will seem intuitive the next time.

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