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Thought Control--Intro
by Grant Hansen

Welcome to Thought Control. Thought Control will focus on improving your mindset to give you the extra edge you need to perform to the best of your ability. Think about it: If you were to take the top ten BMX pros today, match them up according to speed and skill level, you'd find that there is little difference between any of them, whether it be John Purse, Danny Nelson, Thomas Allier, Christophe Leveque, Wade Bootes, Alan Foster, Greg Romero…any of these guys can win on any given day. So why is it that the same handful of guys keep winning while the others remain inconsistent?

The answer is simple: winners are more focused than their competitors. Period. Even if they don't possess the greatest snap, big style over table tops, or the smoothest line, they have the desire, dare I say the need, and the confidence to win.

OK, so how does one attain these attributes? Well, it's not like flicking on a light. You have to train your mind, just like you train your body. You don't need special programs; you don't need a personal advisor. All you need is yourself and the commitment for improvement. With the plethora of self-help programs and infomercials clogging up the airwaves, it's easy to go mental trying to clear your head. What you can expect to see in future Thought Control articles is a variety of mind exercises to help you with the following areas: concentration, focus, goal setting, preparation, relaxation, confidence, visualization, and motivation. All of these will help you to perform better on and off the track. Coupled with the proper training program, diet, and skills, you'll be a major force to contend with.

The following exercise is simple to try, but hard to master. It's a meditation technique to help you with your concentration. No, you don't need to be one with Buddha and the goal isn't to want nothing. The goal is to be able to clear your mind of all thought except for the one thing you're focusing on. I'm sure you're familiar with the "ohm" (pronounced like "home" minus the "h") repetition. You may have poked fun at one time and pretended to repeat this sound as if you were some spiritual yogi. Well, it works, but I'm going to offer a different cadence for you to repeat: "umm-sah."

The first thing you need to do is find a comfortable place to sit. This can be a chair, bed, or even the floor. You then have to pick a time of day when no one will disturb you. Turn the ringer off the phone and get ready to relax. Sitting comfortably, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. On each inhale, say "umm." You do not need to say this out loud. On each exhale, say "sah." Keep breathing at a normal rate, and repeat the cadence: "umm" on each inhale, "sah" on each exhale. Do this for 20 minutes a day. It sounds like a lot but the benefits are rewarding. The goal is to be able to do this for 20 minutes without any other thoughts popping into your head. If you can do that, then you can call yourself a mental master. It's not easy. As much as I do this, I still have a hard time-I wonder about lunch, about yesterday's race, about how silly I feel meditating. Another thing that can distract people is wondering if they have exceeded the 20-minute duration. A good way to wipe this thought away is to set an alarm clock-don't put the volume too loud because you want to come out of your meditation slowly. When you're done, take a few deep breaths, do some light stretching, and reflect on your performance.

I didn't pick this exercise as your first by accident. Concentration is essential if you want to master further exercises. Once you're able to concentrate, everything else will fall into place with practice.

Feel free to e-mail me with your progress or with any questions. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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