Book Summary: The inner Game of Tennis- A Guide to Peak Performance

By James Razko

In this book summary of The Inner Game of Tennis, you will learn

  • we all have two selves, our conscious (ego) self, and non-conscious (egoless) self,
  • how these two minds are simultaneously competing and cooperating for cognitive space,
  • how quieting your self-talk will help you reach peak performance,
  • and how to acquire new skills and perform effortlessly.

Book summary:

The Inner Game of Tennis, Timothy Gallwey

The Two Selves

  • Self-1 is the “teller,” Our (ego) conscious mind.
  • Self-2 is the “doer,” Our (egoless) non-conscious mind.
  • Self-1 does not trust self 2.
  • Self-2 holds all the potential for learning and peak performance.
  • Self-1 judges and instructs.
  • Self-2 learns and does effortlessly.
  • Self-1 must be quiet for peak performance.
  • Self-2 does not need orders.

Peak Performance

To visualize peak performance, imagine a lioness ready to pounce on a gazelle; she is not thinking about how far she needs to jump, if her footing is correct, or what to do if not successful. The lioness is fully absorbed in the moment and is letting intuition and the gut guide her movements. This is peak performance.

In The Inner Game of Tennis, Gallwey mentions Dr. Abraham Maslow, a renowned positive psychologist, who reports feelings of peak experiences to be,

“He feels more integrated” [the two selves are one],
“feels at one with the experience,”
“is relatively egoless” [quiet mind],
“feels at the peak of his powers,”
“fully functioning,”
“is in the groove,”
“effortless,”
“free of blocks, inhibitions, cautions, fears, doubts, controls, reservations, self-criticisms, brakes,”
“he is spontaneous and more creative,”
“is most here-now,”
“is non-striving, non-needing, non-wishing … he just is.”

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis

Embrace Natural Learning

The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis

We were born to learn, it’s in humanity’s DNA, and adults often forget this.

Children are the epitome of humanity’s innate ability to learn; they learn effortlessly. While you may no longer be a child, adults can learn effortlessly too.

Our minds remain plastic from childhoods to adulthood.

Trust the body to learn by itself without instruction, and it will outdo your expectations.

Power Of Visualization

Reliance on language hinders your bodies natural memory. Think about riding a bike; you don’t need to shout instructions at yourself to ride a bike. Your body remembers.

Self-2 learns visually.

And, when learning, it is essential to visualize how to do the task and carefully observe others who are already proficient in it. If you do not have a professional to model yourself after, YouTube is a great resource.

Self 2 needs accurate images to learn. The more precise, the easier self-2 will learn.

Treat self-2 the way you would treat a child. Let it make mistakes and learn on its own. As with children, there is no need to judge.

Stop Judgmental Self Talk

When the mind is free of any thought or judgment, it is still and acts like a mirror. Then and only then can we know things as they are.

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis

Your focus is a limited supply, and if you are judging yourself, valuable cognitive space is taken away from self-2 “the doer.”

By observing without judgment, you will see yourself clearly. This type of observation helps to learn and enhances focus.

In particular, while evaluating performance use descriptive words and avoid judgmental words.

Remember, it is impossible to judge one’s actions as good without judging the others as less good or bad. You can, however, acknowledge strengths to encourage natural learning.

Repeat Repeat Repeat…

Repetition is fundamental to learning and peak performance. Every time you repeat an action, an imprint remains in your body and mind, The more imprints the easy that work becomes.

How to learn naturally in 5 steps:

  1. observe your current behavior without judging,
  2. visualize what you are going to do,
  3. trust self your non-conscious self,
  4. observe your results without judgment,
  5. focus the mind to be in the present

And, Repeat.

Teaching

An instructor should be a guide, not a teacher.

No matter how detailed the verbal instruction may be, you must experience it for yourself to learn it.

The saying of an old master is pertinent here: “No teacher is greater than one’s own experience.

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis

How to Change Habits with Natural Learning

To change habits:

A child doesn’t have to break the habit of crawling, because he doesn’t think he has a habit. He simply leaves it as he finds walking an easier way to get around.

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis

The Art of Relaxed Concentration

Relaxed concentration is the supreme art because no art can be achieved without it, while with it, much can be achieved.

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis

Focus occurs when the mind is interested.

To focus for extended periods, take in small details of the things you are working with.

For example, focusing on tiny details, like the seams of a ball while playing tennis will help you stay present and maintain focus.

The only way to learn to focus is, whenever the mind drifts of the task, gently and without judgment, bring it back to focus— and repeat.

Winning vs. Goals vs. Process

The experience of overcoming an obstacle is more valuable than reaching a goal or winning.

True competition is cooperation. For this reason, In this “pure” game, both sides try their hardest to defeat one another.

In pure competition, both parties benefit.

The difference between being concerned about winning and being concerned about making the effort to win may seem subtle, but in the effect there is a great difference.

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis

Actionable Tip from The Inner Game of Tennis

Role-playing can instantly increase performance, so pretend you are a professional. By “acting” as a professional, you will be more likely to perform like one.

Summary

To win the inner game, you must:

  • clearly visualize your desired outcome,
  • trust self 2 to both learn and do,
  • practice and play without judgment,
  • and, develop relaxed concentration

If you enjoyed this book summary of The Inner Game of Tennis, I highly recommend you Read the original book. Click Here to pick up a copy.


Compliment this book summary of The Inner Game of Tennis with:

Book Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear
Tap Into your Reticular Activating System to Accomplish More Goals
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Book Summary: Free Will by Sam Harris

Meditation and Creativity: What Style of Meditation is Best

By James Razko

Can meditation be used to boost creativity?

You’ve probably already guessed the answer to the rhetorical question above, but first, let’s go over what we know meditation already does. Meditation reduces stress, helps control anxiety, increases self-awareness, sharpens attention, improves sleep, decrease blood pressure, and helps manage pain. And, according to several studies like this one, one form of meditation also increases creativity.

Importantly, research also shows you do not need to be an experienced meditator to reap the creative rewards.

The Two Kinds of Meditation

Focused-attention and open-monitoring are the two kinds of mindfulness meditation, and when it comes to boosting creativity, the latter is the queen.

Open-monitoring vs. focused-attention

  • Open-monitoring meditation is a form of meditation where you let the entirety of conscious experience unfold while you observe it without judgments.
  • Focused-attention meditation trains the mind to focus on one thing, like the breath or a mantra and excludes all other stimuli besides that one point of focus.
  • Both of these forms of meditation reduce activation of the brain’s default mode network. This network is responsible for your sense of self, sense of others, remembering the past, imagining the future, and contemplating social situations— otherwise known as daydreaming.

How it works

Open-monitoring meditation loosens your minds metaphorical safety belt and allows non-related thoughts to bubble and mash together, forming them into something new. This state of mind boosts creativity by enhancing divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is a process of producing as many possible solutions to one problem as you can.

For example, Try to imagine how many ways can you use a paintbrush? The more answers you can come up with, the more creative you likely are.

Why You Should Practice Both Forms of Meditation

In light of open-monitoring meditation’s potential to increase creativity, It may be tempting, especially if you are in a creative field, to never try focused-attention meditation or to favor the latter. However, it’s in your best interest to use both. The unique kind of mindfulness that focused-attention meditation gives you is crucial to thriving in today’s ultra distracted world of smartphones. Learning to focus on one task is an essential tool, especially after creative insights.

Try to use open-monitoring before creative work and focused-attention when you need to complete a task. And sometimes mix it up, so you don’t get stuck in a rut; the creative mind thrives on diversity.

How to Meditate Using Open-monitoring

A quick guide to Meditate Using Open-Awareness:

  • sit down comfortably.
  • Close or keep your eyes open— closing your eyes helps to focus on thoughts instead of external stimuli.
  • To start, expand your awareness to be as wide as possible and observe all the sights, sounds, feelings, and thoughts as they appear in consciousness.
  • Importantly, observe all this without judgment.
  • And, when you find your judging or thinking about one thing, gently bring your mind back to open awareness.
  • Start with 3 minutes and work your way up in time gradually.
  • Repeat.

Well, that’s all there is to it. It is a simple practice, but it requires one ingredient— practice.

Also, you can practice open-monitoring meditation doing anything. For example, you can practice right know as you read this sentence, by noticing the words, your thoughts arising concerning these words, how your eyes feel staring at the screen, the ambient noises in the room and whatever else, all without judgment, even if this sentence has gotten kind of long.

This kind of nonjudgmental thinking also facilitates peak performance by quieting your ego and letting you non-conscious self perform complex tasks.

Consider adding open-monitoring meditation to your creative toolbox to reap the rewards of a messy, but creative mind.


Compliment this read with:
-Why Does Surfing Instagram and Mediation Feel the Same:Who’s Driving my Consciousness Bus?
-How to Use Feedback to be More Self-Aware: Becoming a Truth Shaman

Reach Your Full Potential and Conquer Fear: Wipe the Mirror to a More Actualized Self

By James Razko

We all dream of becoming our best self, however, only a few dare to reach their full potential. In positive psychology, this is known as self-actualization. It is the peak of one person’s human development. When you are fully actualized, you are entirely human and completely alive.

How to Reveal Your Best Self

First, you must know who you want to be. And, nobody but you knows this answer. For nearly everyone, this answer sits on the surface of their conscious mind, buried under several layers of fear.

The fastest way to dig through the fear and unearth who you want to be is to ask yourself a scary question. Ask, if I only had five years to live, what would I want to do with that time. As the fear of death has a way of crystallizing things, you will know who you desire to be.

Let’s call this crystallized self, you 2.0. Once visualized, you 2.0 sits in your mind’s eye like a foggy mirror. You can see the new you, only not entirely. The fog is your fear of change.

The next step is to defog the mirror and begin moving towards your full potential. As you know, no matter how many times you wipe a foggy mirror, the fog always returns. And so no matter how many times you try to defog this mirror with mental gymnastics, it will become foggy again. The fear will return.

How to Reach Your Full Potential

You need to stop mentally wiping the mirror and change what it is in your life that is causing the fog in the first place.

Let’s use a bathroom mirror as a metaphor. If the mirror becomes foggy, the simplest solution is to open a window. And, like the bathroom window, you need to release your fear to reach your full potential.

To open your window and reveal your best self, you will likely need to do hard things like ending a bad relationship, quitting your job,pursuing your dream of being an artist, or finally writing that book. It’s not always easy to get the window open, but if you push hard enough, it will budge, and the fear will float away, and you will see your best self emerge from the mist.

Find your window and open it to reach towards your full potential.


Compliment this read with: How to Use Feedback to be More Self-Aware: Becoming a Truth Shaman

Why Does Surfing Instagram and Mediation Feel the Same:Who’s Driving my Consciousness Bus?

By James Razko

Lately, I’ve been considering what it means to be present.

When meditating, this answer seems clear. Being present is not being lost in thought, but being in the here and now. It’s a special kind of focus, where our brain’s default mode network shuts off, and we enter a state of flow. I do my best work in these moments, and often it brings a welcomed feeling of contentment.

Also, and oddly, when on social media and in particular Instagram, I often feel a very similar experience. I can get lost looking at just about anything oddly-satisfying, especially (for reasons unknown to me) people fishing. I don’t fish…

In these moments, I am entirely absorbed, watching person after person catch fish after fish. I usually feel bad for the fish, but my mind effortlessly quiets, and my thumb moves. This can easily last 10 minutes and often feels like 1. Is this a state of flow? Probably.

Who’s Driving The Bus?

But, what is this? Where am I? I’m certainly not in my body or my environment. I’m in a digital ether, that is feeding me a series of posts and ads. The point is the ads.

My presence of mind, although fully present has been hijacked.
Instagram is in no small extent driving my conscious bus, and I ’m along for the ride. It’s intoxicating like any flow state, and it’s in my pocket.

Like many, I find myself riding the bus often, even when I’m on the toilet and especially when I’m waiting in line. More and more often, I’m jumping on the bus. I also find the bus driver calling my name throughout the day. Each notification, pulling me back onto the bus. And the fact that all my friends are with me, only makes me want to ride the bus more. The problem is, there is no destination.

I am having trouble reconciling the fact that the act of mediation (when going well) and watching fish videos feel so similar. Perhaps even under an MRI, they might look the same.

But are they? While lost looking at a fish video, I’m not attending to my dreams, desires, hopes, goals or even my safety. How many people have been hit by cars while absorbed on their phone? The bitter truth is, I’m not doing much of anything worthwhile, and the most ironic part is, I’m not even socializing.

What Can We Do?

IMO, we should drop the social from social-media. After all, how social is it? A more accurate name would be attention-media. Ultimately, that’s what we’re giving away.

Although meditating and scrolling though fish videos may feel the same, they are two very different acts. One is working to gain awareness, and the other is relinquishing it.

Perhaps with this in mind, we should let the bus pass us more often and take a walk. After all, we will see more.


Compliment this read with: Book Summary: Free Will by Sam Harris

How to Use Feedback to be More Self-Aware: Becoming a Truth Shaman

Honest feedback is in short supply. Mostly because, anyone that likes you, including yourself, lies all the time. Nobody wants to hurt your feelings. And this lack of feedback is keeping you from being your best self.

To live more actualized and self-aware you will need to uncover some uncomfortable truths about yourself. To do this, you first need to know who you want to be and who you are. And then unfiltered feedback will give you actionable answers.

How to Get Decent Feedback:

The first and most challenging step is, to be honest with yourself. If you can’t do this, receiving feedback will do nothing. You will likely brush the feedback off as wrong; after all, you ‘think’ you know who you are.

To be honest with yourself, take inspiration from the first page of AA. Admit your lack of self-awareness. In fact, admit you are delusional– we all are. Knowing this truth is the first giant leap towards self-awareness.

After you have conquered this major obstacle, the work can begin. The next step is to observe who you are in this moment. This will not be easy. Without judgment, ask who you are. Not who you think you are or who you want to be, but who you are in this moment. You might not like the answers, and that’s good. This exercise is not intended to discover negative things about yourself. This as a quest for self-improvement and honesty.

Ask questions like: Is my life organized? Do I regularly give love? Am I fulfilled? Keep going until you’ve exhausted all the possibilities. Look at yourself with a stranger’s eyes. Write all your answers down.

After you’ve done this, ask what are my values, passions, and aspirations? Write these down. And finally compare and contrast who you want to be, with who you are. By comparing and contrasting you will gain actionable feedback. It is a simple but powerful exercise.

Take this a step further by setting aside a few minutes every day to perform the above compare and contrast between who you want to be and who you are. This should be a continuous practice, performed as often as you can. Schedule it on your calendar.

Self-awareness is salvation, and you can be your own truth-shaman.

Summary

  • Most people are not very aware of who they are and who they want to be.
  • The first step to becoming more self-aware is to admit the above.
  • After the first step Self-awareness can be gained by creating and comparing a list of who you are in this moment vs. who you want to be.
  • Make this comparison often.

Compliment this read with: Free Will? Book Summary: Free Will by Sam Harris

Take the Alarm Out of Alarm-Clock and Improve Sleep

By James Razko

Sleep is a necessity like food, water, and air. Despite what you may be tempted to believe– you can’t live without it. In fact, the CDC considers sleep deprivation to be an epidemic.

A sleep epidemic?

That’s right. Without adequate rest your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and ultimately death increase dramatically. And, besides shortening your life span, lack of sleep also deprives you of the ability to concentrate, decreasing performance for the entire day.

If you are looking to live longer and be a better you, make sleep a priority. One way to begin Is by taking the alarm out of alarm-clock.

Why You Should Stop Using Your Alarm Clock

Waking up with an ALARM is a horrible idea and an unfortunate consequence of modern living. Our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t use alarms, and when they were awoken suddenly, it was likely to avoid danger.

Waking up with alarm-clock is precisely what it sounds like- an alarm. Alarm is defined by Google as “an anxious awareness of danger.” This is not how you want to start your day. So, trade you alarm clock for a wake-up clock.

To avoid being jolted out of bed, and initiating your flight or flight response, wake up with a wake-up clock like the sun instead. If you are a night owl, wake up with a man-made wake-up clock that uses light.

Do this swap, and you will ease yourself out of bed, feel less tired, be in a better mood, and be more likely to complete your last sleep cycle fully.

If you absolutely need sound to awake, many light clocks have considered noises (like birds chirping) that gently increase with the light to wake you up. Also, there are probably a few apps that do something similar. These apps, however, don’t have a light and light is what signals to your brain–wake up.

Tips to Improve Sleep Quality

  • Go outside early and get some sun. Sun exposure helps regulate Circadian rhythm. Also, it provides Vitamin D an essential hormone that much of the population is deficient in.
  • Exercise, it makes you tired, stronger and smarter.
  • Have more sex, it’s exercise, makes you happy, and releases hormones that make you sleepy.
  • Consume less caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Remove all the blue lights in your bedroom. Blue light signals to your Paleolithic self– Day.
  • Use back out curtains if you live in a city. Even small amounts of light interrupt sleep.
  • On all devices make sure night mode is turned on. Also, if your reading on a device before bed, you can change the entire color of your screen to red. On the iPhone, this can be found by navigating to Settings, General, Accessibility, Display Accommodations, Color Filters.
  • Take it one step further and look silly but feel smart by wearing blue light blocking glasses after sunset.

Summary

  • The sun sets the rhythm of the planet, and we evolved to wake up along with it.
  • Waking from noise signals our flight or flight response.
  • Exchange your ALARM clock for a wake-up clock. Use either the sun, a wake-up light, or a gentle wake-up noise like birds chirping.

Compliment this read with: Tap Into Your Reticular Activating System to Accomplish More Goals

How to Craft Playlists to Induce Flow and Enhance Performance

By James Razko

Music can induce sadness, happiness, excitement, trances, and prepare you for battle. It’s ancient, and it’s powerful. Are you treating music with the respect it deserves?

Visit any good church, retail store, restaurant, party or sporting event, and you will notice a carefully curated playlist to get you in the mood. Preachers, marketers, coaches, and politicians regularly harness the power of music.

Why then, when performing essential tasks like work, would you casually listen to music on shuffle or let an algorithm curate your playlist.

New music, skipping unwanted songs, the wrong kind of songs, and random playlists are all stealing your attention, corrupting your focus and may be inducing inappropriate emotional states. Every time your brain wonders off task, the quality of your work suffers.

Instead, create playlists to optimize the bits of your life that require focus. Working out, working, studying, and meditation are all great places to begin. Use music like the performance enhancing drug it can be. Your music selection should reflect the seriousness of these practices.

Music when thoughtfully chosen can prime your mind, enhance set and setting and increase performance.

Crafting a Playlist

For example, a simple playlist for work:

  • Start with a motivating song, like “We Will Rock You” by Queen for inspiration and energy.
  • Then, move on to a long series of instrumental songs for deep-work.
  • And at the end of the workday, have a relaxing song to unwind.

You can make more elaborate playlists by including songs for breaks and other distinct segments inside your workday.

Importantly, whatever playlist you design, listen to it until it completely wears out. The more it’s repeated, the less it will distract you. Also, using the same playlist over and over will train your mind. For instance, the motivation song cues the start of your workday; the concentration music signals focus and induces flow; and the end of workday song cues relaxation.

Save music discovery and casual listening for times when you can focus on the music itself, or when the stakes are low. Pay music the respect it deserves, and it will be the performance-enhancing drug it can be.


Compliment this read with: Book Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear

How to Stop Irrational Thought Patterns

By James Razko

Inside your mind, a constant war rages, and the winner gets the keys to your consciousness. The two combatants, your rational self and irrational/emotional self, are always in flux, vying for control. And, more often than not, your irrational self is winning.

For our prehistoric ancestors, big kitties were regularly trying to eat them, and food wasn’t found in a grocery store. A lot of amygdala induced thoughts (emotional thinking) served them well. They survived. Today, despite what the news is telling you, you are mostly safe, and for many of us, food is everywhere. We don’t need to hold on to this ancestral survival mechanism.

At the moment, many irrational/emotional decisions have unwanted consequences. For example; Overeating will kill you, fighting will land you in jail, running from a mouse might get you hit by a car, and cheating on your spouse might ruin your family. And so the scale has tipped, and as a species, we are out of cognitive balance.

So how do you tip the scale and regain equilibrium not just to survive but thrive? The answer– be more rational.

With this in mind, It can be easy to think that the rational side should always be driving. However, both are necessary. Take for example the moon landing, using an unbelievable amount of resources, both natural and human to step on a giant floating and barren rock, isn’t wholly rational.

So, being irrational sometimes can be good. But not for most of your day. What you need to do is pass the keys over to your rational mind and let the irrational you sit shotgun, to peek out when it’s actually necessary.

How do you do it?

It can be as easy as asking yourself a simple question.

Ask– is this what I really want for myself? If the answer is no, then your irrational self was driving your consciousness actions.

You may say– I want to eat 20 chocolate chip cookies, but do you really want to? If you really really do, go ahead. But, If after some reflection you find you actually don’t want to, suspecting that your amygdala is up to its old tricks– dont eat 20 chocolate chip cookies.

Repeat these kinds of questions often enough, and you will gain a deeper level of self-awareness and soon find your rational self sitting in the driver’s seat more often.

Don’t wait, pass the keys.


Compliment this by reading with: Tap Into Your Reticular Activating System to Accomplish More Goals

Tap Into Your Reticular Activating System to Accomplish More Goals

By James Razko

You are equipped with a system in your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This network of neurons acts as a filter between your nonconscious mind and your conscious mind. What you feed you nonconscious self will dramatically affect your conscious life.

A typical example is: you want to buy a new car, let’s say a blue Subaru. Before you wanted this car, you never really noticed any blue Subarus on the road. Now that you want one, you see the car everywhere. This is your Reticular Activating System (RAS) in action.

When your nonconscious self deems that something is significant, it will devote more of your conscious attention to whatever that is. This same system lets you focus one conversation in a crowd of talking people.

This is powerful, as the things you pay attention to shape your reality, and this attention either helps you to achieve your desires or not.

How can you harness this power?

A simple way is to write down your intentions, also known as an implementation intention. This small act sends a signal to your nonconscious self that this is important to you.

Maybe this works so well because we have been trained by years of note-taking. After all, in school, you were taught to write down only the most important things. And given that most of us write much less, it may seem all the more critical when you do.

So write down the things that matter, and you will effortlessly begin devoting more attention to whatever it is. Doing so, Your chances of fulfilling that intention will increase.

You can make this more potent by creating a ritual around the note. Light a candle before you write it down and blow it out after you finished. Bury the note in your backyard. Try to make it meaningful, and your Reticular Activating System will hear you.


Compliment this by reading with:  Book Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Copy Your Way to Becoming a Master

Like everything in the universe, we are congealed stardust, and all of it is resting in the unknowable medium of space. In short, everything is interconnected.

With the previous statement in mind, apply this knowledge wholeheartedly to your work and life. Continually look for, consume and incorporating others’ ideas. And most importantly, let your mind shuffle that information around to create things you can call your own.

While collecting ideas, remember not to allow your ego and false beliefs of originality to muddle your mind. Instead, fill it with the enthusiasm of a child, until it erupts like a supernova.

Whatever work you choose to make, find your guiding stars and imitate; In the Renaissance, all great painters started in a workshop under a master. They learned to copy and eventually, moved on to start their own studio.

You may ask, what will separate you from your teachers and other students?

Do you remember your mother whispering in your ear- your special? She was right– it is your quirks (and quarks) that will make your work yours.

Be a disciple, to become a teacher.


Compliment this reading with: Reach Your Full Potential and Conquer Fear: Wipe the Mirror to a More Actualized Self