Maximiliaan Winkelhuis, July 2011
I would like to thank Mr. Gleave for producing such a clear article about the power of the mind. I really wish I would have written it myself. Yes, the power of the mind cannot be overestimated. It is inspiring to read how you used these non-physical techniques already in the late seventies.
I take the liberty of adding a few thoughts in the hope that it will be helpful for dancers to use their mind more. Working with the mind is an enjoyable and effective method. Richard Gleave’s description of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy belongs to the normal preparation of great dancers. Of great performers. Of great athletes. Of great movie stars. Of world leaders etc. Here will follow a description of a system that may help you to create your self-fulfilling prophecy effectively.
The first step is creating a tangible goal. These goals are of course connected to what you are practising in the weeks prior to the important competition. And your goal may differ from the goal of your dance partner. It will take you about six weeks to have the thought pattern so strongly accepted that it will help you even under competition stress. Therefore competitive dancers do wise to only use this technique for their five most important competitions a year.
Step two would be finding the exactly right words. Just like Richard Gleave describes. The goal must be realisable for the mind to accept the idea and then translate that into action. You must have control over that idea with your own body, your mind and your feelings. You do not have control over winning so you can forget that goal. And your selection of words is important: they need to be specific. For instance: my goal is to dance a dynamically strong tango.
The next step would be saying out loud your goal on a daily basis. Thinking about your goal does help you already but you will experience that saying it out loud will increase the power of the mind. Saying it out loud helps to make the thought pattern becoming “top of mind”.
At first, you may experience that the sentence comes out funny and unsure. After a while your system will start to accept the thoughts more and more and your voice will show that.
I normally advice my clients to have the location and the event in the opening of the sentence and add pleasure(!) in it. For instance: “At the European in Bonn I will enjoy sharing changing body rhythms with Tina.” You will hear if the sentence comes out naturally or not. If the voice keeps refusing this sentence – when it does not sound believable – then maybe your sentence is not fitting and you need to go back to Step 1 and Step 2.
Step four would be visualising your sentence. Creative visualisation is a pleasurable activity and you can do it at times where you would normally relax. Close your eyes. Dream it up for a few minutes. Create your own movie of the event in your mind. Stick to the controllables of your goal (not the winning of the event but in this case visualise you are having fun in creating and sharing the changing rhythms).
Step five is finding a key visual of your creative visualisation: find a symbol that represents all your desires, thoughts and feelings. For example: in the Bonn-case it could be captured in the picture of a python. Or a steam engine. Or Jennifer Lopez. Find such a picture and glue it on a card. Write your sentence at the back of the card. Look at each side of the card regularly. Put this card in the bag with your practice gear and bring the card to the big event. It will help you to stay focussed and to create your dream in the real on the important competition day.
It may seem a lot of work but realise that all these extra steps will help you in making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Step 1 and Step 2 mostly activate the left part of your brain. The other three steps stimulate the right half of your brain. And the more connections you make between the two parts of your brain, the more effective this work becomes.
So dancers make a good practice out of using the power of your mind. Use both your left and right brain. It is so effective and it brings you so much fun.
Maximiliaan Winkelhuis, author of the book “Dance to your maximum”