Episode 97: Training Tiger Woods

A few days before we recorded this episode, I watched the final few holes of the final round of the Masters golf tournament. As I watched, I found myself thinking that what was most notable about this year's tournament was the absence of Tiger Woods. Tiger burst into the world's consciousness back in 1997 with his performance at the Masters, his first Masters as a professional, when we won by a still-astonishing twelve strokes. He quickly established himself as the most dominant golfer in the world. It seemed there was nothing he couldn't do on the golf course.

By the summer of 2015, his dominance was long over. His numerous marital infidelities came to public awareness in 2010, and years of overtraining had led to serious injuries and multiple surgeries. But he remained the most charismatic golfer on the tour, and I was hardly alone in wondering if he'd be able to return to the level of golf he had once played. That summer, I watched his play with interest. He kept missing the cut at major tournaments, and his body language said that he quite evidently hated being out on the course. And yet, in his press conferences, he would say only positive things. I wondered: is he lying to us, or to himself as well?

I'd been working with Jerry for about a year at that point, and I could certainly recognize someone whose energy was out of alignment. I found myself thinking, "I bet Jerry could help him."

That thought led to an idea which led to a project that we called "Training Tiger Woods." Jerry and I worked from the hypothesis that we could use the flow techniques that Jerry taught in order to coach ourselves and each other in golf. If the flow practices that we used had positive results in our own golf games, then surely those same techniques would be able to help Tiger regain his flow as well.

We pursued the TTW project for about a year-and-a-half, and the results were very good. We both improved substantially as golfers, and we learned a great deal about how to put flow into practice in other areas of our lives as well.

In watching the Masters this year and noticing the profound hole in the game caused by Tiger's absence, I felt inspired to talk about the TTW project here on the podcast, and that led to the conversation in this episode. There is some very useful information here about putting flow into practice. We hope you enjoy it.

If you're interested in exploring the Training Tiger Woods project, you can find our writings here.

Episode 96: Transitions

Earlier this spring, I was facing a few major transitions. The end of ski season meant I'd soon be out of a job, which meant both that my daily patterns would change and also that I would need to figure out how I was going to spend the skiing off-season. I was also going to be moving to a new house, which was exciting--I really liked the new space--but was surely going to be a lot of work and a substantial disruption. In short, just about everything in my day-to-day life was going to be changing. And that led me to ask: from an energetic perspective, how could I navigate this transition phase as skillfully as possible?

As I reflected on this question, it occurred to me that, over the past seven years since I started working with Jerry and made the path of change and growth a constant in my life, my life had regularly oscillated between relative stability and times of transition. It struck me that maybe this was a model for how the growth path works, that you alternate between periods of transition and periods of relative stability, and that those periods of relative stability perhaps serve as times for consolidation and integration.

Exploring that model guided the conversation you'll be hearing this week. How do we navigate these different spaces as skillfully as possible? How do we thrive during transition periods rather than get stuck in the stress of major disruption? How do we thrive during our periods of stability, rather than sink into stagnation?

I believe we find our way to some really interesting and helpful material in this episode. I hope you agree.

Episode 95: Dealing with Persistent Blocks

Sometimes we find ourselves deeply blocked about things we know we really should do. When that happens, what do we do? How do we deal with blocks that seem to persist in our behavior despite strong intentions, that seem to defy our willpower? How do we move past blocks like that?

Moving past those blocks is the topic of this episode. We talk about finding these blocks in the body, and how we use flow practice to move the energy that's stuck there. We talk about the ways that an embodied practice, while necessary, isn't on its own suffificent to defeat these blocks. We talk about how we ultimately have to meet these blocks through behavioral changes as well, discuss the sorts of plans of action that we might use to change the stuck behvior, and how we then use our flow practice to support and inform the plan and the intended change.

Episode 94: Cancel Culture as a Lens on Resistance to Change

A few weeks ago, Jerry reached out and said that he wanted to do an episode on cancel culture, that he thought there were aspects about that debate that are relevant to the work we do. In his view, the debate around cancel culture was not a demand for change on the one side and desire for the status quo on the other, but rather a form of resistance on both sides. He felt those of us who desire change needed a "third way" approach, something different from the extremes that are currently dominating the debate. It is looking for that third way that drives our conversation in this episode.

Here is the diagram by Prochaska and DiClemente that Jerry references in this epiosde:
Process of Change by Prochaska and DiClemente

Episode 93: Jenn Cullom on the Value of Therapy

Therapist and friend of the show Jenn Cullom reached out after Jerry and I spoke of our reservations about therapy in a couple of episodes earlier this year. She felt our characterizations about therapy were narrow and not very accurate. So we invited her onto the show to talk about what she saw as our misconceptions and to speak to the benefits that therapy can offer.

Episode 92: On Skillfully Meeting the Discomfort of Change

The process of change isn't comfortable. Our comfort zone is the place we already are, and to change ourselves requires leaving that comfort zone.

In this episode, we talk about some areas in which Benjamin has seen his practices begin to come to fruition, and the feelings of discomfort that accompanied those practices along the way. We discuss whether it might be possible to learn to embrace the discomfort, to welcome it as a necessary step. We offer means to meet the discomfort more skillfully, so that we can move more readily into the change we seek.

Episode 91: Calling in Hope at the Vernal Equinox (A Better Story)

It's our second COVID spring, but this year at the equinox, there is reason to feel hope for the new world that we are building. The vernal equinox is a good time to reflect on hope: springtime, after all, is a time for renewal, rebirth, the planting of seeds. In this episode, Benjamin speaks of the seeds of hope he is planting for the months ahead, and asks you to consider what seeds you wish to see sprout in your own lives.

Episode 90: Jerry Got His First Vaccine Shot

Jerry got his first vaccine shot and found that it brought up a lot of interesting feelings. We start our conversation this week by talking about those feelings, and from there range into topics as varied as our responsibilities to others, the way two different cultural responses to COVID seem to be entrenching, and even the argument for a higher minimum wage.

Episode 89: RPE, Recovery, and the Intent to Thrive

In this episode, we revisit the practice of RPE, with particular attention towards what we should do when the experiences of our lives take us beyond the zone of moderation into levels of stress that lead to detriment, an experience many (all?) of us have lived over and over again--if not constantly--over the past year. We've spoken a lot over the past couple of months about thriving in the new world in which we find ourselves, and in this episode we speak very directly about how the practice of RPE will help us to do so, how we recover when we find ourselves beyond the zone of moderation, and how awareness of our experience in the present moment will (or at least should) dictate our responses to that moment and, more broadly, how we live our lives.

We also touch on some of the topics that arose in Benjamin's "Bottom Line" episodes of a few weeks back, and Benjamin takes a moment to speak his feelings on Texas Governor Greg Abbott's decision to end the mask mandate in his state.

Episode 88: COVID Aftereffects, Both Personal and Social

The impending anniversary of the COVID Zero Day, March 12th, got me thinking that it's been a while since I talked about my personal, physical experience as a COVID survivor. That day, when everything changed for all of us together, was also the day that everything began to change for me on a more personal level, as it was the day that the symptoms of what turned out to be COVID began to seriously affect me. It's now been almost a year, COVID still appears to be having ramifications on my health, and I can't help but wonder what the continued repercussions will be.

Jerry and I use my personal experience as the jumping off point for this week's conversation. We dive into the new reality of our world and the ways it affects health, wellness and fitness for all of us. We talk about how the continued unfolding of the pandemic is demanding lifestyle and outlook changes for all of us. Finally, we talk about how that understanding might lead us to treat ourselves and those around us better.