What is the Full Contact Living Experience?
Putting what I teach into ‘words’ is difficult. The reason for this, is that it has to be experienced in action through the body, rather than only intellectually. In FCL training, the experience comes first, rationalisation later. In simple terms, I teach participants how to Hack their Embodied-Interface so they can perform at their best in life and career. You could call it ‘mental game’ training — but that falls short of what it truly encompasses — a better way to describe it, is embodied mind performance training.
FCL comprises of somatic drills and sequences, where ‘embodiment’ takes center stage. In this sense, it implies the representation or expression of a specific mindbody experience, made concrete in tangible form arising from a person’s body itself. For example, when you feel the inner shift from distraction to focus — not only can you mentally recognise this shift in your mind, but throughout your whole body — it is in other words an embodied experience.
To achieve this experience of ‘embodiment’ — accessible boxing drills are taught — that are accompanied by purposeful attunement to one’s inner experience. Participants execute a specific movement drill, and are then asked post drill, to reflect on their inner experiences that they just had. For example, in one drill participants may be asked to attempt to predict where a target will be prior to hitting it. On the other end of this drill, there is a person holding pads, who doesn’t tell the person who is required to hit, where the target will end up. After several attempts doing this drill participants are asked “how successful were they in trying to predict where the target would end up?” In a follow-up drill participants are asked to do the same, but this time to be mindful, by focusing rather on their breath, not trying to predict where the pad will end up, and simply allow their body to make the decisions for them. Again, after several tries at this drill, participants are asked once again “how well they were able to connect with the pad — especially in light of the fact that this time, they were not trying to predict where it would end up?”
As simple as this somatic self-awareness drill sounds, it highlights how difficult it is to predict the future of something that is outside of our control. In this case the person flashing the pad. We have no idea before hand, no matter how well we try to predict, if the pad holder will flash high, low, to the side, etc (in other words, we do not have access to another persons decision making capacity in the moment they decide). If we take this idea out of the drill and into life, it highlights how much of our daily life is spent trying to predict a future that hasn’t happened yet. While setting goals is great, and even necessary at times to succeed in life — trying to ‘predict’ in a peak performance environment can often mean disaster — as decisions have to be automatic, and in the moment. What I teach participants through this and many other drills is that it is not that our ‘thinking’ is inherently bad, but rather where we place our focus that often gets us into trouble. Part of the FCL Experience is to not only teach participants how to be aware of their thinking patterns, but equally how thinking more productively can help them achieve greater success in their life (and careers).
Secondly and crucially, we spend a lot of time in the FCL Experience falsifying the claim that mind and body are separate. Ever since René Descartes, in the seventeenth century, separated the mind from what the body does (dualism) — we have, in the West, remained largely dominated by the idea that our mind is distinct — and functions independently from our body. We have as Aposhyan in Natural Intelligence noted, for centuries reduced the experience of our body to a mechanical one. A dancer, a martial artist, all know this not to be true. When I work with clients it is clear however that this way of ‘thinking’ has become so pervasive in modern societies — that even the realisation that this separation has occurred in our schools, organisations and the way we live, is so unconscious — it takes time to change people’s embodied attitude towards it.
Not to get to technical, because I really wanted to keep this piece accessible, but as George Lakoff and Rafeal Núñez explain,
“Cognitive science calls this entire philosophical worldview into serious question on empirical grounds… [the mind] arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences. This is not just the innocuous and obvious claim that we need a body to reason; rather, it is the striking claim that the very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment… Thus, to understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding.”
By the end of the FCL Experience participants begin to view their mind and body not as separate, but one. How a person expresses their body, changes their mind, as much as the way they apply their mind affects their body. In other words, mindbody are connected — on a constant feedback loop — with one being informed by the other, both by the external world as well as the internal one. It sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. In the FCL Experience, and through using the body in movement as a teaching tool, everyone can feel the embodied shifts I am talking about, as they occur inside their bodymind — mindbody.
As Lakoff and Núñez further note:
“What exactly does this mean? It means that our cognition isn’t confined to our cortices. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world. This is why we say that something is “over our heads” to express the idea that we do not understand; we are drawing upon the physical inability to not see something over our heads and the mental feeling of uncertainty. Or why we understand warmth with affection; as infants and children the subjective judgment of affection almost always corresponded with the sensation of warmth, thus giving way to metaphors such as “I’m warming up to her.”
What really is the end goal of FCL then? My goal is to teach participants how to excel in high performance environments. This can be in an everyday event like standing up in front of people and having to talk in a meeting, or a potential life ending experience in the case of a Special Force Operator, where every move he makes could be his last.