Meditation and Sport Performance: The Brain Always Wins

This week our guest writer will be Dr. John Sullivan, an elite level Clinical Sport Psychologist and Sport Scientist with over 20 years of clinical and scholarly experience. He has worked with teams in the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League and Premier League soccer / football coordinating clinical care and sport science. He is also an expert consultant for the military and law enforcement in regards to both welfare and performance. Dr. Sullivan has just recently released a book, website and podcast titled: The Brain Always Wins where he discusses topics related to meditation and athletic performance including the use of Muse to support and improve brain health. Some episodes of his podcast that relate to Muse include: Brain vs. Mind & Cognitive Training  and Emotions Run the Show in Sport and Life


Meditation and Sport Performance:  The Brain Always Wins

The discussion of meditation or mindfulness within sport is not novel, as there has been more written about this ancient practice in the last five years since transcendental meditation become popular in the 1960s and 1970s. What has become popular again brings with it a new in-depth scientific exploration (Cahn & Polich, 2009).  As a sport scientist and clinical sport psychologist, it is important to me that the science behind meditation matters, and I am always looking to protect a performer’s health and performance. Without protecting health and, more specifically, brain health long-term athletic development is significantly incomplete.

Chris Parker and I discuss in the book The Brain Always Wins that meditation has a long history and can easily be thought of as “wisdom of the village.” Modern-day researchers have brought wisdom from centuries ago to a place where we can objectively see the impact on brain health and performance.

 

The Brain Always Wins by Dr. John Sullivan

Muse technology has made the process of meditation practice more scientific, tangible and, in turn, approachable.

 

In The Brain Always Wins we discuss Muse, a meditation technology which uses the validated science of real-time electroencephalogram (EEG) technology which has delivered an opportunity to support and improve the brain health and performance in the following areas:

  • Increased energy management (Azam et al., 2016; Creswell, 2016; Tsai et al., 2014)
  • Cellular growth – brain growth (Esch, 2014; Fox et al., 2014; Kang et al., 2015; Luders et al., 2016; McEwen, 2016; Shaffer, 2016)
  • Brain capacity/function
    • Emotional regulation (Jazaieri et al., 2014; Seppälä et al., 2014; Teper et al., 2013)
    • Attention and decision making (Atchley et al., 2016; Colzato et al., 2015; Esch, 2014; Jo et al., 2016; Larson, 2013;
    • Stress Management/Autonomic Nervous System flexibility (Jerath et al., 2014; Kim et al., 2016; Ravinder et al., 2014; Subramanya & Telles, 2015)
  • Pain management (Azam et al., 2016; Esch et al., 2016)
  • Sport performance (Baltzell et al. 2014; Ford et al., 2016; Röthlin et al., 2016; Scott & Schutte, 2016)
  • Resilience and readiness (Alderman et al., 2016; Carter & Carter, 2016; Creswell & Lindsay, 2014; Esch, 2014)
  • Immune function (Carter & Carter, 2016; Fan et al., 2014)

Muse technology has made the process of meditation practice more scientific, tangible and, in turn, approachable. The information gained and ‘gamified’ allows the end user and sport scientist to guide and measure not only improvement but protection of brain health. Thus, the contemplative traditions of meditation aiming to bring the practitioner closer to self-actualization and enlightenment can do so – and that fits nicely with the goals of the sport environment which are based in health and performance, and which are also contemporary conceptualizations of advancing human potential.

In addition, we elaborate on the latest sciences in The Brain Always Wins – from applied brain sciences related to human performance and a training process, to discussions regarding maintenance of health and optimal performance that puts the brain first.

The brain is the ultimate frontier within sport performance; yet, in sport, change is often met with resistance due to its traditions. The brain sciences (re: psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science) have for decades now been answering the question of why the brain matters in sport – and this has been done with evidence rather than conjecture. However, most of us are at a disadvantage as we learn very little about the brain and its impact on our health and performance, even though it plays a part in every process in our lives.

Dr. John Sullivan at work

Our mission in writing The Brain Always Wins was to bridge the knowledge gap that most of us have with regard to brain health and performance, and to also highlight a training process and tools like Muse that contribute to health and optimal performance. Additionally, it was to support our military veterans who by their dedicated service often incur reduced aspects of brain health – in particular, we have learned a great deal from these individuals and hope to give back to them through efforts such as this book.

About the author

Dr. John Sullivan is a Sport Scientist and Clinical Sport Psychologist with over twenty years of clinical and scholarly experience.

He currently holds appointments within the National Football League (NFL), the English Premier League (EPL), the NCAA (Providence College, University of Rhode Island, Brown University), and the Military in the U.S.

Dr. Sullivan is also a visiting scholar and applied sport scientist at the Queensland Academy of Sport and Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

He is a frequent contributor writing on sport science and sports medicine and his latest efforts have focused on a series of books which distills the latest performance psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience, related to optimal brain performance and health entitled The Brain Always Wins.

 

Safilo and Interaxon Introduce SAFILOX Brain-sensing Eyewear Platform

Safilo and Interaxon Introduce SAFILOX Brain-sensing Eyewear Platform,
Helping Consumers Find Their
Flow” through Beautiful Designer Frames

Smith Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse™ to Help Athletes at All Levels
Enhance Their Performance and Cognitive Abilities

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – January 4, 2017 – Safilo Group, the fully integrated Italian eyewear creator and worldwide distributor of quality and trust, and Interaxon, the world leader in consumer brain-sensing technology, today presented SAFILOX, a new eyewear platform designed to infuse the latest brain-sensing and cognitive training technology into lifestyle and iconic eyewear in the Safilo portfolio, which includes brands such as Smith, Carrera and Polaroid. The presentation was made at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 5-8.

The first product built on the new platform is Smith’s Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse. Designed for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, the new “smart” sunglasses integrate Interaxon’s Muse brain-sensing technology into the popular and stylish Smith Lowdown frames to deliver cognitive training technology via beautifully designed eyewear that wearers can sport every day.

Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse’s frames includes brainwave-sensing EEG, EOG and EMG technology as well as other sensors, including a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyro, a 3-axis magnetometer, a UV sensor (UVA and UVB), a temperature gauge and a pressure sensor, providing a rich upgrade path for applications via an open SDK. The app developed to work with Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse will initially focus on helping users engage in regular cognitive training, with special features to enhance energy management and attention immediately before competition and exercises to reintegrate into daily conditioning.

The brain is central to athletic development and outcomes, not to mention the quality and value of those outcomes. Importantly, performance is a multifactorial process that begins and ends with the human brain. By implementing the Muse technology into Smith glasses, the two companies have advanced a brain-first approach to maintaining brain health and performance.

Interaxon’s Muse brain-sensing technology has been in use for two years in the Muse meditation headband, which is employed by athletes, coaches, clinicians and more than 100 hospitals and universities worldwide. The technology measures brainwave activity during meditation and provides users with feedback and guidance to help them relax and focus.

“Thanks to Safilo’s expertise in renewed iconic design and craftsmanship dating back to 1878, we are in constant pursuit of innovation and have been able to integrate a truly unique technology into inspirationally designed and stylish eyewear,” said Thorsten Brandt, general manager of Safilo’s sports and outdoor lifestyle brands. “With the launch of Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse, we’re adding another dimension to how the Smith brand enables athletes around the world. We’ve been providing superior vision and safety through our market-leading goggles and helmets for more than 50 years and are excited to add cognitive training and conditioning to our offering. Active consumers at all levels intuitively understand the importance of finding their focus, yet up until now, there haven’t been a lot of products that help you up your mental game. We believe our collaboration with Interaxon is truly unique and something our customers will love. This is a first in bringing together innovative products that beautifully blend technology, form and style.”

“We’re excited to extend the positive impact of our technology to a broader audience,” said Derek Luke, CEO, Interaxon. “Wearers of Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse will be supported to develop a consistent mental training practice, leading to greater levels of performance and focus whether they’re competing, studying, parenting or working. Our collaboration with Safilo has resulted in the first mental performance-enhancing eyewear on the market and the first device users will wear throughout the day, increasing the likelihood they will engage in beneficial exercises more often and consistently.”

Interaxon will be previewing the Smith Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse and its associated application at the Venetian, Suite 31-328. CES takes place Jan 5 – 8, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Smith Lowdown Focus Mpowered by Muse sunglasses are expected to be available to consumers in the 3rd Quarter of 2017.

About Smith:

Originating from Sun Valley, Idaho, Smith was founded in 1965 with the invention of the first snow goggle featuring a sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam.  With 50 years of innovation and design experience, Smith is widely known today as an industry leader that pioneers advanced eyewear and helmets that incorporate dynamic technologies, optimized performance and clean styling to fuel fun beyond walls. Smith seeks to power thrilling experiences in snow, surf, bike, fish and peak performance outdoor adventures with a comprehensive collection that exudes modern style and vibrant personality. To Smith, the experience is everything. Smith is part of Safilo Group. Additional information is available at smithoptics.com.

 About Interaxon:

At Interaxon, we develop engaging experiences using brainwave-sensing technology designed to help you free yourself from physical, emotional and mental obstacles so you get more out of every moment. Our mission is to enable you to live a happier, healthier and more connected life with leading brainwave technologies and experiences. Our flagship product is the Muse headband, a sensory headband that is designed to help you meditate by providing you real-time audio and visual feedback on your meditative state through the Muse companion app. More information about Interaxon and the Muse headband is available at http://www.choosemuse.com/.

About Safilo Group:

Safilo Group is the fully integrated Italian eyewear creator and worldwide distributor of quality and trust, leader in the premium sector for sunglasses, optical frames and sports eyewear. Design inspired and brand driven, Safilo translates extraordinary design into excellent products created thanks to superior craftsmanship expertise dating back to 1878. With an extensive wholly owned global distribution network in 39 countries – in North and Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific and China – Safilo is committed to quality distribution of its products all around the world. Safilo’s portfolio encompasses Carrera, Polaroid, Smith, Safilo, Oxydo, Dior, Dior Homme, Fendi, Gucci, Banana Republic, Bobbi Brown, BOSS, BOSS Orange, Céline, Elie Saab, Fossil, Givenchy, havaianas, Jack Spade, Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture, kate spade new york, Liz Claiborne, Marc Jacobs, Max Mara, Max&Co., Pierre Cardin, Saks Fifth Avenue, Swatch, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Listed on the Italian Stock Exchange (ISIN code IT0004604762, Bloomberg SFL.IM, Reuters SFLG.MI), in 2015 Safilo recorded net revenues for Euro 1,279 million.

Press Contacts:

Benny Cruickshank
Smith
Benny.cruickshank@smithoptics.com
(312) 753-8718

Giovanna Noe
Safilo
Giovanna.noe@safilo.com
(973) 307-7547

Olivia Irvin
Burson-Marsteller for Muse
Olivia.Irvin@bm.com
(646) 209-3044

Safilo Partners with InteraXon – Brain Sensing Eyewear Enabling Mental Focus

  • First ever brain sensing eyewear platform, built in partnership with Interaxon Inc.
  • Iconic eyewear design, with style, perfect fit, and high quality comfort, from world renowned eyewear creator
  • Enabling mental focus for enhanced performance and personal well being
  • SAFILOX will be presented by Interaxon at CES 2017

Padua/Toronto, December 21, 2016 – SAFILO Group, the fully integrated Italian eyewear creator, manufacturer and worldwide distributor of quality and trust, and Interaxon Inc., the world leader in consumer brain sensing technology, today announced a strategic research and development partnership and licensing agreement.

This partnership enables SAFILO’s entry into wearable technology, under the name of SAFILOX ™.

“SAFILOX is the perfect intersection of our renowned iconic eyewear design and authentic quality craftsmanship dating back to 1878, the leading brain sensing technology application, and today’s most coveted consumer search to master mental focus and strength to achieve enhanced personal performance and well-being,” said Luisa Delgado, CEO of SAFILO. “It is neither another example of technology mounted on frames, nor technology for its own sake. With SAFILOX our Group leverages its legendary Passion for Product and People for a wearable eyewear proposition of unparalleled fit and comfort, aspirational design and style, and compelling consumer relevance.”

SAFILO has chosen to partner with Interaxon Inc., a Canadian company and a world leader in sparse EEG (electroencephalography) brain sensing technology. Today, Interaxon’s Muse technology enables consumers, athletes, coaches, clinicians, and healthcare professionals to enhance their and their clients’ personal wellness by helping them improve their mental focus. Interaxon’s technology has been validated scientifically with more than a 100 brain research partnerships around the world, from institutes including the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, MIT, McMaster University, NASA, and IBM.

Scientific research partnerships involving SAFILOX are already underway, and involve leading  Canadian neuroscience researchers at institutes including the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria, and furthermore a study by Michela Balconi, Professor of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Head of Research Unit in Affective and Social Neuroscience, at the Cattolica University of Milan.

“With SAFILOX, Interaxon becomes broadly accessible via a premier lifestyle brand, iconic design and stylish accessory. We are excited to spread the positive impact of our technology through Safilo’s authentic quality and aspirational style,” said Derek Luke, CEO of Interaxon.

Interaxon and Safilo have been exploring their first eyewear developments in undisclosed work over the past 12 months. To develop this eyewear platform, the partner companies have established a team of experts devoted to the seamless integration of invisible brain sensing technology with stylish product design, development, and engineering, resulting in technology that is invisible to the user, but with a relevant functionality and aspirationally styled design.

SAFILOX will first be offered via the Group’s SMITH performance eyewear brand.

Interaxon Inc. will be presenting the partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas January 5-8, 2017.

About Interaxon

At Interaxon, we develop engaging experiences using brainwave-sensing technology designed to help you free yourself from physical, emotional and mental obstacles so you get more out of every moment. Our mission is to enable you to live a happier, healthier and more connected life with leading brainwave technologies and experiences. Our flagship product is the Muse headband, a sensory headband that is designed to help you meditate by providing you real-time audio and visual feedback on your meditative state through the Muse companion app. More information about Interaxon and the Muse headband is available at http://www.choosemuse.com/

About Safilo Group

Safilo Group is the fully integrated Italian eyewear creator and worldwide distributor of quality and trust, leader in the premium sector for sunglasses, optical frames and sports eyewear. Design inspired and brand driven, Safilo translates extraordinary design into excellent products created thanks to superior craftsmanship expertise dating back to 1878. With an extensive wholly owned global distribution network in 39 countries – in North and Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific and China – Safilo is committed to quality distribution of its products all around the world. Safilo’s portfolio encompasses Carrera, Polaroid, Smith, Safilo, Oxydo, Dior, Dior Homme, Fendi, Gucci, Banana Republic, Bobbi Brown, BOSS, BOSS Orange, Céline, Elie Saab, Fossil, Givenchy, havaianas, Jack Spade, Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Liz Claiborne, Marc Jacobs, Max Mara, Max&Co., Pierre Cardin, Saks Fifth Avenue, Swatch, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Listed on the Italian Stock Exchange (ISIN code IT0004604762, Bloomberg SFL.IM, Reuters SFLG.MI), in 2015 Safilo recorded net revenues for Euro 1,279 million.

Contacts:

Safilo Group Press Office                              

Antonella Leoni
Milan – Ph. +39 02 77807607
Padua – Ph. +39 049 69860

Safilo Group Investor Relations

Barbara Ferrante
Ph. +39 049 6985766
http://investors-en.safilogroup.com

Interaxon Inc

Burson-Marsteller
Olivia Irwin
Olivia.Irwin@bm.com
Ph. +1 415 591 2012

What a Top Executive of a $147 Million Company Used to Think About Meditation

From time to time we like to share a story from one of our inspiring Musers. Alex Charfen has been our guest writer for the past few weeks and this will be his fourth article in the series. He is an internationally recognized speaker and business consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 corporations and entrepreneurs alike to help them grow and scale their businesses. As a firm believer of the performance benefits of meditation he has introduced 100s of professionals to Muse. He will dive deeper into each topic, during his open, free to join, weekly Facebook Live sessions.


What a Top Executive of a $147 Million Company Used to Think About Meditation

As a consultant to every level of entrepreneur, from startups to the Fortune 500, even self-made billionaires, I’ve heard just about every reaction to the concept of meditation. It usually looks something like this:

Positive: I discovered meditation years ago and I love it … I don’t miss a day!
Neutral: I like it when I get the chance to do it … which usually isn’t all that often.
Reactionary: Don’t try to sell me on any of that “new-agey” crap … I’m not buying!

Alex Charfen

A year ago, my friend and client Justin Beadle was definitely on the reactionary end of that spectrum.

A former Marine, Justin is the president of Links Construction, a $147M commercial construction company operating out of Denton, Texas. In early 2016, he attended one of my Enlightened Leadership Academy events to clarify his vision as a business leader, and to find ways of feeling more effective and fulfilled as the leader of a high-growth business.

During that event we discussed the importance of awareness and mindfulness in becoming an Enlightened Leader, one who empowers those who follow them to reach their full potential. I even mentioned a technology I’d recently discovered that helped tremendously with my practice: the Muse™ headband.

At the first mention of meditation, I could see by Justin’s body language that he wasn’t buying it. He sat back in his chair, arms folded as though he was only staying in the room to be polite. But as the event continued and I had the chance to speak with Justin about the benefits that not only I got from meditation, but the experiences other high-powered executives had found from meditation and a focus on breathing, especially during stressful meetings. He eventually seemed open, if skeptical, to the idea, so I didn’t press him on it.

Following the event, I’d stayed in touch with Justin, watching as his business continued to grow on an aggressive trajectory. Links Construction was closing bigger deals than it had, and setting itself up for massive growth. So I was excited when Justin called and said that he and his vice president wanted to come to my Constructive Company live event.

This event was different from the previous one, focused on the systems and processes to create stable, high-growth companies that benefit all stakeholders. However, I’ve found the fastest way for entrepreneurs to build a Constructive Company is for leadership to create greater awareness. And when I brought up this topic, Justin decided to tell us all a story that he hadn’t shared before.

“Being a Marine and then the president of a commercial construction company, I never even wanted to hear about meditation, let alone try it. It wasn’t connected to who I was or what I knew. But after the Enlightened Leadership Academy event, I started to pay attention to how my energy was affecting the people around me, both at work and at home. And I realized I could control that if I were more aware and present. So, considering the benefits of meditation, I decided to make that a focus of mine and find time in my days to do it. And you know what? I really feel it’s had a positive effect on me as a leader and how I handle situations.”

“It’s true,” his vice president added. “Sometimes he’ll just close his office door for a few minutes, and we all know he’s taking some time for himself. I’ve definitely seen the difference in him. He’s a lot more even and calm, and deliberate when we’re all in meetings together.”

For reference, this was after only a few months of Justin implementing meditation into his daily routine.

In my experience, this kind of transformation is exceptional but not unique when leaders focus on the tactics of being present and aware. The funny thing is, these leaders – especially those at the highest levels – can be the most resistant to change and adopting meditation, but when they do start to meditate, they show the greatest amount of contrast.

Join me for another special Facebook Live broadcast, where I’ll share more stories and describe how Tactical Meditation can benefit you and your business by increasing your awareness.

– Alex Charfen

REGISTER
Register for the Facebook Live session here
Date: Thursday, December 22, 2016
Time: 2 p.m. EST (8 p.m. GMT)

Meditation for the Most Important Meetings of Your Life

From time to time we like to share a story from one of our inspiring Musers. Alex Charfen will be our guest writer for the next few weeks and this will be his second article in the series. He is an internationally recognized speaker and business consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 corporations and entrepreneurs alike to help them grow and scale their businesses. As a firm believer of the performance benefits of meditation he has introduced 100s of professionals to Muse. He will dive deeper into each topic, during his open, free to join, weekly Facebook Live sessions.


Stress is unavoidable in life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive about it.

In speaking with hundreds of business leaders and entrepreneurs, I’ve found that one thing in particular tends to cause a lot of stress this time of year, and it’s not family or travel or social events. Actually, it’s business meetings.

Not that those other items can’t take their toll. Travel can be especially stressful, and recent surveys say 45% of Americans report they or someone they traveled with needed to see a medical professional while traveling. Especially when traveling for business, this can have disastrous effects on your ability to perform at your best (or at all).

This can be mitigated with planning and meditation. When talking with my team, clients or other business leaders who are traveling for work or with family, I often recommend amplifying meditation in the weeks leading up to the event. This activity of meditation and focusing on your breathing actually helps to boost your immune system, and lower any anxiety around the trip. Personally, I’ve found that meditating with the Muse headband while on the plane (yes, I’m that guy) actually improves my calm and lowers any reactivity I’m feeling.

But when it comes to business meetings, the end and beginning of each year bring all new levels of stress. Annual planning, year-end reporting, budget meetings and proposals all end up bundled together in a sprint of activity, deadlines and deliverables.

If you’ve ever had to lead or present at one of these meetings, you’re familiar with the rush of adrenaline, the butterflies in your stomach and maybe even the cold sweats produced as a reaction to your anxiety. The adrenaline certainly helps us focus on one or two things (what’s most concerning us at the moment), however this also limits our ability to perform at optimal levels.

But I’ve been in these meetings with CEOs, boards of directors and self-made billionaires, and the leaders who make the most out of these meetings do so through presence and awareness. They’re not focused on one or two items, but seem to understand everything that’s going on, what’s being said and not being said. They’re constructive leaders. They’re magnetic and transformational. They control the room. And they … breathe.

They do this because most of them learned a long time ago that their levels of stress affect everyone else in the room. If they’re wound up, everyone else will be too. And if this happens, no one in the room will perform to the best of their abilities.

Brooks and Charfen

I became very aware of this fact during a recent call with Brooks Hollan, founder of a marketing, consulting, and video production company in San Diego.

A few weeks ago we spoke for about 90 minutes, transparently discussing ways for him to get unstuck, create momentum and stop feeling so overwhelmed. I remember concentrating on staying present and aware, breathing as Brooks talked through some difficult challenges he was facing, and trying not to be reactive, which wasn’t easy.

By the end of our call, Brooks told me how much better he felt, how much clearer he saw things, and how the pressure and noise he experienced was lower. I was ecstatic. This is my goal for every interaction. But then, just a few minutes after we hung up, Brooks sent me a text (see image).

Brooks’ Muse meditation session results

The day before our call, Brooks had completed a meditation session with the Muse headband when he felt unprotected, overwhelmed and stressed. At that point, he could only reach 16% calm. Then, right after our call, he completed another session to see the contrast. As you can see, his results were dramatic, jumping up to 81% calm.

This is direct evidence of the kind of effect leaders can have on the people they interact with.

Join me at my next Facebook Live session with Muse, where I’ll share more detail about the strong connection between meditation, awareness, breathing and leadership, and the tactics that can help you perform at your best. I’ll also recall some compelling stories of how top executives – some of the most accomplished people I’ve ever worked with – would prepare for the biggest meetings of their lives.

Register for the Facebook Live session
Date: Thursday, December 15, 2016
Time: 2 p.m. EST (8 p.m. GMT)

Definitely bring your questions as I’ll be taking them live. I can’t wait to see you there.

– Alex Charfen
charfen.com