There is a connection between being aware of something and making a decision. Obviously, if you are aware of something you can try to do something about it. For instance, addicts who suffer due to their reliance on a certain stimulus quite frequently report that they didn’t know they were cultivating the bad habit. People who are aware of the dangers of the process of addiction are far more likely to change course after they recognize some early warning signs.
Clearly, there is a connection here between our conscious awareness and the choices available. It seems that when we make things conscious, we gain the power to choose. We have all observed someone from the outside and thought, why would they do that? Aren’t they aware of the obvious choice, and the answer most of the time is no, they’re not. One of the tricky parts of playing a sport is your first-person perspective, so often people from the outside give advice which would be quite applicable from their perspective, but when you are on the court or on the ice, all you see is what’s in front of you. You aren’t aware of all the variables, it’s not an easy top-down-perspective decision.
So how can we bring more things into our conscious awareness in order to increase our power of choice? Well, I propose that there are two situations or modes where more conscious awareness can come into play, verbal and non-verbal. Non-verbal conscious awareness includes activities which involve movement and are difficult to verbalize, while the verbal mode includes concepts, theories, and easy to verbalize stimuli. The obvious choice for bringing conscious awareness to the verbal mode is research. The non-verbal, and also the verbal stimuli that have not been researched, is more difficult, but it is possible.
There is a method I like to call, Listening to Peripherals, or LP for bringing conscious awareness to novel stimuli. LP involves placing yourself in a reverie, or in a day dream like state, and paying attention to the thoughts which lie on the boundaries of consciousness. Through LP you can bring the thoughts which lie on the boundaries of consciousness to the forefront and examine them. Judging their value, and maybe testing them. I’ve used this technique in coming up with strategies for learning, and even strategies for squash. The amazing thing is, that it has really worked. By paying attention to the stimuli just outside of my consciousness focus, new possibilities open up, new ways of thinking about studying, playing squash, or anything else I am learning. The great thing about LP is that what is conjured from the depths of your unconscious is genuinely yours, and it truly is valuable.
For myself, I have played the best squash of my life through LP and discovered my own personal style of play. I continue to discover new ways of thinking about squash and new ways of practicing and coaching by LP. I believe it could be profoundly useful for others to make use of this dream-like state. One necessity for making any progress using LP is a trust in your unconscious ability to bring valuable insight to your current goal. If you trust your own judgement or at least experiment with what comes to mind when you use LP, I think you will be surprised by just how powerful your unconscious is.
Hustle it up!