Accessories: Mental Training Wheels

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, September 1996

Accessories: Mental Training Wheels
Michael Kessler

Too busy or too shy to narrate your own visualization tape? Try a prerecorded version from the Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia. The nonprofit company offers nine Fitness and Sports tapes ($13, 800-541-2488) that are based on the same principles as Nate Zinsser's Alpha Chair and, according to its catalog, are designed to "align brainwave patterns" and "create hemispheric synchronization."

In the interest of getting hemispherically synchronized, we assumed the role of lab rat and tried "Light Foot," a 30-minute recording intended to help athletes, especially runners, become more agile. Ethereal vibrations--sounding something like a warbling breeze blowing under the sea--played in the background while a gentle voice talked us through future performances: "See yourself jogging or running easily and comfortably without effort. Watch as the movement of your legs becomes smoother and easier under lesser weight, your strides becoming longer, higher, swinging much more easily..." The Institute, which has been researching the effects of sound on the brain since 1954, claims that for years, Ironman finishers have been snapping up the tape for training. At the very least, it's a relaxing way to recover. And at the most? It's up to your imagination.

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