Sunday, October 31, 2010


Visualization is a scientific method that anyone can use to programme their reticular activating system or RAS.

When we visualise our intentions and goals, our RAS receives our desire as a clear instruction and starts seeking things to bring it to us.

The people who will help us, financial and physical resources that we need, information resources, clients, and other necessary things, will appear. Thanks to our RAS.

For the sake of understanding, I will illustrate the visualisation technique using the tee shot in golf.

It is important to note that the environment affects how you visualize. The best is a quiet and serene place where you will not be distracted or interrupted. One place where I always like to practice visualization is sitting down on a park bench facing a pond or the sea.

Proceed to do deep breathing exercises, relax your body. Feel the tension in your body being released away as you breathe in….and out…in…and out…

Identify what you want to experience. For example, the perfect tee off.

Level 1 – Dissociated Visualization.

Step into Level 1, see yourself from a third person point of view – a bystander, experiencing the experience, driving the perfect tee shot. Notice how it feels to you as you see yourself experiencing the perfect tee off.

Level 2 - Associated Visualization.

Now move from a third person point of view to the first person point of view. Step into the very person you are watching. Go ahead. See the fairway as you would see it as you step into yourself.

Wrap your fingers around the leather hand grip of the golf club. Feel its texture in your hands. Feel the weight of the club. Notice the lush, soft grass under your shoes. Hear the blowing of the wind. Hear the leaves rustle in the wind and the call of the geese that just flew by.

Now in the first person point of view, see yourself making the perfect tee off. Notice how it feels as you slowly pull your shoulders back, keeping your eyes and hip steady while facing your target, you twist your spine back and then uncoils it, the club sweeps towards the ball, your hear the swooosh of the club shaft as it whips through the air, the crisp ring of the ping as the sweet spot of the club smacks the ball thrills you. Notice how it feels as you see the ball rocket through the air in the exact direction as you want it to.

Level 3 – Intensified Associated Visualization

Now, still in the first person point of view, we are going to make the scene bigger, louder, and more colourful!

As you stand to take another tee shot, notice how the environment is like. The grass beneath you is as green and crisp as the country club which you always play in. You feel the tightness in your shoes, you feel the sweat trickling down your face, dripping off your chin. The morning sun rays lightly touch your back. You feel your heart beating faster and faster as you step up to take tee shot.

As you approach the ball, hear the grass crumple under your shoes, hear the scrubs in the rough rustle in the wind, the grass and dry leaves rattle as a frightened monitor lizard scampers away, and hear the sweet ping sound as the sweet spot of your Big Bertha meets the ball squarely, and watch in palpitation as the ball fly exactly as you want it to, landing onto the green with a soft thump sound, bounces upwards and forwards, coming to a stop an inch from the hole.

At that moment, you clench your fist tightly, pump it in the air and shout YAY! You feel the ecstasy of a perfect tee shot. You hear the claps of your flight mates and someone says GOOD SHOT!

Give it a try, you'll be amazed with the results.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


What exactly is visualization for programming our reticular activating system or RAS?

Visualization for programming our RAS is best done in the first person and the present tense – as if the visualized scene is unfolding all around you.

It is not to be confused with daydreaming which is done in the third person and the future tense – the “you” in the daydream is outside your body which the real “you” is watching from afar.

There are 3 levels of visualization. The higher the level of visualisation the deeper is its impression on our reticular activating system and thus the more effective.

Level 1 - the most basic level is dissociated visualization.

Level 2 is associated visualization.

Level 3 is intensified associated visualization.

When we conduct visualisation we progress gradually, step by step from level 1 through level 2 to level 3.

Level 1 – Dissociated Visualization

Level 1 Visualization means you experience the experience from a neutral third party point of view. What it means is that you will be looking at yourself performing the actions you want. It is as if you are watching another person doing it.

It could be an aerial view. The aerial view is how you would be looking at yourself as if you are a fly on the wall.

It could be a cinema view. The view is as how you would be looking at the screen as if you are sitting down in a movie theatre.

Level 1 is the first step in using visualisation for RAS programming.

Level 2 is Associated Visualization

Level 2 Visualization means you experience the experience from the first person (as yourself) and in the present tense – as if the visualized scene were unfolding all around you. Whatever is being experienced, whatever the colours in the scene, the sound, the vibrations, and smells - it will be as what you are experiencing.

Level 3 is Intensified Associated Visualization

Level 3 is the same as Level 2 except for the use of sub-modalities.

In Level 3, take what you are experiencing in Level 2 and intensify it by intensifying the sub-modalities. This level is the most effective in programming our RAS.

Good use of sub-modalities would make visualization seem so real that you wouldn’t even doubt that it was all imagination.

Sub-modalities are like the special effects that a movie director uses to enhance effects on our senses. For example, in a movie, the director would often make us view the movie from a first person perspective. On the screen, we would not see the person, but we would see whatever the person is seeing. A good director would enlarge the view, brighten the colours, play the right background music, and she will turn up the volume to the maximum at the right moment!


Why does visualizing something have the same effect on our minds as physically doing it?

The secret lies in the way our brain works.

Every action produces a neural pathway in our nervous system. At first, the neural pathway is like a slender thread, and the more we repeat the same action, the thicker the neural pathway becomes. When the neural pathway becomes as thick as a highway, the action becomes what we call habits.

Our brain is unable to tell whether we are physically taking an action, or we are just imagining ourselves taking an action. So, we can either physically or mentally construct the neural pathway or highway – the outcome is the same.

Therein lays the power of visualization.

We can turn a neural pathway into a highway just by visualisation!

Let’s say we aim to achieve great tee offs just like Tiger Woods.

We can fulfil our ambition by going to the driving range and practice tee offs a 1000 times every day. Yes, the champions do that (and more).

Or you can get that result by practicing the 1000 tee offs in your mind!

While mental rehearsals alone would not guarantee a perfect performance the next time you take to the tee box, it will certainly enhance your performance than if we just practice physically. Yes, the champions do that too i.e. combine physical and mental training.

Besides building neural highways, visualisation is also another powerful way to programme our reticular activating system or RAS.

A compelling reason why we visualise our intention is to create a set of instructions for our RAS to carry out.

When we visualise our intentions, our RAS receives our desire as a clear instruction and starts seeking things to bring it to us.

The people who will help us, financial and physical resources that we need, information resources, clients, and other necessary things, will appear. Thanks to our RAS.

How does visualisation prime our RAS?

Repeated mental rehearsals force us to get very specific about what we want, rather than just having some "vague idea". Our RAS likes clear instructions.

I will talk about how to visualise in the next posting.


From the 1950s to the 1980s, the Russians dominated the Olympics. During those Golden Years of Russian sports, one question was always on their rivals' mind – what kind of training system helped the Russians achieve such performance?

Only in the late 1980s was the secret of Russian sports success finally revealed.

It turned out that the Russians had employed mental imagery training, or visualization. Their secret was to combine physical training and visualisation.

The Russians would not only train physically. They would also mentally rehearse their routines hundreds of times before the actual competition.

DR Charles Garfield in his authoritative book on mental training Peak Performance: Mental Training Techniques of the World’s Greatest Athletes stated that, “Without a doubt, the most dramatic contribution to the advancement of goal-setting skills in recent years has been the Soviets’ introduction of visualisation. During mental rehearsal, athletes create mental images of the exact movements they want to emulate in their sport. Use of this skill substantially increased the effectiveness of goal-setting.”

Garfield cited a study conducted by Russian sports physiologists on visualisation on four groups of athletes before the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics where the Russians won the most medals – twice more than arch rival USA. The athletes were divided into four groups.

The result? All improved and the extent of improvement was in this order.

Group 4, the group that spent the most time visualising improved the most.

Garfield’s finding is corroborated by another oft cited study - by DR. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago.

Blaslotto studied how visualization impacts a player’s performance. The performance measure was the basketball players’ free throw percentage.

Blaslotto randomly assigned the athletes to one of three groups, and took their free throw percentages before starting the experiment. He then conducted the experiment for 30 days as follows:

Group one would practice making free throws everyday for one hour.

Group two would spend one hour a day visualizing themselves making successful free throws.

Group three, the control group, did not do anything.

30 days later, the three groups were retested.

The results:

As expected, group three, the control group showed no change in performance.

Group two, who had physically trained 1 hour a day for 30 days improved their free throw percentage by 24%.

The surprise result was in the first group, who visualized themselves making successful free throws but did not physically make a single free throw at all. They improved their free throw percentage by 23%!

So what do all these findings mean for us?

Visualisation cannot replace physically practicing, training and performing a task. And we can always improve on our performance and outcomes by practicing visualisation.

You can add sounds to make your visualisation even more vivid.

Try it. You will be amazed by the results.

Friday, October 29, 2010


It is very easy with today's fast paced lifestyle to let our intentions slip from our conscious mind as we get caught up in the pressures of day-to-day living. If we let that happen, then days, weeks, months, and years slip by while we "tended to our life". We lead hectic lives but at the end of the day, get no closer to our intentions than we were before.

Most of us have heard that writing down our intentions is an essential step in achieving them.

Besides all the good reasons that you have heard before like helping you remember, making you accountable and so on, writing down your intentions is a powerful way to programme your reticular activating system or RAS.

A compelling reason why we write down our intention is to create a set of instructions for our RAS to carry out.

When we write down our intentions, our RAS receives our desire as a clear instruction and starts seeking things to bring it to us.

The people who will help us, financial and physical resources that we need, information resources, clients, and other necessary things, will appear. Thanks to our RAS.

How does writing our intention down prime our RAS?

Writing our intentions down forces us to get very specific about what we want, rather than just having some "vague idea". Our RAS likes clear instructions.

Writing down our intentions impresses our RAS by making them more "real". It brings our intentions from the realm of abstract thoughts in our heads into the physical world where we can actually see them, touch them, and even smell the ink and paper.

Our intentions are no longer just thoughts! They become tangible things that motivate us, and create feelings in our gut. Even the act of using the eye in coordination with the hand holding the pen makes a much stronger impression on our RAS as we write out the phrase or expression.

Here are a few tips on instructing our RAS with good intention writing.

Write your intentions in the positive. Our RAS is a very loyal and obedient servant. It can not determine right from wrong, and it does not judge. It’s only function is to carry out its instructions to the letter. The more positive instructions we give it, the more positive results we will get.

Write our intentions in the present tense. If we write, “I will learn French” the RAS will do nothing - thinking that it is postponed until later. To get our RAS to spring into action, write our intentions in the present tense, first person, and as if they are currently true.

Write our intentions in the form of a document, not a list!

Just making a list of intentions does not empower us to actually accomplish it.

Writing down our intention as part of an empowering and very personal document would impress our RAS more.

Instead of writing “A new home,” write “A 2,000 square foot, full facility freehold condominium with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. Full frontal sea view with a rain forest at the back where I take my walks every day. Mass rapid transit and comprehensive amenities a short walk away”.

This is Kung Fu legend, Bruce Lee's intention document.

Once again we are giving our RAS a detailed set of instructions to work on. The more information we give it, the more efficient our RAS can become.

Our RAS stays alert and focused on our intentions when our instructions are regularly reinforced. By keeping our written down intentions where we can see them on a regular basis, we will be regularly reinforcing what we should be focusing on.

Read your intention document at least 2 times every day. When we read and re-read a phrase or sentence the impression on our RAS becomes deeper and deeper.

Rewrite our intention document regularly.

When the words are written and then repeatedly re-written they have maximum impact on our RAS. Don’t be content with a first draft. Write down your intention. Then rephrase it, compact it, add motivating adjectives, make it pithy. A week later you may want to adjust it again. Keep on fine-tuning.

There’s something else going on, too. When we write something down, research suggests that as far as our brain is concerned, it’s as if we were doing that thing. Writing seems to act as a kind of mini-rehearsal for doing. Mentally rehearsing something can “trick” the brain into thinking it’s actually doing it, and writing something down seems to trigger this same effect.

There is something magical about writing our intentions down which makes achieving well-written intentions an almost certainty.

Your great intention wouldn’t happened, if you didn’t write them down.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


As we go through our day, consciously and unconsciously, we strive to make the best choices we can, given what we know and have to work with at the point of making the decision.

So, whether we are conscious of it or unconscious, all our behaviours or actions have intentions (and they are positive intentions, at least to us). These include seemingly bad behaviour.

Our reticular activation system or RAS is never idle and it doesn't like a vacuum. So if we don't instruct it with conscious intentions, it'll follow whatever unconscious intentions (from our unconscious mind) unquestioningly.

The trouble with unconscious intentions (from our unconscious mind) is that they programme our RAS without us knowing and often set it to work for the wrong reasons.

Indeed, dig deep enough behind self sabotaging and anti-social behaviours, and we'll find that many have unconscious intentions at their root.

For example, everyone knows that the habit of smoking is linked to all kinds of horrible diseases.

Why then do some people continue to puff away merrily in spite of hostile stares, banishment from shared space, overwhelming medical research, and burning holes in their pockets?

There are conscious and unconscious intentions behind every behaviour.

Smokers start to smoke for a conscious intention. Perhaps it makes them feel cool, or more grown up, or helps them fit in, or flaunt their individuality, or establish their identity, or signifies coming of age, independence from parents, or express defiance against authourity like school.

Over time, new unconscious intentions creep in, like giving the smoker an excuse to take a break from work, or a way to give themselves a little reward, or a way to have some control over strong emotions, calm their nerves, or a way to feel a small sense of accomplishment as a cigarette burns itself up.

How can we spring clean our lives of such old unproductive habits of thought and self sabotaging behaviour?

Keep unconscious intentions from choking your RAS like weeds strangling your garden.

I’ll illustrate this with a short story.

One day a young boy was on his knees pulling weeds, one by one, out of the lawn at his home.

His neighbour, a kind old lady, was watching him quietly, smiling.

When she finally got the boy’s attention, she gave him this advice: “The best way to keep the weeds out of your lawn is to plant beautiful flowers.”

So, the best way to keep unconscious intentions from creeping in and short circuiting your RAS, is to plant conscious intentions.


Our intentions create our reality and outcomes. It literally does.

Our intentions instruct our reticular activating system or RAS to sort out what information our five senses gathered are relevant and what are irrelevant to our goals.

Only a minute fraction of what our senses gathered are allowed into our conscious mind to create our reality.

Our reality is our “map of the world” constructed from the information filtered through our RAS. Our “map” triggers our mental states (emotions) and body feelings. All these combine to produce our behaviour and actions that ultimately lead to our outcomes.

Intention creates reality and outcomes.

This is the way life is – according to the way our RAS works. We are all subject to our RAS' way of working - whether we like it or not, whether we know it or are ignorant.

As powerful as our RAS may be, the good news is we are able to programme our RAS at will.

Our RAS can be programmed by two kinds of intentions - conscious and unconscious.

Only conscious intentions can instruct our RAS to produce intended outcomes for us. (Unconscious intentions also produce outcomes but only unintended outcomes – we’ll come back to unconscious intentions later.)

Conscious intention is:

- A determination to act in a certain way or to do a certain thing

- The object towards which our thoughts are directed.

Intention setting is a powerful way to programme our RAS to achieve our goals.

When we set an intention, we make a decision about what we wish to accomplish or possess. When we decide something consciously, we are instructing our RAS to get us an experience we wish to have in the future.

Setting intention is like placing an order with our RAS. Our RAS is completely loyal and obedient. Once we definitely make the decision to intend something, our RAS dutifully tunes itself to seek that thing out for us.

I say “definitely make the decision to intend,” because our RAS doesn’t like indecisiveness. Only when we make an absolute decision would our intention be certain. That is a positive signal to our RAS.

If we don’t make a definite decision then it is nothing more than just a wish or a hope.

“It sure would be nice if I could start my own life coaching business someday.” That’s a lot different from “I intend to start my own life coaching business by the end of the year.” One is a definite command to our RAS that we’re clear about the fact that we want to start our own life coaching business before the calendar changes. The other is a weak signal that says you hope someday it will appear.

When we set our intention positively as a definite decision, the RAS receives our desire as a clear instruction and starts seeking things to bring it to us.

The people who will help us, financial and physical resources that we need, information resources, clients, and other necessary things, will appear. Thanks to our RAS.

Intentional living is very empowering, because it gets us through our life over the long haul like our North Star. It is very easy to get lost in the day-to-day struggles of living this life. There’s so much that demands to be done on a daily basis that it’s easy to lose sight of where we are navigating our ship.

When we set a clear intention for the situation we wish to bring about in our life, we can still take care of the day-to-day business of life, knowing that a higher part of us is working, using the power of our RAS to bring about the circumstances we wish to experience.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


When there is an external event, our sensory input channels Visual (sight), Auditory (hearing), Kinaesthetic (feeling), Olfactory (smell) and Gustatory (taste) will pick up the information and send it to our reticular activating system or RAS for processing.

The key function of the RAS is to filter the constant torrent of sensory information brought to it by our senses. Our senses can pick up millions of bits of information each second while our conscious mind can only handle 7 (plus or minus 2). Our RAS, therefore has to drastically reduce the information it receives before channelling it to our conscious mind. Otherwise, we will be paralysed by information overload.

Our RAS does this by deleting, distorting and generalising the massive volume of information it receives into manageable chunks.

The RAS delete, distort and generalize information using neural filters. The filters are our personal intentions, beliefs, values, attitudes, memories, language and meta programs.

Our minds construct our mental model or internal representation of an event that is occurring right now based only on the information allowed into our conscious mind by our RAS. Our perspective of the world, what we see is therefore determined by our neural filters.

This created mental model or internal representation put us in a certain mental state and create certain feelings in our body.

What we see, our emotional state and how our body feels in turn combine to generate our actions.

The good news is that we can have control over our neural filters. We can therefore choose those supportive neural filters that will get us the results we want.


Click on this link

Did you see the moonwalking bear on the first viewing? Most people don’t.

What happened? How did most people miss the BIG moonwalking bear?

The secret lies in the workings of our Reticular Activation System or RAS. It is the part of our brain that automatically filters out what we consider unimportant to us, and brings to our attention, only things that we consider important to us.

Because of the way our RAS works, we will see what we are focusing on (consider important) but will miss even BIG things like the moonwalking bear, if we are not focusing on it.

The way our RAS works has far reaching implications on the success or failure in all areas of our lives e.g. relationships, health, wealth, career etc.

This post is the first of a series of postings on a success formula that is based on the way our brain works.

Our RAS plays a central role in our brain based success formula.

Our RAS is located in the brain stem at the base of the brain. It is shaped like our little finger and is about the same size. Our RAS consists of a network of neurons and neural fibres running through the brain stem. These neurons radiate from brain stem and connect with other parts of our brain.

Our RAS is involved in many critical functions including breathing and the beating of the heart, sleep and waking, and behavioural motivation.

For behavioural motivation, the most important function of the RAS is its control of consciousness – its ability to consciously focus attention on something.

All of our senses - sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, gather information and send this information to our brain for processing. Our brain receives millions of bits of information every second.

To cope with this constant torrent of information, our brain extracts only what is important to us at any given moment. It has an system to sort this information and that is our reticular activating system or RAS.

Our RAS functions like a sorting office, evaluating incoming information and picking out only those that need our conscious attention. The rest are shunted to our unconscious. If we had to attend to all incoming information at once, we would simply break down.

Have you ever noticed that once you have decided on the make and colour of car you want to buy, every other car on the road is the make and colour you are thinking of buying?

That is your RAS at work. Filtering out the other cars (the irrelevant information) and bringing the car of your thoughts to the forefront of your mind i.e. your conscious mind. The numbers of that particular car have not increased since you took that decision; it’s just your filtering system or RAS in action.

Our RAS acts as the filter between our five senses and our conscious mind.

Our RAS recieves instructions from our conscious mind on what to leave in and what to leave out. For example, the instruction might be: "I am thinking of buying that car, take note of them on the road, I want to make sure I really do like its looks".

Our RAS gets to work and flags up that instruction as an important "TAKE NOTE" thought.

Another example.

Remember when you were waiting to board your flight at a busy, noisy airport passenger terminal?

All the noise - hundreds of waiting people milling around chattering, others dashing to the gates, boring background music, yelling taxi touts, constant interruption by announcements in multiple languages of last calls, lost and found items, lost children. How much of this noise do we consciously pay attention to? Not much.

But when a new announcement comes over the public address system - saying our name or our flight. Our RAS picks that up and suddenly our attention is full on.

Our RAS recieved the instructions from our conscious mind: "Listen out for anyone saying my name or my flight".

Our RAS gets to work and flags up that instruction as an important "TAKE NOTE" thought.

As you saw, the good news is that we can deliberately programme our RAS to look out for things that will support our goal.

When we set a goal that we are passionate about, our RAS will focus our mind. We suddenly become aware of things that we may not have paid any attention to previously, but are now important and relevant to us and our goal.

In future postings, we will explore how we can capitalise on the natural functioning of our RAS to create a powerful brain based success formula.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Friedrich Nietzsche said: "He who has why to live can bear with any how". Indeed, living with conscious intention can make the difference between life and death.

The power of conscious intention was put to the most stringent test in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War.

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was living in Austria when the Second World War broke out. Frankl and his family were taken away to a concentration camp, along with millions of other Jews. The Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, had a plan to eliminate all Jews living in territories under Nazi control.

As a psychiatrist, Frankl became interested in how different camp inmates coped with the terrible situation that they were in. All were in the same hell, but there were two distinct groups of inmates – those who survived and those who didn’t.

One group fell sick, went to sleep and never woke up, or committed suicide. Another group went about showing concern for others and caring for others despite their own sufferings.

Frankl found that those who survived were those who intended to live - they consciously chose to stay positive despite their dire situation and the ill treatment at the hands of the guards. They intended to reunite with their loved ones once they leave camp, or they intended to complete some unfinished business.

Frankl found that those who did not survive the concentration camp were those who did not have any conscious intent. Those who succumbed were those who were resigned to their fate and lost hope.

Life without conscious intention is half of death. Surviving on autopilot with no conscious direction - they merely reacted to the abuse of the guards.

When they were treated badly by the guards, they automatically felt bad. Their sense of self worth took a hit, their morale went downhill, disease and mental anguish followed, and relieve came only when death overtook them.

Our own situations may not be so extreme but can some of us identify with the Jewish inmates' predicament? Are some of us similarly caught in situations where others mistreat us? Do we have the mental resilience and resources to triumph over our adversities? Are we living our lives to the fullest or is our life half of death - without conscious intention.

Living intentionally can save lives.


We are our intentions.

Our intentions shape our choices of our vision, beliefs, values, habits, and actions.

Our intentions determine our choices that lead to outcomes.

This is nature's law. This is the way nature works. We are all subject to nature's laws - whether we like it or not, whether we know it or are ignorant.

There are two kinds of intentions - conscious and unconscious.

Only conscious intentions can produce the intended outcomes for us. Meaning, only if you make your intention conscious either by saying it out loud, writing it down, or visualizing it in your mind, do you then stand a chance of achieving what you set your heart on.

On the other hand, unconscious intentions also produce outcomes but they are more often than not unintended outcomes.

Unconscious intentions are often the culprit underlying bizarre, unproductive behaviour and poor results.

Conscious intention is:

- A stretching or bending of the mind towards an objective

- A determination to act in a certain way or to do a certain thing

- The object towards which our thoughts are directed.

Conscious intentions are just focused thoughts and everything worthwhile starts as focused thoughts.

Everything is created twice. First in our mind as an intention, and then in reality.

Without that intention, there would be no reality. This is true of both conscious and unconscious intentions.

A building is first created in the mind of the architect before it rises into the air.

An airplane is created in the mind of its designer first before it cruises through the airways.

We too are created twice.

Yes, us - we are our most important creation. We are first created in our minds before others see us in flesh and blood.

Our intentions, conscious and unconscious, made ourselves us.

If you want to be the best that you can be, be conscious of whom you are making yourself to be, in your own mind.

Your intention creates your reality, so it pays to know what your intentions are.

Make sure your intention is based on love - more on that next time.