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Axeos receives patent number two!

Axeos Performance Institute
Contact: Pilar Angel, +1.972.267.4246

Axeos Performance Institute is Granted Patent for System and Method for Selecting and Altering a Training Session

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dallas, TX – June 8, 2017 – Axeos Performance Institute is once again pleased to announce the issuance of a second patent (US 9,530,331 B2) that utilizes an innovative approach to optimize talent within an organization for the purpose of individual peak performance.

This patent is a springboard from Axeos’ first patent in that it uses it as a baseline from the previous physiological measurements of each individual. The new information is then used in a unique way to determine the most effective course of training to achieve peak performance. The technology draws on many different sources – neuroscience, behavior physiology, and human systems theory, and when combined – as it is in this new patent – can determine what an individual needs to perform at their highest and most productive level.

Bellann Hyten, the owner of Camino Business Management, says this of his Axeos training: “When I first met with Eileen and Pilar, I had just left a corporate job as chief financial officer of a large, local CPA firm.  I didn’t realize it at the time but I was suffering from corporate burnout.  Their process helped me recognize how I was not presently operating at my best and how this impaired performance was negatively impacting other aspects of my life.  Since their services, I am better equipped to operate at my peak abilities. I’m very grateful to them!” 

In addition, Axeos co-founder Pilar Angel, the newly issued patent can be summed up this way: “Let’s take the example of coffee: even though we did not invent coffee per se – or in this instance the exact technology of this utility patent – we did develop a very nice Breakfast Blend to help achieve excellence in personal performance. In this example, the patent is the Breakfast Blend!”

According to Axeos co-founder Eileen McDonald, very few people understand the function of the body’s unique nervous system, or body signals, which are the invisible cues that lead to visible changes in performance. Amy Cuddy said it best, “Our bodies change our mind, our mind changes our behavior, and our behavior changes outcomes.”

The patent further explores an innovative approach to optimizing the talent and resources within an organization including, but not limited to, an individual employee, teams of employees, and to executives within the organization. This patent attempts to improve an employee’s vitality, vibrancy, wellness, and overall work performance.

The Axeos Performance Institute is a wellness company based in Dallas, Texas that trains individuals at the corporate level to better manage stressors that might otherwise inhibit peak performance.

Resolutions: Don’t let the future you bully the present-time you.

Resolutions: don’t let future you bully present time you.

axeos

 

As January 2016 comes to a close, I notice how many of my acquaintances –me, myself and I included- have already given up on their New Year’s Resolutions. What once seemed to be this shiny, promising action (“I’m going to exercise every day”, “I’m going to eat better….stop smoking, lose weight”) has now lost its luster and become a whip with which we try to beat ourselves into submission.

How does this happen? Why do we give up on an idea that gave us so much oomph and hope on New Year’s Eve?

If we retrace our steps, in the beginning it all seemed easy. We identify what we want to change. In the planning, stage you usually transport yourself to the future, that place where your new self will enjoy life, unhindered by present limitations. In the future, new me exercises regularly. This new me seems to love doing this, which is a clear contrast with present time me who not only hates to exercise, but is also sneaky and has many valid excuses to not do it.

It is in this fracture, this schism between future me and present time me where resolutions die. We want that new toned bicep, and we want it now. The more attached we are to an outcome, the harder it is to live the journey that takes us there. Furthermore, our only plan to transform present me into future me is will power.

However, there is abundant research that shows that will power is a limited resource and that relying on it proves to be a mistake. If you believe that you will MAKE yourself stick to your plan… think again. Motivation can jumpstart the process, but it is discipline what will get the job done.

I can almost hear you groan in frustration… “But I have no discipline!” I know! Me neither. Here is where I tell you a secret: you can manufacture discipline from thin air. Yes! It is only a matter of building a habit. A day by day effort to repeat that something new that you want to incorporate in your life. The adding of a new behavior comes with the privilege of subtracting the old one. When you choose to not go for a run and sit on the couch instead, that choice is not only NOT building the habit of running: it’s also reinforcing the habit of sitting on the couch.

Since our brains are always looking for the path of least resistance, when you perform an activity over and over again, you create new neuronal pathways; therefore, every time you engage in the new activity, it requires less brain power to get it done. Ha! The trick is to start small and be consistent. Make it black-and-white: I did this/I did not do this. The smaller the better. A five minute stroll. 5 minutes of stretching. 3 minutes, twice a day meditating. Every single day. 21 days later you will have incorporated this new activity into your routine.

Never has the old adage of “it’s the journey, not the destination” been more appropriate. Staying in present time, not future tripping, not striving for perfection and especially not judging yourself harshly should you stumble, all seem to be attributes of a mindfully lived life….but you already knew that, right?

Pilar Angel

Photo credit: http://dianeatwood.com/

Mindfulness and the world of business.

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Portafolio, the leading business and economy daily journal in Colombia, just published this article on how mindfulness is impacting the business world. The feature, written by Axeos Co-Founder Pilar Angel, explains why mindfulness has become the new caffeine that sparks creativity and fuels focus, and why Silicon Valley has embraced this new blend of secular mindfulness practices.

See below the full version in Spanish and a link to an automated translation on Portafolio’s website:

Why Silicon Valley imposed meditation?

Why do it?

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As I sat to meditate with a group of seasoned meditators –and not being one of them- I was able to really pay attention to my breathing. Previously, I had only been able to do this for short periods of time, say 10 to 15 seconds…but this time, anchored in my breath, my attention stayed put for a period that seemed to go on forever.

When you meditate time can feel elastic and spacious, infusing you with a sense of lightness, or it can seem tight and constrictive like a corset that binds your insides and squashes your chest. Surprisingly, my attention was flowing in what seemed like a crisp stream of awareness, with the occasional distracting thought popping in and then floating by. I had no need to follow it, because here I was, breathing in and out. There was nothing easier and effortless to attend to. Just my breath.

This awareness of the present moment provided me with a safe and cool refuge, some shade from the bright and terrifying fear of having to lead a group meditation later that day. This brief respite from my habit of anticipating the ‘next thing’ and all the planning that goes with it, left me energized and hopeful. My turn would eventually come to lead the group and when that moment came, I would be present, doing my best, because that is all I had do. All I could do. What. A. Discovery.

Later that day, I joked around with my fellow teachers in training for the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8 week course that I felt like it had been the mileage that allowed me to experience what being present, without all my hoopla, really was. This moment of not being a prisoner of my own thoughts, but rather the observer, felt like I was finally able to redeem miles and miles of lonely flight hours of sitting with myself.

There is actually a scientific reason why meditators encounter this experience. Using fMRI, researchers at the University of Toronto found that people who had completed the MBSR program showed increases in the neuronal network associated with embodied present-moment experience, and decreases in the network associated with the “narrative network”, the one that experiences self through time. The latter network is most involved with rumination and the attachment to ‘my story’.

In his book Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat Zinn states that this study “further suggests that non-judgmental awareness of our wandering mind may actually be the gateway to a greater happiness and well-being, right in the present moment, without anything at all having to change”.

So here I was, discovering what thousands before me had already found out: There is a way for you to be happy regardless of exterior circumstances. Now, if freedom from my inner Judge Judy is not a good enough reason to put in miles and miles of sitting meditation time, I don’t know what is.

PILAR ANGEL
SEPTEMBER 2015.

(photo: http://www.thisnext.com/item/0136BA86/Modern-Clock-Wall-clock-by)

Your Body is the Gym of Your Mind.

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Please indulge me. Without moving them, place your attention on your feet. Take your time. And now, without wiggling, feel each and every one of your toes.

Now tell me. Did you actually f e e l your feet, or did you think about them? Did you have to move your toes to sense them? If you found it hard to connect with them, you are not alone.

It is an amazing discovery to realize that, for all our preoccupation with appearance and our interest in fashion and hair (yes sir, I am speaking to you) when asked to inhabit our body, we have a real hard time getting in touch with it. Supposing we are pain free and that we manage to connect with a specific area of it, sustaining your attention can also prove to be challenging.

One very powerful meditation practice used in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) is the Body Scan. Used to reestablish connection with the body, the scan is a very effective method “for developing both concentration and flexibility of attention simultaneously” according to Jon Kabbat-Zin Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The Body Scan is usually practiced by lying on your back and moving your mind methodically through different regions of your body. Starting with the toes on the left foot and slowly moving the attention to the foot, the ankle the calf and the rest of the leg, the scan gives ample opportunity to give full awareness to each region of the body. By tuning in to all sensations that might arise (including the absence of them) the body becomes a felt experience which can allow the individual to override the judgmental thoughts about it.

Kabbat-Zinn explains it in his book Full Catastrophe Living: “When you tune in, you are reclaiming your life in that very moment, and your body as well, making yourself more real and more alive. You are living your life in real time, as it unfolds, moment by moment in awareness, you are present for it and with it and in it. Your experience is embodied”.

For many of our clients the Body Scan is the first experience of wellbeing and timelessness in the meditation practice, as well as the realization that they are a walking ‘mind gym’: Their body being the perfect training ground to practice mindfulness, one breath at a time. So no more excuses. Since everywhere you go, there you are, remember that you are all you need to train yourself back to center.

PILAR ANGEL – SEPTEMBER 2015

Photo: http://www.physiospot.com/research/multimodal-treatment-of-pain/

Meditating, looking for your car keys…it’s all the same thing.

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One thing I’ve learned with regard to talking about meditation with someone who is tickled by the idea of it – but has never tried it – is that it takes very little to turn them off. Even if you manage to avoid that minefield of craziness that has equated the act of meditating to having a “blank mind”, the majority of our clients still feel that sitting from 2 to 20 minutes a day is a waste of time: “I am so busy”.

It is precisely because many of our clients view mindfulness and presence practices as yet another project to take on, that many choose to not even try it. And who can blame them, when the list of self-improvement disappointments includes unopened P90X DVDs, unfollowed nutritional guidelines and unread New York Times bestsellers.

However, not meditating because you are too busy sounds like someone saying, “I lost my car keys, and I have no time to look for them. From now on, I will walk everywhere”. It is precisely because we are busy, that meditation falls into the must and not maybe category in our daily to do list.

Jerry Seinfeld, who has been meditating for 40 years, said in a recent interview that just like a phone has a charger, his practice is like “having a charger for your whole body and mind”. Sitting twice a day for 20 minutes takes precedence over anything else; “My wife and children know not to interrupt me when I’m doing TM”, the mantra meditation he credits with giving him boundless energy and insane focus.

In typical Seinfeld fashion he added: “When I think about the things I love more than money, more than love, more than just about anything, I love energy. I love it and I pursue it, I want it, and I want more of it. And I think this is the reason, by the way, why I’m so enthusiastic about TM. Physical and mental energy to me is one of the greatest riches of human life. And TM is like this free account of an endless amount of it.”

As for the practicalities of how he fits meditation into his routine, this is how he explained it:

“I’ll get up at 6 a.m. My kids get up about 6:45 a.m. And so I do the TM before anybody gets up,” he said. “And how does it feel? It doesn’t feel like anything. I don’t understand it. But here’s the difference. At 1 p.m. that day, my head does not hit the decks like it used to. That’s the difference. If I didn’t do TM that morning and I’m working, then by 1 p.m. I’m shot, and I think most people are. And now, at 1 o’clock, I’m feeling good. I just sail through the day, and then I have my second TM at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.”

So there it is. The man famous for creating a show about nothing has trained himself into doing something extraordinary everyday: Eliciting his relaxation response on command. Be it Transcendental Meditation or any form of meditation for that matter, the trick is the reset of your Autonomic Nervous system (see previous blog).

So next time you think you don’t have time to stop, close your eyes and breathe for a couple of minutes, ask yourself if you would rather walk or look for your keys.

PILAR ANGEL
AUGUST 2015

Fight, flight…or sit?

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Stress, the kind that rattles you and leaves you wired and jumpy is unpleasant. Even if it transitory, the flight or fight response is designed to save your life. It evolved as a survival mechanism that allows people -and mammals in general- to react very quickly to life-threatening situations; so once it’s set in motion, it’s no small deal.

This instantaneous and beautifully choreographed sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses helps someone fight a threat off or flee to safety. Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, and family difficulties. When you overreact to these types of situations, you can create a loop of chronic unresolved physiological changes. You pay for this habitual alarm mode, in a currency dear to you: health and wellbeing.

According to the Harvard Medical School’ Mental Health letter, “research suggests that prolonged stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction. More preliminary research suggests that chronic stress may also contribute to obesity, both through direct mechanisms (causing people to eat more) or indirectly (decreasing sleep and exercise)”.If this sounds like you, you’re in good company. According to the American Medical Association, 80% to 85% of all human illnesses are related to stress.

The stress response has a nemesis that lives as a possibility within the same autonomic nervous system. It’s the Relaxation Response which, when activated, allows humans to relax. It is seriously easy to evoke (see graphic below). Oh! you might say, this is reminiscent of meditation. And yes!, you would be right.
The benefits in learning how to evoke it regularly have been very well documented. Mindfulness practices demand that the individual sit alone with his thoughts, emotions, and nervous system, the hyper vigilant sensor of danger. According to Barry Boyce, editor in Chief of Mindful magazine, “when we sit for a time with no immediate project to fixate on, we expose ourselves directly to the workings of our mind and body, and can learn to regulate them more effectively”.

If we learn to manage and regulate our nervous system, our tolerance for stressors increases and we can avoid marinating in stress hormones, and probably avoid making rash judgments and decisions. No wonder then that the effectiveness of such practices is being actively researched on firefighters, police, soldiers, doctors and others who work in high stress jobs.

Next time you feel the urge to fight or fly, try sitting instead.

7 Steps to evoke the relaxation response

Pilar Angel, Co-Founder, axeos

Luxuriate in yourself.

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Ram Dass said it, “Be here now”. Eckhart Tolle” calls it “The Power of Now”. “The Past is Gone, the Future does not exist, the Present is here and that is why it’s a gift” say Facebook, Hallmark and even Buzz feed memes. Even our slogan “Be. On. Now” extolls the virtues of fully experiencing the present moment.

And yet, for all the present timeness that seems to be in vogue, nothing elicits more quizzical looks and agonized expressions than the invitation to ‘stay present’. Huh? What is that? “How do I do that?” ask our executive clients over and over again.

When embarking in a mindfulness practice, the first times you try to center and meditate, it may feel like you are trying to stop the Earth’s rotation and slow down time. It feels foreign and full of effort. Something as simple as paying attention to your breath becomes a very challenging thing. Why is it so hard? Well, for starters, maybe this is the first time you are trying to get your mind to focus on command. YOUR command. Remember, you are the thinker, not the thought. But the monkey mind –as Tibetan monks refer to it- has been running amok for years and years, and wants to run the show.

You can experience this right now. As you read this sentence, take a deep breath in. Now out. And again. Look at the words on this page. Stay with me. Don’t let your mind wander. Breathe in and out. That’s it. Now lift your gaze a bit, soften your focus and feel your feet on the ground. If you are sitting, feel your feet on the ground, go up and your calves and now feel where your body makes contact with the chair. Already lost?

Are you feeling impatient? No surprise there.

Like any untrained monkey, your mind will rebel, and do more of what it is used to do. Think randomly, process sensory input, remember, project. And as you are trying to slow it down and focus, it will remind you of the wet laundry you forgot to move to the dryer, the flavor of your favorite chewing gum when you were 16 and that phone call you need to make ASAP.

This is when you need to remember you’ve done this before. You have focused and remained present, albeit for a short period of time. Maybe not on command. But you have been present in the here and now. Maybe it took the form of getting lost in the gaze of your adoring pet, or staring at your newborn’s face for the first time, or when you watched the sun go down, ever so slowly, into the ocean’s wet horizon.

Awe and pleasure are present moment experiences. So next time someone invites you to meditate, don’t feel like they are asking you on an expedition to a -possibly unpleasant- faraway land. Remember that much like pleasure, meditation is all about savoring. Luxuriating in the present moment. And oh yes! You know how good that feels.

PILAR ANGEL
JULY 2015

Cynicism – The Dark Side of Burnout

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In our practice, we often meet clients who complain of feeling exhausted and unmotivated at work. They long for a past in their professional careers when waking up and going to work did not seem like a monumental effort. Their 9 to 5 job seemed fulfilling, the learning curve was exciting and meeting deadlines only left them hungry for more. Ready, set, go.

And then, something happened. The relationship with their occupation soured. What they put in, in terms of effort, creativity and problem solving, was not what they got out. Like a bad investment, a paycheck seemed to be the only reason to endure the daily grind. Days got longer, colleagues seemed pettier, and office politics required energy that would be rather spent napping. This disconnection takes many of our clients by surprise.

Our assessments and biofeedback devices let us spot some of the physiological markers of chronic exhaustion. Burnout can leave a breadcrumb trail of overactive adrenal glands and high stress hormones. Chronic stress can manifest itself in cognitive impairments such as fuzzy thinking, trouble learning and retaining new information or analysis paralysis. Productivity and high performance seem impossible… for many exhausted Americans burnout feels like depression.

In the last issue of Scientific American Mind, Christina Maslach, creator of the The Maslach Burnout Inventory, states that burnout is a three-dimensional syndrome made up of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. A tired and unproductive employee is an unfortunate casualty in any company, but if the individual is also cynical, the situation can become tragic for an organization.

Since cynicism is a state of mind characterized by a general distrust of others’ motives, the cynic believes that humans are selfish by nature and therefore, faith or hope in human pursuits only deserves ridicule.

Since most jobs are a team sport, the cynic can tear apart the fabric of corporate culture with their constant resistance, hostility towards change or any initiative that promotes employee engagement. In 2012, a Gallup survey stated that actively disengaged employees negatively influenced their peers, missed work, drove away customers and stole from their employers. As the job dissatisfaction, rises the cynic employee must find a way to reignite the spark that initially made the working relationship gratifying, or move on. The stakes are way too high for the employee’s health and the company’s bottom line.

At the Axeos Performance Institute we know that when the body fails, the mind follows. Cognitive performance is impaired by the wear and tear of a body consumed by chronic stress. Maslach and her colleague Michael Leiter, defined the antithesis of burnout as engagement. Engagement understood as energy, involvement and efficacy, the literal opposites of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. To remain engaged in a job that has its ups and downs means that an individual needs to know how to recover from disappointment and failure. Resiliency training is a key to employee engagement, and the perfect antidote to cynicism.
PILAR ANGEL
FEBRUARY 2015.