Ask Andrei: Mindful Cuing and the Importance of Activating your Fight or Flight Response
There’s something remarkably different about New Element Training versus all other “gyms”. You walk in and you’re immediately hit with this air of peacefulness - and it’s not just the lack of music or bright natural lighting, there’s something else that’s kind of special, and I’m beginning to feel it now.
It’s a transformational space literally because it holds the space where people transform - not only in a physical sense, but in a much deeper sense that I’m beginning to experience myself.
I believe that this is greatly due to the fact that the NET method inherently involves you getting into that ‘fight or flight’ mode, whereby you are essentially “fighting for your life”. Those last few seconds in each exercise have you on the brink of death (don’t worry, in a safe, “good” way), and dare I say the light at the end of the tunnel is never quite as beautifully bright as when you’re done.
I mentioned to Andrei in one of our last workouts that there’s this euphoric feeling once you’re done - beyond the “thank god that’s over with” feeling of when you do a standard fitness class, but one that is much more transformational. I’m beginning to realize that it might likely be due to the fact that you are “practicing” fighting for your life, so to speak, and hence once you make it out alive, you start to re-appreciate the joy and gift of life itself.
Getting into that state requires a dedication to the breath and the entire being, and Andrei’s mindful cuing is key to that process…
Q: What is ‘Mindful Cuing’ and how and why did you start integrating that approach?
At the start, I came up with it while working on myself. I was trying to be present in my daily activities, which eventually led me to realize that I could also practice Presence while doing the NET method. As I started to feel the difference with those kind of cues on myself, I began offering them to some of our clients who were open to it - and they loved it too. The whole workout experience changed with those cues, it became less ‘painful’ so to speak and even ‘enjoyable’. But it is not only the cues, both instructor and trainee have to be fully present to feel the difference.
Today, our cues are even better, thanks to the transformational work of Philip Shepherd. It is not merely: Lets not think and observe our outside stimuli and inner sensations for What Is, instead, it is more about reconnecting with the flesh of your body.
What we have learned from Philip is that the Present lives in us, it can be felt, it has a grounding point in the flesh of our body! So reconnecting with that felt Presence in our flesh and doing the workout from there takes Mindful Cuing to a whole new level. It reconnects you with felt experiences with your body like nothing else. It changes your relationship with your body. After that set/workout is done, you literally feel like there is a Wonderland going on inside you. We call this new method of cuing Integrated Strength Training (IST), again credits to Philip’s work, where we enter a felt experience with our body and become a more complete human being, as opposed to living purely from the head (state of Doing). We can just rest in and enjoy being in the state of Being through those felt experiences in our body, even if it only lasts a few seconds to a few short minutes.
Q: Can you elaborate on how the ‘Fight or Flight’ mode plays a role in the NET method?
Essentially Fight or Flight (FF) is what the NET method is about. This is why it really works. This is our secret ingredient. It is the wall you hit where your life and the life of your loved ones depend on you doing that one last rep in a perfect form - until you just can’t. You did ALL you can, no ifs, no buts!
In that state, because of high intensity of physical effort, our body produces exponentially more adrenaline and thus actives the FF nervous system state. In that state we adapt much faster, we burn fat more effectively, we grow muscle more effectively, and our endurance increases through the roof! In addition, we clave an abundant amount of glycogen out of our muscles (which is awesome for re-establishing insulin sensitivity on a cellular level and reducing our Systemic Low Grade inflammation). Moreover, we release exponentially more Myokines, and the health improving list of those hormone-like chemical messengers is just too long to even mention in this short blog post. So for all the performance, appearance, and health benefits, FF response offers the benefits which are greater than the sum of all parts. You simply won’t get the same effect from “moderate” exercise.
On a mental level - or I guess I could say “soul” level - because you have a date with it when you enter that state, FF offers that effect of inner peace. When you enter that state while following Mindful or Integrated Cuing you don’t have a name, a job, a family or anything else, you totally transcend your Story. You reconnect with your unfiltered core stillness, your core Presence - whether you can recognize it as such or not. When you transcend your story it feels extremely liberating, a few of our clients who are sensible to that feeling absolutely LOVE it! It is like taking a mini vacation from yourself, which is extremely difficult to do unless you're an advanced meditator or someone like Eckhart Tolle.
It is very common that our clients tell us that our place feels calm and peaceful, perhaps it has something to do with our training method, and its effects on clients’ experience, and our attempt in being present while working with them. We offer a space for transformational experience - at least for those clients who are open to it.