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The natural world embodies a rhythm of action and inaction that enables plants and animals to muster the energies they require for sustenance and growth. Bears enter caves and hibernate in the winter. Plants, too, enter a dormant phase during which biological processes occur that make it possible for them to reemerge in the spring. By alternating cycles of rest with activities that push us to the outer limits of our abilities, we strengthen the bond between mind and body in a way that fuels peak ability and high-level learning and performance. Because all aspects of our lives are interconnected, the practice of stress and recovery should be incorporated into everything we take on—all experiences will be enriched as a result. Effective methods include: meditation, stretching, deep breathing, play, even washing one’s face. By conditioning ourselves to move fluidly between intervals of tension and serenity, it becomes possible to condense the duration of recovery time needed for learning and exertion; we become more able to rally our powers of intuition and creativity and call on our knowledge and skills at a moment’s notice.

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Regardless of the discipline, the better we are at recovering, the greater potential we have to endure and perform under stress… And once the act of recovery is in our blood, we’ll be able to access it under the most strained of circumstances, becoming masters of creating tiny havens for renewal, even where observers could not conceive of such a break.
pp. 180,182

Interval work is a critical building block to becoming a consistent long-term performer. If you spend a few months practicing stress and recovery in your everyday life, you’ll lay the physiological foundation for becoming a resilient, dependable pressure player.
p. 184

Further reading: Chapter 16: Searching for the Zone

From THE ART OF LEARNING by Josh Waitzkin. Copyright © 2007 by Josh Waitzkin LLC.
Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc

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