By Todd Luger
Imagine three days in sunny San Diego fully dedicated to exploring the path to peak performance for yourself and your clients. Learn more about yourself, exceed your own perceived limitations, and acquire new tools to take your professional practice to Peak Performance dimensions.
In 2019, Pacific College launched its health and human performance (HHP) programs. The MSHHP program brings together professional training in health coaching with a deep dive into the latest research on diet, nutritional supplementation, exercise, movement, and positive psychology for achieving optimal health and peak performance. The program provides the tools for graduates to critically analyze the explosion of new information while staying grounded in the wisdom of ancient traditions. The result is a unique and innovative approach to health optimization and coaching.
The Personal Peak Performance Summit (or P3 for short) is a natural outgrowth of the HHP programs. We began with the idea that peak performance is for everyone. Whether you are a world-class athlete or weekend warrior, ambitious businessperson, or parent striving for work-family balance, the path, process, and tools for achieving peak performance is essentially the same. We have designed a three-day conference with a clear outcome: to expand the audience’s idea of what is truly possible. Through immersive experiences, cutting-edge presentations, and group interactions, participants will create a roadmap and tool kit to facilitate their journey toward peak performance in any domain.
Whether a new physical activity that brings you back to the beginning of the learning curve or a presentation designed to challenge your preconceptions about nutrition, every aspect of the event is designed to expand your vision of what is truly possible and provide you with the tools and approaches to achieve your peak performance goals. An often-overlooked aspect of health and human performance is the process of winding down, recovering, and interacting in a fun environment. So, of course, we are going to have a lot of fun sharing food, ideas, and entertainment. We want the participants and presenters to interact as much as possible.
You will also get a healthy dose of ancestral wisdom at the P3 Summit. We bring 35 years of experience as one of the oldest and largest colleges in the United States focused upon the teaching of Chinese medicine, which is rooted in the practice of yang sheng or Nourishing Life. The Chinese practice of Nourishing Life is arguably one of the oldest and most widely-practiced systems of health and human performance. We have studied how the principles and practices of Nourishing Life align with the latest advances in nutrition, exercise, psychology, and more. In the process, we have discovered significant practical and conceptual correlations between many of these ancient principles and modern ideas. As a result, the P3 Summit will provide insight to practitioners of the traditional Chinese healing arts as well as those who come to the event from a modern, scientific background.
The audience of health and wellness professionals joining you will include acupuncturists, nutritionists, chiropractors, naturopaths, osteopaths, medical doctors, nurses, massage therapists, health coaches, fitness trainers, and yoga instructors. The event, however, is not only about continuing education for health professionals. It will be equally valuable for entrepreneurs and innovators who are interested in developing health optimization and peak performance products and services. P3 is an opportunity to discover the state-of-the-art as well as the next wave and, perhaps most importantly, it will be valuable for anyone who wants to optimize their performance: athletes, businesspeople, performing artists, first responders, students, and parents.
Four organizing principles guide the design of the activities and presentations at the P3 Summit:
Many of the topics at the P3 summit will focus on personalization. A core principle of Pacific College’s health and human performance programs is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to performance improvement. Depending on a variety of factors such as age, baseline fitness, genetics, and personal performance goals, there will be differences in optimal diet, exercise, and mind-body techniques. Instead of presentations strongly advocating particular types of diets or training methods, we will instead focus on how to assess what might work best for you, your clients, or patients. Approaches to personalization will range from the ancestral wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine to the latest advances in functional lab testing and artificial intelligence.
It is not just the lectures that will have this theme of personalization. It also extends to the range of experiential activities planned for the event. For example, we will be introducing HRV biofeedback as a personalization tool. After receiving an introduction to the practice early in the event, there will be group HRV training sessions scheduled each afternoon. HRV biofeedback can be used to optimize dietary choices, exercise regimens, and breathing techniques, to name a few.
Many of the activities and presentations at the P3 conference are designed to be “challenges”. Challenge refers, on one hand, to physical activities that push you past your current level, whether it is a breathing exercise, moving meditation, or learning to surf. Challenge also refers to presentations that challenge you to think or rethink how you approach an area such as diet, supplements, exercise, goals, etc. The desired outcome of any challenge is positive change (or leveling up, to use gamer jargon). This is true, whether we are talking about mastery of a new skill or knowledge domain, a spark of creative insight, or an innovation that changes the way others think or do things. Extensive research for several decades has shown that these eureka moments occur in what is called a flow state, also known as “the zone” or breakout. Flow is the state in which you perform at your highest level, but it is not the state in which you begin to learn new information or skills; it is just one part of a cycle that has four stages:
Struggle (or challenge) is the part where there is a lot going on in your head, whether it is wrestling with the neurophysiology of flow states or getting your golf stance just right. In either case, you are spending a lot of time thinking in order to get the fundamentals down. When you’ve been struggling with something, doing something completely different that gets you out of your head can move you from the struggle into the release phase. Depending on your inclinations, a vigorous hike, breathing exercises, meditation, or a salsa dancing class might do the trick.
The tricky part is not getting trapped in struggle, which can manifest as obsession or overwork. However, you also need to be careful about not getting trapped in release, as well. This can manifest in overindulging in things that get you out of your head (like drugs, alcohol, and sex) rather using the release stage to enter a flow state in which you can solve thorny problems or achieve the impossible in any domain. At the moment you enter flow, it is time to return to the problem you are trying to solve (creative, athletic, or otherwise). However, the flow state can be depleting. You need to be attentive to recovery. Recovery is essential to both integrating your flow state experience into your life and preparing yourself for the next cycle.
Just being challenged with a new skill or information is not enough. To begin the process of integrating the new information or behaviors into your lifestyle, you’ll need to answer the question of how you will use this new information to achieve a performance goal in your life. Accordingly, we have designed an ongoing reflection and goal-setting process that is based upon the innovative health-coaching techniques developed in Pacific College’s health and human performance programs. The goal-setting process introduced at the beginning of the event will be revisited throughout the event to facilitate the integration of knowledge and experience gained from the presentations and activities.
A key aspect of the P3 Summit will be the range of active experiences that will be available to attendees. Modern humans tend to spend a lot of time thinking about things rather than doing things. Being in one’s head is an important part of learning new information or skills, but getting out of one’s head is essential to mastering and applying the knowledge and skills. This is one of the most important findings of modern flow state research.
Equally important is the recognition that flow is a spectrum experience. According to Steven Kotler, “You can be in a state of micro-flow or a lighter version of the state—like what happens when you fall into a great conversation at work and one great idea leads to the next great idea and you totally lose track of time and wow was that fun! Or you can experience a state of macro-flow, where all of those core characteristics show up so strongly that the experience itself takes on otherworldly, quasi-mystical qualities—for example, time slows to a crawl and you feel one with the universe.”
Experiential activities planned for the P3 Summit include surfing or swimming in the ocean, qigong, auricular acupuncture, sound, breathwork, cold exposure, heart rate variability training, and positive affirmation to support your goals. Why did we choose these experiences? We offer activities that range from athletic (surfing) to physical but not athletic, per se (qigong, breathing) to passive (auricular acupuncture). The more active experiences are designed to accommodate people at a range of fitness levels and thereby challenge them just enough to get them out of their heads (and, ideally, into a micro-flow state). However, don’t underestimate the value of more passive experiences: whether acupuncture or reiki or massage, the benefits can be profound. In addition to these scheduled activities, there will also be experiences offered by our exhibitors in the exhibit hall. Many of our exhibitors will provide the opportunity to test new devices like electromagnetic muscle stimulators, home neurofeedback devices, and infrared saunas. All of these experiences are known to induce non-ordinary states of consciousness and potentially facilitate entry into flow states.
The fourth theme that runs through the conference is connection. The evidence is strong that forming connections with both like-minded people and those who challenge your preconceptions is an essential part of health and human performance. Blue zone research goes as far as to suggest that the quality of one’s social interactions may be more important than diet or exercise when it comes to a long “healthspan”. The importance of connection (or relatedness) to motivation and flourishing is also a core tenet of positive psychology. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, it is only in our interactions with others in a given domain that a breakthrough in thinking or doing can really gather steam and change the world.
Connecting with others for a group experience, to share ideas, or just have some fun is a key part of the recovery stage of the flow cycle. To this end, there are a range of group activities planned for the event, including movement, dining together, dancing, playing music, HRV group training, and group auricular acupuncture. Plus, people will be able to connect before, during, and after the event through our social network.
Mark your calendars for May 20-22, 2022.
The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler
The Breakout Principle by Herbert Benson
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi
Stealing Fire by Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler
Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner
Boundless by Ben Greenfield
Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness by Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci
“A meta-analysis of self-determination theory-informed intervention studies in the health domain: effects on motivation, health behavior, physical, and psychological health.” Ntoumanis, Nikos; Ng, Johan Y.Y.; Prestwich, Andrew; Quested, Eleanor; Hancox, Jennie E.; Thøgersen-Ntoumani, Cecilie; Deci, Edward L.; Ryan, Richard M.; Lonsdale, Chris; Williams, Geoffrey C. Health Psychology Review Jun2021; 15(2): 214-244. (31p)
“Understanding Flow” by Claire Goodridge https://www.claregoodridge.com/learn/2018/10/16/what-is-flow-zrehn
Maximum performance with the Flow Cycle | Steven Kotler
The 4 Cycles of Flow State for Athletes by C Wilson Meloncelli
Frequently Asked Questions on Flow by Steven Kotler
Todd Luger is currently the director of Pacific Center for Lifelong Learning, co-founder and guest faculty in Pacific College’s Health and Human Performance programs, organizer of the renowned acupuncture conference Pacific Symposium, and producer of the Pacific Center Podcast. Todd began his study of traditional medical systems while completing his bachelor’s degree in human physiology at Rutgers University. Todd completed his master’s degree in Chinese medicine at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) in 1993. After graduation, Todd operated a multidisciplinary clinic in Portland, OR. Todd received a faculty appointment at Pacific College in 2000, where he taught a wide range of classes on herbal medicine, including TCM diagnostics, materia medica, formulas, and advanced formulation. He also supervised interns 20 hours per week in the school clinic.