One thing that we’ve shown is that these highly-skilled performers are really susceptible to poor performance, because one thing that happens in these stressful situations is that people become conscious of what they’re doing; they start trying to control every step of their performance, in a way that actually disrupts it...The reason is that you don’t need to exert explicit control over every step of your movement. When you do, you slow down how your limbs are coordinated together, and you disrupt what you’re doing. And we think that one thing that happens in these stressful situations, especially, for example, in the athletic domain, is that people start paying too much attention—they exert too much of their explicit attention to what they’re doing; which actually disrupts their performance.
Later in the podcast Dr. Beilock says that meditation practice helps people perform better in stressful situations and prevents choking. Meditation is a technique that quiets consciousness—the logical, rational mind. "Meditation...gives us a greater ability to let go of information—to not perseverate on it," she says. It's in the unconscious where our best work is done. More often than not, consciousness is a hindrance, not a help.
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