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The Break-out Principle: How to Activate the Natural Trigger That Maximizes Creativity, Athletic Performance, Productivity, and Personal Well-being by Herbert Benson, M.D.


Rating: (Recommended)


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Hit the Switch

Every time I venture toward a self-help book, I’m prepared to guffaw at the author’s approach and recommendations. Somewhere between “Sez who?” and “Show me!” and the frequent lack of answers to a skeptic’s questions, I lose interest. Few self-help authors can substantiate their approaches, and what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. It was with growing delight that I read Dr. Herbert Benson’s new book, The Break-out Principle. The Harvard Medical School professor and author of The Relaxation Response presents new insights from his decades of mind-body research. Here’s an excerpt from pp. 3-6 defining what this is all about:

What Is a Breakout?


Have you ever noticed that self-improvement books, tapes, and programs often promise the moon, but then don't deliver?

• Perhaps no matter how hard you Study and practice, they just don't help you at all.

• Or maybe they work, but only for a limited time. Either they—or you—lack staying power.

• Or you are wrestling with some deep fear, grief, or other trauma—and the program doesn't take your concern into account.

• Or a particular self-help program may prove useful, but you still feel shortchanged because you need improvement in several areas—such as playing golf, public speaking, and developing a consistent prayer life. Yet you lack the time or inclination to concentrate on more than one routine at a time.


Most people have had such feelings and have wistfully concluded that what's really needed is an ultimate self-help principle. In the best of all worlds, you might like to find a single, one-size-fits-all solution to your personal needs and aspirations—a panacea that would combine every personal improvement concept into one all-encompassing, easily accessible formula. Also, ideally, this single concept would infuse you with the personal discipline to stick with the program year after year, as you transform your life, for the better.


If you've ever found yourself longing for the self-help program to end all self-help programs, I have good news. After my more than thirty years of research at the Harvard Medical School, I've discovered that a fundamental self-transforming principle does indeed exist—& principle that has been firmly established in exciting new studies on the molecular, biochemical, and neurological levels. What's more, .the benefits—which reach well beyond traditional notions of self-help and have the potential to revolutionize your entire life—can be accessed through a simple but extremely powerful concept that I call the Breakout Principle.


So What Exactly Is the Breakout Principle?

In a nutshell, here is our basic working definition:

The Breakout Principle refers to a powerful mind-body impulse that severs prior mental patterns and—even in times of great stress or emotional trauma—opens an inner door to a host of personal benefits, including

• greater mental acuity

• enhanced creativity

• increased job productivity

•maximal athletic performance

• spiritual development

The most significant phrase in the above definition is "severs prior mental patterns." Many if not most of the problems we face in terms of blocked creativity and productivity, subpar athletic performance, flawed health, or even stunted spirituality can be traced back to unresolved destructive or negative thought patterns—such as nagging anxieties, stress-related emotional baggage, or circular, obsessive "mental tapes."


But there's more. You can actually learn to turn on a natural inner switch to sever those past mental patterns and activate Breakouts that will transform your daily life. My investigations, which have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, have convinced me that this accessible, biological-medical "trigger" can be used to power up creativity, deep philosophical insights, stress-reduction responses, and top-notch professional performance.


Learning to activate this trigger can also provide you with what superior athletes call the physiology of zoning, or getting in the zone. In post competition interviews, world-class baseball sluggers "in the zone" have reported that 95-mile-per-hour fastballs seemed to be moving in slow motion. Professional tennis players have said that their opponent's bullet serves seemed the "size of basketballs." And top basketball players have reported that when they shoot, they somehow know they are unable to miss.


These almost mystical mind-sets—which typically involve a sense of invulnerability or perfection, effortless activity, or extreme clarity of thought—certainly aren't limited to superior sports achievement. Public speakers, writers, and other professionals who have entered into similar high-performance states have described their experiences in similar terms.


In many ways, then, the Breakout concept does promise to open the door to an ultimate self-help principle that spans the secular to the spiritual. But to understand how the abstract definition applies in a real-life situation, let's consider the rather unusual creative experience of a top management consultant whom we'll call Jason.

To read about Jason, pick up a copy of The Break-out Principle, where Benson makes his theories come alive through case stories, and through practical advice on ways to approach finding what approaches to achieving a break-out will work for you.

Steve Hopkins, June 21, 2003


ă 2003 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the July 2003 issue of Executive Times

URL for this review: Break-out Principle.htm


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