This study, featured at Barking Up the Wrong Tree, shows that increasing cognitive load can reduce choking in athletic performance. Specifically, they had people count backward from 100. An excerpt:
When pressure to perform is increased, individuals commonly perform worse than if there were no pressure (“choking under pressure’). Two mechanisms have been proposed to account for this effect-distraction (cognitive load), wherein pressure distracts attention from the task, and self focus, wherein attention shifts inward interfering with performance. To distinguish between these two competing explanations, the current experiment manipulated pressure by offering performance-contingent rewards. For half the participants, cognitive load was increased by requiring participants to count backward from 100. Additionally, adaptation to self awareness was manipulated by videotaping half the participants during practice trials. Results show that pressure caused choking when participants were not distracted and had not been adapted to self awareness. This effect was attenuated when cognitive load was increased or when self-awareness adaptation had occurred. These results support self focus mediated misregulation as the mechanism for choking and disconfirm the distraction hypothesis.
Koanic Soul increases background cognitive load slightly by adding tongues prayer and occasional koans to your mental monologue.
The other factor the study examined was “self-awareness adaptation.” Basically, this just means numbing to the excitement stimulus. The experimenters continuously applied a different pressure, self-consciousness induced by video-taping, and found it reduced the impact of the performance-based reward pressure.
Koanic Soul short-circuits the way you experience performance pressure. It acclimates you to external pressure by constantly calling you to high ideals that are connected to ultimate meaning. It simultaneously discounts external pressure sources by denying the significance of the attached rewards.
It reframes your reality, taking you from a reactive state to a confident and relaxed one. Then it induces a mild cognitive burden to prevent your mind from wandering back to the subject of worry. And it continually refreshes your state, to prevent drift.