by Caroline Fout

As a performance life coach, Sarah Becker has a lot on her mind.

She’s the proud owner of SPARK Performance located at 116 West Washington Street in Middleburg, working diligently to give her clients the tools they need to mentally perform at their top level in the workplace, horse show ring, classroom or athletic field.

It may come as a surprise then, that at one point in time, Becker was in need of the tools she now teaches herself.

A 1991 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Becker majored in English and Spanish Literature. She then received her MFA from the University of Maryland in creative writing, while simultaneously receiving training in film and theatre.

A competitive show jumper as well as the owner of a large, traveling tack shop that made its way up and down the east coast chasing the horse show circuit, Becker’s “go” button seemed to be permanently glued down.

With a passion for developing young horses, she moved from New Jersey to Florida in 2014 in order to keep her competitive riding and young horses easily accessible.

However, the show ring began to feel less and less like a familiar, friendly place. “I felt like I was on stage,” Becker said, adding that after a crash through a fence on a difficult course, she knew something wasn’t right.

“I thought I would just quit from there,” Becker said.

Instead, a friend suggested she immediately see a performance life coach. Days after having a session with Laura King, now a great friend, Becker went from “crashing to winning.”

No magic, no elusive secret, just a change in mindset.

Realizing the effectiveness of working with such a coach, Becker underwent the training to become one herself, determined to give to others what King had given her: the mindset to succeed and excel.

Much of this training revolved around hypnosis, a tactic not only used on stage by smooth-talking magicians, but by life coaches as well.

“One can use hypnosis in a therapeutic way, you can use it to help access the subconscious mind, which is what takes over when you experience something that is stressful for you.” Becker said.

She began her practice originally in her home state of New Jersey, then moved it to Middleburg last September. Hypnosis and visualization are some of the prominent methods Becker uses
with her clients.

“These are things that can help people create a mindset for whatever changes they want to make,” she said. “People come to me for help with things like a fear of flying, fear of needles, fear of public speaking, and fear of test taking (to name a few).”

SPARK Performance operates on a system of speaking to the mind, which entails the 3 laws of the mind: “You are your thoughts, thoughts create a physical reaction, and imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” Becker said.

Visualization is also a key component of Becker’s method. In each session, she encourages her clients to take a 10-minute “vacation” every day, essentially
envisioning whatever scene or scenario it is that makes them feel more calm
and confident.

“You don’t have to tell anyone about it, just go on your vacation every day,” Becker said. “Its essentially day dreaming.”

In each initial session, (clients start out with a package of three sessions, to promote consistency), they’re asked to fill out a form with the usual questions about their medical history and birthday. However, Becker adds her own flare to the form, asking clients their favorite color, their favorite places, and especially, what kind of mentality they’d like to wake up with in the morning.

“For a lot of people, they’re surprised, that’s the first time anyone’s ever asked them that,” Becker said.

Her clients run the gamut from young to old, athletes, business people, and friends.

“The more you do this, the more it works. You can always improve,” she said.

Looking towards the future, Becker also plans to publish two books in a “quick-guide” style equipped with an audio portion for those who want to listen and learn on the go.

One of these small books will be entitled “Butterflies and Lucky Charms,” and will include ways in which to prevent nerves from blocking out success.

“Everything you tell yourself, you are,” Becker said. “The two most powerful words in the English language are “I Am.”

Now, go take that 10-minute vacation.

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