- What is Meditation
- How athletes can benefit from the practice of meditation
- How to get started on meditation
Meditation – Getting Tuned and Attuned
How many times a day do you find yourself lacking attention, becoming distracted, or feeling frustrated? Our hyperconnected and globalized world has brought us many comforts, but a calm mind is certainly not one of them. Information overload, long working hours, constant barrage of distressing news from around the world, and rising levels of pollution have all created an atmosphere where it has become very difficult for people to relax, let alone gather their focus and attention.
This is where the ancient practice of meditation comes into play. To meditate, in the purest traditional sense of the word, is to achieve an alternative state of consciousness that is calm, relaxed, and inwardly focused. In other words, it is about taking all your focus and attention away from the external world, and putting it instead towards an inwards point.
Consider meditation as a way of cleansing the slate of your mind, of removing irritation, anger, restlessness, and even perception, and letting your consciousness reflect on itself. Do not mistake meditation for a religious tradition – it is all about connecting with your life force, and is only spiritual in nature. Belief in any religion is not a prerequisite for learning and practicing meditation.
The benefits of meditation are very obvious in today’s lifestyle. It can be the perfect method of self-care, one that helps you put pause on your hectic life, renew focus on what matters, connect with the larger things in life, and remove stress, negativity, and frustration from your mind.
However, there is one class of the population who may find some surprising benefits of meditation that cater to them – athletes.
Athletics – There are Mind Games Involved Too
Many may assume that sports only involve the body and a little bit of strategy, but the best of athletes – and coaches – know that having the right mind is just as crucial to winning a game. Indeed, virtually any sport, be in team games like football or cricket, or solo activities such as rock climbing or marathons, require mental endurance, the ability to strategize and adapt, and a level of vigilance to look out for danger. Can meditation help athletes achieve this ideal mental state? Yes, absolutely. Here are some ways how –
- Focus – How can you hit your target or reach your goal if you are not focused on it. Anything that distracts you, whether it be cheering of your loved ones or a bird across the field, is something that can cost you your game. With meditation, you learn the important but difficult practice of focusing on what matters. In other words, meditation can help you get your head on the right parts of the game.
- Stress Reduction – Clammy hands, sweating, and jitters can be just as common in seasoned performers as they are in novice athletes. However, not only does stress make you lose concentration, it can also cause a number of physiological reactions that can hamper your performance. With meditation you learn to relax in stressful situations, thus improving your performance.
- Enduring –When your body is about ready to give up, it is your mind that helps you cross the finish line. Meditation, especially the type that uses visualization, can boost up your physical endurance and make you motivated to achieve your goals, thus helping you gain a great edge over the field and your competition.
- Good Rest – The relaxation and calmness that comes from meditation can help your performance even from beyond sleep. Studies have shown that meditation improves the quality of our sleep, boosts our immune system, and helps our body recover more quickly from the wear and tear that are a staple of athletics. Indeed, meditation can become your all-natural steroid to help keep you in top shape.
- Get Resilient – Entering the world of athletics, either as a personal hobby or competitively, means gearing up for a world of failure. Obstacles, injuries, even biases and personal frustrations can repeatedly come in the way of you achieving all that you want to. With meditation, you learn to let go of all the negativity that comes with these challenges, focusing instead only on what matters – you and your goal.
- Know Your Weaknesses – The one sure way of winning in any sport is to be the best you can be at it. This means not only improving your strengths, but also digging out on your weaknesses. The inner reflection that comes with meditation can help you recognize just that, whether it be your temper that needs controlling, or a particular aspect of your performance that needs honing.
How To Meditate – Some Tips
Now that you know the benefits and edge that meditation can provide you, you may be keen to try it. Here are some tips to get you started –
- Do not go big on the very first try. You might be tempted to sit cross legged and contemplate for a good twenty minutes, but meditation can be harder that you may realize. Instead, start with a duration of ten to twelve minutes, and choose a position and place that feels the most comfortable to you.
- Distractions and negative emotions such as anxiety are quite common during mediation, and even those long practicing often struggle with these issues. However, it is important to let them flow like all other patterns of thoughts, and over time your mind will learn to simply observe, and not experience, these negative emotions.
- One game face technique often useful for athletes is to focus on one body part completely, and to experience its strength, power, and potential. This helps in cleansing out the mind of distracting thoughts and helping you focus, while also helping you connect with your body and get ready for the physical activity and challenges that lie ahead.
- Another meditative way that is high on motivation is to sit and visualize the results you want. This helps you remember why you do this in the first place. Imagining how the game will go helps you strategize, remember your strengths, and motivates you to give your best so that your visualizations come true.
So now that you know the many benefits meditation can provide you, add it into your daily athletics practice and build up your path to victory.