Meditation for sport
While meditation is most commonly associated with guru’s , hippies, and yogi’s, it is also used by some of the most elite athletes in the world. Some of those superstar athletes include Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Derek Jeter. These athletes may have reached their athletic superstardom by receiving God given abilities, working harder than anyone else, a lucky break, or just maybe… it was meditation that gave them their competitive edge.
Meditation is utilized daily by thousands of people throughout the world, and many of these people are hugely successful. This is not a coincidence. Science has shown that by quieting the mind, and accessing the universe, that this creates a unique level of vibration within the person who meditates and which results in the manifestation of their desires. Research also states that while meditation is a practice, that when utilized in an already healthy conduit or body, that it can reach even greater potential. Athletes are an excellent population to be utilizing meditation because they already engage in daily exercise, and am assuming, healthy eating habits. The topics I will cover today include: instructions for how to meditate as an athlete and outline the benefits of meditation for an athlete.
Meditation for athletes is no different than meditation for ordinary people, except athletes have a unique advantage. This advantage is that athletes are already hardwired for practice, which is the foundation of meditation. However, many athletes do not practice healthy practice skills, but we will address that later. So this is a chance to kill two birds with one stone, and learn not only meditation, but how also to practice more effectively at their sport.
Practicing meditation is a way to allow the mind and body stillness, during its busy day. Throughout the day there are billions of thoughts running through your mind, and every muscle in your body is constantly working. Meditation allows your mind and body a chance to be still and be in its most natural state. I have heard many people say “running is my meditation” or something of the like. While it may be an effective coping mechanism, it is not meditation. Even in the practice of yoga, while throughout the exercise itself you may be practicing meditative techniques, it is only at the end in savasana pose, where calming of the mind and body are practiced.
Sit or lay in a comfortable position where you will not be disturbed. Your hands can be open and facing towards the sky in order for receiving, open and facing the ground for grounding, or open with palms facing the sky and index and thumb touching for deeper breaths. Find the position for your body and hands that feels most right and comfortable (which may be none of these choices, these are just commonly used meditative positions). The next step is to focus on the in flow, and out flow of your breath, breathing through your nostrils. Imagine a color of your breath coming in your nostrils and a color going out your nostrils. Focus on this for as long as you can at first, and try and clear your mind. This will take practice to quiet the mind, but do not force quiet. See the thoughts and words in your minds eye floating away. Try and increase your practice until you can sit in a meditative state for about 30-45 minutes, or however long feels right for you. You can choose to engage in this practice for as many times a day as you choose, and for as long as you choose. It is recommended at least twice a day, and many people engage in their practice first thing in the morning when they wake up, and right before they go to bed.
There are a multitude of meditative resources available online. Deepak Chopra is one of my favorite spiritual guides, and he often has free meditative challenges which are guided meditations and an excellent way to start your practice. He also has many free resources on his website, as well as podcasts with guided meditations. Deepak Chopra has a free meditation challenge beginning 10/7/2013 and you can sign up here : http://www.mentorschannel.com/WildDivine/SecretsofMeditation/LandingPage/1154/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=SOM_LoveLetter_1
( I am not a spokesperson or sponsor for Deepak Chopra, I just really love his work!)
You can also have instrumental or meditative music playing during your meditation practice, or engage in your meditation practice in nature. You can also choose to use a mantra, which is a word (either English or Sanskrit or other), that you use to help focus and quiet the mind. This can be helpful in the beginning to have a word to focus on.
The practice of meditation is directed by you, your body and soul. There will be days when your meditation practice is good, and when it is not so good, just like within sport, but keep working at it and soon you will be a pro. Any meditation is better than no meditation.
The benefits of meditation are widely documented in research and can help reduce many ailments such as anxiety, depression, and many physical illnesses. This is because it creates a deep connection and awareness between the mind and body. When this awareness is strengthened an athlete will see enhanced skills, and less injury. The mental clarity that is a result of meditation will enable an athlete to have better focus, better skill execution, increased decision making skills, and faster reaction times. Meditation will also help to reduce any other struggles the athlete may be suffering from outside of their sport, which is having an impact on their athletic performance.
I hope you all will try meditating for at least 21 days, and if you already are practicing meditation then I challenge you to take your practice to a deeper level.
Good luck to you all in you meditation practice, and give yourself an abundance of love during this time! Remember, the only wrong way to do meditation practice, is to not do it at all.