The mind is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans. It sets our pace, dictates our limits, emotions, how we act and react. It’s the root of our emotions, decisions, and growth. As I like to describe it, the mind is basically like a clock. It never stops ticking. But to function properly, a clock must be maintained and taken care of by a skilled and trusted horologist, and some good ol’ heavy-duty battery to keep it up and running 24/7.
Athletes and anyone who's had a hand in any sport would know too how much the mind plays a role in the body and its overall performance. How do we overcome distractions and stress in the playing field? Meditation helps.
What is Meditation?
At its most elemental, it is just sitting, accepting the moment for how it is and being present. It’s like sitting by the shore, watching the sun set, half-listening to all the sounds of nature, and your thoughts or the sensation of sand on your skin.
Most people relate it with relaxation but bear in mind that in meditating, we are both relaxed and alert at the same time. Releasing our body from all the tension with every breath and allowing it to be alert and have a better chance to hear the surroundings, feelings, sensations, and thoughts. Revealing the “noises” that surround us and learning to be still while acknowledging its existence, opening our minds and embracing the moment and everything that comes with it, learning that it will all pass.
But how does it benefit athletes?
Benefits of Meditation for Athletes
1. Enhance Focus
Overcoming high intensity feats like joining a marathon, playing sports, or preparing for a competition is physically hard but training your mind to do the work is even harder. Meditation helps training the mind to zone out and focus on the important task at hand. A great example of achieving results with good focus is our mind-muscle connection.
2. Reduce Stress
Athletes go through tons of major stress mentally aside from physical stress. Meditation helps our bodies relaxed and helps us stay centered and trains our minds to remain calm under pressure. Meditation also helps build our self-confidence as it puts us on a more positive mindset while training.
2. Speed up Recovery Time
Quality sleep and recovery time is as much important as the work we put in training. Sometimes people don't see results because they have overworked their bodies and take recovery time for granted. One study has proven that athletes with poor sleep patterns experienced weight gain, mood disturbance, increased anxiety/depression, inability to maintain focus/concentration, and decreased motor control. Meditation eases the mind and the body and even boosts the immune system and prevent any illnesses that may get in the way of training.
Other Benefits of Meditation:
- Improve emotion regulation: cope with difficult/challenging situations
- Improve conflict resolution skills
- Increased resilience: overcome challenges
- Increased empathy and respect
- Improve overall well-being: feeling healthier and energized
- Heightened expression of creativity and collaboration
To end this blog, I want you to sit comfortably, take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Relax your forehead, unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders and think of your intentions for today.
Now, notice how nice it feels to make time for yourself? That’s the gift of meditation.