If you are struggling to take your fitness or athletic performance to the next level you should consider meditation for athletes. The mental part of fitness and sport has proven to be the final frontier for many of the most successful professional sports people. So how have they used meditation to achieve their full athletic potential?
Meditation for athletes will probably not help you run faster or hit a ball harder. But you will learn how to become very centred, very grounded and very quiet. This will help you clear your mind so you are less distracted, improve concentration, be less stressed and have better self awareness.
It doesn’t matter what fitness or sports you are doing or even the level you are doing them at, the positive benefits of meditation are for you. That’s because your biggest opponent is always the same; YOU!
The aim of meditation is always the same, cultivating your awareness of the present moment. Meditation for athletes helps in a number of key areas that will help improve your fitness and athletic performance.
For you to maintain a good level of fitness or achieve a high level of athletic performance requires you to set goals. The key to achieving your goals is how well you maintain your focus. Consequently you should train your mind to focus as well as possible.
By using meditation for athletes you can drastically improve your focus and concentration. It trains your brain to be more centred and focused on your fitness and athletic performance.
Regular meditation increases the ability of your brain to change and adapts based on experiences. This is a function of stimulating brain plasticity. This results in faster construction of new neural pathways which support concentration and memory. Ultimately your improved focus will ensure you are more likely to achieve and surpass any goal you set.
The impact that stress can have on your fitness or athletic performance should not be ignored. Too much mental and physical stress result in your being more vulnerable to injury and illness. Whether we’re an elite athlete or not, losing time to recover is not ideal. It can bring additional pressure and increase your stress level.
The ongoing effort to improve and attain goals in the sporting environment can create a lot of stress. Mediation provides the opportunity for you to free your mind of emotions and to focus on your performance.
It also helps you remain calm when dealing with pressure as you are more relaxed and centred. Subsequently you will not waste energy which can be used for your body to recuperate and rejuvenate from the physical toils of exercise.
High Quality Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep makes everyone feel great and sets them up for the day ahead. If you are working hard on your fitness or want to play sports to your highest possible level you can’t take your sleep lightly.
A lack of sleep can impact your sporting performance negatively, contributing to inability to concentrate and retain focus. It may also cause anxiety, depression, mood swings and even weight gain.
High quality sleep comes from you being relaxed and stress free when you hit the sack. Meditating before you sleep will help you quiet the mind and body and allows you to let go of the day.
You will then experience all the benefits of high quality sleep. Your body will recover faster from training, playing sports or from injury.
An area that could stop you from achieving your fitness or sporting goals is a lack of self awareness. You may have habits or tendencies that you ignore and they may negatively impact your performance.
Meditation for athletes is a great tool enabling you to look inwardly and recognise “blind spots” that are holding you back from achieving your goals. Your “blind spots” prevent you from performing as well as you should.
Once you have identified these “blind spots” you can work with coaches and personal trainers to overcome them. This may involve you doing specific mental and physical training or developing coping mechanisms to manage or overcome them.
A flow on effect of employing meditation to improve your self-awareness is increased confidence. A major “blind spot” for you may be negative thoughts that quell self doubt and judgement.
These can be very destructive for you as an athlete as they take your awareness from the present moment. This can be crucial at critical stages in a game or training exercise. At those stages you want to have razor sharp focus.
Meditation for athletes helps you build a strong mental presence which improves your focus. It also helps your brain manage and quieten negative emotions and thoughts. The benefit of having less negative emotions and thoughts is that you really understand who you are.
When you know who you are, you feel and you exude confidence. Obtaining authentic confidence in yourself and your fitness and sporting capacities is further proof that meditation can provide a significant competitive advantage.
Doing fitness and playing sports can put a big strain on your body. Lots of time you will be dealing with some sort of pain, which can be when you are training or competing. This is especially true if you are involved in endurance sports like running and triathlons.
These sports have become increasingly popular over the last couple of decades. They have also been taken up by many people who didn’t do fitness or play sports regularly previously.
Meditation for athletes can be a really valuable tool for you if you want to excel in endurance sports. In these types of activities you are likely to have specific times you want to achieve. You may also be doing a lot of training alone and will need to find ways to stay motivated.
When mediating you can visualise accomplishing your goals and stay motivated to achieve them. You will also learn many breathing techniques which will benefit your body. This allows it to work harder and longer when training and competing.
Finally mindfulness training has been shown to reduce pain intensity by 40% and reduce pain unpleasantness by 57%.
There can be many reasons why you participate in fitness and sporting activities. You may love the way you feel after you complete a challenging workout or succeed in a competitive match. It may also be important to you to feel and look good or lead a healthy lifestyle.
But the biggest reason that will keep you training and playing sports is the enjoyment you get from those activities. Furthermore it is not a secret that your athletic performance is closely connected to how much enjoyment you get from the activities.
Having your mind focused when you are participating in fitness and sporting activities will increase your enjoyment. Use meditation for athletes to stay in the present moment. You will gain more joy, motivation and satisfaction from your fitness and sport.
How To Take Action
You shouldn’t feel intimidated about trying meditation for athletes for the first time. If you have been doing fitness training or sports then you have used some activities to focus or get into the zone. This could have been taking a moment to take some deep breaths before a big point or a challenging exercise.
Taking those slow deep breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth would have been quite effective. By bringing attention to your breathing you would have been able to block out emotions and thoughts that would distract you from the task at hand.
Your goal with meditation for athletes is to do similar exercises on a regular basis. Try to integrate meditation into your weekly schedule. Try meditating for a few minutes before a run, a workout or training session with your team. In the event that you need more assistance, pursue a meditation class or workshop.
Meditation apps are a very popular way to start as they provide guidance and instruction at your own convenience. They can help you with positions, breathing techniques, and mindsets that make for effective meditation.