Whether you’re a yogi, a body-builder or a boulderer, mindfulness training is guaranteed to improve your performance. Mindfulness training isn’t new. Jon-Kabat-Zinn founded his MBSR program (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) in the 1970s, revealing the positive effects of meditation on sleep, stress and overall health to the masses. New studies have also revealed that meditation could be the key to athletic success in every sport. The power of meditation increases concentration, allows effective learning and helps you work to your full potential. Mental preparation has always been an integral part of training for competitive athletes. Stars like Lebron James, Novak Djokovic or the Hahner twins have all utilised a new way of training in the form of meditation. Training without lifting a finger? Sounds good to us! 7Mind shares 3 ways that meditation can improve your athletic performance. And beware: this training strengthens you from the inside out…
1.Bullet-proof concentration when you need it most
Practicing mindfulness allows you to concentrate under extreme stress. We’re all familiar with that feeling – whether in an interview, an exam or in the office. Now imagine being able to control and harness that stress into positive energy. These emotions, used in the right way, can have a huge impact on your physical performance. Sports psychologist Dr. Darko Jekauc published a study that confirmed the fact that practicing mindfulness helped athletes to focus and regulate their emotions. Mindfulness also promotes optimistic thinking, giving athletes a greater chance of success as they can channel their strong emotions into positive energy. Take Manuel Neuer for example. His ability to concentrate while staring down a penalty shoot-out with Suarez is vital. In the moment, Neuer certainly won’t be thinking about a foul from earlier on in the game. He would be utterly present, calm and focussed.
2. Get into the ‘flow’ state-of-mind
In order to reach optimal performance, you need to get into the flow state of mind. This is that moment during exercise when you’re fully immersed in what you are doing. Nobody can distract you. Everything is happening automatically and you’re perfectly in tune with your body and your movements. Time stops. It’s just you and your instincts. According to a 1999 study by Jackson and Csikszentmihalyi, body and mind are completely synchronised when this ‘flow’ state is reached. There are also many studies that prove that athletes who integrate mindfulness training into their daily routine experience these flow moments more often than those who don’t. Then it’s easy to become completely in-tune with your body, making mindfulness the ultimate addition to your training.
3. Optimise success through relaxation
It’s only when you give your body the space and time to relax that you can fully regenerate and access fresh energy sources every time you train. When we meditate, our bodies automatically create the “relaxation response.” This state-of-mind counteracts the stress we experience during high-pressure scenarios, bringing our bodies and our minds back into balance. As a result our heart rate slows down and our blood pressure drops. Athletes become calmer and their system regulates, reversing the negative impact of stress on our minds and bodies. After an intense workout, this is particularly good for our mental wellbeing, allowing us to let go of the emotional strain and the physical impact of training.
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