Meditation & Mindfulness for the Game

By Michael Hallock — Fivelements Wellness Curator

Sometimes people consider meditation and sport as mutually exclusive. Their thinking is that some people are the type to meditate and others are the type to play sports. After all, we usually think of meditation as sitting still with closed eyes, while sports is all about action. While there can sometimes be a divide between those two worlds, there is more and more overlap as professional athletes bridge that gap and develop peak performance through meditation and mindfulness.

What they find out is that meditation improves their focus. The meditative concept of being “in the present moment” translates directly into being more present to the game, less distracted by thoughts, emotions. Exactly what is needed to play well is what meditation teaches us — be present, be attentive, “keep your eye on the ball” as they say.

After you practice for some time, you’ll notice that meditation helps “emotional regulation” too. That is, we learn not to “sweat the small stuff”. Which means that we are less deflected by a loss of a point or a referee or judge’s decision. We learn to maintain our determination without wasting time and energy by beating ourselves up or throwing a John McEnroe style tantrum. We develop a kind of relentless perseverance, and we get back in the game.

As meditation builds focus and awareness of emotional states, mindfulness (moving meditation) brings greater awareness, ease, fluidity, and agility to our movement. As we learn to give close attention to body and breath, our movement is naturally enhanced. So in the game, we use that cultivated fine-tuned awareness of our body — experiencing where it is in space, the sense of balance, the proper use of force, etc.

We also learn to help the body self-regulate and recover quickly. While we may not be able to instantly slow our heart rate through willpower alone, we can very effectively use our breathing to do exactly that. Meditation teaches us to activate the “relaxation response”, training us to quickly move from intense activity to quick recovery.

World-class athletes are also masterful in rehearsing the game in their minds. Visualising practice has shown to be as effective as actual practice on the court! Experiencing the sensations of playing and winning are proven techniques of world-class athletes.

While it used be considered as a distinct discipline, meditation is becoming essential for those who take their sport seriously.

Game on!

About Michael

Michael has been teaching yoga and meditation since 1999. Over the years he has experienced first-hand how it improves the quality of everything we do — including sports.

In collaboration with Bruguera at Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy, he teaches a meditation & mindfulness practice with application to sports, where students are experiencing the benefits in their breathing, confidence, and enjoyment of the game.

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