Mindfulness Meditation in Sport and Exercise


Mindfulness meditation in Sport and Exercise

Do extreme sport lovers have something in common with meditation masters? It sounds a bit strange to compare the groups together knowing their differences, but do not hold your breath. Andrew May, a performance coach who spent the past 15 years working with elite sports people, in his article “Going to Extremes”, was surprised when one of his friends from his team, a snowboarder, came back energized and relaxed from a long weekend in the mountains.

How is it possible that after so many hours of being in the mountains in the snow someone can feel so calm, relaxed and energized instead of exhaustion and tiredness? Here what Andrew May says in his article:

Mindfulness Meditation in Sport and Exercise

Dr Arnie Kozak, a mindfulness-based psychology expert, has investigated the same phenomena in a book called Mindfulness in Sport and Exercise.

“All athletes have experienced a meditative state worthy of a Buddha. Sometimes athletic activities pull you into a natural state of mindfulness. Sport becomes a form of meditation when you engage in it with your full attention,” he writes.

Kozak is not the only one to have noticed this pattern. Researcher G.E Brymer showed that extreme sportspeople experience freedom from everyday thoughts because being involved in extreme sports or a highly skilled activity left no cognitive room for any other thoughts. They were in the moment.

Formula 1 racer, Jochen Rindt, once said that “when driving you completely ignore everything and just concentrate. You forget about the whole world … It’s a very special feeling”.

Whether you’re flying down a mountain on a snowboard, running the last kilometre of a marathon or kayaking through a river with a grade 5 difficulty level (translated as scary), you’re so focused that you are actually practicing a form of meditation – moving meditation.

Moving meditation is the feeling you get when you are completely aware of your breath and your thoughts are aligned with what your body is doing. You might be skateboarding, hang gliding, doing kettle-bell training or skiing down a snow-tipped mountain – if you are totally in the moment and fully engaged in the activity (sometimes referred to as being ‘in the zone’, ‘flow’, ‘switched on’, etc.) then you are practicing moving meditation.

When I think about this it really does make sense and even solves a problem for me.

I know the benefits of meditation and we even have a meditation guru at our clinic. I know it calms my mind and helps me to focus – allowing me to be in the moment so I can go home to my young kids full of energy and with a reservoir of patience. It also helps me to maintain good posture and avoid stress during tough times.

But as a high-energy ‘sports/jock’ type of guy, there are times in my life where I struggle to sit still for five-minutes and slow my breathing, stay calm and meditate in the traditional sense.

Now I know that I can grab my surf ski, rig up my mountain bike or throw on my running shoes and still experience the same benefits of psychological disconnection as I would through a sitting meditation, I realise how easy it really is for me to add ‘moving meditation’ into my life. (Note: The research shows that you are best to try and incorporate the two different types of ‘moving meditation’ – extreme sports/movement for a shot of adrenalin and energy to the system and to help you recharge and freshen the mind; and the more traditional relaxation activities like yoga, tai chi and deep breathing to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, or off button, and help the body to recover physiologically). Original article here.

You might not want to go into the extreme of doing some extreme sports or exercise, to have the same experience. If this article on mindfulness meditation in sport and exercise is something you enjoyed reading share with your friends by clicking LIKE button.

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