Using Meditation to Become A Mindful Athlete
In an age of hyperactivity and the next distraction looming with the next scroll down the phone, focus is an underdeveloped skill. One can’t expect to simply focus. It must be trained and treated like any other skill.
It requires work. And it’s an odd paradox for one to train focus and attention because it actually takes surrendering and letting go — an open field of awareness. These are the tools that make us better practitioners of BJJ and better humans at the same time.
Below I’ll cover the topic of meditation as it tends to have a stigma. As an athlete and practitioner who wants to improve over the course of time, training your focus will be the most instrumental skill in that pursuit.
Importance of Meditation
Meditation centers around breath awareness and the observation of senses and thoughts. Awareness to your world in an observant fashion gives you the freedom to see things as they are. This kicks your emotional attachment out of the game in both a tangible rolling scenario and the drama of everyday life.
Physiological Effects of Meditation
Having this breath awareness will naturally lengthen and kick the nervous system into a more parasympathetic (relaxed) tone driven by the diaphragm: the deep muscle in the lower belly that is the generator of our breath cycles.
Being able to cue the relaxation response in BJJ is a pertinent skill to reach your full potential. The chaos of an event like BJJ should easily target the sympathetic (fight or flight) system, but by being aware of our breathing, we set the stage for a more observant and “flow-like” response, making it especially important for the BJJ practitioner.
Application to Combat Sports
When you’re rolling and you’re aware of your own breathing, you have a leg up because odds are the other person isn’t. And if they are, at least you’re not a leg down.
By being aware of your breathing, you have the freedom to be aware of their breathing and the muscular tension in their body. This hyperawareness will allow you to read and redirect their movement naturally because your body (since it’s relaxed) is taking what is being given, not mindlessly looking to impose a will with its ego.
It can offer spontaneously the proper creative and coordinated action that is necessary to sort out the puzzle at that moment.
Paradox of Meditation
There’s a paradox of meditation: we focus on the body as a way to actually remove ourselves from being so interconnected with sense perceptions and thoughts.
Being aware of this paradox will build the fundamental aspect of mindfulness practice: awareness.
You want meditation to be repeatable. So perform it for less time if that means you’ll perform it more often.
Begin performing your meditation at a tolerable amount of time. I start with 5 minutes and practice going longer with this technique as my patience to be still and focus increases.
In the next post I’ll cover two actual techniques from Dr. Joe Dispenza.
I’ll go in more detail then, but for now simply bring awareness to your life and the moments that make up your day.
Until next time, stay mobile and aware friends!
I cover more performance training tidbits with my ebook “The Foundations of Movement Autonomy, Vitality, and Performance” that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!
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