Meditation for the Athlete: 8 Steps to Get You Started
How do I begin a meditation practice? This is a question I often hear from my students. Meditation takes daily practice. You can read a hundred books on the subject and you won’t experience any of the benefits until you sit down and become present.
There is a misconception that you must clear the mind completely to meditate. Yes, the goal is obtain a sense of clarity, but it a process. To expect the mind to become blank the moment you sit to meditate is like expecting to have a six-pack the first time you lie on your back to work your abdominals. The mind, like the body, must be trained. Meditation, like any type of workout, takes discipline.
Below is a meditation I like to do daily. The first stages are from the Tantric inner silence mediation. The stage of breath awareness is a form of mindfulness meditation. This meditation will keep you present. You will feel a sense of clarity and acute awareness for many hours after completing this meditation.
- Set a timer for 12 minutes and find a comfortable seated position. You may sit cross-legged on the ground if that is comfortable or you may sit in a chair. I recommend staying seated rather than lying down so you stay awake.
- Close your eyes and allow the top and lower eyelids to meet in the center of the eyes.
- With the eyes closed, listen to the sounds around you. Listen in all directions. Without pushing any sounds away let the sounds blend like a symphony. Do not become distracted by any one sound, rather listen to the sounds harmoniously together. Stay at this stage for a little while.
- Feel the temperature on your skin. Feel your clothes on your skin.
- If there are smells in the room or outside of the room experience those as well. You are exhausting the mind of the outside distractions so you can drop into a peaceful state.
- Now experience the breath flowing in and out only through the nose. Feel the difference between the inhalation and the exhalation.
- As you breathe in, mentally state to yourself, “I am breathing in.” As you breathe out, mentally state, “I am breathing out.” Continue this for rest of the meditation.
- If the mind wanders bring it back to the mantra. “I am breathing in.” “I am breathing out.”
The first few times you do this meditation you may need to open the eyes for a moment to read the instructions. Try to stay in a relaxed state as you do so. After a couple of times you will instinctively know what comes next.
If there is a technique you are working on perfecting in your sport or if you are working toward a specific goal you may incorporate visualization at the end of the meditation. Visualization is best when your mind and body are relaxed. After twelve minutes of this meditation is the perfect time to bring it in. Visualize yourself doing your skill in perfect form. Or visualize yourself achieving your goal. For instance, see yourself standing on top of the podium with the gold medal around your neck. Make sure to visualize something you truly want in your life because it will happen if you stay committed.
Remember meditation is a practice. It is a method to help you experience more clarity and peace of mind. My suggestion is to commit to practicing meditation for twelve minutes a day for ninety days. It takes twelve minutes for the brain to reach the alpha state of relaxation and it takes ninety days to establish or break a habit.
I’m so happy you are embarking on this journey with me! If you have questions or want to share your meditation experience, please post to comments below.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.