Meditation For Athletes
By Deirdre Maloney
Meditation can help take you away from anxious feelings and obsessive thinking.
Sometimes race day nerves can take you to that place of anxiety, self doubt and the mind gets carried away.
I came across sleep meditation about 1.5 years ago. I tend to lay in bed at night and go over my day, then go over a conversation or problem in my day over and over. Or I may fantasize about the following day, what’s going to happen, how will I cope or respond and whom I may speak to and what our conversation will be…over and over again.
It’s exhausting but not enough to conk me out half of the time. This is where YouTube comes in handy. There is a plentiful amount of videos dedicated to giving you a good nights sleep. Type in ‘sleep meditation’ or ‘meditation for anxiety’ and you will get your fix. Ocean waves and positive speech will help whisk you away.
I find these videos most helpful on a race night. There is nothing worse than lying wide awake when you need to be getting a great nights sleep to feel fresh the next day. If you can really make the effort to slow down your thoughts, stay focused on your breathe, you can be in LaLa Land very quickly.
Since listening to sleep meditation I decided to add it into my daily routine. I make time 3-4 days per week to sit in a quiet meditation to clear my head, reduce stress and practice self love. I really believe, by my experience that practicing meditation brings me more self awareness, helps me manage my emotions and keeps me aware of my inner self.
I believe we practice a form of meditation on the bike. I find being focused on a specific workout can be a great form of meditation. Your thoughts and problems can quickly disappear with the intense focus certain workouts demand. This is one of the awesome things about cycling, it’s amazing for mental health.
Cycling also has the athlete living in the moment. We need to constantly focus on the road for cracks, stones, sand and of course traffic. This keeps us completely mindful and doesn’t allow for too much “monkey brain”.
Yoga is another place where I feel I get a good meditation session in. Yoga is a great place to get started if you haven’t tried meditation. The savasana (corpse pose) done at the beginning and end of each class is the perfect place to clear your mind, use your breathe and let thoughts escape as they come in. Acknowledge the thought and release it. Using a mantra is helpful, this is a repetitive chant, breathe, breathe, breathe or relaxed, relaxed, relaxed. I also find using a mantra in my meditation at home helpful if I’m trying to pass through a specific emotion. If I’m feeling angry I will silently chant, angry, angry, angry. I find acknowledging the feeling and allowing myself to feel it without the thinking is the key to managing the anxiety. Our thoughts often get in the way of our happiness. It’s amazing how you can move through the emotion if you open your mind to trying something new.