Meditation in Training the Psychological Edge
One of the major factors overlooked by most individuals when it comes to training is the psychological edge. For decades if not centuries the Russians have been at the forefront of athlete conditioning. One of the reasons for Russia’s success in this field is that they consider restorative methods carried out after training to be as important as the physical training itself- there can be no improvement without recovery.
The rest of the world is now in agreement, that correct restoratives means have to be employed for an athlete to reach peak performance. This not only applies to physical restoration means such as ice baths massage and light therapy etc but also psychological restoration. Training at intense levels on a regular basis not only increases cortisol levels (the stress hormone) but also can lead to adrenal fatigue and a host of other psychological issues such as depression, lack of motivation and a decrease in performance. I believe that meditation post training can reset the balance psychologically enabling the athlete to switch from a high stressed state to a lower state of excitability quickly which will ultimately lead to greater gains in performance.
Through meditation the athlete can not only lower his or her state psychologically but also learn to create psychological distance from pain whilst maintaining awareness of the body and the mind. This can be extremely advantageous in many sports where high pain tolerance is the key. Take the rower pushed physically to the absolute limit, if he allows pain and fatigue to take control of his psyche he will not be able to maintain pace and will lose the race. If however he can maintain absolute control and awareness of his body, whilst also being aware that he is not his pain, fatigue or mind, a certain disconnection can take place and he can carry on through the pain and reach new sporting bests. This can be learned through regular meditation. At the end of each training session I recommend that all athletes perform a short period of 10 minutes of meditation. If you try this yourself you will notice the different feeling it gives you post training not only in your body but mind. Everything feels in balance. Try it for just two weeks and I can promise you will feel the benefits.
A Short Meditation Exercise to Try after Training
- After a post workout stretch find a quiet place you will not be disturbed and come in to a sitting position, you don’t have to be sitting cross legged but you can if you wish
- Start a timer for 10 minutes
- Close your eyes and start to bring your awareness to your breath, consciously being aware of each inwards and outwards breath.
- After a few minutes bring you awareness now to your body, feel the strength in your muscles. Be conscious of the work you have just done and the benefits taking place in your body
- After a few more minutes bring your awareness to your mind. You are not your mind. Your true consciousness is not your mind. The dialogue and thoughts inside your head are not your true self or consciousness- feel yourself distancing from them. Be aware of any thoughts as a separate entity. Don’t try to force them out of your head, just acknowledge their presence and your distance from them and they will begin to evaporate.