Here are a couple of tips if you are having one of those days that you can’t get out of your head. You know that feeling of pressure and constant thoughts swirling, doubts, deadlines, family problems. All are clouding your mind, and you can’t seem to put them in order. I can’t be the only one who has felt this way from time to time. If you’re one of those that get this way let’s explore some ways to get out of your head and into your body! (at least for the time being)
For athletes, these issues can cause a serious problem on the field and during training. These two simple ideas are meant to help athletes get out of their heads and into their bodies!
Guess what, meditation is not just for hippies, yogis, and spiritual leaders. It is for EVERYONE. If you understand the concept of mindfulness meditation, you will grasp the idea of stepping outside of your problems, focusing in on your body and merely recognizing your issues are there but just watch them pass by just like traffic on the highway.
It is important to realize that I am by no means an expert in this field but have been doing it daily for quite some time now. I have reaped the benefits of doing so. Here is a quick amateurs guide to getting started with meditation.
Quiet, Seclusion, Comfort
Find yourself a spot that is quiet and away from many of the distractions of day to day life. Maybe an office without a TV, outside by a tree, on your deck, anywhere that is quiet and away from anything that can directly distract you.
This is pretty straightforward, but a chair with an upright back that is of sufficient comfort is also something that you will need to begin meditating.
Posture, Focus, Breathing
Once you have found your spot and comfort, we can begin with the main aspects of this style of meditation. It is important to sit upright with your feet planted on the floor, and your hands are resting in your lap relaxed, Close your eyes and breathe deep into your nose.
The entire point of this practice is to focus all our minds energy on that breath, the feeling of it entering your nose and filling up your lungs. Draw all your attention to that. It is important to realize that your mind will race and it will fight you with everything to draw you back to thinking about things a million miles a minute. That’s OK the second you find yourself getting distracted bring you back to the breathing.
Remember that this skill is something that takes years to perfect and you will go off into space while doing this. It is to be expected, simply bring yourself back to the focus on your breathing.
OK, so how long are you supposed to do this for. Well, there is no set time. Start out small do it for 5-10 minutes per day every day and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes to an hour or even multiple sessions per day. Trust me you will not regret taking this step!
Now this one is pretty straightforward, not as complicated and many of you will understand that lifting, running, sports, etc. Are a great way to get your mind off of the problems of the day. However, I have a few recommendations as to the best ways to be physically active. These will allow you to focus on the body and away from the cloudiness of your life.
Hypertrophy Over Strength
Now as a strength coach and competitive powerlifter I cannot believe I am about to say this, but here it goes. Many people will say heavy lifting is a great way to get your mind off of things. I am going to disagree. The amount of rest between sets and the short duration of the sets themselves open up a big opportunity for the negatives of life to come sneaking back in during your workout. So, no heavy lifting. However, bodybuilding style of training is a great way to get back to the feelings of the body and away from the stuffiness of your brain.
Allowing yourself to feel the burn of lactic acid. As well as focusing on how the muscle is contracting is great therapy!
HIIT training is another way to get yourself in the best state of mind to clear your head. Having to deal with all-out sprints for 20 seconds only to rest for 10 seconds to go again is a great way to keep the focus on the task at hand!
This may seem like an odd concept for most athletes. However, it is once that if grasp can be a tool used in times of extreme stress. Now imagine doing an activity that you could get lost in. Something that takes your entire mental capacity. When mastered will allow you to shut off the brain and simply do it. That would be of great benefit for someone looking to get away from the distracting thoughts right? Some examples would be kettlebell juggling, Indian club swinging, mace swinging, light jogging, and rock climbing. Now, this is extremely personal and the only one who can find that activity that you get lost in is well…. you.
Getting Out Of Your Head
Athletes who suffer from performance anxiety, worry, and “monkey mind” as Buddhist monks call it. These simple activities can be both the short term and long term solution to these afflictions.
When it comes to meditation, there is no guideline as to when to do it or how often to do it. If doing it more often than not helps then keep doing it that way.
I will, however, lay out my opinion for athletes. When it comes to athletes using physical activity to overcome these afflictions. Make all weight training related activity to a low intensity (lightweight) and high volume (high reps). Keep cardio short but intense (get in and get out). Always remember to get in the needed restoration work after.