Over the years we have read and heard more and more talk about meditation and how the eastern influences have moved west. I was introduced to yoga and meditation when I was the assistant golf coach at the University of Florida in 2004. It was the off season with the team and the head coach and I set up some group yoga sessions for them. One of the sessions, we had a guest come in and introduce a lot of us to meditation and the benefits gained by a daily practice.
I was instantly intrigued. It appeared to be a great thing to do in the morning and evening and it sure seemed as if it would improve my golf performance. Since that day I have regularly meditated. I have experimented with different types and read a lot of books on it. When I started my regular meditation in early 2005 it sparked my desire to get back on the golf course and play full time. I was rewarded with qualifying for the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst.
Our breath is vital to achieving a calm focus. When we get nervous during a competition we experience fight or flight like symptoms. Breathing properly down into your abdomen immediately starts to bring the body back to a calmer state. The longer we practice meditation and learn to just follow our breath and watch and observe our thoughts, we are able to do that in our athletic endeavors and perform in a more zone like state. The greatest athletes have said that when they are in the zone they aren’t thinking, they just react, they see the ball, hit the ball, make the basket, or make the catch. By learning to put yourself in a calmer state where your brain quiets with all of its thoughts you get closer to performing in the zone.
To gain the benefits from meditation start very simple. Sit for 5 to 10 minutes with your spine upright. You can either sit cross legged or in a chair. All you have to do is be aware of your breathing. Don’t control it, just be aware of it. Also, have your awareness be on your thoughts. Don’t judge the thoughts just let them float through your head. If you find yourself going with a train of thought take yourself back to your breathing and focus on that. The more you do it, the more you will have moments where you won’t have much mind chatter. It will feel calm and pleasant and you will be immersed in the moment. Great performance comes from when we are fully engaged in the present moment. Besides the improved athletic performance, meditation has an even greater array of health benefits.
Until next time, enjoy improving your meditation practice or starting one for the first time.
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