In the world of competitive sports, any advantage you can utilize can mean the difference between winning and losing. Any slight edge you can develop can make a huge impact on your results over time. One tool that seems to be underutilized is using meditation to develop that edge.
Through practicing meditation, you can develop several benefits, some of which can directly improve your competitive skills. Just a short list of benefits a competitive athlete can enjoy includes:
- Increased focus
- Lower levels of stress
- Faster reaction times
- Increased creativity
In most competitive sports, it can sometimes get confusing with all the action that's happening around you. Being able to cut through the distractions becomes a very important skill to develop. By developing a habit of regularly meditating, you learn to block out distractions. Over time, this ability to ignore the chaos around you carries over to the rest of your life, including your sporting event.
Another benefit of regular meditation is a lower level of stress compared to people who don't regularly meditate. Due to the process of meditation, you learn to slow down and relax, allowing the outside world to disappear. By learning to focus on the now, things that might be causing you stress fade into the background. As they decrease in importance, your heart rate slows, your breathing deepens, and your muscles start to relax. As all this happens, stress toxins that have built up in the system are able to drain out of the system, allowing you to sink further into relaxation.
Between the increased focus and relaxed body, you're able to react to outside stimulus more quickly. In the world of martial arts, a relaxed body is able to react more quickly than a tense body. Part of the reason deals with how movement works. Once muscle group has to relax while the opposite group contracts. If both muscle groups are tense, your body has to overcome the resistance of the antagonistic muscle group to move. If both groups of muscles are relatively relaxed, then the prime mover muscle doesn't have to overcome the resistance of the antagonistic group, allowing for faster movement.
A side benefit of meditation deals with what mentally happens as you meditate. As you meditate, over time, you start to function in a mental state called alpha level. It is at this mental state that creativity springs from. Over time, as you learn to stay in this mental state, you naturally start being able to go to this level to solve problems more creatively.
What this means from a sporting perspective is that it can help you analyze your opponents’ strategy more easily, allowing you to come up with more effective defensive measures on the fly. This increased ability to block your opponent can deflate them, allowing you to win more easily.
With all these benefits, doesn't it make sense to include meditation into your training regimen? By being able to increase your focus and lower stress, you can train longer and harder, thereby becoming a more skilled athlete. By improving your reaction times and increasing your creativity, you can become the leader your team needs. You owe it to yourself and your teammates to become the best athlete you can become.
Author: Chad Kunego