Popularised by Buddhism, meditation is a gym for the mind, and can be used to help you train in all areas of fitness, from martial arts and yoga to weightlifting and running. Bank VPT and life coach Didier Kan shares with us the power of the calmer mind, and how visualising your training can improve performance.
Mind over matter
The mind, at a conscious and unconscious level, is the conductor to all actions in the body, an orchestra of musculoskeletal system, organs and sensory nerves that work in concert to create coordination in movement and energy production.
Clear the mind
Multi-tasking is a myth, so is multi-thinking. In reality, we go back and forth between many tasks or thoughts very quickly, one at a time. As a result we dilute the quality of our focus, therefore the control of the orchestra and our very potential. Meditation teaches trainees to strengthen their drive, focus on present task at hand, and drop all distractions that may interfere with reaching their goal.
Visualisation therefore equals adding hours of fine-tuning and training practice as far as the mind is concerned. Each session strengthens the neural pathways in charge of the movement, and will optimise its execution subsequently. A striking example is the story of an American officer caught by the Viet Congs who visualised playing golf in a field next his home so as not to lose his mind while in captivity. Released many years later he went to that field, played, and got a hole in one instantly.
Meditation for a laser mind focus
Phase 1: Relaxation and dissociation from thoughts
Sit down comfortably in a quiet environment, close the eyes and focus on the breath. Visualise a beach with the sound of the waves correlating with the sound of the breath. As thoughts and images start to visit your mind, let them pass and disappear like clouds in the sky. Observe without trying to judge, label or analyse them, and you will learn in time how not to allow the mind being hijacked by sabotaging thoughts and emotions at crucial moments.
Phase 2: Visualisation
Once the head is clear, play the full sequence of the training in real time, and as realistically as possible. See and feel yourself warming up, lifting that weight, throwing that ball, kicking that bag, or executing that dance move. Successful athletes practice visualisation for both training and events. Consistent optimal training creates the foundation for maximum results.
Phase 3: Affirmations
If your training or event requires an extra dash of confidence, you can use meditation to self-hypnotise yourself and rewire your brain. At the end of each breath send yourself an affirmation.
I am ready.
I am strong.
I am focused.
I am fully confident in my abilities.
I am going to smash it.
After few thousands repetitions your mind will really start to believe it and make it happen.
If it's good enough for Bruce Lee...
Meditation is a practice that requires intent and repetition in order to show results. Numerous studies have demonstrated that meditating mindfully twice a day for eight weeks can significantly decrease the mental pollution in our head from the equivalent of being in an agitated night club to being in a quiet library. This implies that if we use meditation for training purpose with the same assiduity, we can develop a laser mind focus for all things, and absolutely increase the quality of whatever we do.