Meditation doesn’t always mean contemplating your belly button while spending 3 hours on a yoga mat trying to achieve Nirvana. As little as 12 minutes per day for 4 weeks has been found to be effective in reducing stress levels in athletes.
In a study published in The Journal of Cognitive Enhancement in 2017, short lasting meditation that took place immediately after strength training done in the gym had an impact on alleviating emotional and cognitive strains that occur in athletes. It also helped stabilize mood and maintain the ability to focus.
The key, though, is consistency. Meditating once in your life may not be that effective. However, a sustained effort even for 12 minutes a day, does seem to have an effect. Meditation is also not a one-size-fits-all type of a deal. Here are 6 ways to meditate and improve your game:
Metta meditation calls for an attitude of love and kindness toward everything around you. (Yes even the opposing socceristas.) Breathing deeply, practitioners are asked to open their minds to positive energy and kindness and send similar messages out to the world.
Progressive relaxation encourages focusing on the physical relaxation of every muscle starting at the feet and moving up to the head. The goal is to really picture the tension and its release from the muscles. This type of meditation induces a wave of relaxation, perfect to relieve game day jitters.
Mindfulness is in a way a form of meditation. Players should be actively attuned to existing surroundings focusing more on the actual experience of a moment rather than emotional baggage of that moment. This practice entails emotional distance to game day frustrations.
Breath awareness encourages practitioners to breathe deeply and slowly, focusing on the count of breaths and ignore thoughts that flood in and pull that focus away.
Kundalini yoga blends the movements of yoga with deep breathing and mantras. This one takes some coordination (and time), but also helps game day moves.
Zen meditation and transcendental meditation can be a bit challenging for beginners.The goal in Zen is to observe one’s thoughts without judgment. In transcendental meditation the goal is to rise above the person’s current state of being. Usually a mantra and a meditation leader is involved.