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The first step of physical mindfulness training is practicing breathing on a daily basis. This consists of sitting for 10 minutes and simply focusing on being aware of your breathing. The intention is simply to be with your mind and observe the thoughts that come and go without judgement. Another way to practice mindfulness is by paying attention to our breathing. The video explains how simply we can bring focus to our monkey mind by just paying attention to our breathing while waiting in line, drinking coffee or sitting in a meeting.
Here is how this works:
Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair and set a timer. Begin with 3 centering breaths-deep inhale and slow exhale. Then begin to name your inhale as “breathing in” and name your exhale as “breathing out”. Each and every breath you name “in” and “out”. Quickly you will begin to notice thoughts arising. The practice is to simply name the thoughts, “I am thinking” and bring your attention back to your breath and name the in and out breath. Continue for 10 minutes.
Why do this?
The ability to be AWARE of your thoughts and to redirect your mind will support your mental program in exponential ways. This is the foundation of mindfulness training and the key component that will support your mental growth as a performer. This short, 10 minute sitting meditation seems simple to do, but what you learn quickly is that it is difficult and requires much practice to master. Practicing this exercise daily will strengthen your mental discipline.
Practicing Mindfulness Exercise:
A second physical mindful training tool is specific moment awareness exercises. For example, brushing your teeth and focusing only on brushing your teeth for those few minutes.
Here is how this works:
Decide that for the time it takes to brush your teeth you will only focus on the action of brushing. Become very curious about the action of brushing, how long you brush in one area, what does it feel like, taste like, sound like. Then, when a thought or thoughts enter your brain that are NOT about teeth brushing, simply name the thoughts and bring your attention back to your action of brushing. Just to make a disclaimer here-you will think many thoughts that have nothing to do with brushing your teeth-this is normal! Just keep noticing and being gentle with yourself as you begin to train your mind to focus on the task of just brushing your teeth.
Why Practice Awareness?
This is specific mindfulness training that teaches you how to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand. It is a self-study experiment that reveals how quickly your mind wanders away from a task. This will apply directly to your sport or performance when task-orientated mental tools are needed. We teach a 3 step process called Your “A” Game:
Awareness, Acceptance and Action.
Awareness of your thoughts and breathing is step number one in learning how to use mindfulness in sport and performance.
Practicing these two mindful exercises will begin training your brain and body to be aware and it brings forth the following principles:
- YOU are responsible for your thoughts
- YOU are not your thoughts
- YOU can redirect your thoughts by simply naming the situation:”I am thinking. Refocus on the task.”