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Developing a Mindfulness Tool Box For Sport
Athletes and performers always have their best outcomes when they are in the moment. On these days the mind is quiet and the body is in complete alignment with full production. Things just seem to click and flow. These are good days, but what can an athlete do on days when things are NOT clicking? This is where developing a mindfulness tool box will serve as an internal coach.
The mindfulness tool box consists of 3 major ideas:
Accepting in a non-judgmental way to observe what is happening in this moment. With that awareness it is up to you to take a deep breath and redirect your mind into an action step. This is a powerful tool that must not be underestimated! Although very powerful, this skill of mindfulness can be difficult to implement into practice and competition.
Here is an acronym that the Huffington Post suggested that can be a gentle guide to begin incorporating mindfulness into your life:
S- Stop. Whenever you notice stress or imbalance, simply pause in order to return to a state of complete awareness.
T- Take a breath. Bring your awareness into the breathing body, just letting the sensations of the breath move into the forefront. Also, notice how your mind begins to settle a bit, bringing more clarity. Breath awareness actually harmonizes the cardiovascular systems in the body while also calming the “alarm” centers in the more primitive parts of the brain, restoring full brain function. When we are stressed we can’t think clearly or see any situation accurately, but breathing easily eliminates the mental fog.
O- Observe. Notice how the breath begins to naturally bring balance to the systems of the body. Let yourself feel the sensation of relaxation. Look around and ask yourself, “what is really happening in this moment?”.
P- Proceed. Having shifted to a more mindfully responsive mode, take an action that is more skillful, appropriate and best attuned to your situation.
This acronym is an excellent way to supplement a mindfulness practice for your sport. To learn more about other tools that help build mental skills refer the following articles:
When in Doubt Breathe Out!
Olympic Athletes Learning Mindfulness Techniques