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How I Trained for My Super Bowl

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I sort of watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. The food at my brother-in-law's party was delicious, and Bruno Mars put on a great show in his sparkling gold jacket.

Speaking of jackets, I was obsessed with the silver down parkas worn by some Seattle Seahawks on the sidelines ($495 and sold out on the Nike website).

Not that I would have bought one.

I'm into cheap thrills at the moment.

Visits with friends, hugs from my husband and sons, a yoga class where I sit in the back row and disappear into myself...

My mother died recently, after struggling with Alzheimer's for more than 12 years. In the end, her departure seemed sudden. The nurses and aides who'd cared for her so compassionately were shocked that she was actually leaving this world.

My brother and I high-fived each other just moments after she took her last breath. "We rocked this death!" I told him, sounding almost as exuberant as Richard Sherman after his clutch defensive play helped the Seattle Seahawks win the playoffs.

I was proud of the way we were present and loving for the last days of our mother's life. We'd missed our father's departure 25 years earlier. Terrified of what life would look like without him, I'd fled my father's deathbed and returned home to my husband and toddler.

But my mother's death was different; I was present.

The most intriguing part of this year's Super Bowl for me -- aside from those silver jackets -- was finding out how the Seattle Seahawks managed to be present as well, in an unusual way for football players.

Their wise coaches have incorporated yoga, meditation, and other thoughtful practices into the team's daily workouts. About 20 players have been meditating regularly. They've learned to block out distractions and think more clearly while under pressure. The man who's guided them on this path -- the team's sports psychologist, Michael Gervais -- has said, "What they do can be used outside of football. It's relevant to any type of performance whether it's on the football field, the board room or the living room."

The Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll, was highly praised after his team beat the Denver Broncos so soundly. "He's created a new age way of coaching,'" said ESPN analyst Steve Young. "The attitude of the whole coaching staff now is 'What can we do to make you healthier, stronger, more physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally fit?'"

Young was ecstatic as he praised the Seahawks young quarterback, Russell Wilson. "He is so present through every play!"

Isn't that what we are all trying to do? Be present for every play? Don't we all want to show up for each minute of our lives, including the giant ones?

We all have our own Super Bowls -- moments or days or periods in life when everything we've been training for comes together dramatically or utterly falls apart.

And what are we all training for?

A good death? (Where someone is high-fiving someone else with gratitude and joy for a life well lived and loved?)

I've been laying low since my mother died, with a craving to be still. I'm trying to imagine and then let go of the thought that I am now living in a world where my parents no longer exist.

But maybe I am in training.

I've been in training for a long time. The meditation practice I developed five years ago -- while writing a book about healing from my panic disorder -- has served me well, as events large and small have surprised me or challenged me. EMDR therapy has given me strength and confidence. My spiritual practice has provided me with some poetic moments. The teachers and healers who've been by my side cheering me on (without fancy silver jackets) while I train for my own personal Super Bowls have done so with a generosity and grace I will try to emulate as I move forward.

To my next Super Bowl.

For more by Priscilla Warner, click here.

Priscilla Warner co-authored The New York Times bestseller "The Faith Club." Her new memoir, Learning to Breathe - My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life, was published by Free Press. Follow her on twitter on Facebook or on her website.

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