With all the scientific evidence coming out in the past several years, meditation is becoming something that can't be overlooked. As anyone who's ever played a sport knows, the biggest opponent is always inside. Meditation gives you ways to come to terms with this opponent.
It doesn't matter what sport you play, any athlete can benefit from the positive benefits of meditation. Meditation research on athletic performance is still very much in its infancy. However, meditation has been shown to help in other areas that could relate to athletic performance.
Every professional coach in the world should be looking at the thousands of studies that have shown the effectiveness of meditation. Phil Jackson, one of the all-time winning coaches in the NBA, has been using meditation for years with his players -- he won 11 NBA championships.
Here are a few reasons why every athlete should consider the practice.
1. It helps you focus.
Your focus will determine if you win or lose a game. When you're at the free throw line, and you're not focused, you may miss the shot. Why not train your mind to focus? Meditation has been shown to increase states of focus within the brain. Every athlete, no matter what sport they are playing, could work on bettering their focus.
2. It helps you cope with pain.
There's an old clichￃﾩ around professional athletes that no matter what, they're always dealing with some sort of pain. High endurance sports do a number to your body. Meditation has been shown to help people cope with pain.
3. It helps you deal with fear.
Fears can hijack our minds from the present moment; this can lead to so many errors in sports. Meditation has been shown to help calm the fear center of the brain known as the amygdala even when you're not meditating. This information alone is worth millions of dollars to a professional athlete.
4. It strengthens your immune system.
An athlete cannot afford to be sick; if they're sick they can't play. Athletes are always looking at various ways to avoid becoming sick, why not trying meditation? Meditation has been shown to strengthen our immune system.
5. It reduces our mind from ruminating.
Ever lose a game, miss the game winning shot? Fail hard? We all do. Sometimes it becomes hard to bounce back; we run obsessive thoughts through our mind. Meditation has been shown to reduce rumination; mediation will essentially help us reset are mind to focus on the present.
6. It makes you resilient.
The greatest athletes in the world are the most resilient; meditation has been shown to help out in this area. Everyone knows you have to fail over and over again until you succeed. Meditation helps you detach yourself from the negative thoughts that keep you from achieving your goals.
7. It reduces stress.
Athletes are always under stress. They pride themselves on the ability to be in a high stress environment. Why not embrace a practice that has been shown to reduce stress? Incorporating a little bit of meditation before the game could help.
8. It helps to stabilize emotions.
One study showed that people with more mindful traits are better able to stabilize their emotions and have better control over their moods. The competitive nature of all athletes causes them to have to deal with a roller coaster of different emotions. Why not embrace meditation and uses mindfulness throughout the game?
9. It helps with sleep.
One night of lost sleep could lose a championship; quality sleep is one of the most valuable things every athlete should have. Meditation has been shown to improve our quality of sleep.
10. It helps us to see our blind spots.
Athletes train over and over again to perfect their craft. It's one of the reasons why coaches exist; they are able to help you to see your blind spots. Our blinds sports cause us not to perform well, and meditation has been shown to help recognize our blind spots. By recognizing these blind spots, we can work on becoming better.
Meditation could be that extra edge that helps you win the game-winning point or helps you go the extra mile when you think you can't. Why not incorporate it into your training regime? It just might make you a better athlete.
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