With today’s hectic schedule together with the unsettling world news and events that bombard us daily, stress can easily creep into our lives. As an athlete, coach, trainer, and teacher this will have a mental and emotional strain that can wear on you, making you tired and haggard, and even disrupting our sleep patterns. In my case, I have found that consciously limiting my exposure to world news helps me to stay more focused and less distracted. Naturally, I want to be informed on what is going on, but I also want to give myself a break from events over which I have no control. And over the past couple of years, I have gradually begun practicing regular meditation. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and/or can’t seem to calm your mind, you might want to consider this mental practice.
Often when people hear the word meditation, they automatically respond with a comment such as, “I don’t have time for that!” or, “I can’t spend hours sitting on a pillow like a yogi.” I tell them that meditation doesn’t necessarily mean sitting for long lengths of time. Most are surprised to find that meditation is far easier and more enjoyable than they had expected, and very effective, too.
People, meditation is simply a way to gently open up the inner communication between your mind and body. It just requires some effort and practice to discover what works best for you.
If you are a highly active person and have difficulty sitting still, you may find moving meditations a better fit. Plus, moving meditations have the added advantage of building muscle tone and improving balance.
Focused meditation is also useful and while some practice it for long periods of time, you can still get good results with as little as three, five or ten minutes regularly. Focused meditation requires focusing on something like an image, a thought, a word, or on the breath, which happens to be my favorite. With breathing meditation, you close your eyes and breath in and out slowly. You count, 1, breath in, 2, breath out, 3, breath in, and so on, until you reach 10 and start the process over.
It sounds simple and effortless, right? But you would be surprised when trying it how readily the mind strays to other thoughts, such as that movie you recently saw, the conversation you just had or the sounds around you that may distract your focus and take your mind elsewhere. When your mind does wander, just gently bring it back to the counting of your breaths. It takes practice to stay focused on one thing! Just by trying this exercise regularly — even for just three to five minutes per day — is enough to make a substantial difference in your mental state. It is also a handy tool to use when a stressful situation suddenly arises. Simply excuse yourself to the bathroom for a few minutes to sneak in some meditative breathing to help you cope with a stressful situation and make better decisions under pressure.
Athletes, coaches, trainers and teachers, I feel sure that, if you experiment with this practice, you will find a meditation technique that works well for you so that you can face each day with a calm mind and a peaceful heart. Now I hope you will spend some time looking over your well being and loving you.
Cynthia F. Guillory