As you start the New Year, I want to remind you about “living in the moment?” This is the ability to be fully present and aware of yourself and your surroundings as you live each moment. Achieving this state requires observation, appreciation, patience, quiet, and the ability to turn off the clock and put away the calendar. Leave the negative vibe of social media, so you can learn to relax and listen to your body.
While most of athletes don’t experience such times frequently, this is when most athletes feel the most alive. In theory, being present involves learning how to pay attention, and the process of getting there is far easier than you might think. There are a few simple things you can do right now to help you stay in the present and pay attention to your sports playing experience in a very positive way.
Take some time out to close out the outside world and spend some time with you, being a student-athlete is stressful enough, so do this wherever you are. Start by setting a few quiet minutes aside to close your eyes and just be! After a few deep inhales and exhales, let your body settle in to wherever you are sitting. Feel the chair beneath you. Take stock of what you are feeling, no matter how good or bad those feelings may be. Don’t judge your feelings, just allow yourself to become aware of the emotions behind them. You could do this 5, 10 or even 15 minutes. Let yourself work up to it!
Next, send your attention outward and become aware of things around you. Notice if you feel warm or cold, what your clothing feels like against your skin, the feeling of the air moving in and out of your lungs. Let the sounds around you filter through you and notice the underlying noises that you may have been tuning out. Next, open your eyes and notice the colors and sights around you in this same subtle, attentive way.
By the time you are halfway through this little exercise, you may be surprised at how much you actually notice about your internal and external presence. If you try this, you will probably find that “paying attention” will take on a whole new meaning, and it will be a very nice one at that.
I hope that you can take some time this week to practice “living in the moment” exercise. After trying it, you may want to implement it into your day. I feel sure that it will change your experience in “now” time and that’s not a bad practice to take on for the year. Enjoy, and don’t forget do let the stress of being an student-athlete get you down. Today, you must choose YOU. No one else is going to take you seriously, or make you a number one priority, if you don’t do it yourself.
Cynthia F. Guillory