Some associate it with the image of meditation and serenity. Being at one with oneself. Mindfulness and being mindful can be defined as having a non-judgmental, present moment awareness… which means… being present with whatever experiences might be present, good, bad or in different… which means…
Okay it is easier to understand by giving a common example of when you are not being mindful. Take brushing your teeth. Think about when you do this, you are thinking about the day ahead, planning and strategising, thinking about timings and work. You might even be thinking about the good sleep you had or how amazing Blue Planet II is and that you won’t swim in the ocean ever again.
Are you being mindful, is this a present moment awareness?
If you were to brush your teeth mindfully what would that look like? You would feel the water run over your hand as you placed your brush under the water, you would feel the texture of the toothpaste tube as you pick it up and feel the sensations vividly in your mouth as you brush your teeth. How many of us actually even taste the toothpaste? Consider the image below, the dog is in the present moment, be the dog.
That’s sounds interesting, but what has any of this got to do with sports performance?
Think back to when you were world class for that 30 second period, that weaving run up the wing when you channelled your inner Ronaldo and stuck it in the top corner, or that 40 m run, beating 3 defenders and scoring a try in the corner. What were you thinking and feeling in those performance moments? Take a minute and think deeply those moments.
The answer is probably… I wasn’t thinking anything; I was just doing it. I would argue at this point you were being mindful, you had a present moment awareness and were solely focused on the here and now. There was no space for ‘what should I do here’ or ‘should I hit the shot now’, it was just taking place in front of you, and you were there immersed in it.
So I am at my best when I have a present moment focus… how do I get this more often?
Being present moment focused is a skill, just like passing or catching. You don’t stop doing it because you did it once. If you are to rely on this skill under pressure, then you need to practice it. Think about opportunities when you are not mindful and see if you can notice them and then become mindful in that moment. Ever drive home from work and not really remember it? Ever in a meeting and not remember the agenda topic you are on? Take these opportunities to enhance your ability to contact the present moment.
How can I integrate this into my sporting life?
Next time you are warming up, get present with a couple of stretches. What does this look like? It is feeling the stretch in your muscles, the sensations around your body. Notice the weather and sounds around you as you stretch. It is not thinking about the session ahead or what you are doing that night. Sceptical? Remember this is the skill of noticing when you are not in the present and getting back there. Being in the present moment is when you are at your best, mindfulness is the skill that can get you back there more often. Still not convinced, take a look at this infographic below…. science.
If you are interested and want to learn more about how this approach can improve your performance, check out the Psychology page on our website and the 3 Session MAC approach.