Mindful meditation has numerous benefits that help athletes to perform at their very best. While seated with an upright posture, eyes closed, and palms on your laps, you are ready to begin practicing mindfulness. The main focus of this meditation is to be present. Thoughts will enter your mind, but that is what mindfulness is about. Once you are aware of your thoughts, which are mainly past or future-tense, you can shift your focus back onto your breath. Coming back to your breath ensures that you are mindful in the present moment. You are living here and now.
How does this relate to baseball?
Baseball has the ability to wear and tear on a player’s mind, no matter their skill level. When this happens, which it will at many times throughout your career, it is important to be prepared to handle it properly. Mindfulness helps baseball players to be in the present moment and to play pitch to pitch. Maybe in your first at-bat you had the opportunity to drive in the runner on 3rd base with no outs, but you struck out instead. That moment may take a toll on your mind for the next at-bat when you are put in the same situation. When you are not mindful of your unconscious thoughts that your previous at-bat is surely affecting your confidence, your chances of driving in that run are significantly lowered.
The more you practice mindfulness, the better you will become. I have found it very difficult to do when first starting out, with most sessions consisting of lots of fidgeting, racing thoughts, and restlessness. The one thing that helped to find success with meditation was to be consistent with my practice. For a few weeks it was extremely difficult, but meditating got much easier to do the more I did it. As with anything, your preparation is the separator between greatness and mediocrity.
How can you practice mindful meditation?
- Find a relaxing setting- Mindful meditation is much easier to practice when you are able to eliminate as many outside distractions as possible. To start, environmental factors such as too much sunlight or too much noise should be avoided to have a quality meditation session. As you get better at this, your ability to find mindfulness in any setting will be much easier and may be much more beneficial to be in nature.
- Sit in a comfortable position- Sitting in a comfortable position will help you to keep your focus on your breath. Many thoughts may arise if you’re not comfortable, such as thinking about how sore your back is or how your legs are losing circulation. A major contributing factor to this is how you sit is when it comes to keeping your body in alignment. You should be symmetrical in order for your body to function at its best and for each part to get the oxygen it needs for proper circulation.
- Acknowledge your thoughts, but focus on your breath- The main focus should be on your breath. This is to stay locked into the present moment and to build your focus on one thing at a time. Your breath is what will ease the tension in any given situation whether it is a pressure situation or not. Your thoughts may take you from one place to another, but as long as you are aware of them, you can acknowledge them and come back to focusing on your breath.
Mindful meditation has so many benefits, but many people are not willing to do the extra work necessary to becoming the best. If you want to be the best, this is one of the best things you could possibly implement into your daily regimen. When is the best time to start practicing mindful meditation? Now!
Kewby Meyer is a native Hawaiian who earned Freshman All-American (Louisville Slugger), All-WAC and All-Big West honors in his collegiate career at the University of Nevada. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays and played four seasons of professional baseball. Meyer currently serves as the COO of Major League University (majorleagueuniversity.com), whose mission is to educate and empower athletes through the mental side of the game.