6 benefits of mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation, thanks to the scientific evidence that has emerged in recent years, has proved useful for those who play sports. As many athletes have long understood, the real opponent – even if it may seem a bit mystical concept – is within ourselves.
We cannot overlook the benefits that this kind of meditation offers to those who practice sports and that allows us to come to terms with our strongest rival: us. Mindfulness is valid for any type of athletic discipline (from fitness to golf, from body building to skiing), even if the volume of studies and research is still limited, there are already a number of benefits that demonstrate how it can improve sports performance.
It reduces stress
Those who practice sports, not only at a competitive level but also at an amateur level, know that one of the worst enemies is stress. Not only what accumulates during physical activity, for example in the pre-race or in the most intense periods of training, but also everything that invests us during the day. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that allows stress reduction : it has in fact been shown that competing or competing under stress has a clear negative impact on athletic performance.
A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology shows that in athletes who practice meditation there is a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone . Constantly practicing mindfulness allows the body to learn to relax and manage stressful moments in a healthier way. In addition, it helps to create a more positive and proactive mental approach to difficulties and problems, also useful for improving sports performance.
Helps to focus
The great sportsmen are aware of the importance of the mind in all sports, in some where the mental condition focused on the goal such as golf or tennis, for example, is more than fundamental. You have to stay more focused when you are about to take stock of the victory, or a few meters from the finish line when you don’t have to be distracted by thinking about your opponents but only about your performance to give your best. Who has never heard of the “fear of winning” or “tennis arm”? It is a mechanism that pushes the sportsman to sabotage himself, meditation is able to defuse him by helping to be concentrated at all times. Everyone can improve thanks to Mindfulness that focuses on the present moment, pushing every sportsman to give their best.
Improve sleep and recovery times
Sleeping is a necessity for everyone, sports and not. A study published in the Journal of Sleep has uncovered a number of problems that athletes who do not get enough sleep experience :
- Mood disturbances
- Inability to concentrate
- Anxiety increased
- Reduction of motor control
- Weight gain
On the contrary, it has been seen that athletes who practice meditation consistently , had a higher quality sleep and a greater ease in falling asleep. They also found a decrease in recovery times, strengthening of the immune system.
Strengthens the immune system
As mentioned, stress is a real enemy for every athlete who, in addition, weakens the immune system and a sportsman certainly cannot afford to get sick especially during periods of more intense training or competition.
Many studies have shown that meditation, in addition to decreasing stress, also leads to an improvement in the immune system. In particular, research published in the scientific journal Perspectives on Psychological Science indicates that mindfulness meditation:
- strengthen the immune system
- reduce blood pressure
- improve cognitive function
Even if we are only at the beginning of a broader path of investigations and research on mindfulness, it is clear how much meditation offers undeniable advantages, obtainable even with a limited amount of practice per day.
Practicing mindfulness also has important outcomes on the human body: athletes who visualize the achievement of a specific goal through meditation (typically in mindfulness these are breathing exercises) can train the body to work longer, thus improving resistance to fatigue.
And training means trying and failing, over and over and often to make things worse are negative thoughts that lower morale and inculcate negative thoughts in the athlete’s head, I can’t do the classic. Mindfulness meditation helps to detach oneself from destructive and unhealthy thoughts that do not allow the athlete to achieve the set goals.
Makes you aware of yourself and your body
With it, athletes can identify and conquer those gray areas that put them in difficulty, mental and emotional states that are latent and affect the outcome of the various challenges, making them seem even more difficult than they really are.
Thanks to mindfulness meditation there is thus a greater awareness of oneself, with limits, strengths, fears and qualities that are the basis for building a healthy and real identity: a good self-esteem starts from these elements. In addition, meditation increases the awareness of every muscle and muscle fiber allowing you to understand your body, thus avoiding unnecessary injuries but also helping to train within the right limits.
Each individual can experience these like many others, all positive, which bring advantages not only on a sporting level but also on a personal level, triggering a virtuous circle. It can help athletes suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or mental illness by helping balance and awareness. Meditating is identical to any new path that you want to undertake, a journey that must be faced with an open mind and the same competitive spirit that is put on the field during sporting activity.