Mindfulness

 
 
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By Erin Fay, OSI Coach

Have you ever wondered how an athlete like Alex Honnold, a professional rock climber, can keep his cool climbing El Capitan with no assistance of ropes? Or how Caroline Gleich a backcountry skier completed all of the pitches in the Chuting Gallery regardless of critics doubting her abilities? Or even how Tom Brady manages to pull off amazing wins every season despite Super Bowl losses and scandals? A common denominator amongst these athletes is that they all have daily mindfulness practices.

So, how does mindfulness help these athletes achieve their goals?

Studies have shown that a daily practice of mindfulness allows us to connect better with family and friends, lowers our stress levels, and focuses our minds by reducing the chatter or negative stories we tell ourselves. Mindfulness is essentially the ability to be fully present in our bodies and in the moment. Being mindful helps us to achieve awareness of where we are and what we are doing and keeps us from being overly reactive and overwhelmed by what is going on around us, meaning we are focused and present.

What does a mindfulness practice look like?

There are many different ways one can be mindful, some practices take 5 minutes and others can take hours. I‘ll provide you with a few examples of mindful practices that can be incorporated in daily life, in times of stress, and times requiring focus, like competition. All of the practices I offer should only take a few minutes however the timeframe can be modified by you depending on how you feel and what you need.

1. Pausing

Pick a recurring moment in the day, for example washing your hands. Every time you are washing your hands take 5 slow breaths in and out. I like this practice because I wash my hands multiple times a day so it allows for multiple moments to pause and breath.

2. Counting the Breath

Find a comfortable place to sit. Once you are comfortable begin to count your breaths (inhale is 1 and exhale is 2) up to 10. Once you have reached 10 you can continue by  counting down to 1. Once you have finished counting your breath take a minute or two to notice how you feel.  This practice allows you be fully present in the moment and in your body by following your breath.

3. Taking a Walk

Allot 5 to 15 minutes of your day to take a walk. This walk can be anywhere however, nature would be ideal as it has calming and restorative properties. During this walk be mindful of each step you take. With each step feel the muscles start to engage in your feet, up through the legs and into the hips. This practice may seem strange at first but over time it builds mind and body connections that give us a deeper understanding of our bodies function.  

Just as we practice our boot strokes, skate technique, and bunny hops, mindfulness is only successful if practiced. The idea of mindfulness can easily be understood and conceptualized however to truly reap the benefits it must be embodied and experienced. I encourage you to take 5 minutes each day to take a mindful break and practice the mindful techniques I have offered. Notice if your mood changes, if your focus is more clear, or even if your stress is lowered. Mindfulness has many wonderful benefits that can only be experienced if we practice.

So…

Take a deep breath in and let it out.

Take a deep breath in and let it out.

Take a deep breath in and let it out.

Take a deep breath in and let it out.

Take a deep breath in and let it out.

 
Team OSIAmy Falcione