WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
If you have to think too hard about it, you’re doing it wrong
It may be the fashionable trend among stressed executives in the West, but the origins of mindfulness can be traced to the ancient meditative practices of Eastern religions such as Buddhism.
The emphasis is on taking the time to be aware of the present moment without judgement or further commentary. This heightened awareness is said to reveal the ‘truth’ of the world around us and keep the practitioner more firmly grounded in this reality. Various studies have noted the efficacy of mindfulness in reducing anxiety and depression, as well as improving general physical health.
Mindfulness in sport can be closely linked to the concept of a flow state – a psychological experience many describe as being ‘in the zone’. It wsa first documented in 1990 by Hungarian scientist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who identified that an athlete’s peak performance can often occur when they focus on the performing of an activity itself, rather than the wider context surrounding the activity.
Take for example Chris Froome’s unique descent of the Col de Peyresourde at this year’s Tour de France. In post-stage interviews Froome remarked that his method of pedalling while on sitting on the top tube was a technique that Team Sky had been experimenting with, and as such he was focused solely on his position on the bike and the sensation of descending, rather than worrying about time gaps to his rivals or its overall effect on the race.
Froome’s mindful riding helped put him into the yellow jersey, so who knows? Perhaps we’ll soon see teams hiring Buddhist monks alongside the nutritionists and sports scientists.