FINDING YOUR FOCUS
Awareness of the mind, its thoughts, emotions, desires, actions, intentions, perceptions, expectations, will benefit your climbing. Being mindful improves the quality of noticing, of being conscious of what’s happening in the moment. Limitations in climbing are frequently to do with the mind and not the body. Regular practice can train the mind to have positive emotions and be less anxious. When climbing, it is important to take one step at a time. “How can I climb without using too much energy?”
Meditation has been shown to increase focus, help people cope with pain by calming the brain centre known as the strengthen the immune system, reduce stress, stabilize the state of emotions and improve the quality of sleep. Meditation also reduces overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, which makes us clammy, sweaty messes, and increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which includes deeper breathing, increased oxygen, nutr ients, circulation and blood flow to the body. Meditation + Focus It is Simple Start with 15 minutes. Work up to longer. Find a place to sit alone where there is little distraction and with good posture. This means pelvis in neutral, shoulders over pelvis and ears over shoulders. The back should be at ease. Spine is neither shifting forwards nor backwards. Put a timer on. It’s possible to download a free app meditation timer and set it to the chosen time. With a timer on, resting into timelessness is a lot easier. There won’t be as many thoughts about time. Patiently watch the thoughts and relax the body. That’s it. Don’t try to control anything. allow the body and mind to rest. Make sure to give enough time to sink into a deeper state of relaxation.
It may seem hard to sit still, especially for climbers who like to be on the move, and there are no promises that it will feel easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to involve a mantra, we don’t have to travel to India, although we may want to boulder in Hampi, we don’t have to contort ourselves into lotus pose and we don’t have to stop our thoughts. Meditation isn’t about controlling our mind or thoughts. It’s more like mental hygiene. If we just sit and watch our thoughts, we can cycle through some of them that might be repetitive or self limiting, and clear them out before starting a day of climbing. If we can’t clear them out, we can at least be aware of them. This is why it’s most useful in the morning, but really anytime can work.
Meditation is like muscle memory. At first when we star ted to climb, we didn’t know how to use our bodies in the most efficient way. After practicing enough, most likely we didn’t have to think about using our feet as much, or about over-g r ipping. This is how meditation works. If done consistently, it allows accessibility to a calmer more efficient state of mind that isn’t as controlled by emotions. It’s a training g round to enter a completely focused state of mind, known as the zone, quicker and more often, and it’s a stress-modulating skill. Calming the body and mind could g ive us the extra edge to push past self-limitation. “The brain is the most important muscle for climbing,” said Wolfgang Gullich, one of the world’s most influential rock climbers.