The mind is like muscle. It can be taught.
Studies show that the highest achieving athletes are those who train not just physically, but mentally as well. So whether we are just starting out or whether we are seasoned athletes, adding mental training to the game can be a great benefit to overall performance.
Before beginning the activity, focus on breathing by taking deep inhalations through the nostrils. This helps bring us into the present moment, while at the same time promoting relaxation. This also helps us feel more centered and therefore, less prone to distraction.
The mind cannot differentiate between imagination and reality. Therefore, spend time every day visualizing the performance desired. Incorporate as many of the senses into this in order to make it as real to the mind as possible. For example, imagine what a perfect run through the moguls sounds like and feels like. See the path that your feet need to follow. Imagine how it feels and how it looks. By engaging the senses in this way, we will have a greater chance of repeating what was visualized when the actual time comes. Also imagining the outcomes of the performance can be beneficial as it creates a feeling of confidence. For example, we can visualize reaching the summit after a long hike or climb.
Visualization in action:
Use affirmations to help the mind believe what the body can do. We all experience moments of uncertainty about whether we can do something or not. However, the moment we start believing in our own abilities, are the moments we excel the most. Training ourselves to believe in our abilities can be done with words such as, “I can do this,” “I am strong and capable” or “I will accomplish my goal.”
As was said earlier, the mind is like a muscle and therefore it can be trained. Just like you might go to the gym to work out certain muscle groups, you also can work out your mind regularly in order to keep it fit. Many performances by great athletes are planned out ahead of time. Therefore, prior to whatever feat we are attempting, spend time rehearsing it. Remember, the mind knows no difference between imagination and what is real.
Elizabeth Aspen (pseudonym) is a fan of life…especially the mindful one. She believes that laughter cures everything and that spontaneity is always a good solution. She enjoys mountain activities and is also a photographer, writer, athlete, traveler and cook.