“Seeing the Australian Cricket Team in their Downward Dogs here at Newlands Stadium, in Capetown, witnessing the sledging getting personal – it’s no surprise that players are finding extreme benefits in learning Mindfulness as a skill to help harness the Mind”
It seems that “cheating” can trigger us all in more ways than one ……..
Professional Athletes not only have the pressure of performance on the field, they have the additional pressure of social media and sledging.
Learning to maintain focus and not taking things personally (especially when comments do become personal on the playing field) is an important skill of mind to cultivate.
At the training sessions of the Australian Cricket Team this morning witnessing the physical aspects of the yoga poses coming into play like the popular Downward Dogs to stretch the entire backside of the body and calm the nervous system. Other poses such as supine twists and pigeon pose stretches being practiced not only in the Pre Test training Sessions but also being done during the game to relieve the body of the stress the game can put on the its various parts, not only from standing all day but focusing the mind for that amount of time without holding habitual tension.
Given many coaches, players and athletes all testify that the game is mostly mental then possibly even more useful is the Mindfulness that comes into play.
It’s no surprise that players of the Australian Cricket team such as Cameron Bancroft (batting today along side Warner against South Africa here in Cape Town) embraces Mindfulness .
Bancroft offers his take: “(Mindfulness meditation) is something that I can be aware of at any point of the day; being able to sit there, be comfortable, mull over thoughts and let go of things in your own mind is, I think, a really good skill to learn.”
Bancroft shares talks about the challenges of how wanting to do well so bad can consume his own mind.
“the biggest thing I learnt was that sometimes you need to let go of control to have ultimate control.”
~ Cameron Bancroft
(Australian Cricket Team)
One of the Pillars of Mindfulness is Letting Go and as easy as it sounds this aspect of the practice is more in depth than just being present. It includes learning to deal with triggers, (for example when comments on and off the playing field get personal) Mindfulness Education can help us understand what happens both physiologically when we are triggered and why, along with how this can effect our perception.
How we perceive things is not only the important psychology behind any competitive game, its the game changer in life. Often we are are taught important skills at school like maths, chemistry, even sport; but were we taught much about how to control the very tool that helps us understand and govern it al?l – the mind!
Have we actually been taught how to take care of the one thing that governs our thought processes, which can ultimately effect everything! We all have a mind yet very few are taught how we can best look after it. To turn it into friend rather than it turning on us and have us feeling like we are being tossed about by it’s contents.
Another useful skill that the practice of Mindfulness reveals is being able to see into the true nature of things, in order to not take things personally. With the personal sledging that can come up bringing peoples loved ones into it doesn’t only happen on the cricket ground, it happens in life in general and it would be enough to bring out reactivity even in the best of us. After all our professional athletes are only human. Being able to undo any automatic reactivity , notice the feelings that arise when people say shitty things without needing to do anything about it is hard but worth it.
Learning how to have these things happen in life without letting it (or what people say) distract you from your intentions (by intentions in this case ~ a certain quality of mind that will benefit you, your loved ones and / or your team) Being able return to focus quickly, and not feed the fluctuations of mind by continually thinking about a comment/s that have been and gone or that may even keep on coming (as the sledging sometimes does) is the exact skill that Mindfulness Meditation can offers us when we practice. No it doesn’t mean we don’t feel intense emotions, but it can help us choose our most skilful response.
Science is showing that highly charged emotions and feelings such as anger does not last more than a few seconds if we leave the thoughts alone. The highly charged emotion fades. Mindfulness can teach us not only the methods but the reasons why we are triggered and what we can do to cope with things that will inevitably occur in life. Mindfulness does not stop the stress from happening but it does help us return to equilibrium , our blood pressure along with our perception can actually return to a healthy range which can help us bring our best state of mind to any game.
When someone says shitty things it is normal to fire up. Mindfulness teaches us compassion for our own reactivity by normalising strong emotions. Learning in Mindfulness Training what was actually happening in the brain when we react and why was something that actually helped to harness the mind. Certain techniques are offered during Mindfulness Training , that can be practiced anywhere at any time, they are accessible, they do not need to take a long time, nor are they only for yogis nor do you have to be spiritual or religious to practice them. These skills are applicable to all humans because every single human by nature will endure suffering in life (on and off the playing felid) Some of this suffering however can be toned down or completely transformed when you understand its nature.
These Mindful Methods help us begin to see feelings arise before they grab us by the you know what’s !. Mindfulness can help us not only view them as a strong physical sensations but teach us how to let them be without the reactivity. It’s not easy , but it is accessible. This in my experienced is a very challenging skill to cultivate but the rewards in gaining control (not of what others say or do) but being able to return to focus on what will nourish you not deplete you is a state of being that will benefit everyone you love and that is a ripple effect worth cultivating and spending time on. Learning how to direct your energy physically and mentally on what matters most in your life, is a skill that is priceless.
Remembering it is a normal reaction from anyone at the receiving end of comments about our loved ones) learning techniques that help you keep your cool is key not only for the teams winning edge but for our own happiness as individual players in the game of life.
As I sat in the stands blurting out “what a dickhead” in true patriotic reactivity when a few pissed members of the crowed offered below the belt punches, sledging one of Australia’s best players. Wondering why my husband (The Undercover Yogi) who has a great love for the game of cricket and our team was not bothered at all. At the end of the day it’s human nature to go below the belt when wanting to throw people off their game to win or do better than someone.
It’s also human nature to react when there’s an underlying conditioning to bat for the underdog (as I reflected on my own reactivity to the sledging half wits;) thankfully Mindfulness teaches us to have a sense of humour about this game of life too.
On the other side of me sat two old gentleman that clapped equally and acknowledged good playing from both sides. They spoke about how wonderful it was to witness players like Hazlewood taking the time to sign autographs and get photos with both the Australian & South African kids.
Perhaps that is a great example of mindfulness not being bothered by the sledging, seeing the efforts from both sides for what they are without the need to get personal. But also even when the game may not be going your way still taking time to respect and acknowledge the efforts and gratitude by those around you that are there barracking for you regardless .
Mindfulness is not only a technique that improves concentration, focus, resilience, but reveals our full potential. It helps us reveal the wisdom that shows us :
That by which we fall helps us to rise.
Kids will always remember those who took time out to pay them attention and connect. It’s this connection (a player taking time with them) that they will remember far more than who won.
As Warner gets out for 30 runs, a Bob Marley song plays over the speakers…..
“Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright”
Any sport teaches us it’s what we learn in the process that gives us tools for life and its how we play the game that counts.
Mindfulness Training can be what gives us a healthy perspective to the experiences we have in life. It teaches us to comes to terms with reality , rather than get tossed about when our ‘ideals’ don’t pan out. I am a strong advocate of “fairness” but learning and accepting that life is not always fair, but don’t let that stop you from living and giving life your best. Regardless of how much ‘unfairness’ there maybe everyone has the skills to recover.
You will always recover when you ‘remember’ that which brings you to your knees is the same energy that will help you rise.
I took a day off from watching the cricket today to celebrate my birthday with the Undercover Yogi visiting some meaningful landmarks – where Nelson Mandela took his first steps for freedom. Little did I know that this quote would be even more relevant after hearing the recent news of how pressure to want to do well and the “fear” of not doing well can effect the choices we make in life. Making these teachings even more relevant.
It seems that “cheating” can be a theme that triggers us all in more ways than one
Someone much told me there is no such thing as failing if you learn from the lessons.
Regardless of if you are an athlete, parent wanting to help your kids, yoga teacher wanting to incorporate more ways than one in teaching Mindfulness or simply wanting time to cultivate, practice, refine these skills for yourself – it is worth spending time on these skills
Please CLICK HERE for more info of our Mindfulness Teacher Training.