Relaxation and Meditation
Athletes must relax in order to avoid tension which can lead to choking, said psychology author Dan Millman.
Stress happens when the mind resists what is athletes commonly resist the natural processes by trying. The word itself implies a weakness in the face of challenge. The moment we try, we are already tense; trying, therefore, is a primary cause of error. In more natural actions, we omit the try. When competitors feel they are under pressure and begin to try, they often fall apart . Inner athletes have a sense of letting it happen without any sense of strain. This may seem like idealistic fantasy, but numerous descriptions of the lives and duels of martial arts masters testify to the existence of this kind of grace under pressure. The higher the stakes, the more calm, clear, and relaxed these masters become.
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According to Kevin Elko and Debbie Yohman, elite gymnasts can find the zone of peak performance only by first relaxing every part of their body. Most people seldom experience this state because their thoughts, especially the judgmental ones, get in the way, they wrote in USA Gymnastics Online. For some, it might be the thought that they are too slow, uncoordinated, or weak. Others might start thinking about that bit of criticism their coach threw at them earlier in the day. These thoughts have GOT to go, or the zone will be impossible to find. They recommend that athletes sit quietly in a quiet place and listen to their own breathing, allowing their minds to go quiet. The mind that is blank can perform in the zone. Again, relaxing is an individual thing and many athletes carry out their own relaxation techniques.
Leif Robert Diamant and Richard M. Baker are members of the Community Holistic Health Center in Carrboro, NC. In their blogMind-BodyMaturity, they wrote that relaxation can co-exist with arousal, as long as it comes first: If psyching up is a means of creating optimal arousal of mind-body resources, relaxation is the most effective foundation of psyching up. Relaxation involves the releasing of any unnecessary tension, tightness, or concerns. Relaxation means the muscles do nothing and the mind, effortlessly, does as little as possible. Relaxation means heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration slow down. Relaxing (to make loose again) often is accompanied by slower brain wave activity and heightened endorphin production. Relaxing allows the athlete to develop awareness of his or her muscles and thought processes in subtle and beneficial ways. Relaxing is also a way of recharging in the middle of an athletic event, they said.
Some performers incorporate meditation with arousal and report that is it a good way to enhance a feeling of flow in their competitive performance. Parry O’Brien, one of the greatest shot- putters ever, used yoga in the 1950s, long before sport psychology. He said yoga taught him concentration and the Hindu principle of ayurveda in which he acquired serenity. He listened to Tibetan bells, Balinese and Afro-Cuban drumming to achieve a warrior’s frenzy, then went into self-hypnosis. I’d record pep talks to myself. I’d put the tape player under my bed, get into a sleepy state and let it all sink into my subconscious, he said.
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