Mindfulness and Crossfit have been a big part of my life for the past couple of years. It started with trying to improve my Crossfit performance and my relationship with my children. As I dove deeper into peak performance, I discovered ways to help myself and others. I have found Mindfulness to be a large contributing factor to top performance in all aspects of life, professionally, athletically and personally.
Following is a quick overview of “Mindfulness”, and the popular version I practice and promote. Jon Kabat Zinn is the creator of the research backed stress reduction program “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR).
The definition of Mindfulness, according to mindful.org is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us”.
Here are 5 reasons to practice Mindfulness
1. Understand your pain. Pain is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to rule you. Mindfulness can help you reshape your reactions to mental and physical pain.
2. Connect better. Ever find yourself staring blankly at a child, friend, significant other, and you have no idea what they’re saying? Mindfulness helps you give them your full attention.
3. Lower stress. There is a great deal of evidence that excess stress is the root cause of many illnesses and even can make other diseases worse. Mindfulness decreases stress.
4. Focus your mind. It can be frustrating to have our mind stray and be pulled in six directions. Meditation hones our innate ability to focus.
5. Reduce brain chatter. The nattering, chattering voice in our head seems never to leave us alone. Isn’t it time we gave it a little break?
The effects of Mindfulness on Crossfit performance
I use Mindfulness to improve my Crossfit, athletic and mental performance. Like many athletes, we live very busy lives, and tend to be pulled in many different directions at the same time. I am now better able to focus during a session or when planning for an event or competition.
Once I started practicing Mindfulness, I became present during every lift and every rep of each WOD. This has helped me focus my attention on my breath and increase my work capacity. I am more aware of what I need to accomplish, and now find it easier to push distractions or negative thoughts out of my mind. Sometimes, If I wonder into dream-land, I take a few deep breathes and return to the present and take charge of the workout before me. This helps me to perform at a higher level.
By being completely present during an athletic activity like Crossfit, one is able to focus on the task at hand, whether going for a PR on a squat or crushing a WOD. Mindfulness also allows any athlete to be fully focused in the current moment, without worrying about the future or any past mistakes. By being fully present, an athlete is able to perform at their highest level and minimise the obstacles in front of them.
The basics of Mindfulness practice: How to focus your mind
According to Mindful.org, Mindfulness puts space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. Here’s how to tune to mindfulness throughout the day:
Set aside some time
You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside time and space.
Observe the present moment
The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. Easier said than done, we know.
Let your judgments roll by
When we notice any judgmental thoughts during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
Return to observing the present moment
Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness includes the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
Be kind to your wandering mind
Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.