Mindfulness for Athletes

Move your body/move your mind.

Mindfulness practices that strengthen awareness in both the body and the mind are helpful for many people, and I have found them to be particularly helpful to those clients who already have a physical practice of their own:  artists, musicians, and athletes.  Artists, musicians and athletes daily train their fingers, mouths, hands, and entire bodies to create optimal responses to the outer world.  Quite honestly, I love working with artists and musicians and athletes in part because they understand the importance of self-observation, practice, and modifying approach in response to feedback.  For clients who already have a passion in the arts, music, sport or another embodied way of being in the world, this is a wonderful boon;  a physical practice, used skillfully, can be a royal road to developing the capacity for extraordinary wisdom and happiness.  There is a reason why ancient Zen masters honed mind skills through swordsmanship, horsemanship, and archery:  working with the opposites of stillness and activity allows one to access tremendous power for living in the present moment.  A zen guideline was that the warrior should be able to compose a poem in the midst of a battle.  Now, I am dedicating this summer to offering clients ways to integrate mindfulness and physical practice to remove unhelpful patterns of responding, and to cultivate a mindset that allows the best in  body, mind and spirit to shine through to the world.

This weekend I had the intense pleasure of flying to the seaside town of Halifax to present a training on Mindfulness for Athletes to an enthusiastic team of psychologists who belong to the Sport and Exercise Psychology section of the Canadian Psychological Association Annual Convention.  I walked into the room at the World Trade Centre in downtown Halifax jazzed and happy to explore some of my favourite topics with the CPA crowd.  As I looked around the room, I had to take a few mindful breaths to gently quell the light shaking in my knees; many more people than anticipated filed into our little conference space!  What a wonderful kind of problem to have: I took a look at my presenting partner, we smiled, and then we launched into our own version of the performance zone.  The enthusiastic response to our very first Mindfulness for Athletes workshop was so inspiring, that I am motivated to share more on Mindfulness for Athletes with you this summer.  In our Summer 2012 blog posts I will be writing about what qualities of mind we are training with different mindfulness practices, when marrying mindfulness practice and physical practice makes sense, how habitual mindsets get in athletes’ way when it comes to benefiting from common mindfulness based interventions, and how a Third Wave approach to mindfulness and physical mindfulness practices can work like some of the most effective psychotherapy.

Now cultivation of mindfulness is a non-conceptual form of learning, so in addition to the concepts we explore this summer, I am going to invite you into my own practice of cultivating mindfulness in the body.  During the Summer 2012 I am taking 30 days  to explore how this body – my own – can be a vehicle for waking up the mind, discovering the heart, and connecting to the world.  I will be exploring mindfulness through a month long immersion into physical practices for awakening and developing the best human qualities of the mind and heart.

I look forward to the explorations, and to sharing stories, images and video of these explorations with you here!

Dr. Kimberly Sogge, C.Psych.

Psychology for Health and Performance

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