Can you believe that it was a week ago when the World Cup was still the subject of conversation?
Did you catch any of the action on TV or in Russia?
One of the edgiest moments over the games for me was to watch penalty shoot-outs and it got me wondering how football players can handle all of the pressure. Can you imagine the pressure? Tens of thousands of people are in the stadium watching a critical moment of the game. These players have the weight of their national hopes and dreams on their shoulders, whether they are trying to aim the ball at the back of the net or trying to save the ball. There were thousands of fans cheering and shouting, cameras zooming in and everyone in the teams putting the weight on those few players’ shoulders. How do these players keep so calm and perform to the best of their abilities? Fair enough, some players buckle under pressure and disappointed their teams and their fans.
I wonder what goes through these players’ minds when they are preparing and undertaking penalty shoot-outs. How do they block everything that is going on in their minds, the noise, the lights, the spotlight and the pressure to perform? Do these players go into a meditative state to focus and concentrate on the task at hand? Can we all train our minds to do the same thing by blocking out all the pressure, regulating our breathing and just focus on one thing?
Meditation takes time to practise to quiet the mind. Sure, there are factors which can help us get into a meditative state easier. Perhaps not having tens of thousands of people cheering and shouting, spotlights all on you and the weight of national pressure will help.
From a personal experience, meditation has its benefits to help clear the mind, to calm the mind and to toughen the mind. It is definitely something that takes practice to quiet the mind, however there are things you can do to help you get faster into that meditative state easier:
- Try and sit in a space without too much distraction (e.g. traffic, pets children, yoga class)
- If it’s easier to meditate and switch off with minimal noise, find a quiet space. Some people find it easier listening to meditation music so try both and see what you prefer.
- Lighting matters – find somewhere with comfortable lighting for your eyes
- Senses matter – if you prefer having a nicely scented candle burning during meditation, light it, inhale the wonderful smell and try to relax, gradually drifting into a meditative state
- Wear comfortable clothing – put your favourite comfortable leggings on, a soft and baggy top
- Be comfortable with the room temperature, not too warm or too cold
- Switch your phone onto silent with no vibrations. In fact, if you can help it, try not to have a phone, iPad or TV near you so that you can eliminate those distractions
- Start regulating your breath by inhaling for 4, exhaling for 4 and notice your breath calming down. It’s true, our breath calms our mind when we are agitated, nervous and anxious.
- Try not to be in a hurry and time the meditation session. If you can, try to be patient to switch the mind off and just go with the flow.
- Try and enjoy the experience. Whatever comes up, breathe through it and let it pass. It’s part of the process.