by Celeste Merey (This article originally appeared in our May 2020 Team Atomica Newsletter)
With an intensified search for a means to quiet our busy minds, de-stress and reduce anxiety and depression, many have turned to Mindfulness Meditation. Groups such as the Insight Meditation community and apps including Insight Timer and Headspace have made learning and practising Mindfulness Meditation more accessible to all.
As triathletes logging numerous kilometres of swimming, cycling, and running, we have a unique opportunity to tune into our present state, rather than distract ourselves from what we are thinking and feeling. Practising a bit of mindfulness during your workout can be an efficient means of learning to still psychic chatter and get more out of your training.
Below are a few ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your training regime.
Swimming: (When we finally get back to the pool!) Bring your attention to one part of your body and feel it move through the water as you swim. Hands and fingertips are a good choice as they are particularly sensitive. As you become naturally distracted and begin thinking of other things, bring your attention back to your fingertips. Continue bringing your attention back after each distraction, being careful not to judge yourself when you notice your change in focus.
Cycling: when riding in an aerobic zone, try deep belly breathing. Use your diaphragm to bring your breath down into your belly. Relax your abdominal muscles to let the breath in, then feel your chest and ribs expand and finally, release the breath feeling your belly and torso retract. Repeat six times or more.
Running: Notice what you are looking at – do you stare at the ground? 200m ahead of you? Are your eyes busy and wandering? Pick a distance to gaze at and relax your gaze. Notice if you are tempted to look around and bring your gaze back to that distance if you do.
Stretching: slow down and pay attention to yourself not just as you hold a stretch, but as you move into and out of a stretch. Feel what parts are touching the ground, how your muscles engage or relax as you hold the stretch, and what your body feels like after each muscle is stretched. Take extra breaks between stretches and lie flat on the ground to allow your body to integrate the stretching throughout the session.
These are just a few ways of tuning into your present self as you exercise. Give them a try and see if they bring a new sense of just being.