Sports Performance Training Should Be Deliberate and Different

Barely any light shines in my bathroom. I like my bathroom to be dark. I try to have a strong ambiance in there. I have a plant hanging over the sink. A small speaker constantly plays classical music at a low volume. A tea tree scent wafts from the reed diffusers above the toilet and a small wooden cylinder stands next to the sink with a long cut out where light shines out of. That’s the only light available. The vibe is always right in my bathroom. I want it to be a place of complete comfort and relaxation. A place of indirect meditation. I'm manipulating my visual system.

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Meditation is not complicated. Just be present. Don’t think about the past. Don’t think about the future. Just be completely focused on the current moment. This is easier said than done for most of us. We have spent out entire life not being in the moment. We don’t know how to bring our attention away from that. Simple cues like focusing on your feet contacting the floor or just paying attention to your breathing are great starts. It requires deliberate consciousness until you cross that threshold and then nothing else matters. You can sit there for fifteen minutes or fifteen hours. It’s all the same once that line has been crossed.

Meditation is trying to break up your pattern. Break up your habits and just let you be free from neurological prison. The brain is a powerful tool that helps us in every way possible but it also drives us into patterns and we get nice and comfortable there.

These patterns require movement. The same movement. Over and over again. Our bodies get used to that and slowly lose the ability to break those patterns.

The neocortex is the outer layer of the brain. It is single-handedly responsible for the success of human beings as the superior species on the planet. The neocortex is intelligence. The neocortex operates based on sequence. When some input enters the first layer, it refers back to previous times that input has come in and it reacts with a sequence of events similar to the last time.

Take the shower for example. Who among us does not have a shower routine set in stone? Who among us does not towel off after a shower in the exact same pattern EVERY SINGLE TIME? We all do. It’s comfortable. No thinking involved. Just let the neocortex do what it does.

Taking that shower routine or toweling off routine and changing it requires deliberate effort. Full concentration. What it also does is forces us to focus on the present. This is also called meditation.

Nobody ever said that you have to sit Indian-style, burn some incents and chant some “ohms” if you want to meditate. You just need to find a way to bypass the neocortex. Execute something deliberately.

House of Cards fans may remember Frank Underwood coming down the White House steps from his living quarters to find some monks working on some piece of art that required them to work for hours and hours. Possibly days or weeks. What they were doing was deliberate work. They were only focused on the task. Nothing else mattered but the task. This is meditation. This is what the Tibetan Monks are all about. The present.

 

Monks Showing Concentration

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The major gears of our body must shift with every movement. They must shift with every breath. These gears are the hips, ribs and spheno-basilar joint (the SBJ is the sphenoid and occiput bones within the cranium). They also must move independently of each other and with complete freedom.

Humans love routines. We love our patterns and these gears follow suit. As we fall into patterns so do our gears. They got stuck doing the same thing over and over again.

The other funny thing about the body is that it operates on a prediction model. We predict what we will need in the next moment in order to prepare for the demands and thrive.

Well when we do the same things over and over again, the body’s predicting brain starts getting pretty accurate. It predicts you will do the same thing over and over again. We being to lose the ability to do other things. We get stuck. Our gears get stuck.

Once the gears get stuck, it’s much harder to get out of it. The brain is still predicting what you will do and the longer you’ve been in a pattern, the longer it will keep predicting you’re going to do it again (This will make achieving the ever-important single leg stance, a much bigger challenge).

But doing different things with deliberate focus may be the break you’re looking for. Being deliberate will allow you to by-pass the brain’s prediction model. Doing something new and different will allow you to by-pass the neocortex’s sequential operating system. Your gears will start pumping again. Your body will loosen up. Allergies will clear up. Hamstrings will become flexible.

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Next time you’re in the shower, set the vibe. Put some soft music on. No lyrics. Nothing you know. Something different.

Light a candle. Maybe a new scent. Something that you notice. Something different.

Shut the lights and make it challenging to see. Force yourself to feel your movements more. Now shower completely differently than you ever have before. Put the soap in the other hand. Wash out of order. Be deliberate. Feel every movement. Notice the contact of the soap on your skin. Be deliberate. And when you leave the shower. Towel off in a new routine. Slowly. Feel the towel. Be deliberate.

Be different. Be deliberate

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