Mindfulness is Associated with Better Cognition and Shooting Performance in Archers

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Cognition and Shooting Performance in Archers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Once you can direct your mind toward your senses, you can walk through the steps of your shooting process while aware of every sensation of your body.” – Azurebolt

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of sports psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Shooting Performance and Cognitive Functions in Archers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661961/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1670080_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210629_arts_A ) Wu and colleagues recruited healthy adult competitive archery athletes. They were provided a 60 minute, twice per week, for 4 weeks Mindfulness-Based Peak Performance program including daily homework that was adapted from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and targeted at athletes. They were measured before, after 2 weeks, and after the program for shooting performance, information processing speed, selective attention, and inhibitory control, mindfulness, mindfulness in sport, and rumination.

 

They found that after training there was a significant improvement in the shooting performance, information processing speed, selective attention, and inhibitory control. They also found significant growth in mindfulness and mindfulness in sport and reductions in rumination from baseline to the midpoint, to the end of training. The greater the increase in mindfulness in sport the greater the increase in shooting performance.

 

This study was a pre to post comparison and did not contain a control condition, so it is open to a variety of potential contaminants including placebo effects, experimenter bias, and practice effects. But better controlled previous research has shown that mindfulness training produces significant improvements in athletic performance, cognitive function, and reductions in rumination. So, the current results probably reflect the effect of mindfulness training on the archery athletes.

 

Stress, strong emotions, such as anxiety, and physiological and psychological activation interfere with fine motor skills like are needed in archery. Mindfulness training is known to reduce stress effects, improve the control of emotions, including anxiety, and increase physiological and psychological relaxation. These may be the mechanisms whereby mindfulness training improves archery performance, Future research should repeat the experiment with an active control condition and incorporate measurement of stress, emotion regulation, anxiety and arousal.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better cognition and shooting performance in archers.

 

Most great archers say that archery is 90% mental. “ Rachel SNG

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wu T-Y, Nien J-T, Kuan G, Wu C-H, Chang Y-C, Chen H-C and Chang Y-K (2021) The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Shooting Performance and Cognitive Functions in Archers. Front. Psychol. 12:661961. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661961

 

This study investigated the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) called mindfulness-based peak performance (MBPP) on athletic performance and cognitive functions in archers, as well as the role of psychological status and the dose-response relationship of MBPP in archery performance. Twenty-three archers completed a simulated archery competition and the Stroop task prior to and after MBPP training, which consisted of eight sessions over four weeks, while the mindfulness and rumination levels of the archers were assessed at three time points, namely, before, at the mid-point of, and after the MBPP program. The results revealed that the MBPP program significantly improved the shooting performance (p = 0.002, d = 0.27), multiple cognitive functions (ps < 0.001, d = 0.51~0.71), and mindfulness levels of the archers on the post-test, compared to the pre-test (p = 0.032, ηp2 = 0.15 for general; p = 0.004, ηp2 = 0.22 for athletic). Additionally, negative ruminations level was decreased from the pre-test to the middle-test and post-test (ps < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.43). These findings provide preliminary evidence to support the view that MBPP could serve as a promising form of training for fine motor sport performance, cognitive functions, and specific psychological status, such that it warrants further study.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661961/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1670080_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210629_arts_A

 

Increase Athletic Flow and Resilience with Mindfulness

Increase Athletic Flow and Resilience with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness shares similarities with flow state, and because it is based on moment-to-moment experiences, it can promote attention regulation, emotional regulation, and body awareness.” – Jian-Hong Chen

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

Flow refers to a state of mind that is characterized by a complete absorption with the task at hand, often resulting in enhanced skilled performance. The flow state underlies the athletes’ feelings and thoughts when they recall the best performances of their careers. It is obvious that the notion of flow and mindfulness have great similarity. There is little known, however, about the relationship between mindfulness and flow in athletes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Examining the Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Athletes’ Flow: The Mediating Role of Resilience.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166472/ ) Liu and colleagues recruited student athletes and randomly assigned them to receive a 30-minute audio recording with exercises about mindfulness or the news. Before and after training the students were measured for mindfulness, flow, and resilience.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the control group, the athletes who received the brief mindfulness instruction had significant increases in flow, resilience, and mindfulness, including the observing, describing, and nonreactivity facets of mindfulness. Further mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness affected flow directly and also indirectly by increasing resilience which in turn increased flow.

 

Previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness training increased resilience and flow. The present study, though, is remarkable in that such a brief (30 minute) mindfulness training produced such significant results. The study, however, is artificial as affects on actual athletic performance was not measured. It would be interesting in future studies to observe whether a brief mindfulness training would improve the students’ actual athletic performances.

 

So, increase athletic flow and resilience with mindfulness.

 

athletes perform better when experiencing flow and that mindfulness meditation for athletes can help them experience flow.” – Ertheo

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Fengbo Liu, Zhongqiu Zhang, Shuqiang Liu, Nan Zhang. Examining the Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Athletes’ Flow: The Mediating Role of Resilience. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021; 2021: 6633658. Published online 2021 May 24. doi: 10.1155/2021/6633658

 

Abstract

Background

Flow is characterized by the strong concentration in competitions, eliminating irrelevant thoughts and emotions, integrating all tasks, and continuing the competition smoothly even in challenging situations. The present study was into whether or not brief mindfulness training can improve athletes’ flow and further explore the mediating effect of resilience in the intervention.

Methods

The 2 (experimental conditions) × 2 (time) mixed design was used in this study. Fifty-seven student-athletes were recruited and randomly assigned into either a brief mindfulness group (n = 29) or a control group (n = 28). Before and after the intervention, every participant completed a self-report measure including mindfulness, flow, and resilience.

Results

Participants in the brief mindfulness group showed increased mindfulness, flow, and resilience (p < 0.001) after brief mindfulness training; when putting resilience change (B = 0.30, 95% CI [0.031, 0.564]) into the equation, the direct (95% CI [3.156, 13.583]) and indirect (95% CI [0.470, 5.048]) effects of mindfulness training were both significant.

Conclusion

It was concluded that brief mindfulness training could significantly improve athletes’ flow and resilience, and resilience partly mediated the effects of brief mindfulness training on flow.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166472/

 

Yoga and Other Exercises Improve Body Image and Psychological Well-Being

Yoga and Other Exercises Improve Body Image and Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Overall, practicing yoga can have a profound impact on improving body image, but it depends how it is approached by the individual. When you treat yoga as a tool for body appreciation, healthy movement, and inner reflection, it helps improve body image and mental health.” – Tara Caguait

 

The media is constantly presenting idealized images of what we should look like. These are unrealistic and unattainable for the vast majority of people. But it results in most everyone being unhappy with their body.  This can lead to problematic consequences. In a number of eating disorders there’s a distorted body image. This can and does drive unhealthy behaviors. As a treatment mindfulness has been shown to improve eating disorders.

 

In the media, yoga is portrayed as practiced by lithe beautiful people. This is, of course, unrealistic and potentially harmful. But yoga is also an exercise that tends to improve the body and it has been shown to improve body image and psychological health. It is unclear whether it is the exercise provided by yoga practice that promotes psychological health and a healthy body image or to components specific to yoga practice.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga, Dance, Team Sports, or Individual Sports: Does the Type of Exercise Matter? An Online Study Investigating the Relationships Between Different Types of Exercise, Body Image, and Well-Being in Regular Exercise Practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.621272/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A )  Marshin and colleagues recruited adults online and had them complete measures of amount and type of exercise, body size, body image, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, physical efficacy, physical activity, positive and negative emotions, and depression.

 

They found that the participants who engaged in regular exercise had significantly lower body dissatisfaction, perceived body weight, and depression and significantly higher positive emotions than sedentary individuals. They also found that there were no significant differences in any of the outcome variables for regular exercise practitioners of yoga, ballroom dance, team sports, or individual sports.

 

These findings are correlational, so no conclusions can be reached regarding causation. But it is clear that people who exercise have a better image of their bodies and better mental health than sedentary individuals. The fact that there were no significant differences between practitioners of different types of exercise including yoga suggests that exercise of any type is associated with greater satisfaction with the body and better mood. Yoga practice has been shown to improve body image and positive emotions and lower depression. The present findings suggest that these benefits of yoga practice are due to the exercise and not to the other components of yoga practice.

 

So, yoga and other exercises improve body image and psychological well-being.

 

Individuals who are dissatisfied with their body image are at a higher risk for eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem. When diversity and inclusivity are encouraged, yoga may have an important role to play in supporting healthy feelings toward body image.” – Lacey Gibson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Marschin V and Herbert C (2021) Yoga, Dance, Team Sports, or Individual Sports: Does the Type of Exercise Matter? An Online Study Investigating the Relationships Between Different Types of Exercise, Body Image, and Well-Being in Regular Exercise Practitioners. Front. Psychol. 12:621272. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.621272

 

Physical activity, specifically exercising, has been suggested to improve body image, mental health, and well-being. With respect to body image, previous findings highlight a general benefit of exercise. This study investigates whether the relationship between exercising and body image varies with the type of exercise that individuals preferentially and regularly engage in. In addition, physical efficacy was explored as a potential psychological mediator between type of exercise and body image. Using a cross-sectional design, healthy regular exercise practitioners of yoga, ballroom dance, team sports, or individual sports as well as healthy adults reporting no regular exercising were surveyed. Body image and its different facets were assessed by a set of standardized self-report questionnaires, covering perceptual, cognitive, and affective body image dimensions particularly related to negative body image. In addition, participants were questioned with regard to mental health. Participants were 270 healthy adults. Descriptive statistics, measures of variance (ANOVA), and multiple linear regression analysis with orthogonal contrasts were performed to investigate differences between the different exercise and non-exercise groups in the variables of interest. In line with the hypotheses and previous findings, the statistic comparisons revealed that body dissatisfaction (as one important factor of negative body image) was most pronounced in the non-exercise group compared to all exercise groups [contrast: no exercise versus exercise (all groups taken together)]. Physical efficacy, as assessed with a standardized questionnaire, mediated the difference between type of exercise (using contrasts) and body image including perceptual, cognitive, and affective body image dimensions. The findings shed light on so far less systematically investigated questions regarding the relationship between types of exercise, like yoga and ballroom dance, and body image. The results underscore the relevance of considering possible influencing factors in exercise research, such as the perception of one’s physical efficacy as a mediator of this relationship.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.621272/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A

 

Become a Better Athlete with Mindfulness

Become a Better Athlete with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“athletes perform better when experiencing flow and that mindfulness meditation for athletes can help them experience flow. This is really good news for high-performance coaches and athletes.” – Ertheo

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training Enhances Endurance Performance and Executive Functions in Athletes: An Event-Related Potential Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7474752/ ) Nien and colleagues explored the effects of mindfulness training on college athletes. They recruited healthy college athletes who had no experience with mindfulness training and randomly assigned them to either receive mindfulness training or to a wait-list control condition. Mindfulness training consisted of 2 30-minute training sessions per week for 5 weeks and included mindful breathing, mindful meditation, body scanning, mindful yoga, and mindful walking. They were measured before and after the 5-week training period for athletic endurance, cognitive function (Stroop task), and mindfulness. The Stroop Task measures attention, response speed, and behavioral inhibition.

 

To measure the nervous systems processing of information, the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded and evoked potentials to the stimuli onsets were measured during the Stroop Task. They focused on the N2 response in the evoked potential which is a negative going electrical response in the EEG occurring between a 2.0 to 3.5 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The N2 component is thought to reflect attentional monitoring of conflict and inhibitory control.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the athletes who received mindfulness training had significant increases in mindfulness, athletic endurance, and attention and behavioral inhibition accuracies on the Stroop cognitive task. They also found that the mindfulness trained athletes had significantly lower N2 responses in the evoked potential.

 

These are interesting findings but conclusions must be tempered with the knowledge that the comparison condition was passive. This opens the possibility of alternative explanations such as participant expectancy, attention, or bias effects. Nevertheless, the results suggest that mindfulness training improves the athlete’s executive function and endurance. The results of both the Stroop Task and the N2 component of the evoked potential are compatible as each measures the ability to inhibit responses in the face of informational conflict.

 

The mechanisms by which mindfulness training has these effects was not explored in the present study. But previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness training improves executive function including behavioral inhibition. Additionally, previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness training improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress. These improved responses to stress may well explain the increased athletic endurance observed in the mindfulness training athletes as endurance measures the individual’s ability to maintain function under stress.

 

So, become a better athlete with mindfulness.

 

Focus and attention, body awareness and the ability to immerse yourself in the present moment – these are skills in both high-level athletic performance and mindfulness meditation.” – Dave Charny

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Nien, J. T., Wu, C. H., Yang, K. T., Cho, Y. M., Chu, C. H., Chang, Y. K., & Zhou, C. (2020). Mindfulness Training Enhances Endurance Performance and Executive Functions in Athletes: An Event-Related Potential Study. Neural plasticity, 2020, 8213710. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8213710

 

Abstract

Mindfulness interventions have been linked to improved sport performance and executive functions; however, few studies have explored the effects of mindfulness on sport performance and executive functions simultaneously. This study sought to examine whether a mindfulness training program would affect both the endurance performance and executive functions of athletes. In addition, event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with the Stroop task were assessed to investigate the potential electrophysiological activation associated with the mindfulness training. Applying a quasiexperimental design, forty-six university athletes were recruited and assigned into a five-week mindfulness training program or a waiting list control group. For each participant, the mindfulness level, endurance performance assessed by a graded exercise test, executive functions assessed via Stroop task, and N2 component of ERPs were measured prior to and following the 5-week intervention. After adjusting for the preintervention scores as a covariate, it was found that the postintervention mindfulness level, exhaustion time, and Stroop task accuracy scores, regardless of task condition, of the mindfulness group were higher than those of the control group. The mindfulness group also exhibited a smaller N2 amplitude than the control group. These results suggest that the five-week mindfulness program can enhance the mindfulness level, endurance performance, and multiple cognitive functions, including executive functions, of university athletes. Mindfulness training may also reduce conflict monitoring in neural processes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7474752/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being, Sleep, and Performance in College Athletes with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being, Sleep, and Performance in College Athletes with Mindfulness.

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

How much time do you spend training your body, getting to peak performance?  With mindfulness training you can now train your mind. Learn how to focus more effectively, worry less, be more present and increase your ability to respond and react quickly.” – Blair Bowker

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Benefits Psychological Well-Being, Sleep Quality, and Athletic Performance in Female Collegiate Rowers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A ) Jones and colleagues recruited women members of a college rowing team and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control condition or to receive 8 weekly 75 minutes group sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This training includes meditation, body scan, yoga, and discussion with daily home practice. They were measured before and after training for athletic coping skills, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, mindfulness, sleepiness, sleep quality, activity during sleep, rumination, and psychological well-being. They were also measured before the treatment and 6 weeks into the 8-week program for rowing performance.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training there were significant increases in mindfulness, psychological well-being, sleep quality, activity during sleep, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance and significant decreases in daytime sleepiness. In addition, they report that the greater the increase in mindfulness the greater the increase in psychological well-being, sleep quality, and athletic coping skills and the greater the decrease in daytime sleepiness.

 

These are interesting results suggesting that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being and athletic performance in athletes. But the comparison to a no-treatment condition leaves open alternative interpretations of participant expectancy effects, experimenter bias, attentional effects, etc. In addition, only female athletes were included in the study. Future research should include male athletes and employ an active control comparison condition such as group discussions of college life without mindfulness training.

 

The results from  previous studies have demonstrated that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being and athletic performance in athletes. So, it is likely that the improvements seen in the present study were also due to the mindfulness training. In addition, the fact that in the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training that the amount of increase in mindfulness was associated with the degree of improvement in the psychological well-being and athletic performance, suggests that mindfulness was the key determinant of the improvements. So, it would appear likely that increasing mindfulness is of great benefit to athletes.

 

So, improve psychological well-being, sleep, and performance in college athletes with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness meditation for athletes can help them control negative thoughts and sports anxiety which allows them to focus on their skills in the present moment and perform better.’ – Ertheo

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jones BJ, Kaur S, Miller M and Spencer RMC (2020) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Benefits Psychological Well-Being, Sleep Quality, and Athletic Performance in Female Collegiate Rowers. Front. Psychol. 11:572980. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980

 

Factors such as psychological well-being, sleep quality, and athletic coping skills can influence athletic performance. Mindfulness-based interventions, including mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), have been shown to benefit these factors, suggesting they may, at least indirectly, benefit athletic performance. Moreover, while mindfulness training has been linked to better accuracy in some high-precision sports, whether it can improve non-precision elements of athletic performance is unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of MBSR on psychological well-being, sleep, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance in collegiate rowers in a controlled experimental design. Members of a Division I NCAA Women’s Rowing team completed either an 8-week MBSR course along with their regular athletic training program (Intervention group) or the athletic training program alone (Control group). Measurements of interest were taken at baseline and again either during or shortly following the intervention. In contrast to the Control group, the Intervention group showed improvements in psychological well-being, subjective and objective sleep quality, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance as measured by a 6,000-m ergometer test. Improvements in athletic coping skills, psychological well-being, and subjective sleep quality were all correlated with increases in mindfulness in the Intervention group. These results suggest that mindfulness training may benefit non-precision aspects of athletic performance. Incorporating mindfulness training into athletic training programs may benefit quality of life and performance in student athletes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A

 

Exercise on the Eightfold Path

mindful exercise running swimming walking | Stress Less Kzoo

Exercise on the Eightfold Path

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“it’s possible to merge awareness and physical exercise together as one. This allows you to experience the present moment during your physical activity.” – Adam Brady

 

We often think of meditation or spiritual practice as occurring in quiet places removed from the hubbub of life. This is useful to develop skills and deep understanding. Unfortunately, most people do not have the luxury of withdrawing into solitary or monastic life. But it is possible to practice even in the midst of the chaos of everyday life. In fact, there are wonderful opportunities to practice presented to us all the time in the complexities of the modern world. I find that engagement in exercise is one of many wonderful contexts in which to practice the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, the Buddha’s prerequisites for the cessation of suffering; Right View, Right Intentions, Right Actions, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. Engaging in exercise on the eightfold path can not only improve health but also can contribute to spiritual development. As a bonus it can make exercising more enjoyable.

 

As we well know, engaging in regular physical exercise is important for our physical and mental health. Similarly, practicing mindfulness is important for our physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. Together they are a dynamite. But what needs to be done to combine them? With a little reflection, a myriad of opportunities to practice are available while exercising. The details will vary with the type of exercise and the individual, but these same opportunities are available regardless of the nature of the exercise.

 

An important component of developing the “Right View” is the recognition that all things are impermanent, they come and they go and never stay the same. When exercising it is easy to note that everything about the workout is impermanent. The body is stressed by exercise and this is a good thing as this is what leads to the beneficial effects of exercise. When moderately stressed muscles heal, they grow stronger. Sometimes the stress is pleasant and other times not so. But no matter what it will change, perhaps getting better or perhaps getting worse, but it will not stay the same. During exercise, the physical and mental state of the individual is constantly changing. The body fatigues and grows tired. Pain and discomfort may come and go. By recognizing how fleeting these feelings are, we witness the impermanence of all things. We grow to not only better understand the body and how it benefits from exercise but also see the operation of impermanence. This produces relaxation and acceptance of the body as it is, even as it’s changing, not only improving the exercise but reinforcing “Right View”.

 

A good example of this is practicing while running. I’m older and my knees are worn out so I practice this while speed walking. Noting the sensations from the foot each time in strikes the ground and as it lifts off the ground, it’s apparent that the sensations are constantly changing and never the same. Impermanence is on display. The same goes for the surrounding sights which are constantly changing. It’s impossible to hold onto any of the myriad of sensations occurring. They are constantly arising and passing away. Impermanence is on display.

 

Another important component of “Right View” is the recognition that everything is interconnected. This is readily apparent during exercise. During yoga practice all of the aspects of the body work together. As the muscles are stressed they increase the heart rate and respiration. With each pose the muscles produce heat, causing sweating and dilatation of the blood vessels at the surface. Moving into each pose produces changes in balance which produce automatic changes in other muscles to compensate and maintain balance and equilibrium. The senses are engaged in monitoring for pain and fatigue and guiding the exercise. Try paying attention to all of the parts of the body and how they are affected in performing a forward bend, a tree pose, or a lower cobra. By paying attention to these processes during this practice, how the entire body is engaged can be witnessed even if the exercise is targeted at only particular muscles. Interconnectedness is completely apparent. The awareness of this interconnectedness allows for better exercise while reinforcing “Right View”.

 

One practice I employ with exercise is to identify the limiting component. For me it’s breathing that seems to limit what I can do. My ability to play basketball is limited by the ability to get oxygen to the muscles while sprinting down the court. For others, it’s their knees or other joints, or cardiac capacity, or body temperature. There’s always something that keeps the individual from going faster, or being stronger or more accurate. The ability of the entire body to excel is limited by this factor. All other aspects of physical function are restrained by it. All other aspects are interconnected with it. as it all works together.

 

This interconnectedness is particularly apparent in team sports. In these contexts, participants affect one another, everyone on the team and everyone on the opposing team. In fact, that interconnectedness is part of the allure and enjoyment of team sports. As every athlete knows, performance is also affected by the individual’s psychological state. At times, exercisers just don’t feel like doing it but force themselves. While at other times, they feel great and can’t wait to get into it. In both cases this psychological state markedly alters the exercise. It’s all interconnected. Hence, the “Right View” of interconnectedness is readily apparent during exercise. Make it part of the exercise to pay attention to and recognize this interconnectedness. It’s on display.

 

Still another important component of “Right View” is the recognition of the presence of suffering and unsatisfactoriness in all activities. Exercising is a wonderful opportunity to observe this unsatisfactoriness and its roots. While cycling we want everything to be a certain way and when it isn’t, we are unhappy. We want to go faster, or with have greater strength for peddling up hills, or with greater endurance to ride further. The cyclist wants the weather to be just right, the wind to die down, to always be at the back, or for it to be cooler. We want the body’s discomforts to go away. In other words, rather than enjoy cycling, we make it unsatisfactory by not accepting how things are. All things, big and small, are almost always less than optimum. If we focus on this and crave it to be different, then we suffer. But, if we simply accept these conditions as they are, we can ride our bicycle with appreciation and enjoyment with unsatisfactoriness on display. Note, how this constantly arises in thoughts during exercise. Recognizing this can lead to greater understanding of how we make ourselves unhappy, and how by simply accepting things as they are produces better performance and greater enjoyment. Practicing this will reinforce “Right View.”

 

While exercising, playing sports, or being an observer there are frequent opportunities to practice “Right Intentions.” Here reducing or preventing harm and promoting greater happiness, wisdom, and well-being for all participants can be practiced. This is particularly important for team sports. It is useful, beforehand, to set this intention to make engaging in the game be beneficial for all participants. “Right Intentions” involves targeting what to do while exercising to increase peace, well-being, and happiness, including the abandonment of unwholesome desires.

 

If exercise particularly in competitive sports, is engaged in with anger, impatience, selfishness, and resentment it is likely to produce harm to everyone involved. Sports, such as football, can be dangerous and can produce physical harm to others. Obviously, games like football are particularly good candidates to play with “Right Intentions.” This way injury or harm can be minimized. It would seem obvious, but taking the time beforehand to establish “Right Intentions” may determine if the game is fun and wholesome or negative and harmful.

 

When I was young playing basketball with friends an opponent grabbed me as I ran toward the basket. I got angry and retaliated by shoving my friend away forcefully. He fell back so hard that he was momentarily paralyzed. This scared everyone and especially me. It made me recognize the potential harm that I could cause by acting on anger. If I had simply accepted that I was fouled and let it go, no harm would have occurred and play could have continued. The recognition that anger can only lead to more harm is wisdom that can lead to minimizing harm and promoting the greater good. Seeing the situation as it is, and seeing opponents with eyes of compassion leads to skillful actions promoting the happiness and well-being of all.

 

I’ve found that playing golf is a wonderful opportunity to practice. It has always amazed me how players make themselves so unhappy while engaging in something that’s supposed to be fun. I’ve seen players go into a rage after hitting a poor shot, screaming profanities, pounding their club into the ground or throwing or even breaking the club in rage. This can create a negative atmosphere that sweeps all the players up into a negative mood and destroys the fun and happiness that is the point of playing the game. “Right Intentions” can help here. I’ve learned to approach the game as just that, a game that is to be enjoyed, to laugh at my own incompetence, and joke with the other players about our plight.

 

We go around the course laughing and having a ball. What a difference it can make, I’ve had other players remark how much they admire me, not for my play which is horrible, but for my enjoyment of the game regardless of how well or more often terribly I play. It changes the atmosphere and infects those that I play with. Just setting the intention ahead of time to have fun regardless, to promote happiness, makes a world of difference. The ripples of good feelings that are created, may spill over from golf to home or work life enhancing life in general.

 

Playing sports with courtesy, with tolerance and understanding, with kindness and good will needs to be continuously worked on. It’s a practice. “Right Intentions” are a key. They become the moral compass. They tend to lead in the right direction even though at times there are stumbles.  It is often difficult or impossible to predict all of the consequences of actions. It is also very difficult avoid all harm. But forming “Right Intentions” and aspiring to create good and happiness will produce more harmony, good will, and happiness and for the practitioner it will produce progress along the eightfold path.

 

Exercising is another situation to practice “Right Actions.” To some extent taking care of our bodies is “Right Action” as it benefits our health and well-being, which relieves suffering and increases happiness. While working out “Right Actions” includes following the “Middle Way.” Exercising overly aggressively could produce injury while exercising too lightly is probably a waste of time. While exercising in social contexts such as in a gym or jogging with friends, there can be a tendency to show off. This can be harmful to others by promoting jealousy or decreasing their feelings of self-worth or causing them to try too hard potentially leading to injury.

 

I used to jog with a group that met at lunchtime. We would all wait around until everyone was there to begin our run. But as soon as we began, one particular runner always leapt ahead and ran well in front of the group for the entire run. At first many of us would try to keep up. This would simply lead to him running even faster to stay ahead. This was not good. We were exercising, not racing. It detracted from the good feelings and camaraderie of the group and caused many of us to run too fast for our ability and to suffer. After a while we learned to ignore him and enjoy running with the rest of the group. This was “Right Actions.” It did make me wonder what suffering was driving him to turn a healthy and fun social run into a race and what I might do to help relieve that suffering. But he always ran ahead and alone making it impossible to communicate.

 

In some sports lying and cheating occur frequently. Fishing and golf are wonderful examples. outright lied about. Golfers frequently do things such as surreptitiously move their ball to a better lie, or report a lower score than they actually had. This is not “Right Actions.” Scrupulous honesty on the long-term leads to greater happiness and well-being even in these kinds of small and often accepted dishonesties.

 

While engaging in competitive sports we should have the “Right Intentions” of promoting good and happiness, and relieve suffering in ourselves and others. We can do so by competing patiently and courteously with attention and good sportsmanship. Unfortunately, the prevalent attitude is that “winning is everything.” This works contrary to “Right Actions.” With “Right Actions” promoting happiness, and relieving suffering in everyone involved “is everything.”  We can only control our own actions while competing. So that is where we practice. But, when we compete with “Right Actions” it affects our competitors, making the game more enjoyable, healthier, and productive for everyone.

 

Verbal and non-verbal interactions are frequently present while exercising, playing sports, or even as a spectator. There are many opportunities to practice “Right Communications”. It involves communicating in such a way as to promote understanding and to produce good feelings. It is non-violent and non-judgmental communications. While engaging in exercise or sports it is important to think before communicating, is the communication true, is it necessary, and is it kind.

 

While playing golf we communicate verbally and non-verbally and try to do so with “Right Communications”. When someone makes a great shot, we celebrate with them, possibly teasing them as to why they can’t do that every time, and when they make a terrible shot kidding them that it was better than they usually do, or compare it to our own terrible shots. Note that teasing may not on the surface seem to be true, necessary, and kind. But it can lighten the atmosphere and the back and forth can promote good feelings. Non-verbally, we sometimes celebrate ridiculously, dancing around like a clown, when making a good shot, again promoting enjoyment.

 

Right Communications” often involves deep listening. It is impossible to respond appropriately to another if you haven’t listened carefully to exactly what the other said or looked carefully at their expressions or body language. In playing doubles tennis, watch and listen to your partner. They may show anger or slump after a poor shot. In this case “Right Communications” may involve encouraging the partner or pointing out that the shot that they were attempting was a great idea, or make light of it by saying something to the effect that the shot looked more like something you would do. What would be the right approach depends on the individual and the context. But watching and listening carefully can help to understand what communication may produce the most good and happiness.

 

Even as spectators it is useful to practice “Right Communications”. I’ve observed parents at youth soccer games yelling at referees, players, and coaches. My 13 year old grandson worked hard to become a referee for children’s soccer matches and earn extra money. But he has dropped it because of the abuse that these parents heaped on him for every decision. No matter what decision he made parents on one side or the other would chastise him. I’ve also seen the impact on the children as their parents yell at the referees or at them for their performance. It’s a truly sad display of wrong communications by the adults.

 

It’s quite simple to see that “Right Communications” are needed. If the parents had stopped and thought if what they were communicating was true, necessary, and kind, if they had listened deeply or watched with compassion, there may have been a completely different atmosphere at the games, my grandson may still be refereeing, and the children would feel good about playing and would be having fun. Such behavior is not confined to youth soccer. Simply observe fans at sporting events even at the professional level, yelling obscenities and insults at opponents or even at their own team’s players. Indeed, even the players are taunting, hurling insults, and “trash talking” to each other. It is clear that there is a great need to teach fans and players, not only good sportsmanship, but also “Right Communications”. We may not be able to change others but at least we can conduct “Right Communications”.

 

There are many ways that people can make a living with exercise and sports, from a professional athlete or coach to a personal trainer, to a general manager or executive. This can be itself “Right Livelihood”. It is if it is directed to creating good, helping people, keeping peace, and moving society forward in a positive direction. College coaches using student athletes to further their careers without regard to the furtherance of the players well-being or teaching player “dirty tricks” to harm or injure their opponents would definitely not be “Right Livelihood”.

 

One should reflect deeply on what they’re doing to ascertain whether it promotes good. It is not ours to judge the “rightness” of the livelihood of athletes, coaches, sports executives etc. This is a personal matter where intention matters, that must be reflected upon deeply. The process itself of evaluating “Right Livelihood” may heighten awareness of the consequences of participating in their careers and make them better able to see and correct where they may be going wrong. This can help move the individual along the Buddha’s path.

 

Exercise also presents a fine context to practice “Right Effort”. In fact, exercise has its maximum benefit when it is fairly strenuous but not too strenuous. If it’s overdone the body will provide appropriate feedback with aches and pains, hopefully not injuries. If it’s done lazily, the body will not improve. So, exercise is almost a perfect situation to teach “Right Effort”. It involves acting according to the “Middle Way.” That is, not trying too hard and getting hurt, but also not being lackadaisical.  “Right Effort” is a relaxed effort. The “Middle Way” is where effort should be targeted.

 

Experienced yoga practitioners know this all too well. Yoga can be very beneficial when practiced with “Right Effort” but can be injurious when done improperly. Poses must be held at the appropriate level, slightly backed off from the individual’s limit without going beyond. Struggling to go deeper, beyond the practitioner’s capability, is a formula for injury. Entering too lightly is a formula for wasting time and receiving no benefit. So, not only is yoga practice a good place to practice “Right Effort” it, in fact, provides feedback demonstrating what the “Right Effort” level should be.

 

Athletes know that to perform optimally they must relax and not press too hard. This is one of the reasons why meditation practice has proved so beneficial for athletes. It allows them to relax into the present moment and react appropriately to their body’s capabilities. I’ve found that with swimming, if I try too hard to go fast, I actually go slower. On the other hand, when I simply swim with moderate effort but with a relaxed body, it produces and efficient stroke and an appropriate body position in the water for optimum speed. So, “Right Effort” with exercise pays off with optimum performance, physical benefit, and progress on the eightfold path.

 

Exercise requires an accurate understanding of the state of our bodies and the environment in the present moment in order to determine what level of exercise are needed to promote good performance and enjoyment.  In other words, it requires “Right Mindfulness”. Unfortunately, for most of us mindless exercise is probably the norm. While exercising many people listen to music, talk on their cell phones, watch television, or carry on a conversation. But paying attention to what is being experienced while exercising or engaging in sports can turn the exercise into a meditative practice. It creates a richly textured experience of physical and mental activities. It heightens the experience and makes it much more enjoyable.

 

A prototype is walking meditation, where the individual practices “Right Mindfulness”. The meditator pays close attention to the sensations from the body while slowly walking. Observing each step, feeling the foot hit the ground and pull off the ground, observing each breath, feeling the air on the skin and the touch of the clothing, feeling the muscles contract and relax, experiencing the sights, smells and sounds in the environment. It’s an amazingly pleasant and productive practice.

 

With exercise, the same technique can be used but greatly speeded up. Jogging can be a speeded-up version of walking meditation. I use “Right Mindfulness” while swimming laps in a pool by doing a body scan. I start on the first lap with paying attention to the sensations from the toes, on the second lap I move to the tops of my feet, next to the bottoms of the feet, to the ankle, shin, knee, thigh etc. The feeling of the water and the movement of each body part is an exquisite practice. I was tired of the boredom of swimming until I developed this practice. It makes the drudgery of lap swimming mindful, interesting, and pleasurable, not to mention that my stroke becomes more efficient and the laps go by quickly. “Right Mindfulness” can be applied to virtually every exercise and sporting activity and will not only make it better but help the participant along the Buddha’s eightfold path.

 

“Right Concentration” is the practice of focusing the mind solely on one object or a specific unchanging set of objects. Mindfulness is paying attention to whatever arises, but concentration is paying attention to one thing to the exclusion of everything else. This is usually developed during contemplative practice such as meditation. It is difficult to practice during the complex activities involved in exercise. But during repetitive automatized exercises such as jogging concentration on the breath can be practiced.

 

Engaging in exercise on the eightfold path is a practice. Over time I have gotten better and better at it, but nowhere near perfect. Frequently the discursive mind takes over or my emotions get the better of me. But, by continuing the practice I’ve slowly progressed. I’ve become a better at seeing what needs to be accomplished. I am learning to be relaxed with a smile on my face when I engage in exercise and enjoy the workout.

 

Can we attain enlightenment through exercise? Probably not! But we can practice the eightfold path that the Buddha taught leads there. The strength of engaging exercise with the practices of the eightfold path is that it occurs in the real world of our everyday life. Quiet secluded practice is wonderful and perhaps mandatory for progress in spiritual development. But for most people it only can occur during a very limited window of time. By extending the practice directly into the mainstream of our lives we can greatly enhance its impact. I like to keep in mind the teaching that actions that lead to greater harmony and happiness should be practiced, while those that lead to unsatisfactoriness and unhappiness should be let go.  Without doubt, by practicing the eightfold path in our engagement in exercise leads to greater harmony and happiness and as such should definitely be included in our spiritual practice.

 

“The message is that mindfulness may amplify satisfaction, because one is satisfied when positive experiences of physical activity become prominent. For those experiences to be noticed, one must become aware of them. . . this can be achieved by being mindful.” – Kalliopi-Eleni Tsafou

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness-based interventions for sports are effective because they help athletes direct their attention to the current athletic task, while minimizing external distractions.” – Mitch Plemmons

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

Flow refers to a state of mind that is characterized by a complete absorption with the task at hand, often resulting in enhanced skilled performance. The flow state underlies the athletes’ feelings and thoughts when they recall the best performances of their careers. It is obvious that the notion of flow and mindfulness have great similarity. There is little known, however, about the relationship between mindfulness and flow in athletes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/ ), Chen and colleagues recruited the members of an elite male baseball team in Taiwan and provided them with a 4-session mindfulness training including meditation, yoga, and discussion of the application of mindfulness to their sport. They were measured before and after training and 4 weeks later for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep quality, competitive anxiety, mindfulness, and flow state.

 

They found that after training and at follow-up there was a significant increase in sleep quality and flow state and a significant decrease in eating disorders and competitive anxiety. In addition, the higher the level of mindfulness of the player, the greater the level of flow state. They also saw a non-significant increase in the team’s performance after the training.

 

These are interesting results but conclusions need to be tempered with the fact that there wasn’t a control condition. This leaves many alternative confounding interpretations. Nevertheless, these pilot findings suggest that further research is warranted to investigate the effect of mindfulness training on athletic flow state. These results contribute to the growing body of research that suggests that being mindful produces enhanced athletic performance.

 

So, enhance flow in athletes with mindfulness.

 

“Achieving peak performance and especially being able to develop flow experiences in athletes is the holy grail of sport psychology.  . . researches are getting one step closer to unveiling the psychological factors that influence flow experiences, and mindfulness could be an essential part of the puzzle.” – Carmilo Saenz

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chen, J. H., Tsai, P. H., Lin, Y. C., Chen, C. K., & Chen, C. Y. (2018). Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan. Psychology research and behavior management, 12, 15-21. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S188734

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the effect of mindfulness-based training on performance and mental health among a group of elite athletes.

Methods

This study aimed to evaluate the effect of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) on mental health, flow state, and competitive state anxiety using a 4-week workshop. We recruited an amateur baseball team (N=21) in Taiwan, and collected information by self-reported questionnaires administered before, immediately after, and at a 4-week follow-up. The primary outcome was to evaluate sports performance by flow state and competitive state anxiety, which included self-confidence, somatic anxiety, and cognitive anxiety. The secondary outcome was to explore whether MSPE intervention can improve anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and eating disorders.

Result

After the workshop and follow-up 1 month later, we found improvements in flow state (P=0.001; P=0.045), cognitive anxiety in competitive anxiety (P=0.056; P=0.008), global eating disorder (P=0.009; P<0.001), marked shape concern (P=0.005; P<0.001), and weight concern (P=0.007; P<0.001). Scores of sleep disturbance (P=0.047) showed significant improvement at follow-up. We also found significant association between flow state and mindfulness ability (P<0.001).

Conclusion

This is the first mindfulness intervention to enhance athletes’ performance in Taiwan, and also the first application of MSPE for team sports. Our study results suggested that mindfulness ability is associated with flow state, and that MSPE is a promising training program for strengthening flow state and mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/

 

Reduce Athletic Burnout with Mindfulness

Reduce Athletic Burnout with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness training has the potential to prevent athlete burnout because of stress reduction and increased recovery.  It also has the potential to enhance performances.  Mindfulness exercises could be beneficial for athletes who struggle with demands from several sources.” – P. Furrer

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. Without inheriting an athletic body and without many hours of training the individual will never reach an elite level. But, once there, the difference between winning and losing is psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including anxiety or energy management, attention and concentration control (focusing), communication, goal setting, imagery, visualization, mental practice, self-talk, controlling negative emotions, team building, time management/organization.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to enhance a number of the characteristics that are taught by Sports Psychologists. Mindfulness training improves attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training, including meditation and yoga practices, have been employed by elite athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance. It makes sense at this point to step back and take a look at the state of the research.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Athlete Burnout: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388258/ ), Li and colleagues review and summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness as an antidote to athletic burnout. They identified 10 studies including 2 controlled trials, 5 cross-sectional surveys, 1 prospective survey, and 2 qualitative studies.

 

They found that the literature in general reports that mindfulness training produces a reduction in burnout symptoms in athletes and that mindful individuals tend to have significantly lower levels of burnout symptoms. Meta-analysis revealed a significant association between mindfulness and lower burnout, particularly with the burnout symptoms of emotional and physical exhaustion.

 

Hence, the research suggests the mindfulness is a potential antidote to athletic burnout. But the reviewed studies were methodologically weak and larger, well controlled, randomized controlled trials, with long-term follow-up are needed. Thus, although the research has produced promising results, conclusions must be tempered pending more research.

 

So, reduce athletic burnout with mindfulness.

 

“Despite how physically ready athletes are for competition, their performances may suffer if they do not have control over their minds. Improving mindfulness, or participating in mindfulness-based interventions may help athletes monitor and cope with their sport related anxiety, help them focus during their competitions, and help boost their confidence. Athletes are looking for whatever will give them the advantage, so why not try mindfulness?” – Crystal Chariton

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are e also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Li, C., Zhu, Y., Zhang, M., Gustafsson, H., & Chen, T. (2019). Mindfulness and Athlete Burnout: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(3), 449. doi:10.3390/ijerph16030449

 

Abstract

Objective: This review aims to identify, appraise, and synthesize studies reporting the relationship between mindfulness and athlete burnout and the effects of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) on athlete burnout. Methods: Studies were identified through searching six electronic databases using combinations of three groups of keywords and manual search. Two independent reviewers screened the searched studies, extracted data of the included studies, and assessed the study quality. The extracted data were synthesized qualitatively and quantitatively. Results: Ten studies consisting of two controlled trials, six surveys, and two interview studies met the inclusion criteria. The two controlled trials had weak methodological quality, and the remaining studies were of moderate to high research quality. Results of controlled trials and interview research generally showed that MBIs had positive effects in burnout prevention. Meta-analytic results indicated a negative association between mindfulness and burnout. Conclusions: There is some evidence showing that mindfulness was negatively associated with athlete burnout. However, given the small number of interventions and qualitative studies, there is limited evidence on whether MBIs are useful in preventing athlete burnout. More studies are needed to corroborate these findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388258/

 

Improve Athletic Performance with Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment Therapy

Improve Athletic Performance with Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The crowd gets quiet, and the moment starts to become the moment for me . . . that’s part of that Zen Buddhism stuff. Once you get into the moment, you know when you are there. Things start to move slowly, you start to see the court very well. You start reading what the defense is trying to do.” – Michael Jordan

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. Additionally, it teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. It would seem that ACT would be an excellent practice to improve athletic performance

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based approach on athletic performance and sports competition anxiety: a randomized clinical trial. Electronic Physician.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6033134/ ), Dehghani and colleagues examine the ability of a mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based program to improve the performance of women basketball players. They recruited college female basketball players between the ages of 18 to 30 years and randomly assigned them to receive either 8, 1.5-hour sessions of a mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based program or a waitlist control condition. The women were measured before and after treatment for self-evaluated sports performance, acceptance or avoidance of internal experiences, and sports competition anxiety.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the control group the women who received the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based program had significantly higher scores for sports performance (57% higher), and lower scores for experiential avoidance and sports anxiety (29% and 47% lower respectively). Hence the treated participants were markedly improved in the psychological readiness to compete and their sports performance.

 

It should be noted that the women in the control condition did not receive any treatment. In addition, there were no objective measures of athletic performance. Future research should compare the effectiveness of the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based program to another active intervention, perhaps yoga practice or cognitive behavioral therapy. This would better control for potential research contamination. It should also provide objective measures of performance in athletic competition.

 

Mindfulness practices are well documented to lower anxiety levels and physiological and psychological responses to stress. In addition, learning to accept experiences and not attempt to avoid them would better prepare an athlete to consciously confront the sports situations that they are engaged in. Both of these components of the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based program then would be expected to improve an athletes mental and physical performance.

 

So, improve athletic performance with mindfulness-acceptance-commitment therapy.

 

“I approached it with mindfulness. As much as we pump iron and we run to build our strength up, we need to build our mental strength up… so we can focus… so we can be in concert with one another.” – Phil Jackson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dehghani, M., Saf, A. D., Vosoughi, A., Tebbenouri, G., & Zarnagh, H. G. (2018). Effectiveness of the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based approach on athletic performance and sports competition anxiety: a randomized clinical trial. Electronic Physician, 10(5), 6749–6755. http://doi.org/10.19082/6749

 

Abstract

Background

Improving sports performance and reducing anxiety is one of the most important goals of athletes. Recurrence of symptoms and treatment cessation are common problems with common interventions. Approaches based on mindfulness-acceptance-commitment (MAC) can be a response to these limitations

Objective

The main purpose of the present study was to determine effectiveness of the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based approach to athletic performance enhancement and sports competition anxiety in students who have had athletic experience for 3 to 5 years.

Methods

This randomized clinical trial was conducted at the Faculty of Educational Sciences of Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran, from May 1, 2017 to September 15, 2017. A total of 31 students were randomly assigned to experimental (n=15) and control groups (n=16). The experimental group received the protocol Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) for 8 sessions. Subjects completed the Charbonneau Sports Performance Questionnaire, Action and Acceptance Questionnaire (AAQ) and Sports Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT) Questionnaire. Data analysis was conducted by using multivariate covariance analysis (MANCOVA) by SPSS-22.

Results

The results of the study indicated that the MAC approach increases significantly the performance of basketball playing athletes (p<0.05). Furthermore, the MAC approach decreases significantly experiential avoidance and sports anxiety in athletes (p<0.05). The size of the difference between the groups is moderate (Eta squared).

Conclusions

This study revealed that the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based approach is an effective intervention to increasing athletic performance and reducing experiential avoidance and sports anxiety in athletes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6033134/

Improve Pain Tolerance After Athletic Injuries with Mindfulness

Improve Pain Tolerance After Athletic Injuries with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation is not something that only benefits yogis. Meditation gives athletes the ability to stay calm in the eye of the storm, it improves your ability to ignore distractions, and it has a powerful impact on the state of your nervous systems. All of these elements are significant to recovery time.” – Jennifer Houghton

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

Athletes, however, often get injured. It has been shown that mindfulness can help with pain management. But, it is not known if mindfulness training can help in dealing with and recovering from severe athletic injuries. In today’s Research News article “Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Increasing Pain Tolerance and Improving the Mental Health of Injured Athletes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_650705_69_Psycho_20180524_arts_A ), Mohammed and colleagues examined the ability of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to reduce the physical and psychological effects of severe athletic injuries.

 

They recruited university athletes who had severe injuries that kept them from participating in their sport for at least 3 months. All athletes received usual care consisting of the standard physiotherapy treatments throughout the study. They were randomly assigned to receive either an additional 8-week program of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). They met once a week for 90 minutes and were asked to practice at home for 20 minutes per day. MBSR contains meditation, yoga and body scan practices. For this study the practices were adapted to the physical needs and capabilities of the injured athletes. All athletes were measured before and after training for pain tolerance with a cold pressor test, rated their own levels of pain, and completed measures of mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that following training the athletes receiving MBSR training had a significantly greater level of pain tolerance, and mindfulness compared to baseline and the control group. Both groups had significant improvements in mood, especially significant reductions in anxiety and stress. This is a small study and it needs to be repeated with larger groups and an active control condition. But, the results indicate that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) improves pain tolerance and mindfulness in injured athletes. It has been previously demonstrated that mindfulness training reduces pain perception in general. The present study suggests that it also does so for severely injured athletes. This may be important for the athlete’s recovery from their injuries.

 

It will be interesting to see if the heightened mindfulness produces improved athletic performance when the athletes recover and return to their respective sporting activities. It has been shown that mindfulness training improves athletic performance. But it is not known whether it is effective with athletes returning to competition after serious injury.

 

So, improve pain tolerance after athletic injuries with mindfulness.

 

Athletes that fall into reactive habits are being mindful when under stress.  They are at the mercy of these destructive habits.  Becoming mindful creates a pause between the stimulus that occurs and the athletes reaction to the event.” – Robert Andrews

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Mohammed WA, Pappous A and Sharma D (2018) Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Increasing Pain Tolerance and Improving the Mental Health of Injured Athletes. Front. Psychol. 9:722. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722

 

Abstract

Literature indicates that injured athletes face both physical and psychological distress after they have been injured. In this study, a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was utilised as an intervention for use during the period of recovery with injured athletes and, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study using MBSR as an intervention for this purpose.

Objective: The aim of this research was to investigate the role of MBSR practise in reducing the perception of pain and decreasing anxiety/stress, as well as increasing pain tolerance and mindfulness. An additional aim was to increase positive mood and decrease negative mood in injured athletes.

Methods: The participants comprised of twenty athletes (male = 14; female = 6; age range = 21–36 years) who had severe injuries, preventing their participation in sport for more than 3 months. Prior to their injury, the participants had trained regularly with their University teams and participated in official university championships. Both groups followed their normal physiotherapy treatment, but in addition, the intervention group practised mindfulness meditation for 8 weeks (one 90-min session/week). A Cold Pressor Test (CPT) was used to assess pain tolerance. In contrast, the perception of pain was measured using a Visual Analogue Scale. Other measurements used were the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS), and Profile of Mood States (POMS).

Results: Our results demonstrated an increase in pain tolerance for the intervention group and an increase in mindful awareness for injured athletes. Moreover, our findings observed a promising change in positive mood for both groups. Regarding the Stress/Anxiety scores, our findings showed a notable decrease across sessions; however, no significant changes were observed in other main and interaction effects in both groups.

Conclusion: Injured athletes can benefit from using mindfulness as part of the sport rehabilitation process to increase their pain tolerance and awareness. Further research is required to assess whether increasing pain tolerance could help in the therapeutic process.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_650705_69_Psycho_20180524_arts_A