I am truly enjoying watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, as I marvel at the athleticism, mental toughness and bravery of the Olympic athletes. They seem to be able to do things with their bodies that would be impossible to most mere mortals, while facing both physical and mental challenges with such incredible courage and composure. Their secret is out, however, and all evidence points not only to incredibly disciplined physical conditioning, but also to training their brains to conquer their fears and mental roadblocks which could keep them from performing at their highest level. Using techniques such as guided visualizations to imagine themselves achieving their Olympic goals, daily meditation practices to stay calm and focused, and mindfulness exercises to learn to handle their negative thoughts that serve as roadblocks to optimal performance, Olympians are including their brains as a key part of their daily conditioning. Brain-Training Secrets of Olympic Athletes And, how about those Seattle Seahawks? I must admit that I did not have a favorite team going in to this year's Super Bowl, nor did I pick a team to root for once the game began. (I was more interested in selecting the best Superbowl commercial.) I was, however, blown away by the sheer force, focus and seemingly unstoppable performance of the Seahawks, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, on Super Bowl Sunday. It was no surprise that I later learned of the incredible Seahawk training regimen that includes daily yoga, meditation and mindfulness training. (Lotus Pose on Two, ESPN Magazine, August 2013)
What was once the purview of Buddhist monks and yogis, yoga, meditation and mindfulness training is now becoming an important part of melding physical and mental conditioning to optimize an athlete's performance. Trainers, coaches and athletes alike are seeing that one of the most important parts of the body to train is the brain.