Meditation and mindfulness for students and athletes: Be the boss of your mind
August 7, 2012
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8211; The mindand#8217;s favorite ways of starting a sentence include, and#8220;What ifand#8221; and and#8220;I should have.and#8221; The and#8220;what ifsand#8221; create all kinds of worry and anxiety about what might happen and and#8220;I should haveand#8221; is a lamentation about what already has happened. Noah Levine, who spoke this summer at North Tahoe High School, taught some basic lessons in how meditation can teach us to be the mothers of our minds as opposed to its favorite victim. Although we need our minds and we love when it helps us create wonderful things and solve problems, it can also be neurotic, unreasonable and just plain irritating. Here are my top five and#8220;favorite ploys of the mind:and#8221;
1. I should have tried harder
2. I should be doing more
3. There isnand#8217;t going to be enough (fill in the blank) and#8230; money, love, sex, alcohol, food, time.
4. What if I donand#8217;t (fill in the blank) and#8230; win, pass the test, get the job, get the man/woman I will surely die without, make enough money, succeed (whatever that is), live long enough to write a bestsellerand#8230;
5. I should have (fill in the blank) and#8230; gone faster, passed the test, been a better boy/girlfriend, wife/husband, cleaned the bathroom, finished my bestseller by nowand#8230;
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Meditation or mindfulness can be your best friend in learning to be the boss of your mind. It isnand#8217;t about stopping thoughts or making fear go away or finding peace forever and being happy all the time. Itand#8217;s about watching your thoughts and then letting them float on by rather than hooking into them and letting yourself be convinced everything it tells you is true. Sometimes, it has valuable advice and really useful stuff to offer, but a lot of the time, it just goes on and on about stuff that doesnand#8217;t really do much good. This doesnand#8217;t mean you have to start seeing your mind as your worst enemy, just gently remind it you have no time for its incessant negative chatter and you are going to choose instead to listen to the compassionate voice of your heart. Tell it that it can speak when it has something pleasant to say.
By learning to just watch the thoughts, you learn to tell your mind, and#8220;Okay thanks for sharing,and#8221; as Noah Levine taught us, and then listen more to your true self, the voice of the heart. We learn to be unconditionally friendly toward ourselves as we politely disagree with all the and#8220;what ifsand#8221; and and#8220;I should havesand#8221; and other fear-based thoughts and instead, bring ourselves into the moment.
As athletes, we learn to calm the thoughts and believe the real truth which is, and#8220;I will give this 100 percent effort right now, I can do no more and I can be grateful for whatever manifests.and#8221; The same is true for students who worry about tests and how they will ever finish the mountain of work they have to do before tomorrow morning. You can only give it your best right now and let go of outcomes. If you know you are not giving it your best, be truthful with yourself and accept the consequences with grace.
Sierra Agape Center offers one-on-one meditation /mindfulness training in addition to bringing presentations into classrooms or the workplace or other groups. For more information, please visit http://www.sierraagape.org.
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