When I asked the head coach of Team Tieu, Philip, what percentage of a fighter’s ability is mental, he responded 100%. This was quite a surprising figure given the amount of hours that fighters spend in the gym, training and working on their craft.
So what is mental training and how can it be done? Pick up most magazines and journals today and there will be some mention of Mindfulness. Mindfulness at a very high level is a set of tools that allows you to be present and have more control over your reactions. We spend up to 70% of our day lost in thought, day dreaming, contemplating about the past or anticipating the future. The problem with constant thinking is that it is the primary cause of stress. More stress means less sleep, more physical pain, higher blood pressure, lowered immune system and general unease. These are not good for the body, especially one that is preparing for a fight. I will post monthly tips and bits of advice as we begin to understand the importance of developing a strong mind and at Team Tieu we are about being the best you can be in all areas of your life. Whether you are fighting for the first time for a White Collar competition, or an A-class fighter competing for world titles, the mental stress is very real and can be very challenging.
Simple Mindfulness steps – find a quiet space and a comfortable sitting position. Close your eyes and begin by taking a few deep breaths and then assume your normal breathing rate. The aim of the game is to focus on your breathing. As you breathe in, where do you feel the sensation the strongest? Is it at the bottom of your lungs? Is it at the top of your nose? Or is it at the back of your throat? Sounds simple right? Continue breathing in and out and set a timer for 10 mins. 10 mins a day, that’s all you need.
So what’s so difficult about breathing? The moment you close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath, you will begin to notice thoughts. The skill we are developing is the ability to notice the thoughts as they arise and before we get carried away with them, to simply observe them. This really is something that needs to be practiced, so I recommend taking 10 mins now to do the following:
Sit down, get comfortable (not lying down) and close your eyes
Focus on your breathing, in and out for 10 mins
As thoughts begin to arise, notice them and bring yourself back to the present moment. We do this by focussing back on the breath (let your breath be your anchor)
Rinse and repeat for 10 mins
The brain can change shape in certain areas in just over 5 weeks of daily meditation and has so many wonderful effects of the body and your own perspective on life. It is more than just feeling calm, it’s about being your true self without the self limitations and criticism. For those that try this, I would love your feedback.
That’s all for this first post, but I will be giving advice every month and feel free to contact me for more information and please use me as a resource. I host my podcast on this subject with masters in the Mindfulness world and I have many gems to share with you all.