Friday, October 17, 2008

The Inner Athlete

Being an athlete is all about physical strength, coordination, skill, and training. Let's call that the outer athlete. Being an athlete also reveals an inner athlete within that harbors your determination, energy levels, ability to focus, and at its heart your love for what you do.
It is the eve of my second biathlon race here at Soldier Hollow. This morning I went for an easy run in the mountains above the nordic venue, followed by a yoga class in town. I have this afternoon off and will first take some time to dryfire: which involves standing in shooting position, repeating my breathing and shooting sequence, and visualizing my Sprint race tomorrow. And then, I will take some time to check in with my self. I raced yesterday, but was a bit disappointed with my shooting and my skiing performance. Tomorrow I believe I can do better - ski faster and shoot accurately. Training my "inner athlete" is just as important as training my body to ski and shoot. Tomorrow I want to be fired up and ready to go, but I also want to be relaxed, calm and focused. How can I prepare my self to do that?

On a daily basis, I take the time to train my inner athlete so that I can mentally and emotionally be ready to stretch my ability to its highest potential and to confidently focus on each target, so that each one is a hit when I race and train. One way I am trying to achieve these (we are always a work in progress!) is through meditation. I am new to this technique, which takes patience and an interest in improving the way your mind thinks. Kind of like a homemade recipe - I have been tinkering with what works for me. I add a bit more time or alter that right words, like ingredients, that work together to train my mind to relax and focus.
If you are wondering why I thought you might be interested in this, I have found a little excerise that might give you an idea of how you can affect your mind, body, heart and the environment around you.

"Masters of Energy" **

1.Begin at your seats. Together, discuss the energy - the feeling of your classroom. (Is it busy or exciting, tiring or energizing?) Have a recorder write this on the left side of the board in a column.

2.Close your eyes and now bring your attention away from the room and class, and to your self. What feelings do you find inside your self?

Discuss: If you all feel comfortable, share some of the feelings that you found. Have the recorder draw a big circle on the board and write these thoughts inside the circle.

3.Stand comfortably in front of your desks. Close your eyes. Imagine you are a big oak tree. In your mind reach up through your spine and head like branches to the sky, stretching, and then through your core, your legs and feet, feel your roots ground you to the floor and flow deep, deep into the earth. Feel how stable you are with these two different forces.

Discuss: Upon opening your eyes, discuss what you felt when you lengthened and rooted yourself. Have the recorder draw a tree with your thoughts (next to the circle). What did it feel like to grow and stretch like branches in your mind? What did it feel like to root your self to the earth?

4.Return to sitting at your desks. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Now, how does the room feel?

Discuss: Have the recorder write your thoughts in a column on the right side of the board. Then look at all of the different thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions, and ideas you have written on the board. Did the feeling of the room and your self change throughout the excercise?

Aspens in Utah.

Through this excercise, I hope you were able to feel a bit of your own ability to pay attention to what your mind is think and what your body is feeling. Paying attention is one of the biggest keys to this excerise and for me an important part of training my inner athlete - I need to know and understand how I am feeling and why so that I can make my self feel great and ready to handle the challenges that come my way.

**I found this activity on under Past Activities. I tailored the directions to individualize this activity for the 6th grade class.

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