How You Can Improve Your Instincts, One Play At A Time

basketball

I’ve read tons of information claiming meditation provides major health benefits. Really, I have; for years, actually. During the past year, in fact, my focus on meditation has graduated to the point where I’m writing about its “awesome benefits” day after day.

But that hasn’t kept me from continuing to hold preconceived notions about meditation’s frivolous offerings to my life: I always thought it’s too girly, too Master Zen-ish, too much for people who are just starting to live a healthy lifestyle and need an easy transition, to be adopted by a work-out-seven-days-a-week type like me. I mean, what could meditation reasonably do for a hard-nosed gym rat like myself that I couldn’t accomplish on my own terms during workouts?

Au contraire, mon frere: I just recently learned that meditation “gives you an edge by reducing stress and making you less reactionary,” which is just the nice way of saying it might be time for me to question my preconceived notions.

I play sports, specifically basketball, all the time– and one thing I could improve upon, as counter-intuitive to sports as this might sound, is not responding to a situation so quickly. Specifically, in the heat of a game, I sometimes react to a loose ball without really grasping the full context of the situation in that immediate moment. But rather than making an instinctive beeline toward a loose ball that my teammate has a better angle on, for example, I (and my team) would be better served if I didn’t engage my initial reaction so quickly; instead, meditating in that moment on all my options and running to a spot on the court that would make it easier for my teammate to make the unobstructed pick-up, would be the much better move in a lot of situations.

After all, instinct is an immediate response to stress: impulsive people use their instinct more frequently, and often to inappropriate/dangerous measures. But that’s what animals do; we’re better than that, and that’s what meditation can help us actualize.

Becoming primal on the court has its importance: when the clock’s winding down, your team is down a point, and you don’t know the defensive scheme the opposing team is throwing at you, for example, you must make due when all bets are off. But if you could enhance your rationale in that primal moment, when the stress is high and the proverbial chips are low, wouldn’t there be a greater likelihood for a superior outcome? According to research, that answer here is to meditate, enhance your instinct, and play on.

 

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Erik Drost

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