It's not your body that performs, it's your mind. Your body is simply a vehicle for what your mind wants to perform. If this is true then we need to train our minds as we do our bodies. As if we don't have enough to worry about. Triathletes can barely fit a strength session in once a week, not to mention a mind session. However, meditation does not require one to sit hours on end in a dark room trying to reach a higher level of mindfulness and tap into hidden feelings. Daily breath work for as little as 10 to 15 minutes can be enough to recharge and reduce stress. A reduction in stress allows us to remain calm under pressure and enables us to perform at our highest level. Something we need to do everyday regardless of our chosen athletic competitions.
Begin by trying this simple breathing exercise and you will see it can be both calming and energizing:
-Find a comfortable place to sit. It is best to sit as opposed to lying down. It is not a time to fall asleep.
-Think of an intention for your practice (e.g. "I will overcome my open water swim fear." or "I have prepared to my fullest extent for my upcoming race.").
-Now focus on your breath. Begin by taking a deep breath through your nose for a count of 3-4 seconds. Hold it for however long is comfortable, and then begin to exhale through your mouth for a count of 4-6 seconds. This is one breath. Repeat this for 7 breaths and then start over, counting from 1-7 again. You will see as your mind begins to wander you might catch yourself counting greater than 7. If this happens you will have to re-focus your breath and begin at 1 again. Also, if you find that you cannot hold either count of your breath for the amount of time suggested, just lessen the time to what you find comfortable. As you practice more you will be able to hold it for a longer amount of time.
-End your practice by thinking of your original intention again.
Begin by trying this breath exercise for 5 minutes at first and increase the duration as you get comfortable. It can be quite challenging to "quiet your mind", but just like with training your body your mind will also adapt over time.