As more and more research comes out highlighting the importance of a healthy body AND mind, I’d like to highlight four different types of meditation and visualization that can be used by martial artists.
This is one of the purest forms of meditation, and one of the best ones to start playing with if you are a meditation newbie. To practice this all you have to do is stop for a few moments at any time during the day and focus on being fully present in that moment. You don’t need to change your breathing, just notice it. You don’t have to say anything, or do anything, or be anywhere. Just stop and pay attention. Be present in the moment, for a few minutes.
For a focused meditation, you will need to set your mind to solving a problem, visualizing a goal, or imagining a scenario play out the way you want it to. Athletes stand to benefit the most from an exercise like this (we all remember the Michael Phelps face from the last summer Olympics, don’t we?).
Martial artists can use this form of meditation also to visualize performing a specific technique, or the way a fight is going to play out. The brain doesn’t recognize the difference very well between imagining you’ve done something and actually doing it. We can capitalize on that and better prepare ourselves for combat by visualizing different scenarios in a fight so that if we ever find ourselves there, it’s not the first time (at least in our minds). Being a step ahead like that will help us not to freeze, and be better prepared to react correctly and quickly.
A movement meditation is when you perform an activity and you are focused solely on the movement. This type of meditation can be simple or complicated. An example of a simple movement meditation would be to pick some pattern to do with your arms and close your eyes while you repeat that pattern (martial artists, imagine doing Hubud Lubud with a partner with your eyes closed).
A complex movement meditation could be something like a form or rolling in Jiu Jitsu. When you are grappling with a partner, you can’t help but be entirely focused and concentrated on this one activity - or you will get choked out pretty quickly. Doing this a couple of times per week works wonders on mental health, stress relief, and overall happiness.
For this type of meditation, you will need to find a saying, quote, or scripture that you like and spend a few minutes truly soaking it up and internalizing it. Try to understand it, think of how it applies to your life, and say it multiple times throughout the session. One of our favorites is “To Fall Seven Times, To Rise Eight Times. Life Begins Now.”
I recommend starting with the first one, and then slowly trying to integrate some of these different forms of meditation into your martial arts practice, and your life, and see the impact it has on you.