Connecting Mindfulness and Mental Toughness–Live in the Moment

Buddhist Definition: “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”.

This ability to be in the present-moment awareness increases your ability to let yourself awaken to the moment and be free and uninhibited by self-consciousness. Your natural self comes to the surface. Being in this natural and present moment increases your mental toughness through focus on the “here and now”. “Be right here right now and see the ball, hit the ball !” you hear tennis and other coaches implore. This encouragement to just let go and let yourself be in the moment is the essence of fully experiencing an activity from the point of view of mindfulness you are now awakening to being more mentally and physically tough.

Overcoming what I call “efforting” is the first critical principle for improving performance.  Thinking too hard about what you’re doing actually makes you do worse. If you’re in a situation that makes you anxious—giving a presentation or speech, meeting for a job interview, playing in a tennis tournament or dancing with a troupe —focusing on your anxiety, worries or trying too hard to do the activity perfectly tends to heighten negative thoughts and anxiety. Focus less on what’s going on in your mind and more on what’s going on in the room or court, less on your mental self-talk and more on yourself as part of something.  To be at your best, you need to focus on positive things outside myself, like the music or the people around me. As the Buddhist monk might say  If you want to release positive energy ” try being one with everything” which to me translates as living and experiencing the joy of the “here and now” moment..

By reducing self-consciousness, mindfulness allows you to witness the passing drama of feelings, social pressures, even of being esteemed or disparaged by others without taking their evaluations personally, explain Richard Ryan and K. W. Brown of the University of Rochester. When you focus on your immediate experience without attaching it to your self-esteem, unpleasant events like audience rejection—or your so-called friends making fun of your performance —seem less threatening.

Focusing on the present moment also forces you to stop over thinking and getting out of our heads which releases positive brain endorphins and energy. “Being present-minded takes away some of that self-evaluation and getting lost in your mind—and in the mind is where we make the evaluations that are self-defeating. To paraphrase, Tim Gallwey from his fabulous book Inner Game of Life, instead of getting stuck in your head and worrying, you can let yourself go and hand over the performance to your positive and natural self 2 or self 3 and avoid the critical judgments of Self 1 which distract you from being in and enjoying the moment.

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