Think meditation is just for hippies? Think it’s a waste of time, or is hard to do? The Clint Eastwood of triathlon begs to differ.
“All you need to do is watch every single Western movie ever made,” says retired Olympic gold medallist Simon Whitfield. “In a showdown, one cowboy flinches and the other cowboy shoots first. It’s the same for guys: If you can focus on the moment, you gain a big advantage over anyone who can’t.”
Meditation certainly gave Simon an edge at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where he won gold. “The last four athletes who left the waiting room finished 1-2-3-4. We just sat there, staring straight ahead, focusing on our breathing and building our energy. We didn’t flinch, and the rest is history.”
‘JUST DO NOTHING’
“Guys tend to think of meditating as sitting in the lotus position while burning incense. But it’s not like that,” Simon continues. “It’s really just about doing nothing.”
If “doing nothing” sounds easy, that’s because it is! Here’s what Simon recommends:
- Try to find a quiet, peaceful spot: A park bench, the break room, a bathroom stall. If there’s some noise, no worries — this exercise can be done anywhere from an office desk to a construction site.
- Sit comfortably and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose — your belly, not your chest, should rise — and then do the same when you exhale.
- Do this once and you’ll feel better. Do it for one minute (or more), and stress and tension will melt away.
Why is this simple exercise so effective? “There’s all this noise and drama going on in our brains, and by doing nothing and focusing on our breathing our minds recalibrate and gather strength,” Simon explains, adding that this type of meditation has also been shown to lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and even curb cigarette cravings.
Pack-a-day cowboys, take note!
Daniel Palmer is a communications professional and former journalist. Born in Newfoundland and raised in British Columbia, Daniel considers himself an elastic Canadian with a West Coast bias. Nature is usually the cure for what ails him. Daniel is based in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.