Focus And Awareness

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Focus And Awareness

We have all seen professional athletes concentrate during a match. Because they are professional athletes, they know that they have to bring their attention to the present moment. By focusing only on breathing, they are able to center themselves in that calm place where they can get in touch with the space between stimulus and response (See article...

) They do this because directing awareness towards breathing is one of the fundamental techniques for achieving maximum performance. Take musicians as an example. They focus only on the rhythm of the metronome, on that regular rhythm to master the scales, which are the foundations of music.

If you consider breathing as a metronome that has its constant rhythm, you will come to connect with your inner self and your concentration will get better very quickly. The more you stay focused on breathing, the more you will be anchored deeply to that space of calm and peace that leads to optimal performance.

When using Awareness Breathing, it is very difficult to be destabilized by the distraction of a teaspoon of salt or anything that can unfocus your mind. Through conscious breathing, we come to become aware of things hidden within us.

Things that we would have never thought could hinder our game, like negative inner dialogue from our childhood, consolidated mental patterns and deep fears. Breathing is the first thing we do when we are born and last when we leave this world!

Modern life, its tensions, help to shorten our breaths. We have become a generation of shallow breathers. We live in haste and breathe in haste. When we are stressed, our breathing becomes more labored, making us even more prone to stress.

And we know very well how stress can damage performance, as we become blind to what we have to do during the match. But how does breathing work? Breathing is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which is composed of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

In cases of anxiety or stress, the sympathetic nervous system comes into action, releasing and flooding the body with stress hormones. When these accumulate, the immune system begins to collapse, along with our ability to think clearly and respond appropriately.

The sympathetic nervous system channels this tension. But this is where the parasympathetic nervous system comes into play: instead of increasing the rhythm, it slows it down. It lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate.

It helps us because it releases a neurotransmitter called "acetylcholine," which is essential for relaxation.

"If you want to defeat the anxiety of life, live in the present moment, live in the breath" Amit Ray
Since breathing is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, one of the simplest and most effective ways of activating the parasympathetic system is conscious breathing.

It is a cycle: inhalation, exhalation and the space between the two moments, like the moment of pause between two waves, until the breath returns, like the tide. To get to this awareness, you need a lot of practice and to calm the mind by bringing back your conscious attention to breathing each time.

The great tennis players know this experience well. "When you're in the zone," Roger Federer said recently, "things just slow down. Everything slows down. You have the maximum confidence. When it happens, do not try to focus on what's happening (around you), because out there you could lose everything in a moment.

Everything becomes a single background noise. Pay no attention to this or that noise. You are focused only on the present. You are focused on the ball that comes, on its seams ... you see them as if everything was in slow motion." Then he goes on to say: "You must stay in the present moment.

You cannot worry about what just happened, the point you made, the mistake you just made, because it's already past. You cannot worry about what's going to happen on the court. You must stay right there, in the present moment." A lost game is lost.

You cannot dwell on the frustration, unless you want to take it with you to the next game, creating an obstacle to stumble upon. Try to reflect: the game that just ended is over and the future must still be played. You must concentrate on the present moment!

"The mind must be empty to see clearly" Krishnamurti