Meditation for BJJ really? Meditation is big in the press, helping with stress and other issues. But for some people the thought of chanting or listening to pan pipes can be off putting. It’s hard to appreciate how sitting quietly can actually be a benefit for you as an ageing grappler. So how can you practise meditation and how will it benefit your jiu jitsu?
Meditation is all about being in the present moment. That sounds great but what does that actually mean? Essentially it means that you don’t think about the past, so problems you have had at work or how that guy cut you up on the way home. But also don’t think about what you are going to do. So no dwelling on the mountain of work you are going into tomorrow, or how you have to get the dog to the vets next week. This sounds easy but you mind wants to be busy. That is why you focus on your breathing when meditating, it tricks your mind into giving it something to focus on.
Compare this to when you are rolling. As soon as you slap hands and bump fists everything else goes away. Ageing grappler or youngster, you have to focus on what you are doing. Work and home issues go away and you are in the moment. So even though you didn’t realise it you have achieved being in the moment. Mediation is just a focused way of drilling the voluntary letting go of the past and the future and not having it forced on you by the prospect of someone tapping you.
If you want to have a go it is surprisingly simple. The simplest way is just to find somewhere quiet you can sit down. You don’t have to sit crossed legged or anything like that unless you want to, a chair will be fine. Set a timer for 10 minutes otherwise you think you have been there ages but it was only 2 minutes. If you want to have music on that’s fine, sometimes this can help with external distractions. Once everything is set up just sit down, close your eyes and relax. Focus on your breathing. Allow your tongue to relax from the top of your mouth (this always happens). Take deep breathes in and slow breaths out. If you want to count four seconds in and four seconds out, that can be helpful. It keeps your breathing relaxed and keeps your mind focussed.
When you first start your mind will wander, you can bet on it. But that’s fine don’t let it bother you, just return to focussing on your breathing and the counting of the breath. This is the drilling part, bringing your focus back to your breathing, is bring yourself back to the present moment. Making sure you take deep breaths also helps stay focused, as most of the time you have to make the effort to really fill your lungs. There are also a number of apps that can help with your meditation, the ones I know of are Headspace and Calm. They have timers built in and music, this means that you can also use headphones that will help with distractions.
So as an ageing grappler how does all this really help with my BJJ? The ability to just breathe and let go of your stressing issues, will help as soon as you walk into the academy. This allows you to focus on the class and bring your mind back to focus if it does wander. Enabling you to take on board all the details of the technique that is being taught. Plus in competition, if you end up with negative self talk or struggled in a match, you will be able to focus your mind away from this and move forward. Plus the deep breathing will help you catch your breath.
Just like with BJJ if you want to improve you have to train consistently. The same goes for meditation. If you want to improve the skill of being able to let things go, you need consistency of practise. 10 minutes is not a long time to dedicate to yourself. You never know if you like it and can see the benefits you may want to do it for longer. I have found meditation really beneficial not only for training but generally and hopefully you will too.