In the 20th century sport psychology has emerged as an important study of human behavior in athletics, providing answers to enhance performance and treat disorders effecting optimal performance (Weinberg & Gould, 2007). Upon the following review of research in neuroscience it will become evident that there is a potential for a powerfully new orientation for both administering and measuring mental skills training hence forth known as neuro sport psychology. Mainstream literature in sport psychology has plead the fifth regarding educating future practitioners on the traditional purpose and power of the ancient science of meditation. Murphy, author of Golf In The Kingdom, and In The Zone –Transcendent Experiences in Sports, agrees there is a ‘metanormal’ side to athletic experience, more complex than conventional sports wisdom accounts for, which “has enormous power to sweep us [athletes] beyond our [their] ordinary sense of self, to evoke capacities that have generally been regarded as mystical, occult, or religious” (Murphy, 1995, p.4). In 1913 Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the great Spanish neuroanatomist and Nobel prize winner declared “in the adult centers the nerve paths are something fixed, ended and immutable” (Begley, 2007, p.5). The result of the hardwired view of the brain appears to have led sport psychology textbook literature to convey meditation as solely a practice to help athletes “achieve a state of deep relaxation, and facilitate concentration by disciplining the mind” (Williams, 2010, p. The result of the hardwired dogma had many implications, none of which were very optimistic for athletes. Although it appears so, whether brains can be trained fit for the zone is an answer this literature review was unable to find empirical evidence to support as a result of a lack of collaborative neuroscience research with elite athletes.
The sporting culture has long been criticized for ironically displaying poor sport behavior, promoting violence, and even criminal activity- what NBA legend coach Phil Jackson (1995) calls “ a kind of spiritual deterioration, one that has seen an attitude of intimidation become the preeminent fore on the floor” (p.135). Michelangelo once said, “my soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness” which begs the question, can athletes who can sprint like Usain Bolt and jump like Michael Jordan enrich earth’s loveliness even more so through meditation and thus reach heaven sooner?
The Mind & Sport Institute (MSi) helps athletes and business professionals reach peak performance and well-being through mindfulness-based performance enhancement. Build Your Confidence & Self-EsteemOver the past five years we've been able to support hundreds of Perth people just like you take back control of their confidence and self-esteem. Set aside a quiet time during which you can reflect on some of the many things you could be thankful for. I feel thankful for the life I’ve already had, for the good parts of my childhood, for everything I’ve learned, for good friends and beautiful sights. I feel thankful for the wonder of the universe, for all the atoms in my body—the carbon in my bones, the oxygen and iron in my blood—that were born in the heart of a star billions of years ago, to drift through space, to form a sun and planets, to form the hand that holds this piece of paper and the eye that reads this word. You may also like this Gratitude Letter practice to experience firsthand the physical and emotional benefits of gratitude.
ContactFor inquiries about interviewing Rick Hanson or having him present for your organization, please click here. FAQsFind answers to a growing archive of nearly 100 questions on 20+ different topics here: FAQs. Your Skillful Means WebsiteSponsored by the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, Your Skillful Means offers a collection of methods for healing distress and dysfunction, promoting well-being and personal growth, and deepening spiritual practice.
IF you are on antidepressants…PLEASE understand this post is not meant as a critique of your healing process. Based on many studies, including one published in JAMA in 2010 by Fournier, antidepressants were no more effective in changing serotonin levels than the placebo in mild to moderate depression. HOWEVER, both the placebo and drugs had mild to moderate effect…they had virtually COMPARABLE effects. If you knew how powerfully your thoughts could affect your life would you treat them differently? Begin taking charge of your mental, emotional and physical well-being through positive neuroplasticity! Dive in deeply to lasting transformation in this once-a-year Embodied Warrior Immersion into Neurosculpting® in Sante Fe, New Mexico. In a study that has been published in the latest issue of Consciousness and Cognition, Fadel Zeiden and his colleagues have shown that only four days of ‘mindfulness meditation’ training for only 20 minutes each day, improves not only mood and stress levels but also improves deep cognitive processing efficiency – core aspects of fluid intelligence such as working memory and sustained attention, as well as long term memory efficiency. Before and after the interventions, the participants in the experiment were given a broad range of psychological tests assessing mood, memory, visual attention, attention processing, working memory, and concentration. This allowed the researchers to quantify any improvements in mood or cognition due to meditation, compared to simply hearing a story. The brief mindfulness meditation practice – but not the book reading – improved concentration (attentional focus) and the efficiency of what are called ‘executive processes’ – the ability to maintain focus on tasks or goals in an intelligent way, and not be distracted. The meditation group did particularly well on all the cognitive tests that were timed – where participants had to process information under time pressure causing stress.
Meditation training was conducted by a trained facilitator with 10 years experience in teaching mindfulness meditation. As described in the paper, “participants were instructed to relax, with their eyes closed, and to simply focus on the flow of their breath occurring at the tip of their nose.
Mindfulness mediation is not only stress-reducing, but it improves what is known as ‘meta cognition’ – the ability to observe thought processes as they occur non-judgementally.
Brief (4 day) mental training through meditation is not as effective as extensive training regimens. However, the short term gains demonstrated in this study are dramatic and may have many every day uses – for instance in preparing for a stressful event such as an exam or interview. Firstly, the study provides strong evidence that brief MM training enhances sustained attention and ‘executive control’ – the ability to monitor performance and ignore distracting information when under time pressure.


The researchers also suggest that the meditation group’s improvements in mood may have reduced ‘mind-wandering’  – the way the mind can get distracted by thoughts and evaluations. Morning: 10 sessions of HighIQPro training followed by 15-20 minutes mindfulness meditation.
Evening: 10 sessions of HighIQPro training followed by 15-20 minutes mindfulness meditation. It appears sport psychology researchers may be cautious of alienating themselves by entering what Michael Murphy (1995) calls “the spiritual underground in sports” (p. As Vallery’s above quote suggests, the quickest way to achieve our dreams is to wake up; the question presented before the field of sport psychology and athletes alike is whether the findings of neuroplasticity will be that wakeup call to understanding practitioners fullest potential to mentally train athletes brains to perform at their peak potential. The ‘unchanging brain’ as it came to be understood remained the prevailing paradigm in neuroscience for almost a century, which insisted that no new neurons could be born (neurogenesis), and that the functions of the brains neuroanatomy structures were fixed after early adolescence (Begley, 2007).
257) – a far cry from developing the ‘metanormal’ or ‘super human’ states of consciousness Murphy’s research has discovered is experienced by elite athletes while in peak states of performance. It led sport and exercise scientists to believe that rehabilitation for adult athletes who suffered brain damage from a stroke, or transformational therapy for athletes who suffered from mental illness, and even mental skills training for increasing athletes happiness ‘set point’ as a “fools errand” (Begley, 2007).
However, as this paper has presented, if there is a way it most certainly would involve capitalizing on the phenomenon of neuroplasticity which has been proven to be significantly activated during meditation practice. Enriched environments capitalize on the neuroplasticity principle “that experience can change our brain structure” without necessarily any meditation required (Begley, S. It has been this papers purest intention to discover ways of possibly changing this trend by contributing to the body of literature on meditation in sports; suggesting that contemplative practices may be that key nourishment that empowers athletes brains to reaching their peak potential and well-being.
Our 1-Day Confidence & Self-Esteem Workshop In Perth is the perfect step for you to develop the skills needed to improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Do you ever feel that no matter what you do or how hard you work it seems like you’re not moving forward? As a starting point, you might read the passage below to yourself or out loud, adapting it to your situation as you like. For the love I have given to others, for all the conversations had, for all the helpful acts toward others, for all the dishes done. I can focus on one of these persons, perhaps my spouse or mate if I’m currently in a relationship, and bring to mind the ways he or she has been good to me. For the roof over my head and the bread on my table, for being able to have a life that is healthier, longer, and freer than most people have ever dreamed of. His books include Hardwiring Happiness (in 14 languages), Buddha’s Brain (in 25 languages), Just One Thing (in 14 languages), and Mother Nurture.
Finding time everyday to be grateful helps us train our brain to focus on the positive and appreciate what we value. His books are available in 26 languages and include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture.
Check out our Neurosculpting® Audio Programs or join us at the institute in person or online! Both the meditation and reading groups improved in mood after the 4 session interventions, but only the meditation group improved in the cognitive measures.
Mindfulness meditation teaches a person to release sensory events that would normally distract you in a way that is emotion regulating. It is well documented that long meditation training promotes lasting changes in cognition and well-being. In contrast to the participants in the study who just listed to a story, brief mindfulness meditation training reduced participants’ fatigue and anxiety ratings.
At IQ Mindware we develop brain training interventions to increase IQ, critical thinking, decision making, creativity and executive functioning. Many research have proven brain training do have an impact on neuron development but it must be brought up that it is really not the end all be all treatment. Typically sport and performance practitioners have relied on qualitative analysis of athlete’s self reports, assessment of their play, as well as crude physiological measures such as heart rate and brain wave activity to evaluate their effectiveness (Williams, 2010).
Their focus was to answer a question that has perplexed scientists and philosophers for centuries: “does the brain have the ability to change, and what is the power of the mind to change it?” (Begley, 2007, p. The answer may result in a cultural revolution in sport and athletic training with important implications extending beyond the sport surface and rather into the brain and hearts of all those influenced by sport. For example, in Williams’ regarded Applied Sport Psychology textbook -now in its sixth edition, readers are taught only the relaxation response technique developed by Herbet Benson (1975), which is considered a generalized application of traditional Eastern transcendental meditation without association to mysticism (Williams, 2010).
The reason being was not only the false notion of the immutable brain, but also the recently disproven belief of genetic determinism, which similarly insisted that we were again stuck, fixed and immutable, but this time by our genes. Through identifying the neuroanatomy of peak performance -the actual cortical areas of elite athletes brains using FMRI and other neuro imaging techniques, sport psychologists could subsequently develop mental training and meditations to cause neurogenisis in these specific areas. For the long hours I’ve worked, the hoops I’ve jumped through to keep all those balls up in the air. Improve problem solving and decision making skills for cognitive performance & brain health.


The meditation group scored as much as ten times better on a working memory task – an important component of fluid intelligence. Many thoughts associated with stressful emotions can interfere with our dealing with the task at hand in a relaxed, efficient way, and mindfulness can help in regulating these thoughts – leading to better performance.
Fatigue and anxietyare understood to be particularly critical in affecting information processing. As evaluating the effectiveness of mental skills training offers insight into the best practices and the capability of practitioners in the field of sport psychology this paper seeks to answer the question, can practitioners prove greater validity to their clients improved ‘mental skills’ and, if so, what’s the most effective practices athletes should be undertaking. Today it is understood that the expression of genes can be turned on and off through our experiences (Meaney, 2001). The willingness of athletes and further scientific exploration by sport psychologists into the transcendental experiences spoken by athletes in the ‘spiritual underground in sports’ may present itself as a lamp guiding us the right direction.
For the efforts I’ve made, the many times I’ve stayed patient, the many times I’ve found more to give inside when I thought I was empty. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at NASA, Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, and other major universities, and taught in meditation centers worldwide.
The meditation-trained group averaged aproximately10 consecutive correct answers, while the listening group averaged approximately one. Our High IQ Pro software is an n-back task, known to improve fluid intelligence.
The ability to self-regulate emotions has been found to be a key component in improving cognition. The result of this unique collaborative inquiry was the groundbreaking understanding of the phenomenon at work in meditation known as “neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change its own functional and physical anatomy in response to repeated task demands” (Marks, 2008, p.
In contrast, Williams hardly motivates future sport psychologists to further investigate meditation and its link to ‘metanormal’ states as she suggests “to further eliminate any religious or cultic connotation, the technique does not even need to be called meditation” (Williams, 2010, p.257). In short, Begley (2007) infers that neuroplasticity allows us to sculpt our brain’s emotion circuitry as powerfully as we can sculpt our bicep muscles. Most interestingly, upon researchers delineating exactly what was causing an environment to be enriched it was found that voluntary running was the single most important factor to neurogenesis (H. This is part of the human existence, where things that we did in the past stop being effective in the present. For the extraordinary gifts of evolution I carry in each cell of my body, for the capabilities accumulated during three and a half billion years of life’s presence on our planet. His work has been featured on BBC, CBS, and NPR, and he offers the free Just One Thing newsletter with over 110,000 subscribers, plus the online Foundations of Well-Being program in positive neuroplasticity. His work has been featured on BBC, CBS, and NPR, and he offers the free Just One Thing newsletter with over 114,000 subscribers, plus the online Foundations of Well-Being program in positive neuroplasticity that anyone with financial need can do for free. The fact is that any possibility of achieving positive evolution in sport psychology and mental skills training rests on the sports industry, including both researchers, management and athletes attention and action towards progressively accepting practices; not trying to avoid them! Davidson (2002), a leading figure in neuroscience research suggests neuroplasticity “allows for effective athletic training and makes peak performance possible” (Davidson, 2002, p. This means there is a possibility to change states experienced in meditation into athlete’s traits. Voluntary running increased neurogenesis in “very, very old animals” as well as enhanced their learning and memory capacities, whereas forced exercise did none of the above (H. This paper presents a discovery and provocative look into answering the most current and pressing question to the sport psychology field; can we create brains fit for the zone?
Additionally, another reason why the athletes should consider meditation is because unlike weight training, there has been no report of risk or harm caused by the practice of meditation (Green & Turner, 2010). The implications of these findings not only suggest the importance of respecting athletes autonomy when initiating programs –a fact Begley (2007) states “human couch potatoes can probably exploit”, it also points to a possible window of opportunity in which coupling running with meditation may lead to increased neuroplasticity in desirable neuroanatomical areas (p. Although running was the main cause of neurogenesis, the survival of these new neurons depend on an overall enriched environment which meditation may be a pivotal practice to creating and without which researchers suggest about 50% of the new neurons would die (H. Other people might call them by another name but we all experience problems no matter what we choose to call them. As long as we are living in this imperfect world, things will always change and we will always have problems.
For example when one inherits property, it is a good kind of change but there are problems it will produce. There will be taxes to pay and possibly relatives fighting over what should be their share. As soon as the fear sets in there are two lenses that we can use to look at the situation. Creativity then generates a space for finding solutions that can directly address the problem.



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