The benefits of mindfulness for climbing

A mindfulness practice for me usually looks like this: lie down; begin meditation; try to focus on my breath for a bit; think about something else; do a bit more focused breathing; wake up half an hour later, confused about how I managed to fall asleep.

I can’t help it, meditation sends me to sleep! I’ve tried it before and I always thought I was terrible at it, because guess what? It’s really hard not to get lost in your thoughts, or fret, or worry, or fidget.

Note: I’m using ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’ as interchangeable terms here, but as far as I understand mindfulness is just a specific type of meditation, where you focus your mind fully on something, i.e. breathing. 

Anyway, I was determined to give it another go because WomenClimb’s 12 Steps to Climbing Confidence Course introduced the idea of using a regular mindfulness practice to help with  mental issues related to climbing.

Read my post about dealing with failure in climbing

It’s funny, when you decide you have an interest in something, it suddenly begins to pop up everywhere. So after making the conscious choice to incorporate a short mindfulness practice into my day, I listened to a Joe Rogan podcast (which are great, by the way!), where he spoke to holistic women’s health psychiatrist Kelly Brogan, author of blacklisted book A Mind of Your Own.

I will not recount the entire (three-hour!!) podcast here, though I would really recommend a listen, but the gist of it was this: Kelly uses a totally medicine-free, holistic approach to combat the worst mental conditions. And she says a key thing for many of her patients is when they begin incorporating a meditation into their daily lives.

Her requirement is just three minutes a day – something literally ALL of us have time for. And the results, apparently, are mindblowing.

I always thought meditation had to be like an hour a day…turns out just three minutes can make a huge difference!

Using apps for mindfulness practice

So with all this support behind the idea, I had to make a commitment to a daily practice. Luckily, nowadays we have all sorts of technology to help us, so I downloaded two apps: Buddhify and Headspace.

So far I’ve mostly been using Buddhify, and I have found it great. It’s only £1.99 to download and it really suits my lifestyle. It has a bunch of guided meditations designed for various occasions, mental states and places, around 5-10 mins in length, and also support for solo meditation.

I’m trying out Headspace too, which is free for the first 10 meditations, and then you have to subscribe. It seems cool, as it takes you to the stages of ‘learning’ to meditate, but a monthly subscription fee puts me off…

I’m trying to practice every day and to connect it to parts of my daily routine so it seems like a natural part of my day. For example, I’ve been trying to do a short meditation just after I wake up or just before I go to sleep. Even then, sometimes I struggle to find those 5 minutes, but I do it as often as possible.

What I have found is that I am enjoying climbing a lot more once again, after months of beating myself up for everything I believed to be ‘underachievement’. I don’t know how big a role meditation is playing in this, but I believe it helps, and belief is half the battle…

I think it helps by calming my mind and helping me to get less stressed out and anxious about things in general, which in turn means I have a more positive attitude. Which is pretty useful in all aspects of life, let’s face it!

I’d love to hear from anyone who has used mindfulness to help their climbing! How did you find this? What techniques do you use and when do you apply it?

Please leave a comment below!

 

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