Starting from Roberto Baggio, forerunner (it was the end of the eighties), at least in his homeland, of athletes who were lovers of contemplative disciplines, now seem to be several sportsmen more or less known who devote themselves to the exercise of meditation. In his case, approaching meditation was the result of a conversion to Buddhism that the former footballer still considers the best thing that has ever happened, but the spiritual component is certainly not a discrimination: even "lay" practices of this kind, generally of an oriental matrix, act on psychophysical integration in a very profound way, increasing the ability to concentrate, the endurance of pain and resistance to competition stress.
Meditation in religions, philosophy and fitness centers
Through simple gestures that involve breathing and the recitation of short mantras, you reach a condition of relaxation that approaches the imperturbability. That is, through what is called "ekagrata" - that is, the ability to concentrate on a single object -, an absolute detachment from the rest of the world, a total insensitivity to any other sensory or mental stimulus. In this way, with the control of one's will, one obtains the only possible liberation from the unpleasant worldly condition, as well as a full awareness of one's self. "After a little practice you'll see your mind as pure water," the Dalai Lama guarantees.
Athletes and meditation
Remaining among the Lakers, former player Kobe Bryant has also declared to derive enormous benefits from the practice of meditation. Bryant, 5 championships won in 20 years with the Lakers (a real record), remembered that basketball is a physical game for only 10%, mental for the remaining 90%, in which the slightest distraction can easily lead to colossal mistakes. He too, like an infinite number of other characters, was initiated into this discipline, as simple as it is complex, by Phil Jackson, still recognized today as an icon in the holistic approach to training (as well as in training itself, with 11 NBA titles achieved with the Chicago Bulls first and then with the Lakers - not to mention the 2 won as a player with the Knicks in the early seventies). The key to his coaching method was essentially "one breath, one mind", a Zen principle that started from the assumption that it was necessary to work on mental strength as much as on physical strength and that not for nothing gave him the nickname of "Zen Master".
"Not only is there more to life than basketball, there's a lot more to basketball than basketball", were his textual words in his book Sacred Hoops, which to date has sold more than 400.The book also explains how to apply the principles of Eastern philosophy (but also the spiritual practices of Native Americans) to both basketball and everyday life, or how to act with a "clear mind", while remaining focused on chaos; how to put the "self" at the service of "us" and how never to lose sight of respect for the adversary.
Rugby is no exception either, where the All Blacks declare that they regularly do yoga and meditation, and football, which after Baggio has also seen the technical commissioner of the Welsh national team Ryan Giggs give much of the merit of his success as a player to these practices, or the footballer Yūto Nagatomo give yoga lessons to his teammates (who knows if this is also the case for the new ones of Galatasaray). The young Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova also confirms the benefits of this practice, putting her meditation sessions also on her YouTube channel: "During every game there is a small interval of time at the end of the point, there you have to breathe and look ahead", and, according to the results, it is not bad as advice.