The art of Letting Go. How an athlete gains from it and why it could be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. What is letting go from a meditation and a neurological perspective?
To realise that we can live life neurologically at two parallel levels gives us great knowledge. Knowledge is power, not the power to dominate others, which is pure selfishness, but the power to control our own biological mechanisms. When the moment is critical and tension reach maximum, any elite level athletes cannot afford to ignore the functioning of their brain. At any time we are capable of shutting down detrimental thoughts that have the potential to destroy months of discipline and regular practice.
Imagine this situation: You are prepared for this event, you and your coach have done everything right to the best of your abilities. You know you’re ready, you’re fit, no injuries, you’re at your best. Suddenly though, your brain starts to play tricks on you. DOUBTS! You’re thinking about the past, maybe you could have done this or that a different way. You’re thinking about the future, what if I don’t get the results I want? What about my sponsors? Name it, I’m sure you can come up with many more of these detrimental thoughts. What to do?
If you understand what is going on in your brain, then you will know that thoughts are like clouds, which come and go rapidly. With this realisation comes the ability to dispel negative thoughts as quickly as they are created. Neurologically speaking the brain can network in two ways, experimentally and narratively. It is as if we are different people in each of these networks. The networks are inversely correlated. When you are fully in one, you cannot be in the other. To meditate or to be mindful is to navigate consciously between the two. A person who is mindful will be aware, as often as possible, as to which network they are currently in. They realize when it is not necessary to be in the narrative mode (memories/anxieties and perceptions) and are able to return to the experimental network. Mindfulness meditators are good at this. They recognise which network they are in and have the ability to switch from one to the other, as necessary, depending on the situation.