Author: Keith Kaufman, Carol Glass, Timothy Pineau
The Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) book is the handbook in the training for certification in MSPE. I took this training so I could help athletes implement mindfulness as part of their mental training. In observing many athletes through my work, I believe the passive, non-striving nature of mindfulness is a strategy that would greatly benefit high performing athletes. These athletes are almost always type A, overachieving, perfectionists. If there is a problem they are taught to work harder to fix it. Mindfulness is a nice balance to an athlete’s typical training routine.
Mindfulness practices are introduced through six sessions. In session 1 the focus is on building mindfulness fundamentals. The candy exercise with M&Ms is used to practice mindful eating, bringing attention to the five senses while slowly eating. This is an excellent practice, especially for young female athletes who are often struggling with negative body image and unhealthy relationships to food. Diaphragmatic breathing and a sitting meditation are also part of session 1.
Session 2 & 3
In session 2 the focus is on strengthening the muscle of attention. The body scan teaches the athlete how to be present by anchoring their thoughts to each body part. This exercise is also helpful for an athlete who is experiencing pain through injury to be more present and work through the anxious thoughts and feelings that accompany this experience. In session 3 MSPE guides the athlete through mindful yoga. I have observed yoga move away from it’s original intention. It has become a competitive pursuit of the perfect pose, the most flexible body, and sweating it out to lose weight. Mindful yoga reminds the athlete to be aware and be with where the body’s limit is at the moment without trying to change anything.
Session 4 & 5
The walking meditation is taught in session 4. I love this exercise because it is so easy to implement and practicing mindfulness in nature can help you go deeper and connect more with your energy. In session 5, embodying the strong performer, sport meditation is about being non judgementally present with what is happening while moving in sport. This also helps with separating from worry, pain and fear that may come up during a performance.
In the final session, ending the beginning, all the exercises are reviewed and the personal experiences are discussed. An at home practice is encouraged and the book provides some resources that can be used. The book was a great training tool to help teach mindfulness to athletes.