It’s fairly common knowledge that mindfulness and meditation are key secrets of some of the world’s most successful and productive people. These are practices that allow us to shut out distractions and stress factors, calm the nerves, and focus internally to access our best natural skills and resources. Given all of this it really shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the best living athletes are known to practice meditation. But it’s something that doesn’t get written about very often, and it’s yet another very strong argument for regular meditation.
Perhaps the most famous living athlete in this regard is Kobe Bryant, who only recently retired from the NBA as one of the 10 or 20 best players of all time. Bryant won five titles in his career, and actually played for the legendary coach Phil Jackson – who happens to be known as the “Zen Master.” Bryant was always known for borderline maniacal training habits, but it was also long known that regular, real meditation was part of his program. It can likely be credited with the fact that he continued to be a productive player through the aging process and multiple fairly serious injuries – as well as for the fact that he has kept up a pattern of success since his retirement. To that point, the future Hall of Famer recently won an Oscar.
Following in Bryant’s footsteps, LeBron James – the best player in the NBA currently and perhaps one of the two or three best in history – has also been seen practicing meditation. In fact, he’s done it in some of the biggest moments of his career. While it’s known that James practices meditation in his home, the cameras also caught him apparently doing it during a timeout in the 2012 playoffs. This speaks not just to the importance of meditation in general but to even top athletes’ recognition of its ability to make an instant impact.
Moving away from basketball, it also so happens that arguably the best soccer player on Earth – Argentina’s Lionel Messi – has also been linked to meditation. People involved with the Barcelona team for which he plays during the club season have said that Messi commonly meditates both before and after matches, so as to close everything else out and make himself more present. The results are difficult to argue with. Barcelona is a perennial powerhouse, Messi’s native Argentina is now among the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup, and he’s racked up as many individual accolades as a player can despite lacking advantages in size or athleticism.
The list goes on and on, and tends to include particularly successful figures. Derek Jeter, formerly of the New York Yankees and already among the club’s own retired jersey honorees, was long known to meditate; Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, the U.S. beach volleyball gold medalists, meditated together during competitions; even the great Michael Jordan is believed to have dabbled in it.
Given these examples it’s hard to argue with the notion that meditation can give athletes an edge, both physically and mentally. Not only does it facilitate focus and calm, but it also leads to healthier handling of the body, which is of paramount importance to anyone serious about athletics. And the results among famous athletes speak to themselves. It’s all just one more piece of evidence as to the astounding power of this simple practice.