Skip to main content

Guide to Meditation for Men: Mindfulness for Athletics

Shot of a man meditating in the lotus position at home.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

From the physical to the metaphysical, there are a number of reasons why people love and practice meditation. Those who practice regularly and often can experience lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and more complete control over their thoughts and self. But meditation can also contribute to higher performance in sports and fitness. No matter what level of sport or what kind of outdoor activity you enjoy, meditation can be a beneficial addition to your day-to-day life. Spiritual teacher and author of Quiet Mind, Epic Life, Matthew Ferry, spoke with The Manual to explain just how and why more men should include meditation in their fitness routine.

Use Meditation to Calm the Mind

Man meditating on a grass field.

Meditation can be used to improve life in a number of ways, but it is first and foremost a means for quieting the mind — even when everything else around you might seem overwhelming. “Regular meditation improves well-being, leads to more peace of mind, and the feeling that all is well in the world,” Ferry said. “Meditation gives men a chance to step back from life and get out of the ‘go-go-go’ of the daily grind. We are able to get perspective about what’s really important.” But settling the mind can also help you make better decisions rather than responding impulsively.

But meditation can also be used as a tool by athletes and often is used by the highest caliber athletes. “If you are an athlete, the stressors of daily life can impede your physical strength. You can get distracted by looping negative thoughts and unwanted mental chatter,” Ferry explained. “Meditation creates an opportunity to release the negative thoughts and unwanted chatter so you can focus on being the best you can be in your sport,” he added. That can easily be accomplished with meditation as a method of stress relief.

How to Start Meditating

A person running.

For most meditation, no matter where you are, you can simply close your eyes and focus on breathing in and out. You can sit or lay down, listen to music or set a timer and focus on bringing your thoughts back to breathing anytime your mind wanders. However, meditation used for improving athletic performance is a little different. “Olympic athletes spend time visualizing their sport being done perfectly to teach the mind and nervous system the result they want to achieve. They dramatically increase the number of times they compete by practicing in their mind,” Ferry explains. “Men who play sports seriously can take a page from this playbook. Close your eyes, take a few deep breathes and visualize the outcome you intend to create in your sport,” he adds.

But if you simply want to practice meditation while being active, Ferry recommends trying moving meditation. To do this, he instructs people to set an intention such as “find joy” or “feel empowered.” Then, head out for your walk or run while keeping the intention at the center of your mind. You can focus on the rhythm of the activity, but you can also practice syncing your breathing to your pace. Try taking four steps while breathing in followed by four steps while breathing out.

Set Realistic Goals

Young man sitting and meditating on a pontoon by a lake at the sunrise.

Try to be practical or realistic while setting your intention, too. Ferry explains that reaching a more positive frame of mind or state of being takes time and is an ambitious sight to set. “Meditation is a challenge and should be treated as such. The same way you might treat a new workout commitment,” Ferry said. “Lower your expectations. Ease into it. There’s no rush,” he added. So take your time and slowly try to introduce meditation and visualization into your routine. You just might find that mindfulness improves how you feel and how you perform.

Editors' Recommendations

Molly Harris
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist, cyclist and outdoor enthusiast. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Lonely…
Your complete guide to medicine ball workouts
The best medicine ball workouts for getting stronger
Medicine balls.

If you are someone who struggles with having the motivation to work out from time to time, you are not alone! One of the best ways to get past this mental block is to keep your workouts varied. From running and HIIT to rowing and the best medicine ball workouts, there are tons of ways to get your body moving and blood pumping.
Just as there are many modalities of cardio exercise, so too are there numerous strength training implements that can be used to mix up weightlifting workouts. Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, suspension trainers, sandbags, and resistance bands are some of the most common resistance training tools you’ll encounter at a gym, along with medicine balls — a fun and versatile training tool useful for anything from explosive plyometric exercises to slow and controlled core work.
A lot of gym goers rarely pick up a medicine ball during their workouts or will routinely cycle through just a handful of medicine ball exercises, but are unsure about other good medicine ball exercises to try. Medicine ball workouts aren’t necessarily as intuitive as dumbbells, weight machines, or even kettlebells.
However, once you learn how to use a medicine ball as a strength training tool, you can start to string together numerous medicine ball exercises for a total-body workout. Keep reading for our guide to the best medicine ball workouts to prevent your exercise routine from feeling stale, boring, and ineffective.

What is a medicine ball?
Medicine balls are weighted balls used for power, strengthening, balance, and endurance. They can be anywhere from just a couple of pounds to 50 pounds or more. They may be soft or hard, and they come in a variety of sizes. Unlike dumbbells, medicine balls can be thrown against things like walls, the floor, workout partners, or rebounders, helping athletes develop power and functional strength. Medicine balls are also often used for plyometric exercises like weighted box jumps and burpees, along with core work, balance exercises, and rehab from injuries.

Read more
Your complete guide to the South Beach diet
The diet that could potentially be the answer to your weight loss questions
Salmon entree

Are you looking for ways to achieve your fitness goals in 2023? You may have come across a large pool of weight loss programs, some of which are unhealthy. However, the South Beach diet can be a safe way to achieve sustainable weight loss.

Over the years, the South Beach diet has amassed considerable attention as a weight loss and healthy eating strategy. This diet was initially developed to improve heart health. However, its efficacy in shedding excess body fat became apparent, leading to its widespread adoption as a popular weight loss program.

Read more
Your complete guide to the Dukan diet: Everything you need to know
Learn everything you need to know about this weight loss diet
Red meat prepared with rosemary and ready to cook.

In the wide world of diets, the Dukan diet stands out for its structure and the clear path it provides for those striving to lose weight. Introduced by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French doctor, the diet has gathered a substantial following globally, including many celebrities who swear by its effectiveness. The diet emphasizes the consumption of lean protein and promises not just a quick weight loss but the ability to maintain your weight long-term once the goal is achieved.

This comprehensive guide aims to give you an in-depth understanding of the Dukan diet as it stands in 2023, providing you with valuable insights into the mechanics of the diet, its advantages, foods you can enjoy, those you should avoid, and potential side effects. We will also provide a sample meal plan for you to start with. Let's explore the Dukan diet and see if it could be the right fit for your weight loss journey.

Read more