In this extract from Heritier’s book of the same name, he explains how important meditation is to him and how he uses meditation for mind control and to overcome fears.
One of the hardest things to develop is resilience. Resilience is a capacity developed through struggle. Unfortunately, not everyone who struggles in life gains resilience; in fact, many people actually become less resilient as a result of struggle. Resilience is the ability to have control over how you withstand the tough times of pressure and stress.
Resilience is built up by taking control of your mind. After you make a mistake or something ‘bad’ happens, it is human nature to allow it to affect you in a negative way. It is very easy to drop your head and start to see everything from that point on as ‘bad’. If you are playing sport and you miss a shot or a goal, resilience is the quality that allows you to get on with the job and make sure that, when you get your next opportunity, your performance is not affected by your failure. But how do you develop that?
The answer is to start off simply at the level of thought. Resilience is ignoring all the ‘bad’ thoughts that arise by choosing to generate and listen to the ‘good’ thoughts. This ability to create and choose to listen only to good thoughts is a skill that is developed over time. However, this process can be fast-tracked by using meditation. When you get into a routine of regular meditation, you gain the ability to become detached from your thoughts and to simply watch them pass through your awareness. The ability to do this becomes extremely valuable in times of stress and pressure, because it prevents you from becoming overwhelmed by fear.
In Collingwood’s 2010 Grand Final victory, my practice of meditation played an integral part in my kicking a memorable goal, which I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Early on in that game, I had the opportunity to kick the first goal of the Grand Final replay. It was a set shot from long range and with a bit of an angle. I remember going through the routine that I’d developed over the years – the most effective goal kicking routine for me. Unfortunately I did not execute the desired result. In fact, the kick was horrible and missed by a considerable amount. After the kick, I immediately lamented the missed opportunity and thought to myself that I rarely had opportunities to kick goals, as I was playing in defence at the time. In the last quarter, I had a chance to redeem myself, with a chance to kick a goal from exactly the same distance and angle as before. This time a goal would mean a lot more to the team, as it would almost certainly cement our victory.
I remember that, before going into my routine, the ramifications of either scoring or missing the shot were dominant thoughts in my head. Then I decided to control my breathing, just as I do in my meditations, and to try and ‘detach’ from all thoughts, other than following my goal kicking routine. I was able to let negative thoughts pass through my mind, until they began to diminish and then disappear altogether. I felt as though nothing existed but me and my goal kicking routine. I couldn’t even hear the crowd at this point. I was able to do my routine the way I had practised it many times before on the training track, where there was less pressure and thus easier to concentrate and kick effectively.
This ability to withdraw and detach from negative thoughts derived from fear allowed me not to let my previous miss in the first quarter affect my performance. It allowed me to score a famous Grand Final goal. Meditation no doubt helped me develop the ability to clear and control my mind when I needed to.
An untrained mind is an out-of-control mind. And when your mind is out of control, your life may feel out of control. The great thing about the mind is that it’s like a muscle, which can be trained in the same the way that a body builder increases their chest or biceps. Body builders do weight training and resistance stretching to influence the capacity of their muscles. Meditation does the same thing; only it influences the capacity of the mind – one of the most incredible tools we have.
Meditation allows you to see that you are not your mind, and that thoughts have a transient nature that’s ever-changing. That’s why it’s good to keep your thoughts in check.
Heritier Lumumba (aka Harry O’Brien)…. is an extremely popular Australian footballer. He was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1986 to a Brazilian mother and a Congolese father. He moved to Australia at the age of three and spent most of his childhood in Perth. Heritier is involved in many community projects and charities.
His book, ‘It’s Cool to be Conscious’, is published by Hay House. www.hayhouse.com.au
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