Wednesday, January 21, 2015

UCSD Center for Mindfulness mPEAK program

Improving Athletic Performance through Mindfulness - 

UCSD's mPEAK Program

by Kathleen Lisson

meditation class for athletes
Shoes AND a meditation cushion - the new tools of running?

I am very fortunate to live in San Diego - I am able to attend the first public session of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness mPEAK program.

Our facilitators are Pete Kirchmer of Mindfulness Based Health, Lucas LeardMann and Lori Haase. My fellow students include an Ironman triathlete, a sports coach, a BMX cyclist, a physical therapist, a baseball player in a local Senior / Masters league, a surfer and several yoga enthusiasts. Some of us have practiced meditation before, and it is quite new for others.

The program is modeled closely to one that helped the USA Olympic BMX cycling team. According to the UCnet article 'Mindfulness training program may help Olympic athletes reach peak performance,' "the first group of athletes to complete a mindfulness training program developed at UC San Diego won first, second and third place at the 2014 USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championships."

The eight week program meets on Tuesday nights for two and a half hours, and participants are encouraged to meditate for an hour every day. During the meetings we experience meditation and different mental and movement exercises designed to let us explore the effects of mindfulness on physical performance. Instead of a classroom environment complete with lecture and handouts, our meetings focus on each participant experiencing mindfulness in new ways and gathering knowlege from those experiences.

I look forward to posting my reactions to the class on my blog. I want to give myself a few weeks to let the training sink in and reveal its benefits. If you would like a taste of what the daily meditation practice is like, here is a link to the audio files for our body scan meditation as well as other guided meditations: Guided Audio Files to Practice Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

I would like to thank Alex Hutchinson of Sweat Science for writing the Runner's World article 'Mindfulness for Athletes' that piqued my interest in the mPEAK program. Follow Alex on Twitter here:

I will admit, I signed up for the class wanting to know what those BMX athletes learned to improve their performance. I am now far more interested in the effects of mindfulness training in my own athletic performance!

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