Friday, February 27, 2015

UCSD Center for Mindfulness mPEAK Program - meditation is like being a hockey goalie

Mindfulness for Athletes - Meditation is Like Being a Hockey Goalie

by Kathleen Lisson

I officially completed the first ever mPEAK program. The 8 week mindfulness course, offered at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and modeled after a sucessful program for the US BMX Olympic team, offered plenty of 'food for thought.'

I came up with a good way to remind me to not think that I am failing at meditation when I think thoughts while meditating.

I imagine that meditation is like being a goalie in hockey. The thoughts are like hockey pucks.

The job of the goalie is to see the hockey pucks and divert them away from the goal net. Goalies only handle the puck as much as they need to - they don't focus on holding on to the puck.

The puck is a part of the game - no goalie stands at the net and expects the opposing team to never make a shot on goal. Pucks coming toward the net is part of the game just as thoughts occuring during my meditation. My 'job' as a meditator is to recognize the puck when it's coming toward the goal, and divert it so I can reconnect with the breath.

As a Buffalo native, I will always love my Buffalo Sabres! Here are Dominik Hasek's best moments as a goalie. I will think of him the next time I have an especially distracting "Thought on Goal."

So, does thinking of meditation as playing a goalie mean that I won't get frustrated when I let a thought get past my hockey stick? Of course not, goalies are human after all! I think that's why I picked hockey as a sport for my metaphor, it's very human and full of emotion, just like me. Meditation is not about losing my drive to win, after all. 


  1. This is so helpful Kathleen. I am going through a funky kind of mild depression right now and I am going to try this to relax tonight. This will also be helpful when I run Boston next week. I have a lot of anxiety because I haven't been back since the bombing. It might be why I'm in a funk. I find the visual of diverting the puck a very useful one.

    1. Best of luck in Boston! I used to feel frustrated by all the thoughts in my meditation until I realized, gently, that thoughts are a part of the experience.


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