Transcendental Meditation in Squash

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The women’s squash team at trinity is representative
of 10 different countries, I mean Zimbabwe, Scotland, Canada the US, Mexico, Germany,
Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Egypt, and, so it’s an incredibly international group, each brought
their own culture, their own beliefs, their own religion, their own attitude. Going to
another country, another culture, another way of thinking it’s difficult, but yeh
I mean I’m so glad that I’m in a better international team. Given that fact that I
was already doing lot of focusing work with them, stress reduction kind of work, it occurred
to me that TM given what I had seen in some of the research might be a perfect mesh with
precisely the sort of work I was doing. TM, actually I’m glad we started that this season,
it helped me to calm me down with my anger, I used to get really angry on court and after
doing TM it like, the anger went away. I really want the team to come up here and feel that
this is a place that they can be and be relaxed and be in control, when they get on that court
they should be in control and it should be a stress freer not a stress maker so I’ve
really tried to make the practises just flow a little bit more. This year especially we
got into a really good routine and schedule and it helped doing TM everyone has always
said that, as soon as we’ve finished TM we’re always so much more relieved and have
more energy to go do our studies after, which is not something you can think of after you’ve
just been going hard practising. Just in general with the whole team we’re certainly a more
calmer team a more focused team this year that we been in the past, we really have been
we’ve had just as many challenges this year as we have any other year but we’ve just
been able to handle them a lot better. wasn’t able to focus completely on the game and I
was distracted by certain factors like the audience, the ref sometimes, I had few information
about Transcendental Meditation, I was really looking forward to knowing more that really
helped me more to get into the zone. Being in the zone is very important for an athlete
cos that’s the point where you can perform at your best level so that was a great thing
to learn. Sometimes if you’re so hyped up you go on and you won’t play well because
you’re so anxious to win whereas if you use TM and you stay calm you think more about
what you’re doing rather than just running on trying to hit the ball as hard as you can
run anywhere cos that doesn’t help at all, whereas if you’re calm you can think about
what you’re doing. I’m surprised about how easy meditation is to learn because when
I went to learn it I always thought it would be really hard and it would involve your brain
a lot but it’s not. You just sit there close your eyes, say your mantra, everything just
comes, it just flows and then before you know it it’s over. I was at first a sceptic about
meditation because I didn’t; I mean it’s so simple that I didn’t think it could make
a difference and then I mean after having learned it and done it and noticing the difference
and having people around me notice the difference that’s when I sort of realised it was for
real. I think it was a very smart idea for our coaches to bring this in; obviously they
want what’s best for the team and they are always looking for new things and I think
we all got something out of it that made a difference. I think it shows a lot of creativity
and dedication on their part and they’re not just doing the same thing over and over
again they’re really trying to reach out for new ideas. First of all it was a great
experience, it was something new for most of us and since we are from different parts
of the world we, I dunno, we tend to learn in different ways and it was such a nice experience
having the whole team together learning this technique. I use TM a lot before tests and
I notice that with the appropriate amount of studying every time I meditate before a
major test I haven’t got below a 90. I think it’s because I’m more relaxed going into
the test and we learned in my class called the brain that when you’re stressed out
your prefrontal cortex shuts down so you’re not making judgements, you can’t recall
things as well. I also use it before I work out as well because for some reason I just
feel more energised afterwards. Whenever I meditate before the match I’ve felt more
relaxed. My body was so relaxed my mind was like so calm I was thinking of nothing, I
mean you know how to play so maybe if your mind is so very calm your body will respond
automatically. The most important squash is played on a 6 inch court between their ears,
and I think that’s true of most sports. There is that mental peace, I think what’s
happening here is our women are now able to say, wait a minute I can do this and I don’t
need to worry about what the score is or what’s happening, I can make this happen and you’re
seeing it happen , I mean we’re number 3 in the nation. So much of the game of squash
is mental and keeping your cool out there because in a second you can lose 5 points
and you really need to know how to mentally group yourself and come back to win it. I
would definitely recommend TM for athletes, it’s just really a centred place you can
go when you’re competing and you’re under a lot of pressure. I’m a scientist too and
I wanted to see the data and you pull out 700 hundred studies and show me and they’re
real studies and I went and looked a lot of them up. I heard about the TM programme through
Randy Lee, he actually approached me to work on the Transcendental Meditation programme
for my senior thesis. One of the groups that we did research with was the women’s squash
team. They’re ranked number 3 in the nation which is very incredible. They would do group
meditations together and we definitely found some significant increase in self-efficacy
among the pre and post-tests for those girls which is incredible. Self-efficacy is ones
belief to accomplish a certain task. Research has shown that if they think higher of their
abilities they tend to perform at a higher level. We have a whole new technique to really
begin to explore more to improve performance. To add TM for almost any sport in fact I can’t
think of a sport I would exclude. It seems to me it can only bring positive outcomes.


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