Elite athletes know that stress is part and parcel of development. They recognize that performing at an optimal level requires not only training physically, but also training their mind-set, understanding their own psychology and developing habits that enable them to succeed.
Developing an ability to hold one’s attention is a skill that can not only transform sports performance, but also many other aspects of our life. Robust research has indicated evidence based links to improvements in work productivity & motivation, better social relationships and increase levels of happiness.
Given its importance to optimal performance both on and off the mat, here are there facts about attention:
- We have limited mental resources so we must be selective.
You could think of our attention as a glass or a sponge – it has a limit. There is only so much multi-tasking that anyone can do.
- We can selectively attend.
That means we have the ability to decide where we use our effort – in other words we have the ability to control our attention.
- When we feel strong emotions like anxiety we get distracted.
When those feelings are dominating us, we enter a threat search mentality and attempt to validate what we are feeling. This means our perceptions start to narrow to binary (either/or) categories; we also start to over-exaggerate new threats, giving up precision in order to assure security. This experience further disperses our attention.
The good news is that our attention, just like a muscle, can be trained. And through Hapkido classes we develop specific habits that do this as an integral part of our practice.
The practice of meditation and the etiquette demanded from students are both ways in which Hapkido develops one’s attention and concentration… our traditional discipline is a form of mental training, it’s a physical practice that creates positive mental habits.
Disciplined practice brings us to the present… it compels people to concentrate on the here and now, it expects people to concentrate on what the etiquette demands of them.
This is why concentration on the process of Hapkido – and bringing our attention to what, why and how we’re doing it – is so important and can have an impact beyond the dojang.