Mindfulness: the Murray/Djokovic Final
“Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of joy and just be joyful”
Yesterday, Sunday 7th July 2007, was a historic moment for British tennis when Andy Murray won the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s singles championship, beating Novak Djokovic in three straight sets. The first time this had happened for 77 years.
I am a keen Wimbledon fan and on reflecting about this extraordinary Wimbledon championship which has not only seen Murray win the men’s singles title but also saw the unexpectedly early exit of some the top players in the first week I realised as a sporting event it had a lot to teach me about mindfulness and living in the present.
Further the wonderful moments of Andy winning also reminded me of how important it is for us all to stop and take in those moments of life which are full of joy and delight. It is precisely these experiences we need to really take in to provide us with inner memories of these feelings which we can use as an inner resource when life is less good.
For me, mindfulness and meditation have proved an invaluable resource and foundation in enabling me to support my body to gradually make progress in healing from the very severe chronic pain condition I have been living with since 1999. My intent nowadays, apart from formal sitting practice, is to utilise life and look for new ways that I can cultivate my mindfulness practice as I go about living my life from day to day.
When I was watching the semi-final, in which Djokovic played Del Potro, I heard a commentator mention that Djokovic used meditation and mindfulness to help him focus during his matches. Hearing this made me aware of something I had been doing through watching the championship unfold over the 2 week which is that whether you are playing or watching tennis it offers one a great opportunity to practice being present.
Indeed to play tennis well one requires to be absolutely in the present moment and able to take each point as a fresh new beginning. Whether the previous point was a wonderful success or a dismal failure it is already in the past and cannot be changed, therefore the player needs to “let go” of what happened and to just be fully here now with this next point. And the next …and so on.
I also observed as I watched many matches that being truly present to each point played as a viewer also enhanced my experience of watching the matches and was a very enjoyable way of enhancing my own neural pathways to be present in the moment, rather than losing track and going off into daydreams or writing shopping lists. Watching the wonderful tennis of the last two weeks was such a great way to reinforce my own mindfulness practice as I used watching each point played as an anchor to support me to practice living and experiencing the present moment.
Mindfulness is not about not feeling – to the contrary it is about fully acknowledging how ones whole being feels in any given moment as far as one is able without becoming lost in identification of the feeling. It is the art of fully experiencing the moment and its “felt sense”, feeling it, choosing whether to take it in (or not) and then one can more easily let the experience go. It is when we do not fully allow ourselves to do this we can become stuck. As I watched Andy Murray and compared how he played a few years ago what I observed was a significant change in him when he was frustrated by his play in losing a point. In the past he would then become stuck in his frustration and he would then often spiral down into playing from a place where he was not fully present as he was still with his earlier frustration.
What I observed at this 2013 championship was he did allow himself to feel the frustration of a fluffed mis-hit or the jubilation of a point well won but having acknowledged it he then let it go. To paraphrase the wise turtle in the cartoon, Kung Fu Panda, “the last point is history (and nothing can be done to change it), the next game is a mystery (and it’s too soon to think about it) but this point is now and here I can, through being truly present make a difference. There is a message in there for all of us as we live our lives
Finally, I just wish to return to the joy on Murrays face and to say how important I have found that cultivation of taking in the joy in my life has been for my healing. To really feel the joy in my body and to really take that in – to feel inside just like the little girl is above. I feel we all need more of that in our lives today.
Here are a couple of website about tennis and mindfulness: