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Now, holding the earlobe between your first and second finger, pull it firmly down and release it.
If you can, squat and stand up a few times while you do this, creating a gentle pumping action in the body.
Since the left brain is connected to the right side of the body and vice-versa, we cross our hands when massaging the ears.
When practiced regularly, this small exercise can work wonders for your memory and awareness. In the 20th century sport psychology has emerged as an important study of human behavior in athletics, providing answers to enhance performance and treat disorders effecting optimal performance (Weinberg & Gould, 2007). Upon the following review of research in neuroscience it will become evident that there is a potential for a powerfully new orientation for both administering and measuring mental skills training hence forth known as neuro sport psychology.
Mainstream literature in sport psychology has plead the fifth regarding educating future practitioners on the traditional purpose and power of the ancient science of meditation. Murphy, author of Golf In The Kingdom, and In The Zone –Transcendent Experiences in Sports, agrees there is a ‘metanormal’ side to athletic experience, more complex than conventional sports wisdom accounts for, which “has enormous power to sweep us [athletes] beyond our [their] ordinary sense of self, to evoke capacities that have generally been regarded as mystical, occult, or religious” (Murphy, 1995, p.4). In 1913 Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the great Spanish neuroanatomist and Nobel prize winner declared “in the adult centers the nerve paths are something fixed, ended and immutable” (Begley, 2007, p.5). The result of the hardwired view of the brain appears to have led sport psychology textbook literature to convey meditation as solely a practice to help athletes “achieve a state of deep relaxation, and facilitate concentration by disciplining the mind” (Williams, 2010, p.
The result of the hardwired dogma had many implications, none of which were very optimistic for athletes. Although it appears so, whether brains can be trained fit for the zone is an answer this literature review was unable to find empirical evidence to support as a result of a lack of collaborative neuroscience research with elite athletes.
The sporting culture has long been criticized for ironically displaying poor sport behavior, promoting violence, and even criminal activity- what NBA legend coach Phil Jackson (1995) calls “ a kind of spiritual deterioration, one that has seen an attitude of intimidation become the preeminent fore on the floor” (p.135).
Michelangelo once said, “my soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness” which begs the question, can athletes who can sprint like Usain Bolt and jump like Michael Jordan enrich earth’s loveliness even more so through meditation and thus reach heaven sooner? The Mind & Sport Institute (MSi) helps athletes and business professionals reach peak performance and well-being through mindfulness-based performance enhancement.
A brain region activated when people are asked to perform mathematical calculations in an experimental setting is similarly activated when they use numbers — or even imprecise quantitative terms, such as “more than”— in everyday conversation, according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists. Using a novel method, the researchers collected the first solid evidence that the pattern of brain activity seen in someone performing a mathematical exercise under experimentally controlled conditions is very similar to that observed when the person engages in quantitative thought in the course of daily life. The finding could lead to “mind-reading” applications that, for example, would allow a patient who is rendered mute by a stroke to communicate via passive thinking. The researchers monitored electrical activity in a region of the brain called the intraparietal sulcus, known to be important in attention and eye and hand motion. However, the techniques that previous studies have used, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, are limited in their ability to study brain activity in real-life settings and to pinpoint the precise timing of nerve cells’ firing patterns. His team’s method, called intracranial recording, provided exquisite anatomical and temporal precision and allowed the scientists to monitor brain activity when people were immersed in real-life situations. The procedure involves temporarily removing a portion of a patient’s skull and positioning packets of electrodes against the exposed brain surface.
During this whole time, patients remain tethered to the monitoring apparatus and mostly confined to their beds.
The electrodes implanted in patients’ heads are like wiretaps, each eavesdropping on a population of several hundred thousand nerve cells and reporting back to a computer. In the study, participants’ actions were also monitored by video cameras throughout their stay.

Consistent with other studies, Parvizi’s team found that electrical activity in a particular group of nerve cells in the intraparietal sulcus spiked when, and only when, volunteers were performing calculations. Afterward, Parvizi and his colleagues analyzed each volunteer’s daily electrode record, identified many spikes in intraparietal-sulcus activity that occurred outside experimental settings, and turned to the recorded video footage to see exactly what the volunteer had been doing when such spikes occurred. They found that when a patient mentioned a number — or even a quantitative reference, such as “some more,” “many” or “bigger than the other one” — there was a spike of electrical activity in the same nerve-cell population of the intraparietal sulcus that was activated when the patient was doing calculations under experimental conditions. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01NS0783961), the Stanford NeuroVentures Program, and the Gwen and Gordon Bell Family.
Cross your hands and bring them up to your ears – left hand to the right ear, right hand to the left. It appears sport psychology researchers may be cautious of alienating themselves by entering what Michael Murphy (1995) calls “the spiritual underground in sports” (p. As Vallery’s above quote suggests, the quickest way to achieve our dreams is to wake up; the question presented before the field of sport psychology and athletes alike is whether the findings of neuroplasticity will be that wakeup call to understanding practitioners fullest potential to mentally train athletes brains to perform at their peak potential.
The ‘unchanging brain’ as it came to be understood remained the prevailing paradigm in neuroscience for almost a century, which insisted that no new neurons could be born (neurogenesis), and that the functions of the brains neuroanatomy structures were fixed after early adolescence (Begley, 2007). 257) – a far cry from developing the ‘metanormal’ or ‘super human’ states of consciousness Murphy’s research has discovered is experienced by elite athletes while in peak states of performance. It led sport and exercise scientists to believe that rehabilitation for adult athletes who suffered brain damage from a stroke, or transformational therapy for athletes who suffered from mental illness, and even mental skills training for increasing athletes happiness ‘set point’ as a “fools errand” (Begley, 2007). However, as this paper has presented, if there is a way it most certainly would involve capitalizing on the phenomenon of neuroplasticity which has been proven to be significantly activated during meditation practice. Enriched environments capitalize on the neuroplasticity principle “that experience can change our brain structure” without necessarily any meditation required (Begley, S. It has been this papers purest intention to discover ways of possibly changing this trend by contributing to the body of literature on meditation in sports; suggesting that contemplative practices may be that key nourishment that empowers athletes brains to reaching their peak potential and well-being.
Conceivably, it could also lead to more dystopian outcomes: chip implants that spy on or even control people’s thoughts. Previous studies have hinted that some nerve-cell clusters in this area are also involved in numerosity, the mathematical equivalent of literacy. These studies have focused on testing just one specific function in one specific brain region, and have tried to eliminate or otherwise account for every possible confounding factor. Parvizi and his associates tapped into the brains of three volunteers who were being evaluated for possible surgical treatment of their recurring, drug-resistant epileptic seizures. For up to a week, patients remain hooked up to the monitoring apparatus while the electrodes pick up electrical activity within the brain. But otherwise, except for the typical intrusions of a hospital setting, they are comfortable, free of pain and free to eat, drink, think, talk to friends and family in person or on the phone, or watch videos. This allowed the researchers later to correlate patients’ voluntary activities in a real-life setting with nerve-cell behavior in the monitored brain region. Additional co-authors were postdoctoral scholar Brett Foster, PhD, and research assistant Vinitha Rangarajan. Typically sport and performance practitioners have relied on qualitative analysis of athlete’s self reports, assessment of their play, as well as crude physiological measures such as heart rate and brain wave activity to evaluate their effectiveness (Williams, 2010). Their focus was to answer a question that has perplexed scientists and philosophers for centuries: “does the brain have the ability to change, and what is the power of the mind to change it?” (Begley, 2007, p. The answer may result in a cultural revolution in sport and athletic training with important implications extending beyond the sport surface and rather into the brain and hearts of all those influenced by sport. For example, in Williams’ regarded Applied Sport Psychology textbook -now in its sixth edition, readers are taught only the relaxation response technique developed by Herbet Benson (1975), which is considered a generalized application of traditional Eastern transcendental meditation without association to mysticism (Williams, 2010).

The reason being was not only the false notion of the immutable brain, but also the recently disproven belief of genetic determinism, which similarly insisted that we were again stuck, fixed and immutable, but this time by our genes. Through identifying the neuroanatomy of peak performance -the actual cortical areas of elite athletes brains using FMRI and other neuro imaging techniques, sport psychologists could subsequently develop mental training and meditations to cause neurogenisis in these specific areas.
In addition, the experimental subjects would have to lie more or less motionless inside a dark, tubular chamber whose silence would be punctuated by constant, loud, mechanical, banging noises while images flashed on a computer screen.
This monitoring continues uninterrupted for patients’ entire hospital stay, capturing their inevitable repeated seizures and enabling neurologists to determine the exact spot in each patient’s brain where the seizures are originating. When the subject is reminiscing, laughing or talking, they’re not activated.” Thus, it was possible to know, simply by consulting the electronic record of participants’ brain activity, whether they were engaged in quantitative thought during nonexperimental conditions. As evaluating the effectiveness of mental skills training offers insight into the best practices and the capability of practitioners in the field of sport psychology this paper seeks to answer the question, can practitioners prove greater validity to their clients improved ‘mental skills’ and, if so, what’s the most effective practices athletes should be undertaking. Today it is understood that the expression of genes can be turned on and off through our experiences (Meaney, 2001). The willingness of athletes and further scientific exploration by sport psychologists into the transcendental experiences spoken by athletes in the ‘spiritual underground in sports’ may present itself as a lamp guiding us the right direction. The study’s lead authors are postdoctoral scholar Mohammad Dastjerdi, MD, PhD, and graduate student Muge Ozker. The result of this unique collaborative inquiry was the groundbreaking understanding of the phenomenon at work in meditation known as “neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change its own functional and physical anatomy in response to repeated task demands” (Marks, 2008, p.
In contrast, Williams hardly motivates future sport psychologists to further investigate meditation and its link to ‘metanormal’ states as she suggests “to further eliminate any religious or cultic connotation, the technique does not even need to be called meditation” (Williams, 2010, p.257). In short, Begley (2007) infers that neuroplasticity allows us to sculpt our brain’s emotion circuitry as powerfully as we can sculpt our bicep muscles. Most interestingly, upon researchers delineating exactly what was causing an environment to be enriched it was found that voluntary running was the single most important factor to neurogenesis (H. The fact is that any possibility of achieving positive evolution in sport psychology and mental skills training rests on the sports industry, including both researchers, management and athletes attention and action towards progressively accepting practices; not trying to avoid them! Davidson (2002), a leading figure in neuroscience research suggests neuroplasticity “allows for effective athletic training and makes peak performance possible” (Davidson, 2002, p.
This means there is a possibility to change states experienced in meditation into athlete’s traits. Voluntary running increased neurogenesis in “very, very old animals” as well as enhanced their learning and memory capacities, whereas forced exercise did none of the above (H. This paper presents a discovery and provocative look into answering the most current and pressing question to the sport psychology field; can we create brains fit for the zone? Additionally, another reason why the athletes should consider meditation is because unlike weight training, there has been no report of risk or harm caused by the practice of meditation (Green & Turner, 2010). The implications of these findings not only suggest the importance of respecting athletes autonomy when initiating programs –a fact Begley (2007) states “human couch potatoes can probably exploit”, it also points to a possible window of opportunity in which coupling running with meditation may lead to increased neuroplasticity in desirable neuroanatomical areas (p.
Although running was the main cause of neurogenesis, the survival of these new neurons depend on an overall enriched environment which meditation may be a pivotal practice to creating and without which researchers suggest about 50% of the new neurons would die (H.

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