Mindfulness provides the foundation for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (Linehan, 1993) and could be an effective way for injured athletes to cope with distressing thoughts and emotions surrounding the sport-related injury. The basic premise behind mindfulness is to help individuals learn how to pay attention, in a non-judgmental way, to the present moment. Just like muscles that need to be conditioned on a regular basis to get the most out of them, skills related to self-regulation need to be worked out on a regular basis to experience the benefits of them. Mindfulness activities provide users with skills that can be practiced on a regular basis in a relatively short amount of time to help better regulate distressful thoughts and emotions. The following activity is an example of a mindfulness activity and could potential aid in your recovery from a sport-related injury.
Thoughts are just that – thoughts. A lot of time they have no meaning and often are not based in reality. This activity helps individuals realize that thoughts come and go and that they do not necessarily need to control you emotions and behavior. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. As thoughts come into your head, imagine that you place them on clouds passing by as you lay in an open field or on leaves passing by as you sit by a running river. Place each thought on the clouds in the sky or on the leaves in the river passing by. Let go of these thoughts and watch as they quickly pass with the wind in the sky or the current of the river.
Practice this technique on a regular basis and you will be amazed at how efficient you become in regulating your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Let go of those maladaptive thoughts surrounding your injury.