A Journey Into Mindfulness: Melissa Harms
The concept of mindfulness has always been present in my greatest passions, although I may not have called it “mindfulness.” I have been an athlete as long as I can remember. And throughout my journey as an athlete, every coach I’ve had has preached about the mental game and its impact on and tie to performance.
As my desire to perform at a higher degree of difficulty deepened, I relied more and more on training mentally. In college, I got to the point I was desperate to reach my goals. In that pursuit, I turned to yoga and signed up for a sports psychology class.
I became devoted to studying peak performances and found that being 'in the zone' is a state of consciousness that is arrived at by being acutely aware of what you are doing in that moment. In other words, being mindful!
Creating A Mindful Connection
The biggest lesson I have learned with being connected to the present moment is to start with your breath. Since I was a track athlete and my performance was solely based on my actions alone, I studied other sports that resembled mine such as golf, gymnastics, diving, and tennis.
One big commonality of successful athletes is that before they do anything that requires mindfulness and focus they connect with their breath by letting out a big exhale. When I started using this practice, good things started happening. Now that my athletics are based around outdoor activities such as climbing and skiing, breathing is my number one go to for settling in. In climbing you HAVE to be connected to the present because the consequences for failure are injury or worse.
If I am starting to freak out about what I am doing or where I am at, I repeat over and over to myself, “Breathe, now focus.” Even better is the fact I can take my practice off my yoga mat or out of my sport and it still works. If you are under pressure, breathe. Before you start a big presentation, breathe.
If you are looking to connect to right now, attach yourself to what got you to this moment, your breath.
Educator Melissa Harms is the National Outdoor Education Director and Regional Coordinator of the Rockies Region for the nonprofit organization SheJumps, which strives to increase female participation in outdoor activities by building upon a supportive community that inspires members to reach their highest potential. Prior to her work with SheJumps, Harms spent a decade competing and coaching Division I athletics.
Harms is an artist of adventure and the outdoors, her guiding inspiration. She is an active member of Larimer County Search and Rescue and enjoys skiing, climbing, mountaineering, knitting, gardening, spending time with her friends and family and YOGA!. Harms currently leads classes at Yoga Luna in Loveland, Colorado