why every climber should meditate

Photo: Mitchell Joyce

Whether we’ve heard it from friends, know from first hand experience, or read about it in the news, many of us know the benefits of a meditation practice. Meditation is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason.

Science has found that sitting for just twenty minutes a day can drastically benefit our lives—from reducing blood pressure and stress, to helping us cope with depression, anxiety, and pain. But did you know that meditating can also improve our climbing?

Here are the top 10 reasons why climbers should meditate

1. Meditation keeps performance-inhibiting emotions like anxiety, worry, fear, and impulsivity in check.

A meditation practice enhances your brain’s ability to cope with stressful situations.

2. Meditation helps you breathe.

Breathing is crucial to athletic performance. Meditation helps you become aware of the quality of your breath.


Photo: Paul Lovine

3. Meditation gives us a healthier physical body.

Climbing requires that we have a healthy and properly functioning body. A simple meditation practice promotes a healthy immune system, energy levels, and heart rate, while lessening high blood pressure, inflammatory diseases, and asthma.

4. Meditation helps you make smart, creative decisions.

This is important when encountering tricky or technical crux sections. Climbing requires massive amounts of creativity and meditation enhances the areas of our brain that are responsible for creative thinking.

5. Meditation keeps you relaxed.

Staying relaxed while climbing can be difficult in certain situations, but meditation teaches us how to release unnecessary tension from our bodies.

6. Meditation helps you evaluate danger and fear.

This is crucial if you’re a climber. Instead of freaking out every time you’re a little runout or using smeary feet, meditation can help us determine the difference between an emotional response based on unnecessary fear and when we’re facing actual danger.

meditation for climbers

Photo: Geraint Rowland

7. Meditation helps keep your emotions in check when you flail.

That’s right, meditating can actually help you throw less wobblers. Meditating helps us feel less bummed when we don’t send by causing us to identify less with our ego.

8. Meditation keeps you focused and lessens the impact of distractions.

We all know how hard it can be to send our project when there’s a baby crying or a group of college kids shotgunning beers and blasting dubstep at the cliff. A meditation practice improves our ability to block out distractions and helps our brain stay focused.

9. Meditation helps us remember sequences by improving memory retention.

It’s happened to all of us—we get to a beta-intensive sequence that we’ve worked out ten times already, but somehow we totally botch the beta. Meditation has been proven to help with memory recall and retention.

10. Meditation can help us with injury prevention and treatment.

As athletes, it’s very important for us to listen to our bodies. Otherwise, we may push ourselves too hard and injure ourselves. Meditation helps us check in with how our bodies are feeling, and if something feels “off” we can choose to take it easy or take a rest day. If we are already injured, meditation helps us manage pain, inflammation, and depression.

zen stones

Photo: Richard Rydge

Want to give meditation a try?

Meditation is just like any other practice—at first, it feels uncomfortable, foreign, and hard to commit to. The first month or two is probably going to suck a little. But if you stick with it for long enough, it becomes a habit and will feel easier. The recommended time to spend meditating is usually at least 15 minutes per day, but start slow. For the first week, sit for just 5 minutes once a day. Then gradually increase your meditation time as you get more comfortable.

How to meditate

There are many different tricks and tools that you can use during meditation that are very valuable. But, don’t forget that it can be as simple as this: sit (or lay) down, close your eyes, and see what happens.


Photo: Mike Atkins

To learn more about meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, and how they can help your climbing, contact Georgie Abel at [email protected]. Georgie Abel is a certified yoga teacher and climber.

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