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A Time for Mindful Movement, Meditation and Discussion.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

World Cup, Howard, Tourette’s and Mindfulness

Admit it, you didn't get much done yesterday afternoon (or the past few weeks). It felt like a collective pause during overtime as the U.S. battled it out against Belgium. Eventually the superior offense of Belgium wore down the U.S. defense, but goalkeeper Tim Howard was clearly the hero of the match with more saves (16) than any other World Cup match, ever!

What I only learned this morning in a Washington Postarticle is that Howard suffers from Tourette’s syndrome. In a great interview with the German publication Spiegel Online, he goes into some detail about what happens during a game. Several interesting quotes from the Spiegel article:

SPIEGEL: How often do you have tics during a game?

Howard: I've never counted them. It happens all the time, without any warning, and it increases the nearer an important game draws. It always occurs more when I am particularly nervous.

SPIEGEL: As a goalkeeper you can scarcely afford to make any mistakes. What do you do if your arm twitches uncontrollably during a game?

Howard: As long as the game is not happening right in front of my nose but somewhere in the midfield, I let it twitch. I don't try to suppress it, either.

SPIEGEL: And if the ball comes near you?

Howard: Then I am all there. It's strange. As soon as things get serious in front of the goal, I don't have any twitches; my muscles obey me then.
(1.EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO 2. Themba Hadebe/AP 3. ALI HAIDER/EPA  4.Ruben Sprich/Reuters)

I really found the part about letting his ticks take over when the ball wasn't near a very powerful lesson. Instead of trying to control them he let them run wild and then harnessed his focus when he really needed it.

A powerful lesson in focusing and concentration.

While most of us aren't playing in a World Cup game this weekend or dealing with Tourette’s, we all have actions or mental lapses that decrease our concentration and become our habitual ‘tics’.

We can use the mindfulness practice to know when to harness our concentration and focus our intention when we need it the most. This doesn't mean that we aren't trying to be mindful in all of our actions, but that we are realistic about our limitations and our strengths.

Focus when we need to and let the 'tics' run wild when they need to.

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