If you hear the word ‘meditation’ and think of a meditating Buddhist monk atop a mountain, you aren’t alone. But meditation is something that everyone can do, and something that poker players should seriously consider adding into their off-table practice. Meditating is a great way for us to re-calibrate our brain, relax, and center our emotions in a short amount of time. In fact, I meditate before each poker session I play and Gripsed has been a huge proponent of meditating as well. Gripsed actually released a video explaining how to meditate if you are brand new to the topic:

Ready to learn more about meditation, the benefits of it, and how you can incorporate this practice into your life? Keep on reading!

3 Types of Seated Meditations

  • Guided meditation is about visualization and sensory movement through the mind. This practice is led by a teacher to achieve connection, clarity or relaxation. Using imagination and sensory recall, we can direct the mind and re-route automatic responses. This practice helps one organically gain skills to cope with stressful situations.
  • Mantra meditation is about strengthening concentration. This practice is about repeating a specific word or phrase for a specific number of times or until one embodies the essence of their word or phrase. This is great for obtaining fierce directive of the mind.
  • Mindfulness meditation is about observation of the mind, body and breathe connection. To simply observe the mind and body as they move in a still position. Allowing thoughts to arise with out engaging or following them. This practice is about remaining in the present moment and discovering the space of the observer.

3 Types of Moving Meditations

  • Yoga in it’s authentic form is to bring your state of consciousness to a heightened state of awareness and clarity. Yoga it self means union. This is a state of being that is achieved by moving through postures/asanas with a breathe centric mind. The steady practice of particular asanas will increase physical mobility, strength, vitality and longevity.
  • Tai Chi is about slow integris movements guided by inhales and exhales. This practice is a about unifying self awareness and increasing prana flow.
  • Qi-gong is a bit more vigorous then Tai Chi and is about finding postures that demand breathing in the body in new ways. This awareness of how the breathe can be altered depending on how the body is positioned brings light to our fluidity with the nature flow of life.

Benefits of meditation on an emotional level

  1. Stress management
  2. Self awareness
  3. Increased flow of oxygen to the cells
  4. Strengthen concentration
  5. Higher function of brain activity

Meditation has been proven to drastically decrease symptoms of illness such as:

  1. Anxiety Disorder
  2. PTSD
  3. ADD/ADHD
  4. Heart Disease
  5. Asthma
  6. Insomnia
  7. Depression
  8. High blood pressure
  9. Pain

Never done a seated meditation? Haven’t sat on the floor cross legged since P.E. in grade school? Well you can still practice meditating and here is how to start: Firstly, decide if you want to relax with a guided mediation (have your recording ready) or maybe you want to increase focus with a mantra or maybe your just curious to see what the mind and body will do when you sit and observe.

How to position your body

  1. Get a square pillow or fold up a small couch blanket so you have a cushion to sit on.
  2. Place the cushion next the a wall. Place your sit bones on the cushion in a way that allows your hips to settle, your knees to open wide, and feet and ankles can relax.
  3. Make sure your spine is straight.

Aside from not injuring your body this is especially important on a physiological level as well. This is to help the cerebral spine fluid and pulse to flow freely. The body is a miraculous machine and for optimum efficiency we must be mindful of how our machine operates best. So will start at the root of the spine, check if your sacrum(bone just above the butt crack) is stable against the wall? It’s should be.

  1. Then there should be a space above the sacrum allowing the nature curve of the lumbar spine to be present.
  2. Then the shoulder blade should be stable against the wall, shoulders relaxed and rolled back allowing the chest to lift.
  3. Sitting tall with your chin slightly lifted will automatically place the back of your head to the wall.

These 3 points of the body should be supported by the wall to allow deep fluid breathing and balance. If you simply can not sit you can lay down but again keep these 3 point of contact with the floor in the lying position. It will require a little courage and integrity to settle into the center of your being.

How to make contact with the breath

Once you feel balanced, centered and supported, you bring your attention to the breathe. The breathe is the key to the door of meditating. If you do not have your key you can not enter. There are 4 parts to the breathing mechanism:

  • Inhale (which bring heat to the body and feeds the inner fire and activating the autonomic nerves system)
  • Pause of awareness (I like to try to listen for my heart on the pause)
  • Exhale (this cools the body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system)
  • Pause of awareness

The goal is to focus on these parts of the breathe until your mind settles enough for you to focus on your chosen meditation. Remember this takes practice just like any other skill we obtain in life. However the value of this skill security. You’ll begin to live in your bones, breathe and skin from a higher state of awareness and understand the freedom through discipline.

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These practices are thousands of years old and offer reciprocity to the individuality of the mind, true self empowerment and freedom. You do not need to have a religion or belief to be unified with your body, and every intelligent person can agree that having a clear understanding of how the brain works is important and specifically how your brain works.  If you don’t know your triggers and how to over come your mental obstacles how can you create the reality you wish to experience? Honestly the hardest part of meditation is discovering it’s value by dedicating time to experience it. Start with a 5-10 min mediation everyday and then increase length of time or do 5 minute meditations multiple times per day as you strengthen your abilities.

The Heart and Lungs Association states that the average person takes 15-20 breathes a minute and 20,000 breaths a day. But the meditation breath we spoke about earlier would only be about 4 breaths per minute with a 7 second inhale, 1 second pause, 7 second exhale, and 1 second pause. The average yogi or meditation practitioner can actually sustain the breathe taking just 2 inhales and 2 exhales per minute. The highest state of consciousness one can obtain through the mastery of meditation can be achieved in 124 secs through the breath. By Indian philosophy this is called Samadhi or Buddhist call it enlightenment, but ultimately it is not about a god or religion…it is about human potential. It is about taking a scientific approach of applied effort and observation of the mind, body and breathe. Meaning that if one simply dedicates time to inner reflection and self mastery on a practical physiological level you can discover the omnipotent intelligence of all life and human existence.

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Showing 10 comments
  • Sandy
    Reply

    Ridiculous

    How about “placebo for poker”?

  • Sandy
    Reply

    I did a 10 day residential course in Vipassana meditation once. I carried it on after the course for a few months. The only memorable thing was the cramp in my legs because I sat cross legged for too long.

    Focus comes when you know what you are aiming for and how to get there. I don’t mean aiming for a certain amount of money. I mean aiming for a goal on the learning curve and understanding exactly what work you need to do to progress along that curve. I can’t see how meditation can help to improve at poker.

    Perhaps it can help players control their emotions. However, if they are playing emotionally, they are on the wrong track anyway. If you have a plan for assessing a certain situation in a poker game, the result shouldn’t affect a person emotionally.

    • Reply

      Fair. But all humans have emotions, and if meditation can help control those emotions and keep us in our A-game longer, it can only be a +EV activity. A number of studies have been done showing that meditation is beneficial, even when done in just short stints like 5-10min.

  • carlos
    Reply

    Great post. Personally i believe that one shouldn’t discard meditation just because it sounds silly. I can tell you from personal experience that meditation brings lots of positives effects.
    Researchers found that the brains of people who meditate daily have the neocortex more developed than those who don’t. Hence the increase of focus that meditation gives you.

  • W.
    Reply

    I have found that if I burn off energy before and during a game I play better. I will hit the treadmill and the gym before a tournament. That way my physical energy has been used and my mental energy can focus on the game. At the breaks I walk around the floor or where I can at a fast pace, between hands I do some stretching if I feel I need to.
    While not meditation in the traditional sense, it is a form of relaxation and focus.

  • Wpoker
    Reply

    I was wondering James, did you read “Zen and the Art of Poker”?

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