What is the purpose of meditation?
The discipline teaches you to clear your mind, to develop discipline and focus. I always thought about it as enhancing my quality of life. Josh Waitzken uses it to train people to achieve high performance.
Of course, when you think about it, the connection is clear. And the tie between martial arts and meditation has always been overt. But have you really considered the power of mindfulness to lower your heart rate quickly during physical recovery, monitor your agitation and responses to aggression, or to think strategically in high pressure situations?
When Josh became a high-level performance trainer, he started trying to get his clients to try meditation. These powerhouse finance guys just rolled their eyes. But then, he started with physical performance.
He’d have them warm up, and then start cycling between heart rates of 170 and 140, asking his clients to focus on their breathing to get their heart rate down faster. Only once they were in tune with that – to the connection between their minds and their bodies – would he introduce the idea of meditation.
Josh is clearly an amazing guy with a lifetime of learning to deal with pressure and perform at a high level.
The chess prodigy who inspired Searching For Bobby Fisher (a movie which gets a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, by the way, if you’re looking for something to watch), he started learning chess at age 6, was beating chess masters by age 10, and was an International Master by age 16.
Although he hasn’t played chess competitively since 1999, he’s been busy with other incredible lifetime accomplishments. For example, he has many US national medals and a World Championship medal in Tai Chi Push Hands, and has a black belt in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s also an author of two books, “Attacking Chess: Aggressive Strategies, Inside Moves from the U.S. Junior Chess Champion (1995)” and somewhat more recently ” The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance” (2008).
He’s also a proponent of the Wim Hoff method (even though a technical error almost got him killed while practicing it) and a guest on one my my favorite podcasts out there – The Tim Ferriss Show. You can catch Josh’s full interview there with many more interesting observations on everything from performance to parenting.