Psychological training for concentration maintenance under physical loads

Фотографии: 

Postgraduate A.S. Yanina2
Dr.Med., Professor L.V. Kapilevich1, 2
1National Research Tomsk State University, Tomsk
2National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, Tomsk

Keywords: psychological training, meditation techniques, attention, physical loads.

Introduction. As of today, the issues of competitive stress reduction and prevention are being actively studied in elite sports [4, 6]. Special attention is paid to mental conditioning [7, 8], as psychological preparedness of athletes, all other physical abilities being equal, is the determining factor handing a victory. Increased anxiety is the result of the nervous system fatigue and psycho-emotional overload [3, 5]. A significant increment in competitive activity and its increasing intensity require from athletes a high level of attention – scope, allocation, span and concentration [2, 6]. The use of techniques of psychophysical self-regulation and health improvement greatly reduces the adverse effects of emotional stress on athletes’ mind and health [4]. Meditation technique can be highlighted as one of the methods of psychophysical self-regulation [1], however, its physiological components are still poorly studied, which limits its implementation and application. Yet, this technique remains affordable and advanced, and this claims attention.

Objective of the study was to scientifically substantiate the efficiency of mental conditioning as a technique of concentration maintenance under physical loads.

Methods and structure of the research. Subject to the study were 30 subjects of 25-45 years of age, 12 men and 18 women. The participants were divided into 3 groups depending on their experience in meditation practices: the group of those with no meditation experience (beginners), the group of those practicing kundalini yoga in general classes (1-3 times a week) - average skilled individuals, and the group of yoga teachers, who have been practicing yoga for at least 3 years and have a daily practice (professionals). In order to avoid the misrepresentation of attention properties, the subjects were not allowed to testing if they were in atypical states, such as, fatigue, illness, excessive wakefulness. The properties of attention were assessed by means of the computer complex for psychophysiological testing NS-Psychotest (“Neurosoft Company” Ltd., Ivanovo city, Russia) using the “Schulte table” method. The testing was conducted in the following order:

  1. Testing at rest.

  2. Testing while holding a wrist dynamometer in the right hand at the highest possible level.

  3. Testing after exercise (15-minute physical load on a veloergometer at 50 W).

  4. Testing while holding the wrist dynamometer in the right hand at the highest possible level.

  5. Testing after mental conditioning session (Kirtan Kriya meditation technique, during which the mantra is repeated aloud, in whisper and to oneself with the visualization of sounds).

  6. Testing while holding the wrist dynamometer in the right hand at the highest possible level.

The statistical data processing was made using the software IBM SPSS Statistics 20.

Results and discussion. The attention concentration index in the group of beginners hardly changes after 15 minutes of physical load without distractions, but increases while holding the dynamometer, i.e. becomes significantly worse (Fig. 1), which testifies to the low noise immunity. After meditation, there are almost no effects of distractions, and the attention concentration index increases significantly. A similar pattern is observed in the group of average skilled individuals, but in addition to the above-described results, the index increases significantly and without any distractions. In the group of professionals this index gets considerably better as early as after physical loads, and after meditation it gets even lower, i.e., attention concentration increases. Therefore, physical loads will not be a stress moment in the group of professional. The attention concentration index below 40 is considered high, attention is sufficiently focused, 40-50 – average, above 50 - low, attention is focused insufficiently. This indicator determines the degree of concentration on the object.

Mental stability (Fig. 2) in the group of beginners increases after physical loads and distractions, and after meditation its value remains approximately at the same level. In the group of average skilled individuals we observe the same effect of physical loads, and after meditation this index slightly increases, but remains better than the initial value. In the group of professionals distractions have no impact on mental stability; however, in the absence of this factor the mentioned index decreases after physical loads, and after meditation it almost reverts to the initial value. The mental stability index characterizes the maintenance of the efficient functioning of psyche in a tense situation, and largely depends on the individual and his/her level of self-organization. The mental stability value below 1.0 indicates good mental tolerance, so, the higher the index, the worse the mental tolerance of the testee to the task performance.

The level of the testee’s competency for the main work was assessed using the index of the degree of involvement (Fig. 3). The degree of involvement improved in the group of beginners after physical loads, but at the same time the effects of distractions led to a decrease of this index. After meditation the degree of involvement reduced. In the group of average skilled individuals the degree of involvement after distractions decreased. Professionals originally have a better degree of involvement with the introduction of distractions, and after physical loads it decreased. Meditation did not affect this indicator. The index value below 1.0 shows good involvement, consequently, the more the index exceeds 1.0, the more subject needs to training for the main work.

Conclusion. Mental conditioning sessions with the use of meditation techniques have a positive effect on attention concentration during physical loads, even in individuals who lack experience. As one gets more familiar with meditation techniques, they help improve attention concentration in the setting of physical loads. Also, there is a positive impact of meditation practices on mental stability against the background of distractions. Kirtan Kriya meditation technique does not affect the degree of involvement. All of the aforesaid allows recommending mental conditioning sessions based on meditation practices as a method of restoration of attention and mental stability after physical loads.

Fig.1. Changes in the attention concentration within the groups during the study
Note. 1 – at rest, 2 – with dynamometer, 3 – after physical loads, 4 – after physical loads with dynamometer, 5 – after meditation, 6 – after meditation with dynamometer.

Fig.2. Changes in the mental stability within the groups during the study
The legend is the same as in Fig. 1.

Fig.3. Changes in the degree of involvement within the groups during the study
The legend is the same as in Fig. 1.

References

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Corresponding author: kapil@yandex.ru

Abstract
Psychological training with the use of meditation techniques has a positive effect on attention concentration during physical loads, even in individuals who lack experience. As one gets more familiar with meditation techniques, they help improve attention concentration in the setting of physical loads. Also, there is a positive impact of meditation practices on mental stability against the background of distractions. Kirtan Kriya meditation technique does not affect the degree of involvement. All of the aforesaid allows recommending mental conditioning sessions based on meditation practices as a method of restoration of attention and mental stability after physical loads