A few years ago, I interviewed a mind coach called Don Macpherson, a lovely man who is approached by sports teams and athletes the world over to help them mentally prepare for the challenges that come with being at the top of their game.
The pressure, the doubts, the fears; things that golfists call ‘the yips’. The monkey on your shoulder saying: “Are you sure that turning into this corner flat in fifth is a good idea?” Things that can mean the difference between winning a world title, a race, a match, a trophy or throwing it away.
Naturally, not being a potential world champion of anything, I’m largely untroubled by the need for training like Don’s. But, I wondered during the interview, what could somebody do to increase, say, their attention span? Because, y’know, sometimes somebody is sitting there with an 1800-word feature to write and OMG look at this GIF of a cat falling off a shelf. LOLZ. Er, where was I? Try having 20 minutes’ meditation a day, Don suggested.
Now, I’m the kind of man who takes good advice seriously, but I work on a busy magazine, so I get the chance for 20 minutes’ meditation more often at the weekend than during the week. But I’ve been regularly trying Don’s advice, typically on a Saturday afternoon. And 20 minutes of sound meditation works, although sometimes it feels like an hour and a half’s nap, because that’s actually what it becomes if you’re 42 and work on a busy magazine. I’ve no idea whether it’s improving my concentration but, hey, that sounds like a Ducati outside. I'd recognise the noise of a desmodromic valvetrain anywhere.