Zen and the Stress of Being a Football Fan

Take a deep breath…

Last time out I mentioned how I was trying to avoid meaningless, infuriating football arguments on Twitter. I was trying to read more books, go for walks or go running. Trying to disconnect from Social Media a bit, not completely, just a bit.

It hasn’t been going very well.

Since the last post there has been any number of football related controversies that have dragged me back into the murky world of Twitter. Not just football stuff of course, real world events with real world implications but y’know football is more important.

Slowly exhale and become more and more relaxed with each breath…

In an effort to combat that feeling, the stressed out feeling, the overwhelmed by bullshit feeling, I’ve been meditating and I really would recommend that everyone try it.

See, I get pretty stressed out about things. Some people find that surprising because I don’t often exhibit signs of stress on the surface.

The baldness is hereditary, it’s not stress related. At least I don’t think it is.

A lot of famous sports people have spoken about how important meditation is to them and how it’s become a necessary part of their lives. Raheem Sterling, Aaron Rogers, Lebron James, to name a few, have talked of its importance.

They’ve talked about the clarity that comes with meditation and how in the toughest moments in their sport they can rely on the lessons they’ve learned from meditations to help them.

That’s great for them and I’m very happy for them but can meditation help with the stress of being a football fan?

Next time, as you breathe in, say in your mind “I am relaxed.”

I had a lot of preconceptions about meditating before I started. I dismissed it and its benefits as being, well, nonsense. You might be reading this yourself thinking ‘no, you were right, it is absolute nonsense’ but you would be surprised.

I had lots of questions before I started. How does this work? What could I possibly get from this? Will I have a Don Draper moment of clarity when I’m mid ooommmmmmmmmmm?

That’s the main misconception I had. Meditation isn’t about sitting cross legged, arms out, room stinking of incense with flowers, cats and angel cards everywhere. It’s not what it’s made out to be in the movies. Is that where I got that idea from?

I handle situations with ease.

It was November last year when I started. Work was very stressful, Christmas was coming, COVID 19 was on the rise for the 50th time, it was a stressful time. I decided I needed to do something to help myself.

I needed to disconnect and try to find something to help with…everything. I had listened to different people talk about how meditation had helped them so I thought “I’m not telling anyone I’m doing this, I’m going to try it and if it doesn’t work, I won’t have to live with the shame of trying and failing at sitting still and not thinking!”

When I started the very first thing I noticed was how the first ten minute session was the only ten minutes of that day that I set aside to do nothing. No screens, no music, nothing. Just a voice telling me to slow down, breathe and listen to what’s happening in my head.

It was illuminating. After the first couple of sessions I found myself becoming more and more relaxed. Eyes closed, concentrating on following my thoughts, I was very, very close to falling asleep a few times. So I looked up techniques of how to prevent yourself from falling asleep while meditating.

“Open your eyes if you feel like you’re going to fall asleep”

I’m an idiot.

Another problem I assumed I would have is not being able to stop my brain from thinking while I was supposed to be clear headed and peaceful. What I learned is that’s all part of the process.

You might start out clear headed but then all of a sudden a thought rolls into your head like ‘how can you build a squad if we have so many loan players?’ and you might find yourself thinking about this for a while before you realise that a) you’ve been thinking for the past minute or so and b) trust the process, the guys know what they’re doing!

Taking 10 minutes of your day to stop is an incredibly simple and effective thing to do. 10 minutes to try to quiet the noise around you.

We’re just about to get back into another season of ups and downs and maybe meditation might not be for you but if you are feeling stressed out and feel like you need a break from Twitter or whatever why not take 10 minutes to try meditating?

What would a pre season meditation be like for a Dundalk fan?

We will begin by taking a deep breath in

When you’re breathing in you’re breathing in the new owners, the new management team and all the excitement around the new season…

And slowly exhale

As you’re exhaling you’re letting all those thoughts about Peak6, Jim Magilton, Poppa Bill and St Pats being cry babies go…

Lets try that a couple of times because those thoughts from last season will linger…

Try to clear your mind of all thought, concentrate on your breathing…

If thoughts of winning the league enter your mind, stay with that thought, think of how incredible that would be…

If thoughts of anyone else winning the league enter your mind, bury that shit, we don’t need that kind of energy, leave that at home, don’t be bringing that to Oriel…

Breathe in…

Breathe out…

If thoughts of how the new players might become superstars of the town this season, welcome that thought, think of how great it would be to have brand new heroes…

If thoughts about the players that have left enter your mind, get on your boots, collect those thoughts together and punt them into the navy bank, those fuckers are gone, forget them, they’re dead to you…

Keep breathing…

See? Meditating as a football fan is tough…

When you are fully alert you can resume your usual activities, feeling calm and refreshed.

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