If you’re not aware, Lauren Chamberlain is the NCAA All Time Home Run Leader, a member of the Oklahoma Sooners 2013 National Championship Team , ESPN The Body Issue Athlete, and current member of the USSSA Pride. You could get exhausted reading all of her accolades, accomplishments, awards, and the like; however, I will never get tired of seeing her step into her purpose, while helping other women do the same.
I originally reached out to Lauren to discuss mindfulness for athletes, learn about the ways that she mentally prepares for competition, and hear her thoughts on meditation and mindfulness training in softball. It wasn’t long before we were going back and forth discussing spirituality, finding our purpose, grounding routines in sports and life, and the parallels between psychotherapy techniques and powerful self-talk.
Although most would describe Lauren as super-human, one of the things I enjoy about her the most is that she is SO HUMAN. She shares her challenges, doesn’t shy away from being vulnerable, and acknowledges when she struggles. For me, this highlights the power of her mindfulness practice because she has the keen awareness and understanding to know when she’s feeling balanced, aligned, connected, and when she’s not. Lauren mentioned reading inspirational books, staying up to date with her devotional, and journaling as key components to her self care regimen.
When discussing Sports Psychology, Lauren shared that she worked with her University’s Sports Psychologist her Junior and Senior year and found it very beneficial. So often in our athlete culture, we associate seeking help with weakness; Lauren does not have this perspective. She mentioned it was nice to have a safe space off the field (a “judgement free zone”), where she could go to gain practical tools to help during her home run chase and beyond.
One of the most profound parts of our conversation surfaced around awareness and consciousness. She mentioned times when she wasn’t feeling her best mentally and physically, it was due to mindless behavior. She noted when she is mindful and tuning into who she spends her time with, what she eats, and how she’s spending her energy, this is when she is at her best. She also shared with me that “things in life are never going to be perfect, but transformations happen when we start to acknowledge the parts of ourselves that we’ve been avoiding.” Again, this is a key component to mindfulness - sitting with the discomfort.
When we discussed how to stay present during competition we talked about breathing,“being where your feet are,” and tuning into your body to enhance awareness. However, the most powerful thing Lauren mentioned was: “I always have to remember that I existed before the sport, and I will exist after the sport. My value is in my person and not in my practice. That allows me to stay in the moment and find joy in the present.” It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our “practice” and lose our identity in that space; Lauren does an amazing job at being able to separate the two.
Lauren has become the master at the “reframe”. She can take “failures”, losses, or disappointments and create a narrative that gives her power and purpose. When asked about affirmations, she mentioned that her “affirmations are a love letter to myself. They hype me up and set me in the space I want to be in.” Lauren validated that affirmations, visualizations, mindfulness, and mindset training is needed for athletes. She says, “The physical part of sport has always taken precedent over the mind. Even though we ask our athletes to be focused, stay sharp, recover from failure, etc.. the mind reps have never been made as important as the physical reps.” She went to on to share that “mental health was perceived as weakness and no one wanted to share their mental struggles. Now that it is an acceptable topic to discuss in sports, I hope we start to see a shift.”
I hope so too.
When I asked Lauren what she wants her legacy to be, of course she mentioned a little something about hitting the s*** out of the softball, but more importantly she mentioned her deep desire to help woman find their purpose. If you follow Lauren on social media or subscribe to her website, you will know that she is already doing just that. Lauren reminded me that athletes needs to know the things happening in their minds and their bodies are not defining. She says “Whether it’s anxiety, fear, doubt, panic… there are ways to tackle those feelings. We can no longer turn a blind eye to what impacts our lives. It is time to acknowledge our struggles, face our challenges, and work to conquer them. We will all be so much better because of it.”
My conversation with Lauren not only inspired me to continue this work with athletes, but also gave me insight to how elite athletes may be practicing mindfulness unknowingly. Lauren had some powerful routines and habits that had a meditative feel to them, but were not necessarily meditation. She has excellent tools to bring her awareness to the present moment, but may not be part of our mainstream mindfulness training programs. I look forward to continuing to learn from athletes like Lauren who are willing to share their experiences with me and provide feedback on the trainings I’m creating.
If you want to learn more about Lauren Chamberlain or follow her on social media, you can find her at www.laurenchamberlain.com and on Instagram @lochamberlain.