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Mindfulness and Non-attachment in Athletes: The Conclusion (Part 2)

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

In the previous blog post, we explored the relationship between #mindfulness, nonattachment-to-self, well-being, and self-actualisation in athletes. Building upon that foundation, this follow-up post delves deeper into the intertwined nature of mindfulness and #non-attachment, their roles in athlete well-being, and the potential for a reciprocal relationship between these constructs.

Drawing on empirical evidence and insights from Buddhist philosophy, this post highlights the importance of incorporating nonattachment-to-self (NTS) alongside mindfulness in athlete interventions to promote well-being and self-actualization.

The Roles of Mindfulness and (NTS) in Well-being and Self-Actualisation: The current study examined mindfulness and (NTS) as predictors of well-being-related outcomes in athletes (Noetel et al., 2019). Results revealed significant positive effects of both mindfulness and (NTS) on well-being and self-actualisation. Notably, (NTS) exhibited a stronger influence on these outcomes compared to mindfulness. This finding suggests that detaching from egoic desires and attachments plays a vital role in fostering athlete well-being and self-actualisation.

The Mediating Role of (NTS):

The study also investigated the mediating role of (NTS) in the relationship between mindfulness and well-being/self-actualisation. While the hypothesised model, with (NTS) mediating between mindfulness and these outcomes, demonstrated a good fit, an alternative model in which mindfulness mediated between (NTS) and well-being/self-actualisation also showed support. This alternative pathway aligns with previous findings and suggests that mindfulness practice may promote the insight necessary for general (NTS), leading to enhanced well-being (Whitehead et al., 2020; Sahdra et al., 2016). Both pathways highlight the reciprocal relationship and interplay between mindfulness and (NTS) in cultivating well-being and self-actualisation.

The Even-Minded Athlete: Integrating Mindfulness and (NTS):

An athlete who embraces mindfulness and (NTS) may exhibit different characteristics compared to those driven by egoic desires. Rather than using mindfulness solely to gain a competitive edge, integrating (NTS) into mindfulness practice enables athletes to adopt an even-minded approach to their sporting self. Releasing attachment to egoic concerns and embracing the present moment can enhance an athlete's well-being, performance, and self-actualisation.

Teaching Non-attachment to Athletes:

Teaching (NTS) within an inherently intuitive Buddhist framework presents challenges. However, interventions inspired by Acceptance-Commitment Therapy (ACT) and the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment approach (MAC) offer potential avenues. ACT and MAC, focusing on psychological flexibility and acting in alignment with values, indirectly promote (NTS) (Hayes et al., 2011; Sahdra et al., 2010). Integrating (NTS) into existing mindfulness interventions or developing new interventions rooted in Buddhist teachings can enhance athletes' understanding and practice of (NTS).

Mindfulness, Non-attachment, and the B-Realm:

Maslow's D-realm versus B-realm theory provides a framework for teaching the release of egoic fixation and the integration of non-attachment. The B-realm, characterised by being and a sense of enoughness, allows athletes to let go of egoic views and pursue growth without fear of failure. Integrating this framework into athlete interventions can promote the development of well-being and self-actualisation.

The Reciprocal Relationship: Mindfulness and (NTS):

While the study focused on examining mindfulness and (NTS) as separate constructs, understanding the interplay between these qualities can shape a more comprehensive view of the mindful athlete, emphasising the importance of practicing sport-based mindfulness in accordance with (NTS).

By recognising the intertwined nature of mindfulness and (NTS), athletes, coaches, and researchers can cultivate holistic approaches to enhance athlete well-being and self-actualisation. Incorporating (NTS) alongside mindfulness interventions may promote deeper integration and understanding of these qualities in athletes' lives. The even-minded athlete, rooted in (NTS), can experience greater well-being, perform with purpose, and embrace growth throughout their sporting journey. Future research and interventions should explore the reciprocal relationship between mindfulness and (NTS) to further enhance athlete well-being and self-actualisation.

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