Mantra Yoga + Health: Issue 12.

Page 76


Top Athlete Series

V e d ic Medi tati on, Feeli ng Like Yo u’ r e Falli ng S ho rt , H av i ng Bi g G oals a n d High Standar ds , t he P o w e r to C h oos e Yo u r Re sp ons e, and th e Life P u rp os e of Ser v i ng Ot he rs. Inte r vi ew by C hr i s Lucas


T h e Sta n d out Fo r wa r d : 2015 Wor ld Cu p Ch a m pio n , The U.S. Women's Nationa l Socc er T ea m , a n d Sta r o f the Chi cago Red Star s

Q: You’ve had sustained success at a high level within the soccer world. Has there ever been a point where you wanted to stop? A: I never had a moment that I thought I would stop playing soccer. But I definitely had a moment—a long four-year moment at Stanford—where I really struggled with my relationship with the game and trying to understand my identity and what part soccer played in it. I got wrapped up in that college sports culture where if you win you’re a “winner” and if you lose you’re a “loser.” I have a lot of big goals for myself and I hold myself to extraordinarily high standards, so while it might look like success from the outside, I always felt like I was falling short in college. It was definitely a moment in my life that was transformative, but difficult. Q: But you didn’t stop, and now you are clearly playing at the highest level with even more pressure to be defined by the wins and losses. How did you get past that pressure in college and enable yourself to enjoy the game in a way that’s authentic to you?



A: It was a long journey back to being able to enjoy soccer from when I graduated. In January 2012, a few things happened simultaneously. The women’s league folded, so I couldn’t find employment playing soccer in this country, and I moved to Sweden. I left my family and friends being able to watch all my games, and was just playing in a completely different world where I didn’t know anyone and no one cared what I was doing. That was really freeing for me. I was so present because I didn’t have the opportunity to look forward or backward because everything was happening so quickly. It brought me to a present and conscious kind of living that allowed me to rediscover my love for soccer. At the same time, right before I left for Sweden, I learned Vedic meditation. I absolutely think that changed my perspective on soccer and my life. Q: Can you walk us through Vedic meditation for those who aren’t familiar? How do you get set up for meditation; is there a routine you go through in order to get ready to meditate?

A: Vedic meditation is one of the oldest and most widely practiced types of meditation. It’s a twice-daily practice where you sit down for twenty minutes and they give you a mantra— which is just a word in sanskrit that should have no connotations for you, it’s just a sound— and twice a day you go over your sound for twenty minutes. When you are meditating, thoughts come in and interrupt and infiltrate your mantra and your transcendental state. The lesson is that’s OK! You’re gonna have stressors and thoughts; you could be thinking about what you’re having for dinner or why you are getting a divorce. It impacts your meditation differently, but at the end of the day a stressor is a stressor, and meditation teaches you to take the power away from it by not giving it any attention. For these twenty minutes, all you’re doing is repeating your mantra. For me, it’s less about the benefits of a transcendental state than the lesson that I have the power to control how I react to whatever is happening in my environment. In Vedic meditation, it’s a seated position with ›