Novak Djokovic just keeps making history. By winning Wimbledon on Sunday, he’s tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slams a piece. Like his counterparts, he’s a gifted athlete, born with certain physiological fortunes to achieve peak performance and make it to the top. But he’s made his own luck, too. Particularly in strength of mind. Novak Djokovic is an avid meditator.
Djokovic is candid about his meditation practice. For over 10 years now, he practices daily and believes it is a key component to his athletic success. “It is clear that meditation is not the only factor,” Djokovic said in a recent interview. “But I know that it can help all tennis players a lot.”
About half a mile away from Wimbledon is the Buddhapadipa Temple. For years now, Djokovic has gone to the temple in between matches to sit under a tree and meditate. This combination of physical and mental discipline is what makes Djokovic arguably the greatest tennis player in history, but he believes that most tennis players and other professional athletes neglect to the mental component of training. "Meditation can be many things, but as professional athletes we are always active,” he said. “We need a lot of energy on the track, a very high level of concentration, and I think that today's technologies and distractions that we have don't allow us to pay the necessary attention to relax, breathe, recharge batteries and focus on ourselves.”
During the most recent Australian Open, Djokovic tore an abdominal muscle in one of his early matches. Through daily meditation, he managed to play through excruciating pain and went on to win the title. No amount of physical training can prepare you for such an injury. It takes mental strength to overcome something like an abdominal injury and play against the best athletes in the world.
Djokovic has said that the daily distractions of modern life can negatively affect his about to perform at peak levels. “We are always playing, always out, we have thousands informations coming from phones, from computers, televisions. We are surrounded by a lot of noise, and meditation is really important in my opinion as it helps to meet, to be present, to have a reset, as a person, as a tennis player, as an athlete.”
Djokovic’s practice isn’t particularly religious, and he doesn’t want people to think that you have to be a believer to benefit from the discipline. Instead, he believes that meditating daily can help you achieve not just peak performance, but a general sense of calm. “Meditation is really important to me,” Djokovic said. "It is one of the main points in my day to day, not only in training or in my tennis career, but I have incorporated aspects of meditation into my daily routines, they make me feel good.”