Win More Chess Games by Meditating

by Richard Stooker

This article is for chess players who want to use their brains and knowledge at peak levels, to win more games, matches and tournaments.

Therefore, you don't have to worry that I want you to find satori, enter nirvana, learn to levitate or develop your ESP. Fortunately, meditation does not have to be anything mystical at all. Instead, it's a tested and proven way of helping your mind to function at its best. Which is what you need to win chess games.

I want to make clear that meditation is NOT thinking over your next chess move, remembering your first kiss, worrying about your bills or thinking about the meaning of life.

It's relaxing and focussing your mind so that your brainwaves are primarily cycling at the alpha rate.

Many years ago, brain researchers found that the electrical impulses of our brains cycle as waves as various intervals, as measured by an EEG. The speed of these waves help determine our states of mind. Alpha is brain going at the rate of about 7 to 14 cycles per second.

This feels relaxed and dreamy. You can easily visualize and concentrate.

You can practice entering alpha simply by relaxing (you can sit on the floor or in a chair or lie down if you wish), closing your eyes, look up at a 45 degree angle and slowly count from 100 to 1.

With practice, reduce this count to 20 to 1 and then 10 to 1.

You can also take courses to learn this in more detail or by audio CDs that will help you to induce this state while listening with headphones.

Once relaxed and in alpha, what do you think about? Nothing, that's the point. Do focus your attention on one thing. That could be your breathing (take deep, long and slow relaxed breaths), a word or sound or an image.

I think it's fun to imagine myself just sitting on a tropical beach. I feel the sun on my skin, see the blue sky and listen to waves crash. You can think of yourself in any place you find relaxing. A mountain, a palace or a space ship.

Stay like that for about 20 minutes, then go about the rest of your day. Or go to bed -- meditating just before you go to bed is a great way to go right to sleep.

If you want mystical benefits, be my guest. But all I'm claiming is that the regular practice of such meditation will improve your ability to think, concentrate and relax under stress.

Regular practice of meditation helps quiet your mind so that you are more open to insights or intuition which can help you in many ways, including your chess.

Once you can slip easily into the alpha state, put the tips of your thumb and first two fingers of your right hand together as you do so. Once you've done this a few times, your mind learns to go quickly into an alpha state whenever you put these three fingers together.

Then you can use this during a chess game. One of the biggest challenges in playing chess is to stay calm despite the pressure. If you allow yourself to get tense and worried, you are not going to play your best game of chess.

Chess requires mental concentration. That's concentration and focus -- not tension and worry.

When you tense up and worry, you aren't in the mental state when you focus on the pieces and the game. That's when even World Champions make stupid moves.

When you catch yourself thinking about how much time you have left, how your opponent is glaring at you, how much you need to win this game etc -- put your 3 fingers together, take a deep breath to relax... and then focus on the board and the pieces and what you next move should be.

When you're playing chess and in the rest of your life, meditating help relieve your stress and improve your mental functioning.