Chantal Vallée: Living in the present moment

Chantal Vallée is using her experience as a five-time national championship coach of the University of Windsor basketball program to offer advice and insight to CBC audiences.

Champion basketball coach says mindfulness is the key to managing stress

Chantal Vallée has a series on CBC’s Windsor Morning to offer advice and insight. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

 As the five-time national champion head coach of the University of Windsor Lancers women's basketball team, Chantal Vallée has found the key to managing her stress is practicing mindfulness, or as she calls it "living in the present moment."

With pressures on the court and on campus, Vallée has spent a lot of time acting as a coach and a counsellor to her student athletes.

In the latest installment of her ongoing series on CBC's Windsor Morning, she shares her advice on how people can manage stress in their own lives.

The 'Present Moment'

One of the most intriguing teaching points that successful NBA coach Phil Jackson used was having players find themselves in the "present moment."

During a game, players were told not to worry about what will happen in the future because this causes stress and anxiety.

They were also told not to dwell on the past as that causes guilt or regrets because of mistakes.

It's easy to see how this relates to everyday life. How may of us go through life carrying immense guilt and rehashing past conversations or events? How many of us experience anxiety because we fear things that haven't happened yet?

Mindfulness comes in many different ways and like every other good thing, it is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced. There are three things I try to keep in mind.

A Decision of the Mind

First, I want to find myself in the present moment. I focus on what is in front of me and immerse myself in what is happening right now.

A State of Gratefulness

Second, I am thankful for the life and perspective I have. I am grateful I am breathing and that I am healthy.

A Pause

Third, try to pause. It doesn't have to be long. Meditation and breathing techniques are very effective to calm our bodies. When the body is racing, the mind cannot stop and rest.

Breathing exercises also help me to focus on the present moment and to get my body and mind to rest.

Just like every other human, I get anxious about the future, and often feel guilty about the past. So I breathe!

Be present this week! 

Vallée appears every other Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. on Radio-Canada's Matins sans frontieres 105.5 FM and 1550 AM and at 8:10 a.m. on CBC's Windsor Morning, 97.5 FM.