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How An Olympic Climber Uses Color Breathing To Get In The Zone

Sport climbers have a lot to worry about during competition: the difficulty of the climb, the risk of falling, the distractions from spectators and the speed of their opponent. But Olympic climber Alannah Yip has found a way to work through her anxiety using a mindfulness technique called “color breathing.” This practice helps her get into flow, a psychological state where everything feels easy and you lose your sense of self-consciousness.

Many of us have experienced flow — or being “in the zone” — but reliably getting into a flow state is difficult. In this episode of our documentary series, The Mental Games, discover the elements of flow and hear from sports psychologist and performance coach George Mumford, who used mindfulness meditation to help Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant get in the zone.


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Michael Tabb is a video and motion graphics producer at FiveThirtyEight.

Meghan McDonough is a video journalist and FiveThirtyEight contributor.

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