The competitive edge? It's a Zen thing

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In a few weeks, millions of us will be glued to our TV sets, watching the best athletes in the world ski, skate, and slide their way into Olympic history in Turin, Italy But just as important as physical training, say those who study elite athletes, is the mental training that goes into a peak performance. If two athletes are equally fit, the edge often goes to the one with the better emotional skills -- not a do-or-die focus on winning but a set of habits that all of us can learn, including positive ''self talk,' maintaining an energy level that is neither too excited nor too relaxed, and, perhaps most important, a Buddhist-like ability to focus totally on the moment at hand -- on this particular breath, stroke, turn. So useful are these techniques that sport psychologists say their coaching is increasingly being sought by surgeons, trial lawyers, musicians, public speakers, business people, and others who need to perform at their best in high-stress situations. (opednews editor rob kall will be running a conference on optimal functioning that includes the person interviews in this article, Nate Zinsser.

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