After years of mindfulness colouring books, apps like Headspace and Calm and even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge discussing the benefits, meditating has never been more mainstream. But it hasn’t always been so widely accepted and, as Sir Andrew Strauss has attested, there is still a degree of cynicism surrounding wellbeing.
The former captain of the England cricket team has admitted he even had to hide his mindfulness and meditation practices during the last years of his cricket career.
Sir Andrew had been captain from 2009 to 2012, when he retired from the sport following 100 test matches. He was only the third captain to lead England to home and away Ashes victories and is hailed as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. But the 43-year-old said he found the “pressure” of leading the team “incredibly tiring”. To help, he took up mindfulness, but chose to keep it from his peers.
“Certainly, when you’re the captain of England and you’re feeling all that pressure to be leading by example all the time and being the positive one and then the one that’s leading the way – I found that incredibly tiring.
“The last couple of years in my career, I started doing more and more meditation and mindfulness, which really helped me. But that was largely off my own back really, and that wasn’t something that was mainstream and in fact I had to sort of almost hide it from people.”
Sir Andrew, who was speaking via video at the virtual Power Up Festival, went on to explain his resistance to sharing what he was going through.
“I think we’re just on the cusp of it [seeking help] becoming more accepted. This idea of working with psychologists or exploring ways of developing your mental skills in the same way that you do your technical ones but there’s still a little bit of cynicism out there, I’ve got to be honest,” he says.