How do you focus an always-on brain? It's an issue that Sir Lewis Hamilton, whose thoughts are apparently as fast-paced as his Merc, has struggled with. "My mind is always on the go, I'm always thinking about something, I'm always thinking what's next, what am I doing next, you know?" he tells T3 in an exclusive interview, organised through INEOS, whose hand sanitizer dispenser is responsible for keeping the British F1 teams hands germ-free these days.
It's an issue that has knock-on effects on all kinds of things. "One of the important things for training and health is sleep," he continues. "And I don't sleep very well." When lockdown presented Lewis with the novel prospect of a free schedule, he decided it was time to address the situation. He'd been reading about mindfulness practices, and wondered if he could get them to work for him.
"I got into meditation, which I didn't have time to do… well, not that I didn't have time to do before, but I hadn't had the patience to really, to do it more," he admits. "So I started putting that into my daytime."
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That daily period of meditation meant no phone, no replying to emails, no distractions. Just seven to 10 minutes to "listen to what's within".
If that sounds hellish, you'll be relieved to hear that Lewis didn't enjoy it at first, either. "It definitely didn't come naturally!" he laughs when we ask about those early attempts. "You sit there and then [you're] uncomfortable, so then you start moving. And you know, I get distracted relatively easily – except for when I'm driving – and so I find it really hard not to be distracted."
As with many things, practice paid off, and he says that as time went on he found he was able to resist distractions more effectively.
So has it helped? The answer is a resounding 'yes'. "Just taking a moment for myself to be centred every day. And generally just taking a moment for me... I really found groundbreaking," he says. He credits it with helping him get in the right headspace for racing, too.
"It is about being able to channel your energy and flow freely, without any blockages. I think we all have baggage, we all have history, and we carry those things with us and sometimes we take it to work with us and it affects our days. For me on my weekend it's about just unblocking everything and flowing, having all my positive energy flowing into my passion, into what I love doing. And it allows me to do it better than I've ever been able to do it."
A full version of this interview will appear in the Anniversary Issue of T3, on sale 29 September. Subscribe here. (opens in new tab)