Matt Fornataro: Change the Channel

Leveling up in any aspect of life begins with holding your own remote. 

My Intro to meditation wasn’t really by choice. My wife suggested I join her in this Oprah & Deepak Chopra 21-day Meditation. I reacted as most male athletes would and fought it for about a week. Finally, I gave in. I laid down in a dark room and almost instantly the soothing music and words began to relax me. Pretty soon I found myself and my mind settling. It felt weird but good. I felt open, un-tangled mentally. That total clarity lasted for maybe 3 seconds out of a 20-minute session but whatever that was I needed to learn more. I needed to feel that again. So, I began reading, researching techniques and practicing, practicing, practicing.

I now view meditation as ‘game changing’. If young athletes would ask me what the number one skill to learn is to get to the next level. I would say meditation and mindfulness.

This word has a lot of fluff around it. And a bit contradictory since the goal is to eliminate “fullness” in the mind. All it really means is that you become silent. You step away from the chatter in your head. You become aware. It’s a powerful skill. A superpower really. One that I believe can help countless athletes reach their potential. 

As athletes, we’re often told, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Well for me most of my life, I didn’t know what that meant. Of course, I wasn’t ‘trying’ to be hard on myself. I didn’t ‘want’ to think about missing that open net last night or being taken off the power play for a game. It was always really hard to find an answer. I knew it wasn’t helping me, but I was running on, and living in, thoughts all the time.

What I became extremely aware of is that we can change the channel of our thoughts. We own our own remote. Think of yourself as a TV. You have a ton of channels to choose from. Some are good. Some are love. Some are anger. Some are fear. Some are patience. As you can imagine, there are a ton to choose from. But this is where I failed most of my life. I let everyone around me hold my remote. They had control when it should have been mine. Meditation broke that for me.

If I’ve learned anything throughout my hockey career and starting a business is that everybody who is successful holds their own remote. They determine how they show up in every situation. Life and people will pollute your energy and try to grab that remote. Meditation is how I grabbed my controller, shifted through my channels, and found the ones I enjoyed.

Think about if everyone had a flat screen tv on their chest and back. Always playing something. Showcasing their energy and displaying it for the world to see. Now think about what you are asking other people to consume on your TV. If you’re displaying good, you will get good back. If you’re displaying anger, you will push people away.

I found that the more I “tuned-in” (get it?) to what channel I was displaying, the people, the situations, the opportunities I had been seeking began attracting back to me. Meditation is not a one-size-fits-all nor is it a quick fix. It is a practice. A habit. A discipline.

Meditation helps you find your true channels; it untangles all those creative and fulfilling wires. Most importantly, it helps you become aware of your mind and its endless potential. I challenge you to look inward at your own TV. What are you displaying? What are you watching and who is around you? And are you holding your remote? Meditation can help anyone. It’s a free superpower we all possess. You just have to learn the practices.

So yes, I believe meditation can help center athletes. I believe it can be the daily ‘shower’ our brains need in order to perform with consistency. If you are an athlete who tends to over think, over analyze or are too hard on yourself, give this a try— an honest 30 days of practicing, just 15 minutes a day. The benefits are endless with zero negative side effects.  If you want to level up in any aspect of your life, it starts with holding your own remote.


-Matt Fornataro

Founder, Torch | Former Pro-Hockey Center