The Meaning of Life
When runners describe the spiritual dimension of running, they speak in terms of ‘presence’, ‘a mystery’, and ‘a way of finding meaning and value in life’.
Spiritual experiences are unique to each individual. Some devote themselves to religious faith; others seek a more personal connection and engage in activities such as yoga, meditation, nature retreats or creative expression.
Communing with the Divine
For psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, to be in the ‘zone’ is to be in the ‘flow’. Although he acknowledges that we can find ‘flow’ wherever our passion lies, Mihaly feels that sport is important because it is one of the most readily available ways of generating a state of “heightened focus and blissful immersion”.
The 19th century Indian monk, Swami Vivekananda, went so far as to say, “In kicking a ball or playing a game, you are much closer to the Divine than you will ever be in prayer.”
Indian yogi, Jaggi Vasudev believes that a sporting event is sacred when the individual moves beyond their limitations and achieves a state of abandon usually known only at the peak of spirituality.
From this stance, sport can be compared to meditation whereby the activity or game can have the same function as a mantra, acting as a focal point for one’s attention.
Developing a Practice
When our attention is focused, the outside world disappears giving rise to spiritual or mystical experiences. Writer Polly Campbell offers three ways to make sport more spiritual.
1) Be present and aware by moving into the moment and engaging with it fully.
2) Cultivate compassion for yourself, for your teammates and for your opponents. In showing respect and appreciation for the experience, one can then recognise that everyone is ‘striving together’ — the true sense of competition.
3) Let go and surrender to the experience of the moment without concern for outcomes; instead strive, pursue, persist and play with abandon, surrendering to the game or challenge.
Spirituality is a vital aspect to the human experience and can be found in almost any human endeavour. The feeling of being at one with whatever you’re doing, producing seemingly effortless results allows for moments of serenity, joy and transcendence; and perhaps the attainment of the Holy Grail.
Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit a-roamingbodyworker.com