Peter Russell defines spirituality as the quest to know ourselves, to discover the true nature of consciousness. Our true self only unfolds through spirituality and conscious efforts on our part to explore and unravel the infinite mysteries…
We take for granted our present identity, the one that our surroundings (parents, family) have given us. But the quest for spirituality helps us discover our true identity and instills hope and faith in us (Russel, 2006). The Divine path unites us with our true identity after we decide to delve in the realm of spirituality. All religions are based on spirituality and no matter how modern we may get, we always want to know our religion’s teachings for matters of our interest, though we might not abide by the religious teachings. These matters can be our passions like music and sports. It is interesting to find out what religion has to say about sports and if there is any linkage between spirituality and sports. Something which is spiritual, touches us deeply from within, gives us peace and motivation to go on. All the successful athletes went for their passion because they found contentment and peace in the sport of their choice. It is difficult to perceive a relationship between sports and spirituality (though it exists for sure), because violence, aggression and anger is seen in sportsmen while they are battling to win the game. As per a renowned psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (who happens to be a chess player as well), sports let us be in a state of ‘flow’. This is an active state where a sportsman is just focused on the game and does not heed his surroundings. This flow state is an active state because both our mental and physical energies are devoted to just one thing: the game. Also, we are so engrossed in sports that during playing, all our worldly worries seem to drift away and we find an escape from daily tensions and stress. Other activities such as watching television are passive because they do not require one to be directly involved and concentrate solely on one thing (Taylor, 2002, Spring). Athletes drift into a passionate trance, where they relax and find serenity as sports soothe the nerves, no matter how strenuous they might be. Flow is very much similar to the dharana state of yoga which literally means concentration. The similarity is justified; because sports require 100% concentration otherwise one slipping can make you lose. Once in a state of flow, there are chances that it might deepen and the sportsman moves into a state very much similar to dhiyana (meditation state of yoga) and all of a sudden, the player’s performance improves so much that he can turn the game around. But in dhyana (referred to as the Zone by sportsmen), everything slows down so that the player is better able to think and then charge at the opponents. The zone is a transient phase and only the most professional and expert sportsmen are able to fall in it and give their best shot (Taylor, 2002, Spring). Sometimes, extraordinary and phenomenal things tend to happen that leave a mark in the minds of the spectators who are totally awed after experiencing a great feat, when players are in the state of dhyana; for instance runners feel as if they are airborne, light and highly energized during ‘tipping’ (dhyana-like state). Some sportsmen also claim that during such a phase, they can see through their bodies. These are psychic experiences and the players manage to give commendable performance during them; but there are chances that a lot of people will question the validity of these experiences. But only a genuine sportsman can verify whether these experiences are really spiritual or make-believe. After dhyana, sportsmen sometimes enter into samadhi (state of union with the divine), where they feel extremely elated: hence we can conclude that sports are a spiritual practice as it corresponds to the three states of yoga dharana, dhyana and samadhi (Taylor, 2002, ...
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