Mature Athletes, Sport and the Higher Life

By David Meggyesy                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Many of us older individuals, sixty years and older, are engaging full-tilt in various sports, hatha yoga, and going to the gym. My sport these days is sculling. We understand how our vitality and sense of aliveness is pinned to rigorous physical activity. For most of us that means engaging in a sport or athletic activity which cultivates a felt sense of being strong, supple, and in shape. We intuitively know that this feeling connects us with the deeper dimensions of Reality and Life itself. We do not buy the notion that aging means inactivity, wearing us down to a resigned, stultifying attitude of discomfort. When we leave the planet we want to be at the top of our game.

Forty-five years ago Mike Murphy, co-founder of the Esalen Institute and author of the best-selling book Golf in the Kingdom, coined the phrase, “Sport is our emerging western yoga.” Mike’s opus The Future of the Body extends our understanding and possibilities of our human evolution, with sport being an obvious expression of our evolving Human Potential. Mike saw the sport/ consciousness/human potential connection.

What this means is sport can be seen and experienced as a conscious process, a powerful practice to explore Consciousness in all our primary human dimensions: body, emotions, mind, and Spirit. Keeping this perspective in mind, our sport and athletic experience can be expanded and deepened.

Many of us older practicing athletes are looking for ways to get better, to do our sport more gracefully, more smoothly, more efficiently, while enjoying it more. We know the pleasure of coupling effort and excellence. For some, winning is most important, while others prefer to cultivate excellence. We know that winning flows from excellence—the two go hand in hand. And better performance means more pleasure and enjoyment. It is why we do it. We like training. We all have, on occasional, tapped into the Flow or Zone state.

What has emerged in sport over the past twenty years is training for the mental side or inner game. We often hear coaches say sport performance is 90% mental and 10% physical. Yet how often do coaches teach this mental side? Or for those of us who are self-taught, how many of us ever do inner-game training?

What we do know now is that basic consciousness-training practices, such as meditation, visualization, tapping, and a host of others, enhances performance and enjoyment of our athletic experience and particular sport. Top-end coaches such as Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson, and Alabama football coach Nick Sabin incorporate inner-game teaching in their coaching philosophy and practice.

Inner-game training, or mental game training, is the emerging cutting edge in athletic training. It is an integral approach that includes inner-game practices in all that we do to sustain our sport practice.

Join us at Dominican College in San Rafael, CA on the weekend of June 10-12 for the first Sports, Energy and Consciousness Festival: Select the ‘Click for Details’ button. A number of inner-game approaches will be presented guaranteed to juice up and enhance your athletic experience for better performances, and more pleasure in your training and sport.