Kay Stroud, my colleague from Australia, shares a wonderful example of even children understanding the natural connection between sports and spirituality. Kay’s blog was first published in the Sunshine Coast Daily on September 13, 2017.
As we talked through the half-time state of play of his soccer match, my grandson expressed an openness to some helpful ideas I shared with him. He went back on and scored a goal immediately, and soon after I saw him patting a team-mate on the back following a similar success.
Rather than counselling on techniques or from a sports psychology perspective, I’d focussed his attention on the spiritual nature of the game: had he noticed that when they worked together as a team quite a big change occurred? I shared how love for individual team members and joy in the game itself is what brings success. When he felt a teammate wasn’t working as a team-player my grandson could go out of his way to applaud his efforts, even if his mate wasn’t reciprocating yet. On this otherwise unremarkable Saturday morning, a spiritual approach to his soccer match had transformed his game, and the score.
The extensive scholarly literature about sport and spirituality reports experiences by many thousands of athletes, with and without religious affiliations, that are frequently described as spiritual. They are collectively called “being in the zone.” Sports psychologist, Mark Nesti, has identified that spiritual experiences in sport have much in common with feelings of intense love.
Learning how love, joy, compassion, strength, balance and respect lead to sports success is important. Even more important, is to know that the source of our ability to express them is divine. Athletes who know this might practise these five essentials.