Sri Chinmoy on how meditation can benefit athletes
By Sri Chinmoy
As well as being a fitness pioneer, Sri Chinmoy conducted peace meditations at the United Nations for 37 years. Here are some of his writings on how meditations can benefit athletes:
Inner peace gives us inner strength
When we meditate, we make our mind calm and quiet. If inside us there is peace, then we will derive tremendous strength from our inner life. That is to say, if I have a peaceful moment, even for one second, that peace will come to me as solid strength in my sports, whether I am running or jumping or throwing. That strength is almost indomitable strength, whereas if we are restless, we do not have strength like that.
Look at an elephant. An elephant has tremendous strength. It is not restless like a monkey which is moving here and there. It is exactly the same for us. In our inner life if we have the strength of an elephant, then only in our outer life can we be peaceful. A lion is very peaceful. Then when something happens, he starts roaring. But its strength is the peace that it has. It has confidence. But a monkey and other animals that are very, very restless, what kind of strength do they have? Meditation gives us inner strength. Once we have inner strength, we are bound to be successful in our outer life.
Through meditation we can find peace, and once we have peace of mind, impossibility cannot exist for us.
An infinite source of power
Because of our limited mind, because of our doubting mind, because of our suspicious mind, we have limited ourselves and we always think that we cannot go farther, deeper or higher. We are stationed at one place. There is no hope for us to come out of this mental prison. But no, we can come out on the strength of our prayer and meditation and fly in the sky of Infinity.
The physical mind has to be transcended by inner prayer. When you can transcend the limitations of the mind, at every moment you can perform so-called miracles. In the inner world, however, there are no such things as miracles. They exist there as realities. We bring them down into the material world to prove that there is something called inner power.
We can draw upon the cosmic energy by entering into our deeper consciousness, the all-pervading consciousness, which is here, there, everywhere. It is the inmost consciousness that touches the springs of the cosmic energy. If we can have a free access to our inmost consciousness, the cosmic energy is bound to come to the fore. If you go deep within, it comes like a spring, a never-failing spring. And when it comes, it permeates the whole body.
Sri Chinmoy completed 22 marathons, 5 ultras and countless sprinting and middle distance races over a career that lasted many decades. He always felt that running and meditation should go together, and that competitions and races could help one inwardly progress as long as the runner had the right attitude. Here are a selection of his writings on running and competition:
The value of competition
We cannot properly evaluate our own capacity unless we have some standard of comparison. Therefore, we compete not for the sake of defeating others but in order to bring forward our own capacity. Our best capacity comes forward only when there are other people around us. They inspire us to bring forward our utmost capacity, and we inspire them to bring forward their utmost capacity. This is why we have competitive sports.
Before a race
Before the race starts, meditate most soulfully for five minutes. Try to make yourself feel that you are not the runner, but that somebody else is running in and through you. You are only the witness, the spectator. Since somebody else is running, you are at perfect liberty to watch and enjoy. While you are running, sometimes it is very difficult to enjoy the race. Either the competitive spirit or frustration is killing you, or your body is not abiding by your mental will and you feel that you are literally dying. So many problems arise.
But before you start, if you can convince yourself that you are a divine observer and that somebody else is running in you, through you and for you, then fear, doubt, frustration, anxiety and other negative forces will not be able to assail your mind. Once these thoughts occupy the mind, they try to enter into the vital and then into the physical. Once they enter into the physical, they create tension, and this makes you lose all your power of concentration. But if you feel that you are not the runner, if you feel that you are observing the race from the beginning to the end, then there will be no tension, and these forces will not attack you. This is the only way to overcome these forces and maintain the highest type of concentration from the beginning to the end.
This is what I do. Right from the beginning I try to become an instrument and feel that somebody else, my Beloved Supreme, is running in and through me. At the beginning of the race, I offer my gratitude-heart to the Supreme, and at the end, after I finish the race, I also offer my gratitude. If you can offer your soulful gratitude to your Inner Pilot before the race, during the race and after the race, then there can be no frustration, no decline of aspiration. Your aspiration and your power of concentration will remain the same throughout the race.
Coping with losing
To cope with the disappointment of losing, you have to ask yourself whether the mind is disappointed or the heart is disappointed. You will come to realise that it is your mind that is disappointed and not your heart. The mind creates division; the mind is division itself, and division is another name for pain, devastating pain. The heart, on the other hand, creates oneness; in fact, the heart is oneness itself, and oneness is another name for joy, spontaneous joy. When you live in your heart, even if your worst rival wins the race, you will not feel miserable. To your wide surprise, you will find that his joy quite unconsciously and unexpectedly will enter into you and widen your heart. Then you will feel almost the same joy that the winner feels.