I often get asked if spirituality has any place in sport. Well what is spirituality and where does it start?
This week I came across this quote by a very passionate and tough New Zealand rugby player. He, to me gives the perfect answer.
The spiritual sportsman
"I never used to be a spiritual anything. In fact I used to step away from anything spiritual. But I was open to anything that would help me be a better rugby player. Spirituality was last on the list. First I studied Sports Science to learn how to be bigger and stronger and more powerful so I could be a better rugby player.
After that I studied Physiotherapy so I could learn how to fix myself faster so that I could get back on the rugby field faster. Sports science also covered psychology and sports psychology, physio also had psychology within it.
Funny thing was, although both degrees helped a lot, I still felt something was missing. Because of this I began looking in the area of spirituality to see if there was something there that could help me be better. Well, there was. I discovered through lots of reading and listening to many different ways, pointers into a part of myself that made me fearless. Because I've noticed through my career, no matter how big and strong and powerful a man is, if he has fear inside him, he will quiver when the pressure comes upon him that is greater than his mind can handle. Once I found the depth within myself, my fear dropped away, and no matter how big and strong another is, or how threatening, I am able to bring all of me without fear, and smash it.
I have witnessed fear in many a rugby player, especially when a big strong fella comes bearing in towards you at full noise, I've seen fear in action in the form of passivity, or even stepping out of the way, it's hard to win games when a fella allows the opposition to run though them, because of fear. The ultimate fear is the fear of death. I am familiar with death now, and so I don't fear it. On the rugby field, I am quite happy to fly into the biggest strongest most fierce person with everything I have, as I no longer fear death. Why? Because I know who I am. I am not this body. I am not even this mind. I am something much deeper. And I use my body and my mind as tools through which to express, and it feels way better to express full out, than not.
Physio didn't teach me how to access my heart, nor did sports science, they showed me things to put in my brain and ways to work my body, but the deeper aspect of life, the spiritual side I found through some great teachers that are not attached to any one way in particular but love all ways and are able to draw the best out of those ways and use them to point to a persons own inner magnificence, to something within that goes beyond words, or beyond belief, certainly beyond any words I have here, into something that is absolutely worth exploring and getting to know and shifting your sense of identity towards, as it is the part of you that never dies, it is the part of me that I now identify with more than my mind and body, and it is beautiful, it loves everything, and it simply understands.
I understand, and am getting better and better at helping another to understand also. To understand that aspect of themselves, the fearless, peaceful, blissful and the loving. Learn to access or even better reside in this part of you, and I can guarantee you will be a better rugby player, or anything.