I've been thinking (oh, no! not again... I should stop thinking or starting these writings with that line) about my sport addiction. Now that I can decide myself what sports to do I've begun to ponder what makes some sports more enjoyable than others. I think that at least in my case there always seems to be a certain level of spirituality in every exercise I take. In fact, when I started to think over this subject I remembered a term, familiar from psychology classes: the flow experience. In Wikipedia flow is described to be "the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity". In this state of mind we're one hundred percent engaged to whatever we're doing and we usually feel invincible and unable to fail. I believe this powerful feeling creates a positive circle. When we feel we're good at something we do it with courage and relaxation. This usually makes us succeed since we don't try too hard and sweat about it. Now, when we notice how well we're doing we feel even better and it goes on until the flow. So flow is achievable as long as we believe in ourselves and enjoy. It's quite clear that after having the flow experience we're eager to feel it again and therefore we choose to do the same thing over and over again in order to find the flow.
And now that I wrote it down it seems crystal clear. It's not really surprising that people want to spend their time doing things they feel they're good at, things that bring them happiness.
We all search the flow.
But I like giving things silly names and so I'll name my sport-flow a sportgasm. I have already a musical orgasm and a fangasm which have been named by other people.
Okay, it seems I'm once again reaching the point where I loose control over my thoughts and this text becomes even more obscure than it was in the beginning because my fingers are three hundred times slower than my mind and I forget to finish my sentences before they are three rows long. But let's try to ignore it.
Where was I?
Right, the spiritual aspect of sport. My favourite sports are dance; especially modern dance, yoga, pilates, jogging and snowboarding.
With snowboarding the thrill is to overcome my fear for heights and losing control over the speed. It's balancing between the excitement and the real fear.
Jogging gives me space and time to let my mind wonder. I don't need to concentrate on anything other than running in the right direction and not stamping on dog shit. It's releasing and sort of regenerative. Jogging is easy and nice and when activating my body I also activate my mind. A bunch of great and not-so-great ideas can pop up in my mind during one hour's jogging exercise. Whether I put them into practice is another thing.
Then pilates. It depends on the day's mood how spiritual that thing is to me. Actually, I think the fun of pilates is more in finding the control over some muscles that aren't in sight. It's gratifying to find for example contact with pelvis muscles and to be able to deliver the movement from there instead of using all the big muscles in legs, torso and arms. It requires a lot of concentration and persistence to learn how to use the core muscles and you're never too good at it.
Originally yoga was developed to make people content by learning to let go of thinking and worrying. It was in the beginning all about meditation and the physicality came only after that. Thus it would be weird no to think yoga as a combination of body and mind. Yoga is different from other sports in many ways. It's not really a sport but a physical-mental activity or something. There's no goal in it. You don't do it for anyone else but you, nor does it matter how do yo look like, how elegant your poses are. The only thing that matters is the moment that you live. If you stumble or fall it's fine. There's no rush. All you have to do is to listen to your body, respect it and keep the connection between body and mind as strong as you can. And after every exercise you just let go of it, forget it. It's already past and there's no point in clinging on it.
I could write an essay about this matter and it would sound like complete freaky flower-child guff so I'll just stop here and spare whoever is possibly reading this.
My re-found, long lost love, dancing, is a perfect combination of all the elements I value the most in sports. It's physically challenging, the strength is in the core muscles while the limbs should feel detached to the body. When the muscles learn the choreography you can focus on your mind and create the connection with the body. Then there's emotion, which arises from the music and completes the experience. And one can never be good enough. There's always something to learn more and to improve. It's also social: there's a teacher and other dancers in the room. You get help, critic and compliment. You can learn from others' mistakes as well as your own ones. An now I'm only thinking of modern dance.
It's a little different if you dance in a club. There it's just the music and the feeling. There it doesn't matter whether your moves are graceful or generally considered beautiful because in truth everyone is beautiful when dancing as long as they enjoy it themselves an let the music and the feeling guide them.
I could write an essay about that one too.
It's so much easier to write about these things because when I try to speak of them it more often than not sounds like ... well, freaky flower-child guff.
So, everyone get up, dance, blow pink soap bubbles, chant 'om' and think hippie!