Twelve years ago we celebrated the Olympics here in Sydney… the opening ceremony was fantastic, and thinking about it feels like yesterday. Amazing what thought does! Kay Stroud’s following article has got me all excited, as we wait for today’s opening ceremony in London (6am Saturday in Sydney)…
The Olympics is sure to be in your thoughts right now as our athletes line up with the world’s best in London. With around 100 athletes hailing from Queensland some would say that there must be ‘something in the water’ here. And one who excelled in the water was Kieren Perkins. When asked how he achieved such feats he answered, “Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves”.
Society as a whole is finding out at breathtaking speed that health, like sporting success, is not just about what’s going on physically but what’s happening mentally. We’re hearing a lot more about how what we believe can make an enormous difference in what we experience. We’re hearing more about the role of spirituality in health, making people better physically as well as emotionally.
Sports medicine researcher, Brian Udermann, points to strong scientific evidence suggesting that individuals who regularly participate in spiritual activities and who feel strongly that spirituality or the presence of a higher power are sources of strength and comfort are healthier and possess greater healing capabilities. He goes so far as to suggest that incorporating spirituality into training could be crucial to providing the highest quality care possible for athletes (The Effect of Spirituality on Health and Healing: A Critical Review of Athletic Trainers, Journal of Athletic Training, 2000).
Some psychiatrists support these ideas by pointing out that obsessions with fitness and weight loss are not helpful, while we overlook a yearning for meaning in life. It’s not until many elite athletes retire that they are compelled to discover real spiritual meaning to their lives. Big life changes that we all face at times, tend to promote this searching.
On the other hand, often it’s when athletes find spiritual meaning that talent and true sportsmanship unite to produce a great athlete. And we’ve seen some true ‘greats’ in Australian sporting history. The same could be said for musicians or architects or administrators.
Observe with me over the next couple of weeks how each of our Olympian athletes has progressed in this understanding, as we barrack together for the sporting and spiritual quests of “Team Oz”.
Read more examples of current research on this subject in this post, Brain not the source of thought and action after all
Blogs posts from other spiritual thinkers focusing on the Olympics: For success (and health), mind matter most by Keith Wommack The end of faster, higher, stronger? by John Yemma, editor of The Christian Science Monitor Olympic mettle: athletes who overcame barriers to get to London Inspirational stories in The Christian Science Monitor