Meditation for runners and athletes
1. Why should athletes meditate?
Meditation and running go together
“The outer life and the inner life always go together. The outer running inspires us to dive deep within. Again, the inner running, which is prayer and meditation, tells us to keep the body in perfect shape…we need them both in our day-to-day life for our inner and outer satisfaction.”
- Video: Sri Chinmoy speaks on sports and self-transcendence
- On this page, all text in quote marks are excerpted from Sri Chinmoy's writings.
Meditation gives us inner strength
"In sports we need energy, strength and dynamism. 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...Meditation gives us inner strength. Once we have inner strength, we are bound to be successful in our outer life."
Go beyond the limited mind
"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."
(Video: Sri Chinmoy in silent meditation)
2. How to start
Offer gratitude before you run
"If one is a seeker-athlete, then before he enters into physical activity, he should offer a few moments of gratitude to his Inner Pilot for inspiring him to become an athlete. An athlete is he who runs, who values time, who values speed and who believes in a goal that ever moves forward. There are millions and billions of people on earth who are not athletes, whereas he is. If he can offer his gratitude for that, then he increases his receptivity-power. If he increases his receptivity-power, automatically he increases his athletic capacity."
Picture: Sri Chinmoy, early years
Increasing your speed
"To a great extent, speed in running starts with the mind. You have to develop more imagination. Imagine that you are running fast and appreciate your speed. Then let the thrill and joy that you get from your imagination inundate you. This joy will increase your speed. You can also think of some people who really do run fast and try to identify yourself with them."
Picture: Sri Chinmoy sprinting, 1992, at age 61
Keeping your joy
"On a slow day, if you want to maintain the same joy that you have when you are running well, you can play a trick on yourself. Imagine that instead of being forced to run at a slower pace, you decided to run at that pace. If you feel that it is you who commanded your body to go at such a slow pace, then you will not feel miserable."
3. Cultivating the inner attitude
"I do not have any set goal; my goal is self-transcendence. I always try to transcend myself. I do not compete with the rest of the world. I compete only with myself, and I try to become a better human being. This is my ultimate goal.
Our aim is only to transcend our capacity, always to transcend our individual capacity. I will compete with you, not to beat you but to see my own capacity. My aim is to see how much I have achieved, and to transcend my own capacity."
Video: Sri Chinmoy speaks on self-transcendence
Have a goal
Always there should be a goal. Having a goal does not mean that we have to try to defeat the world’s top runners, far from it. In the spiritual life, our goal should be our own progress… In the ordinary life we compete with others to gain supremacy. But in the spiritual life, we are not in competition with others. We are only trying to transcend our own capacity.
Before a race starts
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… 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.
Video: Sri Chinmoy's advice on competition
An athlete can have peace
An athlete can have the same kind of peace as a seeker who is consciously praying and meditating for world peace. An athlete can have peace on the strength of his oneness. Before he starts his competition, he can just take a fleeting second to feel: “No matter who is first, I will be equally happy, for whoever wins is my brother or sister. If I did not run or jump, there would be no competition, so that person could not be a winner. Again, if I win, it is only because others have also run and jumped.”
4. Books, videos and resources
Sport and Meditation
In this book, spiritual teacher and athlete Sri Chinmoy talks about the inner dimension of sport. Sri Chinmoy explains how we can use meditation, mantra and a spiritual approach to sport to enhance our physical and mental training.