by Coach Steve Ilg September 15, 2016 7 min read
Don't really care if you are a rookie 5k racer, a 5.12 rock climber, a semi-pro cyclist, a just-divorced Daddy, a champion multi-sport athlete, a paralytic, or anything in between.
Cuz, your feeble teacher of nothing ilg? I've been all those and a hundred others.
What I DO care about? Is bringing your Awareness to what i call, The Four Pollutants Of A Spiritual Athlete.
Ilg trusts that you would not be reading this Here Now if you were NOT a Spiritual Athlete. Being a Spiritual Athlete is not like a Christian-thing, or a Buddha-thing or a Whatever-ism.
Being a Spiritual Athlete means being an actual Human Being instead of a Human Doing. It means, Practicing and Competing in Sports (or other Performance Activities) as a potent way of elevating our awareness and ramping up our consciousness toward Enlightenment, or at least toward Awakening. That is not a cluttered sentence. In other words, a Spiritual Athlete uses Start and Finish Lines - in whatever fashion those may take - to Rise Higher than our hurried minds, worried egos, fears, and self doubt.
I already spilled the metaphysical beans within 350-words of this Teaching!
Okay...okay...so there you have the 4 Pollutants which derail Spiritual Athletes;
When we Hurry, our Spirit suffers surely.
Take A Conscious Breath In Elegant Posture, right now.
Go on, it won't kill you.
It might however, bring Awareness to our tragically weird tendency to HURRY!
ilg hears my Beloved Sensei Kishiyama's words whispered into my ear as i attempted to learn his fluid, graceful, athletically challenging "Go Ju Kido Karaté" kata's (Dance Forms) next to Boulder Creek, in Boulder, Colorado in the early '80s; "Whenever you can relax more deeply, you will perform better."
Thing is, most athletes hurry all the time. We hurry so we can 'make our workout' all the time which chronically frays our neuro-hormonal systems. Have you ever hurried so much that when you finally were staging for the Start Gun to go off you were thinking, "Oh my God, I just realized how freakin' fatigued I am from LIFE! Now, I'm supposed to thrown down a podium-attaining race? Hec, I feel more like racing home and climbing back into bed!" Most of us detonate our optimal performances long before the Start Line by hurrying, rushing, and pushing the river of everyday life instead of just slowing down and flowing with It All.
Coaching Counsel: Establish an Early Morning Ritual. In Wholistic Fitness® we have several such Rituals ranging from one to twenty-minutes or longer. An Early Morning Ritual may be as simple as brushing our teeth in a yogi squat using our non-dominant hand. Or a quick Pranayam (Yogic breathing exercise) or even using chopsticks as slowing-down vehicles for our hurried minds.
Don't Worry, doing so won't help anyway!
Black Elk, one of our most precious Native American warrior/teachers said, "Peace comes within the souls of men when they realize their oneness with the universe." Worrying divorces us from our innate state of wholeness with the Dance of Life. Overthinking is the root causation of Worry. When the Start Gun goes off, many of us regain an intimate, if not Sacred, sense of interconnectedness. A deep sense of belonging replaces longing for this or that. As our breath and heart rates increase during a race or in training, our sense of coming back h(om)e increases commensurately. Why is this? Because Athletes are the Warriors of the past. By competing we re-lease our Warrior Lineage and it feels so appropriate. So beautiful. So fulfilling. Don't worry about competing! Embrace Gratitude for having Awoken in this incarnation to realize the necessity of competition, not the luxury of it! Why would anyone stress over being Graced With Gratitude?!
Coaching Counsel: Set your cell phone or watch to beeper every 45 minutes. Upon hearing the beeper, take note of your posture, your breath, and whatever you are worrying about. You may be astonished at how much of our wild and precious days we spend in Worry! Just bringing Awareness to our volumes of Worry will help transform it Higher. In Wholistic Fitness® practice, this beeper-awareness technique is known as a "Beeper Guru."
Fear = Ego-based Distrust of the Universe
There is a story from ancient China about a warlord who murdered women, kids, and anyone or thing that dare stop his marauding ways. During a pillage, the warlord sent a warrior to recon an upcoming hamlet. Upon his return to the camp the warrior said that the whole town had heard about his coming and evacuated their homes, frightened for their lives. "Except one monk," reported the recon warrior. This angered the warlord so much that he immediately took his fastest horse and most cruel weapons to slay this 'fearless monk'. Galloping into town, the monstrous warlord saw the little old monk in the main roadway. "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?!?," the warlord thundered over him from atop his giant steed brandishing a gleaming sword with dried blood on the handle, "WHY I COULD SEVER YOUR ARMS AND LEGS WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE!" The monk replied, "And don't you know who i am? I could WATCH you sever my arms and legs with a smile on my face!" Upon hearing the fearlessness of the monk's spiritual integrity, the warlord dismounted, laid his sword at the monk's feet and begged to become his disciple.
Recently, i re-visited Eldorado Canyon, near Boulder, Colorado where in my younger years, I spent a decade as a sponsored rock climber. In those years, i climbed from the spirit within me and danced upon those beautiful vertical and overhanding sandstone spires every day. So freeflowing was my climbing that i would often leave my rope behind, as i floated up difficult routes surrounded by cliff swallows and hawks plying the ethers above and below me. The growing abyss beneath my climbing shoes never bothered me, although one wrong move out of a million would have sent me crashing into the canyon's floor at 62-feet per second.
Upon my revisit, i could not believe how steep, formidable, and intimidating where those walls that i had always thought of as being friendly, low-angle, and inviting! My fingertips were beading up with sweat at the mere thought of venturing up the more difficult routes! What had happened!?
My ego happened. Decades had passed without me technical climbing. I fathered a chi-ld. I had more possessions, more responsibilities now. I was no longer a free-spirited climber living in the basement of my parents house. The more ego-constructs we have, the more Fear is born. Most of us are not using our 'training' for preparation for what happens when we cannot inhale again; when we enter the Bardo. The fright of death cloaks even the most arrogant human when he/she struggles for another inhale.
We fear so many things that are just fabrications of our Ego.
Coaching Counsel: Meditation is the glue that not only holds all the other fitness disciplines together (strength, cardio, yoga, and nutrition), it is also the main weaponry against the Ego which specializes in 'scarcity complexes.' Obbessive, sport-specific training and competing can often create more egoic constructs which leads to stagnation of spirit and destroys inner elegance. Even meditating three-minutes a day will help de-construct the Ego. One proven technique is to simply sit cross-legged on our Earth, spine elegant, and watch the breath. Label each in breath with an "Om" and count each out breath sequentially. When the wandering mind (the Ego) pulls attention away from the in and/or out flowing breath, simply bring it back to the counting. This produces one-pointed Awareness, a huge benefit for all Spiritual Athletes.
Weakness Houses Our Real Strength
To scrub our Higher Selves clean of Self-Doubt may seem impossible for some. Many generations of parents have created a society of men and women who were raised hearing, "Children are to be seen and not heard!" or we were made to feel that our opinions didn't matter because were 'just a stupid kid.'
Intensity and Endurance sharpens Self-Doubt making competitive athletics an ideal spiritual training opportunity; the peleton shatters and splinters as the miles and the speed and the attacks are ramped up. Only those with zero Self-Doubt will podium. In my High Performance Yoga® classes, i sense clearly the unique internal obstacles which confront my students as i challenge their capacities in strength and suppleness. I can feel their stronger Higher Mind fading into the Self-Doubt of their weaker, Lower Mind. "Most of you are stronger than your Faith in your strength!" i often re-Mind them as the Sacred Sweat drips onto our mats. Only when we Awaken to the point of standing-under (understanding) our weaknesses can we then discover our authentic strength. Stay addicted to our comforts and we keep getting what we've already got. For lifetimes, perhaps, we stagnate spiritually for the sake of perceived comfort due to Self-Doubt.
Coaching Counsel: Mantra is the proven pathway through Self-Doubt. A fractured mind seeds Self-Doubt. Mantra means, Mind Protecting. What does a Mantra protect us from? The weaker, lower egoic mind (Ahamkara). What is a Mantra? It is a syllable-based Blessing of an incarnation, Transmitted to a sincere spiritual warrior or warrioress by one's Guru or Teacher within their spiritual Lineage. The repetition of a Blessed Mantra destroys mental weakness, bonds a fractured mind, fortifies spiritual integrity, and can function as an Astral Conduit of the Divine Power which is unimaginably more powerful than muscles and oxygen.
Imagine for a m(om)ent what your day might be like without these Four Mental Pollutants. Imagine Hurry, Worry, Fear, and Self-Doubt erased from your day!
Now imagine what your next SPORT PERFORMANCE might be like without these Four Mental Pollutants clogging up your Divine Power within!
coach steve ilg
by Dr. David Minkoff
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