Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category
My three year quest to complete an Ironman triathlon was a process of personal transformation through perseverance in the face of adversity. My experience is filled with lessons that you can use in the service of achieving your own goals.
I have been an active triathlete for the past eleven years. The attraction of the sport for me is primarily the lifestyle of being active outdoors, in nature. For the first eight years, I competed in a number of events annually, including Olympic Distance and Half Ironman length races (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). Three years ago, I felt a spontaneous, intense desire to “go long:” to compete at an Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). The motivation to achieve this goal felt like a calling: to complete an initiatory ordeal; to realize my full potential mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
In 2007, I joined the San Francisco Bay Area Ironteam, sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I was drawn to the power of the group, as a medium for transformation. As well, it was very meaningful to me to raise funds for the Society, as a larger context for my individual mission.
Have you ever noticed that the higher you set your sights, the greater the obstacles you encounter? This most definitely was the nature of my experience. Over the three years that it took me to achieve my goal, I had to overcome myriad physical, psychological and spiritual challenges.
Early in my training with Ironteam, I became hypothermic (cold) following a swim in San Francisco Bay. I required resuscitation in a heated car. This experience occurred three times. I would become delirious, requiring active rescue and support. Each such occurrence caused increasing consternation for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I started training individually with an open water swimming coach, on a weekly basis. He taught me a number of strategies for creating and maintaining body heat.
In March, 2007, following an intensive day of 11 hours of training, I became hyponatremic (low salt level in the blood). This event felt like a near death experience. I became acutely delirious, requiring hospitalization. The following day, after being discharged from the hospital with persistent low sodium levels, I fell at night, sustaining an ugly head laceration and transient loss of consciousness. At this point, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society both kicked me off their Ironteam, and withdrew my name as a participant at our target event, Ironman Canada. I elected to complete the arduous “race phase” training on my own. I contested my right to compete at Ironman Canada, eventually traveling to the event, fully prepared to race. I was not permitted to compete. The race organizers were loath to complicate their strained relationship with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, by allowing me to race that year.
The following year, I trained once again for the same event, on my own, with the individual support of a triathlon coach, and my open water swimming coach. I made it to the event, completed the swim and the bike, but elected to drop out of the race at mile 15 of the run, due to dehydration.
Last year, once again training alone, but older and wiser, I finally completed the race. It was a thrilling day, a true “peak experience.”
The primary psychological barrier that I had to overcome was my unconscious belief that I needed to be rescued (reenacted repeatedly, as described above). A more subtle version of this belief was manifested in my tendency towards dependence on my Ironteam teammates. I would look to them for continual support and reassurance, rather than taking full responsibility for my own performance.
The magnitude of the challenge that I took on forced me to dig deep, in order to persevere. Contemplating the rigors of such a grueling day requires the development of an “Iron will,” both to overcome all self-doubt, as well as to prevail undaunted despite the potential negative influence of other people. There were those who questioned my ability to achieve my goal, and others who actively obstructed my progress towards this end.
Spirit is both deeper and greater than “will.” I developed an experience of oneness with an invincible spirit, a spirit that could not be broken by adversity. We are all imbued with this spirit, this force beyond ourselves. We are not, however, always aware of it, or able to draw strength from this invisible means of support.
My hope in sharing this story is that my experience might offer you some techniques for achieving your own goals:
- Listen to your intuition in setting meaningful goals for yourself.
- Make an unshakeable commitment to doing whatever it takes to persevere.
- Use every setback as an opportunity for learning and for self-development.
- Take total responsibility for your own performance.
- Recruit able helpers.
- Develop self-reliance.
- Identify your own self-defeating beliefs. Work tirelessly to overcome them.
- Use positive self-talk to generate self-confidence.
- Insulate yourself from the negative influence of those who would wish to oppose or to undermine you.
- Visualize your successful achievement of your goals.
- Believe in yourself.
- Trust and draw strength from a spirit larger than yourself.
Sport energizes the psyche and uplifts the spirit.
Sport and Psyche
One of my favorite runs is at Point Reyes National Seashore. This is a national park, a wilderness peninsula, north of San Francisco. The run ascends a mountain, continues along a ridge, descends to the ocean, proceeds along a coastal trail, climbs a steep bluff to a dramatic lookout point and finally returns to the trail head by way of a path through an evergreen forest. As I run, my psyche is filled with light, with the scent of the ocean, with the sight of hawks circling overhead. My spirit is recharged with the primal energy of nature.
Do you have similar experiences? Are you caught in the rut of your daily routine? Do you feel run down?
Craig Valentine, a well known public speaker, is fond of the saying, “change small, change often.” If you are sedentary, start your activity program gradually. At first, engage in one of your favorite activities for 5-10 minutes per day. As you gain strength and stamina, increase your active time incrementally to one hour per day, six days a week.
As your fitness improves, so will your confidence, energy and self esteem. Increased health and longevity will be added to your blessings.
Sport and Spirit
Sport is a portal to the realm of spirit.
Seven years ago, I ran a half marathon in Death Valley. This is a surreally beautiful, other worldly wonderland in Southern California. The run traversed Titus Canyon, a narrow cleft through steeply rising cliffs. As the hundred runners spread out along the course, we were each alone, surrounded by shimmering light. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of ancient Native American petroglyphs (rock art), high up on the cliff to my right. These drawings were used in healing rituals by tribal healers, or shamans. Time stood still. The veil separating past from present, matter from spirit, grew very thin.
Have you lost your connection to the realm of spirit? Does your spirit soar? Do you feel at one with creation?
Take your physical activity, your sport, into nature. Quiet your mind. Open yourself fully to sensory impressions. Doing so will stop your inner chatter about past and future.
Your spirit will expand. You will feel supported by the “ground of being.” You will be “at one” with nature, with the Great Spirit.
Being active in nature is a tonic for both psyche and spirit. You will find peace, tranquility, energy and inspiration. You will “shuffle off the mortal coil” of deadening routine and endless rumination. You will be fully present in the moment.
As T.S. Eliot wrote in “Burnt Norton”:
“Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now,
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.”
On Wednesday, December 2, 2009 from 8-9 PM PDT, Dr. John Deri, a Psychiatrist in Mill Valley, CA will share his Blog Talk Radio Show: Healthy Mind and Body with Brant Secunda and Mark Allen.
Mark Allen, a six-time Ironman World Champion and Brant Secunda, a Shaman and healer published a book “Fit Soul, Fit Body”. During the Radio show they will discuss how we can become truly fit from the inside out and experience joy, happiness, and fulfillment like never before.
Mark and Brant know how to get people into the best shape of their lives- both mentally and physically. They have been motivating and inspiring people for decades. Brant and Mark continue to work together at events and retreats teaching a unique roadmap for fostering optimal health, happiness, and wellbeing. Many people around the world learn from them how to live a healthy life filled with lasting joy, happiness, and contentment.
During the show they will discuss:
➢ Fitness is not just for elite athletes, or even for people who regularly work out. It starts with emotional and spiritual wellbeing, which provide the foundation for attaining a fit body.
➢ How you can improve your diet, fitness, and strength, and find a renewed connection with the environment and the natural world.
➢ When you learn to manage stress successfully, to replace negative qualities with positive ones, and to make a spiritual connection to both your inner and outer environment, you begin to trust in life.
➢ How anything is possible when you discover the power to heal.
Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition of Mexico. He completed a twelve-year apprenticeship with Don José Matsuwa, the renowned Huichol Shaman who lived to be 110 years old and who adopted Brant as his grandson. Alongside other dignitaries including President Jimmy Carter, Brant cofounded the Peace University in Berlin, and is a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild.
Mark Allen is a six-time Ironman World Champion. He has been called “The World’s Fittest Man” by Outside magazine and “The Greatest Triathlete of All Time” by Triathlete magazine. He attributes his success to his ongoing studies with Brant Secunda, who showed him how to find fitness not only in physical strength but in the power of personal spirit and balanced living.
To listen to the show you can:
Dial the phone in telephone number at (347) 989-0560
Tune in to our online channel at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Healthy-Mind-Body
Dr. John Deri
Psychiatrist, Mill Valley, CA
I have been a triathlete for the past ten years. My life has been transformed. Triathlon is my wellspring for the renewal of my energy, vitality and spirit.
Triathlon is sometimes referred to as multisport. As an event, it includes three components: swim, bike and run, always in this order. There are four different formats for the race, with respect to distance: Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman and Ironman. For several years, I competed in a number of the first three kinds of races, annually. This year, I completed my first Ironman triathlon, in Canada. This event consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.
As a lifestyle, triathlon training immerses me in nature. For me, this union with nature is a source of inner peace. The regular physical activity relieves me of stress, and recharges my energy. The cross training among the three sports heightens my vitality. This vitality pervades every cell of my body, and every moment of my day. Endurance athletics is a portal to the realm of spirit. The longer the duration of the activity, the closer I feel to a transcendent state.
For me, triathlon is a spiritual practice, and a way of life. I have the opportunity to explore, to extend and to transcend my limits, drawing on the strength of a Higher Power. Fear dissolves into faith.
Triathlon is an alchemical process, whereby my physical body and psychological experience undergo spiritual transfiguration:
“All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity, and takes firm root in the cosmic order.”*
I emerge purified, expanded and ready to engage in my work as a psychiatrist.
*The I Ching, Hexagram #50, The Caldron. Wilhelm/Baynes edition, Princeton University Press, 1967, p. 194.
I have just returned from Penticton, BC, where I completed a triathlon called Ironman Canada. The event consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run.
Contemplating the magnitude of these distances in the aggregate would be completely daunting and overwhelming. The only way to survive, and to experience the exhilaration of the day, is to be completely focused in the moment.
Lisa Bentley, a renowned triathlete, gave a motivational talk the day before the event. She suggested that, in each moment, we ask ourselves: “Am I doing the very best that I can right now?”
This mode of living is a virtual prescription for peace of mind. Most anxiety has as its source some past trauma, or an apprehension about the future. Similarly, depression is often the result of accumulated regret, or pessimism regarding the future.
Living in the moment is contingent on continuous presence and awareness. If you find your mind wandering off into the past or the future, gently refocus your attention on the “now.”
Living fully in each moment, without either clinging to the past, or attempting to control the future, is utterly liberating. You become optimally open and receptive to the love, beauty and perfection inherent in every moment.
As T.S. Eliot wrote, at the conclusion of his poem, Burnt Norton:
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after
If you would like assistance with living in the moment, please review my website and give me a call.