BALANCE AND PASSION
PAOLO LEZZELLE draws simple parallels between the Heartfulness system and sport in this article focusing primarily on balance, relaxation, feeling, joy and passion.
I wish to draw some simple parallels between aspects of the Heartfulness practices and sport, although to really do justice to this would require a long time and extensive research, because each reflection seems to attract another one. So the themes presented in this series are approached in general terms, since the peculiarities of any single sport are innumerable. The implicit invitation to sports people of all kinds and levels is to start these practices and dive deeper into Heartfulness to find the hidden pearls.
The goal of Yoga is the condition of balance. It is difficult to achieve because it is not a defined, fixed, and constant condition that we can acquire. It rather seems to be something which constantly eludes us. The more we try to make it a concrete thing, the more it slips away from us. It’s one of the innumerable mysteries of the spiritual quest. Balance exists, or rather it can exist in anything, but it does not exist by itself, per se. Wonderful!
Similarly, in sport, balance is critical. Here too it is the goal par excellence. It is made up of many things, a lot of qualities put together; while in another way, it’s made up of nothing at all! To feel that we are in balance means to feel that this “nothing” is so perfect in itself that we are in need of nothing else.
Total balance, in sport and in the spiritual context, is therefore very difficult to preserve in time, because it is a light and intangible condition.
Many of us have already experienced the surprise and gratitude that result from extraordinary experiences in meditation – sometimes in the form of very subtle spirit, other times in the form of a true opening to higher knowledge, to where our limit permits. But alas! We are also familiar with the inability to keep those conditions for any period of time, for many reasons. A sad waste indeed.
In sport it is the same. Be it a fast- or long-duration sport, it’s the condition of focus and full involvement that makes the difference. We try to allow this condition to take hold of us and let it act by itself, on our behalf, so to say. In sport, as in music, it is called being “in the flow,” letting what is beautiful in us manifest freely.
If meditation is a constant education in higher perception, practice in sport is the preparation to be ready in any sense for competition, the true testing ground of our attainment.
The Heartfulness method speaks of technique, perseverance and sincere commitment, but most of all it speaks of feelings. Were our feelings not our major guides, it would be an empty container, and sooner or later it would become a sterile, boring routine.
Putting together technique and sensitive introspection is not a simple job. Some people find it easier to rely on one approach, others prefer the other way. If we think about the evolution of the innumerable training methods of the last twenty years, we find that they seem to swing between two opposite extremes – technical improvement on one side and incentive to inner perception on the other. In the middle is a bit of everything.
A high-level athlete can draw what they need in the moment, relying on pure instinct as well as on specific acquired capacities. Throughout this process, a relaxed condition is an important prerequisite.
All sports need a basal condition of relaxation. By this, I don’t mean comfortable and passive inactivity, either mental or physical, for example, when we are sunbathing. On the contrary, it’s being in a clear and tranquil state of presence to whatever happens inside and around us. It is not by chance that in Heartfulness we have a technique of relaxation to be performed before meditation.
Most sports require the right mix of strength, endurance, reactivity, fluency, and much more. These are needed both in practice and competition.
Most sports require the right mix of strength, endurance, reactivity, fluency, and much more. These are needed both in practice and competition. Furthermore, we need the Queenly ability – the ability to change. I would say that this is an art more than an ability. Getting out of our comfort zone, finding new motivation to train at the next level, looking for different strategies in competition … few sportspeople have a natural talent for these assets, though they can learn with serious dedication.
We need to change to improve. Yes, but it is easier said than done! Unfortunately, we know how much our habits and complexities keep us stagnating in the same trends, despite our efforts. In the sporting field, this often happens because we make the mistake of seeking change only through hard work and extreme abnegation.
Work is essential, of course, but the way is another: There is no real change without joy and passion. Even at the level of the nervous system, it’s only pleasure that brings forth the acceptance of new modalities, not fatigue. Undesired efforts and exhausting training sessions can give good results in the short term (though with an extensive amount of energy that sooner or later will present the bill), but it’s only passion that makes barriers appear exciting and makes the long road look like a joyful and enriching journey.
For a practitioner committed to the spiritual quest, and for athletes who give themselves totally to the sport, to be in the condition of balance is like piercing effortlessly through a hurdle-ridden maze, always pointing higher despite results.
All this and much more comes under the umbrella of balance. To perceive it as a strength having its own life within us, guiding us out into the world, is true manna. For a practitioner committed to the spiritual quest, and for athletes who give themselves totally to the sport, to be in the condition of balance is like piercing effortlessly through a hurdle-ridden maze, always pointing higher despite results.
Article by PAOLO LEZZELLE
Paolo has been a tennis instructor in Italy for 25 years and is an international ATP coach. He has also been a Heartfulness practitioner for 30 years. His passions include physical activity in nature, writing and rock music.