Endurance races and spirituality?

As I search more and more among psychologists and philosophers, I discover more and more material that deals with running and spirituality. I first noticed this when I started reading more of what Timothy Olson says, lives, and does. Slowly more and more information accumulated.

I first tried to understand what Spirituality is, because me and spirituality is something I can not connect, at least not consciously, certainly not to its New Age format (without offending anyone). According to the different dictionaries there are different definitions of the concept and it is defined as:

  • The quality of engaging in the human or soul spirit as opposed to material or physical things. “Changing priorities allows us to embrace our spirituality more deeply”
  • Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or feeling or belief that there is something greater than me, something more in being human than a sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are a part is cosmic or divine in nature (Dr. Maya Spencer, Royal College of Psychiatrists)
  • And if you rely on Wikipedia: Spirituality is a general name for a number of approaches according to which the world is not just about space, energy, time, and consciousness, and that there are other characteristics of existence such as purpose, soul, reward, reward and punishment, karma, destiny, spirits and often deity. Or at least a certain supreme power (which is not necessarily defined as The terms mind and consciousness are sometimes mentioned in essays related to the concept of spirituality and are given various interpretations there, although they are also very much explored in the scientific discourse (especially in the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology). “divine”). Most spiritual views see spiritual life as primary and material, physical, and external life as secondary in importance. But there are also spiritual movements that emphasize the divine existence on the one hand and the material existence on the other, when the material side is the realization of the divine and one should not run away from it. Many spiritual views rely on belief in the existence of a transcendental (transcendental) reality like God or the afterlife, and some on other abstract ideas.

Mark Bloom wrote in Runners World in 2006 about running as a “religion” and quoted George Sheehan as saying that lifting was “a place to communicate with God and yourself, a place for psychological and spiritual renewal”. In his way he mentions that churches, synagogues, mosques or temples, are not defined by their four walls but by the people who share a faith and come to rejoice in it to themselves or to share it with others. Thus, he quotes Warren Kay, a field running coach and professor of theology and religion, who says that “the spiritual benefits available in running – appreciating nature, developing relationships with others, seeing how things in the universe connect, meditation – can calm the mind, facilitate observation. In, and help you be better and whole. “

He tells of great runners like Scott Jurek, who refer to the contribution of his meditative approach in running to his success in the race. “When I go out running I call it ‘turning off the noise,'” Gork says, “some people solve problems or listen to music. I try to focus on my body and enjoy my environment. It helps me in racing. I’m able to go on autopilot and push hard moments. People will ask, ‘How did you do that?’ And there is really no explanation, it’s spiritual. ” According to Bloom, this heightened state of consciousness that Jurek describes is “Zen running” or “entering the area” as much as he is spiritual. The concepts and value are the same: Running “in an instant” with a greater sense of awareness and appreciation can make you a stronger and safer runner and perhaps a more satisfied person, in general.

In Adam Alter’s article “The Spiritual Life of the Long Distance Runner” by The New Yorker (2015) he talks about the “Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race”. Interestingly, he describes that psychologists, when thinking about motivation, often distinguish between two types of motivations. There are external motives, like money and praise, and internal motives, like spiritual well-being. Plenty of experiences combine the two. But the runners and organizers of the Sri Chinmoi race are deeply committed to substantive motives. In fact, if you want to run, you need to explain your motives in the app. (You also need to be an experienced multi-day runner.) “We need to make sure they can get along with other people, and that they are not driven only by personal fame. We are looking for runners who want to test themselves, and who want to run the race for harmony and balance.” One of the organizers of the race.

One of the runners, Alto, told him he ran to train his brain, and in general spirituality seems to motivate many ultra-marathon runners. Another runner, Trishul Cherns, has run the thirty-one-hundred-mile race three times, and holds a number of Canadian ultra-marathon records. “In my experience, the spiritual side of running an ultra marathon is pretty universal,” he says. “Even the best multi-day runners in the world have a strong spiritual side. And for me, it’s a spiritual journey. I start listening to music, and then I go out into the area. It becomes an extended form of meditation.”

Alter explains that psychologists do not just distinguish between two types of motivation. They also identify two types of well-being: happiness, which is a positive, momentary, and meaningful emotional nuance, the sense that a person’s life has a broad value and purpose. Of particular interest is the study he cites as part of the explanation… Alter recounts that psychologists Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Wes, Jennifer Acker and Emily Garbinski interviewed nearly four hundred adults about the distinction between happiness and meaning. They found that the two did not always overlap. In fact, people report that negative events and personal struggles, while making life less happy, make them more meaningful. A major difference is that while happiness is focused on the present, Significance looks ahead; It pushes people to persevere through unpleasantness in hopes of greater reward in the distant future. So it could be that in the broadest sense, ultra-marathoners are driven by something more secular than spirituality – they may be hungry for meaning, in general.

He also honestly does not shy away from the possibility that long-distance runners may have different tendencies than others. Some people prefer extreme emotional ups and downs, while others prefer emotional stability. This “feeling sensation” personality dimension exists among extreme sports enthusiasts who tend to “get a higher optimal level of stimulation”. Therefore, they are willing to endure the prolonged discomfort of an ultra marathon in exchange for the scattered moments of extreme joy that come during and after the race. Perhaps ultra runners yearn, and are filled with energies, from extremes of elation, exhaustion, suffering and joy. This is while other people tend to prefer consistency over emotional extremes.

In Alter’s view, that tiny minority of ultra-marathoners expresses a psychological tendency that many of us are familiar with. In the developed world, many of us spend the vast majority of our lives in a comfortable balance. We are rarely hungry, or frozen, or physically exhausted. We wonder when to upgrade our smartphones, consider a second course of dessert, and ask ourselves if we should run four or five miles tomorrow morning. Faced with a series of these superficial decisions, many people become introverted. They begin to wonder if their lives are meaningful. At the same time, they feel that meaning comes from the margins of human experience – that it flourishes in times of great joy, pain, frustration or difficulty. For this reason, even those who have won feel compelled to woo new challenges. Some pursue meaning in a different way: running, running and running more.

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