Health And Well Being
States, Traits, And Meditation
(By Nate Boyden)
Soccer is many things for many people. That’s a beautiful aspect of the game. At its roots it aims to improve the health and lives of those that play it. We’ve already discussed fitness in these posts, so that’s not what this is about. And, based upon the current pandemic we find ourselves in, this isn’t about making sure one gets their steps in or touches on the ball, although that may help. It’s about discussing ways to improve the health and well-being of yourself and those around you for all times.
We only play soccer two hours a day. For the other twenty-two we are global citizens acting out our lives in the local community. If there is one thing we can no longer deny about our existence it’s our interconnectedness to each other. How can what we do on the soccer field carry over and continue to serve us and those we interact with on a daily basis?
A helpful analogy here is that of the meditator. Mindfulness is everywhere these days. So much so that “McMindfulness” is an expression that’s popped up to describe the corporatization of an ancient practice. But, what meditators eventually realize through their practice is that it’s not the awareness, insight, or peace that they experience when sitting that’s important, but their skill in bringing those same states into more stable traits as they go throughout their lives as fathers, mothers, children, human beings, etc.
So, it’s the same for the footballer motivated to live an examined life and for the soccer club wishing to positively influence a player’s life outside of their two hours on the field. If we create certain states in training such as increased blood flow, higher levels of focus, heightened teamwork and communication, how can we integrate these into our lives to become enhanced traits of physical health, mental clarity, and a greater capacity for creative collaboration? This is the role the club plays: to support players in their understanding and love of the game. And, in doing so, can we engender a greater curiosity and capacity to love?
Meditation in a time like this?
Soccer brought me to meditation. As a young coach I yelled and barked orders like I was playing the #6 (holding midfield role) and gave running commentary of the game from the sidelines. I felt that this was limiting my effectiveness as a teacher and coach. I wanted to know how I could take a step back, become more detached, and have a larger view of the game. These aims brought me through the door of a meditation teacher in Chicago. After one year of lessons with him I was self-sufficient with my own practice. This practice has continued in various forms since then. From these basic beginnings I could have never imagined what meditation has become for me in my life.
Below are a couple of meditation apps to both assist with the current times we find ourselves in and to help one in starting their own practice if they wish:
10% Happier by Dan Harris. As an ABC news anchor Dan has a touching story about how a panic attack on air brought him to meditation. The app’s website now has a section for coronavirus sanity and there are live daily meditations at 12pm PST followed by questions and answers.
Waking Up app by Sam Harris. Harris is a neuroscientist, author, and philosopher. The app features a section for children, and has a fantastic introductory course that will help solidify a personal practice.
Soccer brought me to yoga by way of injury. After my first year of college my body was a mess. The first yoga I did was a yoga DVD. After the video I remember feeling incredible relief and the insight that I should have been doing yoga my whole life. Yoga with Adriene is a popular online channel with a thoughtful teacher, Adriene, that is appropriate for most levels and ages.
One thing I think we all miss right now are the sunsets out at Legacy Fields. Or, if you’ve been lucky enough to be the last one out and close the gate, the stars above. The migratory birds that flock overhead during practice are “like, woah!”, and the swarming starlings can give any of us pause for a lesson in coordination. If you are lucky enough to have seen the massive owl that lives in the undeveloped tree area, and frequents the California Live Oak by Field 11, then you’ve experienced a real gift. My understanding of California’s shelter-in-place is that it still allows for walking or hiking and getting outside given that one practices appropriate social distancing. So, if that is still the case, do get outside. Get lost and found in nature.
Last, here is an original soccer joke for the tree hugger in all of us:
Q: What is John Muir’s favorite soccer formation?