Meditation – and Rugby!

by Shvastanee Ballantyne

I am a fan of the All Blacks rugby team, as many proud Kiwis are, and this has been a lifetime commitment. As far back as I can remember, my family would be gathered around, keenly watching every pass, every scrum and line-out, and every now and then we would roar at the TV. This interest in rugby – or for that matter, most sports as I avidly follow cricket as well – has not abated but rather intensified over the years as the All Blacks have become one of the top rugby teams in the world. As a young adult I would always watch live coverage of international games, even if they were in the middle of the night, and if the All Blacks lost, I would be inconsolable, my whole week ruined. In any case, I was a little over-the-top about sporting fixtures.

Now I can hear you asking… “Um, excuse me – is this really about meditation?” Well, yes, actually. To get to the point: when meditation entered into my life over twenty years ago it was because I was stressed, wanted a change in my life and was looking for something. And yes, I can enthusiastically claim – and I speak from experience when saying so – that meditation does indeed improve the quality of your life by bringing peace into your being and attracting happiness, and all of that. Which is fantastic – I have never stopped. But one unforeseen long-range subtle effect of meditation that I have observed is that it has invoked a slightly different perspective in me towards sport. From being an overly-involved spectator, yelling advice and/or abuse at the game from my couch (or sideline if I happened to actually be there) and being emotionally dependent on the outcome, I have noticed a certain level of objectivity insinuate itself into my psyche.

This didn’t happen overnight but over a few years, and now I watch games with a more inner intense joy and thrill at the skill of the game, and with an appreciation of the sportsmanship. This has made me less concerned about the outcome (I mean, of course I always want the All Blacks to win!) but more aware of the pleasure of the game itself and how it is played. Which has also increased my enjoyment of sport in general! And I consider this to be a bonus that has been so far overlooked as an advertised outcome of meditation!