Book Review: Sports, Energy, and Consciousness: Awakening Human Potential through Sport

December 2014
BY Victor S. Sierpina, MD, ABFM, ABIHM Director, Medical Student Education Program, WD and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine, Professor, Family Medicine University of Texas Distinguished Teaching Professor

Are you engaged in a sport, not necessarily professionally but as a fitness or fun exercise? Maybe you are a weekend warrior or find time daily for exercise. If you are a healthcare practitioner, surely you encourage patients to be active, which often involves athletic activities. Maybe you don’t fit any of these categories and are a dedicated couch potato, leaving the professional athletes on TV to do the heavy lifting while you hoist a beverage and a snack. If the terms self- discipline or self-awareness trouble you, read no further.

A new book, Sports, Energy, and Consciousness: Awakening Human Potential through Sport, edited by Eric Leskowitz, MD, will revise your view of sporting activities, no matter which of the above categories you endorse.

A fascinating compilation of essays, practical techniques, inspiring life stories, this book was assembled by a group that calls themselves SEC for Sports, Energy, and Consciousness, not for any federal regulatory agency or athletic conference. Contributors are composed of physicians, sports psychologists, physiologists, world class athletes, coaches, and trainers. A preface by Esalen Founder, Michael Murphy, a foreword by integral philosopher king Ken Wilber, and afterword by consciousness and spirituality luminary and non-local awareness visionary author Larry Dossey, MD are excellent bookends to this brilliant and inspiring work.

As a tennis player, I was particularly intrigued by useful methods offered by Zone author and coach, Scott Ford. Coach Ford offers innovative strategies for getting into “the Zone” by intention through a parallel processing technique. It worked for me in doubles this past month. In a later chapter, he further goes to the extent of saying he plays tennis these days for the single purpose of getting into the zone, an altered state of consciousness that is as much spiritual as it is related to playing the game.

The first chapter, Samadhi in Sweats: Athletic Training as Spiritual Practice creates an overall tone for a book that utilizes sport activities to develop ourselves holistically, mind, body, and spirit. Written by a former NFL linebacker, David Meggyesy, we explore how sports are a gateway to learning and performance in all aspects of our lives.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter by Greg Warburton who demonstrates several hands-on techniques including the Emotional Freedom Technique of tapping at acupressure points, energy and cognitive psychology. Warburton is a sports psychologist that has successfully brought these techniques to winning college teams and is more remarkable as a former marathon runner who lost his leg in a motor vehicle accident. This has not slowed down his interest, skills, and application of depth psychology in sports and high performance.

Integral coaching, women’s intuitive spirit in athletics, core centering, group energies and sports including team chemistry and fan energy are examples of other fascinating and creative topics taken on by this cast of experts.

Personal experiences by competitive and casual athletes reflect real-life challenges from running a race on a broken ankle, living though concussion, the runner’s high, the magic of baseball, and sculling as a flow experience. Several authors reflect on the concept of “the Zone” related to sibling rivalry, tennis, and golf. The book closes with some amazing first person experiences such as by Olympic skier, Kristin Ulmer, mental techniques in baseball by Greg Warburton and batting practice tips by pitching coach Doug White as well as Mike Spino’s cross-country team consciousness coaching.

If you wish to challenge yourself to grow to your best self in your profession, in business and the workplace, in relationships, or in your chosen sports endeavor, you need to read this book.

If you work with patients who suffer from self-defeating attitudes, who can’t seem to break through to their personal best, there are plenty of examples and practical approaches here to help them do so. The beauty of this book as opposed to many self-help psychology type books is that it uses sports as a concrete example to anchor growth in both energy and consciousness. And it is written by those who walk the walk, run the run, and jump the jump.

The practical techniques in this book help move us from the track, court, or field to the inner field of our true being. This is truly the inner game that matters. The message here is not that outside competition or winning the game is ultimate. Rather it is the mastery of ourselves, our minds, and our spirits that brings us to higher consciousness and achievement.

Leskowitz E (ed). Sports, Energy, and Consciousness: Awakening Human Potential through Sport. www. 2014. ISBN 978-1-4954-4530-9