A tender man – before and after competitive sport
A tender man – before and after competitive sport
I started to play competitive sport when I was very young. I played rugby union from when I was a thin, tender and delicate 9-year-old boy and in my second year I played in the Daramalan College under 11D rugby union team and this team lost every game. As you may guess, I did not like losing every game and often by quite big margins.
The next year I was determined not to lose every game and since I had some athletic and sporting skills I was selected and played in the Daramalan College under 12A team, which was the top team in that competition, whereas the previous year, the under 11Ds was the bottom team.
Playing for the under 12As meant we won every game and at the time, it was important for me to win. I enjoyed the approval and acceptance from others that I received from winning; very different to the previous year, which had brought disapproval and rejection from losing.
And now as I reflect back on my sporting career, I was extremely competitive and chose to play in sports and teams that I would do really well in and as a result, I ended up being in teams that won most of their games.
Using my skills in sport was a sure way to get the attention I so desired. I was desperate to feel good about myself, using my sporting achievements as a way to be liked by others and to fit in. I did not really think about it like this at the time. I just knew I wanted to play sport and to win. Losing meant to risk being criticised, rejected, ignored and left out: four things that felt very painful to me.
In my early twenties I had the opportunity to play in a very good touch football team and I decided I needed to improve my skills and fitness to stay in that team and so I went out and trained intensely three hours a day, six days a week. This included six sprint sessions a week on my own so I could run really, really fast and secure a place in this team on the wing, where my job was to catch the ball and run really, really fast and score tries.
After about eighteen months of intense and regular training, I knew that if I was one step ahead of anybody else in the competition that nobody would be able to catch me. So I knew that whenever I was set up in a break, I would score. That season I personally scored over 50 tries, more than most teams scored in total in a season.
We played two seasons a year, winter and summer, winning almost every game we played in for ten years running. The only team we lost to was the number one club team in Australia. At one stage we had three Australian players in the team and the rest of us had played for the ACT state team. We usually won our games by a comfortable margin and on two occasions we scored thirty-six tries in a game and the opposition scored no tries.
For ten years I played touch football, and I was on a real high from winning. In all these games, I did not stop and think what it might be like to be on the other side, losing with scores like thirty-six tries to nil. Nor did I ever question my need to win at any cost.
Examining the reasons why I played competitive sport
It was not until I was introduced to Serge Benhayon and the teachings of Universal Medicine that I stopped and examined competitive sport and how I was when I played in competitive sports. I chose to look at why I was driven to win and to be in teams that were sure to win and how much I pushed my body to be physically fit to be able to excel at sport.
What I discovered was that the high from winning in competitive sport masked an underlying and uncomfortable disquiet within me. When the high from winning was no longer enough, I went off as a ‘lost soul’ exploring various attractions of the ‘new age spiritual movement’. This gave me some relief but underneath I still felt a deep unsettlement; thoughts of being useless, unworthy, unlovable and feelings of being disconnected, anxious, frazzled and alone.
Being in sport was a way of being part of a team working together, have some meaning in life and feeling okay about myself. My parents, my school and my country all adored sports, so I decided to disconnect from the tender and delicate boy I was when 9 years old to do whatever was necessary to be successful at sport in order to seek some adoration for myself.
This ‘doing whatever was necessary’ included numerous muscle and ligament tears, broken bones, head traumas, concussions and memory loss.
Through Universal Medicine I was introduced to the Gentle Breath Meditation, which gave me a solid platform to reconnect to the essence of who I am and to focus on being more self-loving, self-caring and self-nurturing – such a long way away from the way I was with myself when playing sport.
I reconnected to the tender and delicate little boy within me, realising I am still just as tender and delicate as a grown man. This feels so beautiful and I am no longer able to harm myself or another person in the many ways I did when I played competitive sport.
No longer do I ever feel alone, as I am strongly connected to the essence of who I am, and within me I feel connected to a oneness that is vast. This allows me to be a tender and delicate man in my relationships at home, at work and the wider community.
Since coming to Universal Medicine I have, without intention or effort, naturally moved further away from my interest in sport. I used to avidly read newspapers, listen to the radio and watch sport on TV. I am now at the stage where I am not driven to watch sport, listen to sport or read about sport. I no longer have to win to feel okay in myself and I do not need the high or the emotional adrenaline rush of sport to live my life.
I no longer live for sport or need sport to live because I have discovered they were only distractions from an unrest that I felt. For a large part of my life, sport was something to set my focus on and strive for as my answer to hide this internal unrest and a way to be liked and to fit in.
I now live with a deep settlement within, a strong sense of being in community and the joy of being a tender and delicate man