Sochi 2014: Will the gold go to muscle or Mind?

A Christian Science perspective.

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“The problem with winter sports is that ... they generally take place in winter,” humorist Dave Barry once quipped.

Undoubtedly Russians from President Putin down would disagree as the curtain lifts on the Winter Olympic Games amid the wintry beauty of the Caucasus Mountains.

Yet Russia boasts not only landscapes of beguiling poetry, it has also produced some of the world’s deepest spiritual thinkers – writers such as Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn and filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky.

Arguably the most celebrated of all, Leo Tolstoy, once wrote: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

Indeed, whoever the Sochi 2014 medal-winners will be, one thing is certain: They will have practiced their sport with great patience for many years. No one breezes to Olympic gold!

What else must would-be Olympians patiently practice? Is it mastery of the body through frequent blood tests, heart-rate monitoring, and other physiological evaluations, so prevalent in sports today? Or is it mental mastery that’s required? Certainly, investment in the athlete’s mental toughness through sports psychology and hypnotherapy has grown apace.

In an amusing pre-Sochi shampoo commercial, ice hockey star Evgeni Malkin says: “At first I thought you don’t need anything but physical strength to win.” Instead, he concludes: “Now I know for sure that winning starts from the inner spirit, clean hair, and the confidence that accompanies all of it.”

But what if hair-power or, more seriously, brain-power isn’t sufficient?

While training for the 2002 Olympics, one would-be competitor noted other means for overcoming self-limiting mental states such as “apathy, sorrow, fear, doubt, and feelings of inadequacy” (see Christian Science Sentinel, Feb. 20, 2006).

Describing these as “misconceptions about who God has made us to be,” the athlete concluded, “the substance – and the glory of the Games – is in the defeat of limits outlined by physiology and psychology.”

A more profound victory over such physiological and psychological limits is seen in the healing practiced by Jesus and centuries later understood, proved, and articulated by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy as “Mind-healing” (healing by the divine Mind, God), which has been practiced by hundreds of thousands since.

Eddy and Tolstoy died within days of one another in 1910, prompting one US newspaper to describe them as two “of the unique figures of universal history” (World-Herald, Omaha). Another said that Tolstoy “spoke to the intellect and Mrs. Eddy to the heart” (New York American).

Yet to Eddy intelligence and love were inseparable. She lauded “the rhythm of head and heart.” Although she was talking about great music (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 213), the comment applies equally to the best sporting achievements.

Indeed, in any attempt to master the body it’s worth knowing that “whatever guides thought spiritually benefits mind and body” (Science and Health, p. 149) – so much so that many, like me, have been freed from serious physical or mental ailments by turning to God, without using drugs.

From the vantage point of such healing experiences, the health-care gold undoubtedly goes to the divine Mind, the understanding of which lifts the human mind and body morally and spiritually, supporting individuals’ endurance and well-being.

Every Olympics has glorious moments when an athlete’s achievements transcend mere victory, and competitors and spectators are united in a sense of joyful oneness.

When that occurs, it’s more than just a feel-good moment. It’s a taste of humanity’s universal unity in the one Mind, God.

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