Mind Over Sports

Archive for November 2012

We see things as we are. Not as they are, but as “we” are. Case in point: A few years ago I was invited to work with a college level women’s volleyball team and one of their players (we’ll call her Becky) didn’t get along at all with her teammates. Becky happened to be one of the best players on the team but was constantly angry at her teammates and the coach. She was keeping a lot of her issues and feelings bottled up inside herself which was affecting her self-image. She saw everything from a negative perspective and believed everyone was against her and trying to take advantage of her. Needless to say this had a negative effect on team chemistry. I encouraged Becky not to withhold her feelings (and emotions) since that was a form of lying that would affect her focus. The team did fairly well that season considering what was going on behind the scenes, and at the end of the season, Becky graduated. Not long ago I visited the coach and inquired how Becky was doing in the outside world and she told me that about two years after graduating, Becky returned to school and met with her in private and apologized for her behavior. Which really made me feel good to know she was finally on a positive road in her life and, I’m sure, will be highly successful no matter what type of work she chooses to do. The fact she was able to acknowledge her own negative behavior while on the team and take action to correct it was a very positive sign.

The following is from an article that recently appeared in the New York Times:

“This is about one of the more frightening — and remarkable — rounds of golf ever caught on video. Charlie Beljan, 28, endured a five-hour stress test, staggering through 18 holes at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He sat down in the grass to catch his breath. Medical personnel in his gallery monitored his racing pulse. The fear of a possible heart attack dominated his thoughts.
“He carded a 64, the second-lowest score of his rookie season, to take the lead, then left the grounds in an ambulance.
“He spent the night in a hospital, with machines hooked up to his limbs and his golf shoes still on his feet. A battery of tests revealed nothing physically wrong with him. It was a panic attack.
“And when Beljan was released on Saturday, he decided to put his nerves to the test for the final 36 holes.
“When he returned to the course, he said, “I was crying on the range because I was so afraid these feelings would come back.”
“For the next two rounds, Beljan fought bone-crushing fatigue and worry about his health to hang on for his first PGA Tour victory, a triumph over the most mental of games.
“’I was just thinking about my health, one shot at a time, one hole at a time,” he said Monday in a telephone interview from his home in Mesa, Ariz. “And shoot, it worked out pretty well.’”

What the article hardly mentioned and I believe were the primary reasons he won, were the facts that he was married in the beginning of 2012, and in September, his wife, Merisa, gave birth to their first child, a boy. Beljan had his first panic attack a month before the birth of his son, passing out on an airplane that needed to make an emergency landing as a result. I believe his new marriage combined with the birth of his son were the primary reasons he performed so well on the course.

Whenever I read about a famous athlete passing away it reminds me of a conversation I once had with a friend. Sharon (not her real name) was employed by a large corporation and her salary was well into six figures. Her husband was a professor at a large Midwestern university. I’ve mentioned this only so that you, the reader, will not think she’s some kind of kook. Here’s what she told me:

“I was in my early 20’s and was working in a nursing home that had recently been remodeled…started working the night shift there…early on, I was in the kitchen getting ice out of the ice machine for the patients, and it felt like someone was watching me so I stopped what I was doing and I looked…and back in the corner was this guy standing way in the corner, just watching me…and it kind of took me back but I figured, well, patients get up and wander into the kitchen to get something to eat…he was in a hospital gown…he looked like a patient…probably somewhere around eighty years old…a man, kind of thin, and then when I finished what I was doing and stopped and turned around, he was gone…and it was like, okay, where did he go?…so that was my first experience that something was really quirky there…

“Another time I was walking down the hall and there was a gentleman who was dying from cancer and I walked by his room and I noticed someone was sitting on the foot of his bed and I thought that’s awfully nice…he had a visitor cause he normally didn’t have visitors. And again, it looked kind of like another patient but I didn’t pay much attention because I was on my way to another room…Later that evening I mentioned the visitor to one of the other nurses and she had seen the same guy but as far as we knew we never saw him come in or out, so we thought, okay, that was bizarre.

“So the same part of the nursing home I was working in there was a woman who always used to say that her friend came to see her and I can’t remember the name that she used but again, we always knew which visitors were coming and going and as far as we knew she never had any visitors…and we thought, well she was just senile and imagining things…She was getting pretty close to passing away…she was having health problems…I went in to clean her up one night and I had gotten the little tub we used to wash her up out of her night stand and I turned around and there was a man, standing in the room, the guy I had seen on the other patient’s bed, and the same guy I had seen in the kitchen…and I was so freaked out…I stepped back and I gasped loudly, and the patient said, “Oh, it’s just my friend.” I said, “Your friend?” and I turned around (and again, the doors were completely closed) I turned back around and he’s gone. She said “that’s my friend who comes to see me.” That was about the most freaky experience I had there. I think the guy was there to help them get ready to pass away…cause she passed away shortly thereafter, as did another patient who had similar experiences. Both had passed away.

“And there was another gentleman who passed away and he had either emphysema or lung cancer and he had a terrible, terrible death…and that was before it was okay to give patients morphine so he was really struggling…we felt terrible for him…he was so uncomfortable in so much pain and scared…for three days after he passed away his call light kept going off…and finally the nurse called him by his name and said “It’s time for you to go home” – and that was it. She was talking to his spirit. The light didn’t go on again.

“She was fairly religious and she felt like his spirit didn’t know what it was supposed to be doing and as soon as she said that, the light stopped. People who experienced it thought it was like we were being visited by spirits. And there wasn’t any logically explanation we could come up with.

“The one nurses aid I had worked with wasn’t surprised when I told her about someone standing in the room nor was she surprised about the guy sitting on the other one’s bed…Yeh, she had seen it too but we didn’t normally talk about that kind of stuff. I never experienced anything there when I worked the day shift…it was only when I worked there at night.

“We don’t know what we don’t know…all I know is what I saw…there must be something there to help people get through into the next life…One common denominator was that the people who had this experience didn’t have family there to help them through it…they were all alone.”

Athletes whose lives are in harmony (with the universe) are those athletes who perform at a very high level during competition. The quarterback who completes 80% of his passes and scores three touchdowns in a single game. The baseball player who hits three home runs in a single game. The basketball player who scores 30 points in a single game and hits 80% of his (or her) 3-point shots.
In my case, since I’m way past my athletic prime, I have different ways of telling. Sometimes, when I’m about to enter my car and there’s a heavy downpour outside, the rain seems to stop as soon as I step out the front door and once in my car the rain begins and doesn’t end until I arrive a my destination. And then, just like that, it stops. I get out of my car and enter the building and presto! It starts again. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
Something that’s probably happened to many of you reading this column is when you are driving along in heavy traffic and pull up in front of the building where you need to enter and suddenly out of nowhere, there’s a parking space.
Or how about those times when you’re thinking about someone who you haven’t heard from in quite some time and within minutes, the phone rings and it’s him (or her).
Something that very often happens to me is when I’m driving down the street in my car and I have a sense that I’m going to have an accident. It’s almost as if I’m having a premonition and can see an accident happening and that I’m involved in it. I immediately slow down and begin to drive more cautiously staying alert. And in almost every case, something does happen where the driver of a car unexpectedly pulls out into traffic in front of me without even being aware that I am there. If I hadn’t been on the alert I’m sure I would have smashed right into him.
I point these examples out because they haven’t happened just once, or twice, but many times. Would love to receive your experiences and who knows, they could end up in a future book. ☺ Send them to marv@mindoversports.com.


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