The Zen of cricket

It has been the season for cricket. Nothing can beat the high of the World Cup mania that gripped us as a nation. It is encore now for another round of play through the Indian Premier League (IPL). I am not an expert or die-hard enthusiast of the game, but even I have been quite hooked on to the passion and euphoria generated by the

sport. There was one aspect, particularly during the high-tension semi-final and the final of the World Cup, which caught my attention. Did you notice the praying hands and minds of the players and the audience before the tournaments seeking the courage for the team to perform well and past the victories, in gratitude for the results?
The teams and their supporters followed their chosen paths of belief seeking divine grace. I was touched to watch media bytes of cricket players thanking their spiritual masters and visiting temples post victories. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s act of shaving his head was one of the most visible marks of the importance of faith as a source of inspiration in the lives of cricketing heroes.
All of this represents the significant crossroads of culture at which our current generation finds itself. On one hand, we are witnessing transition, technology and new gains. And on the other, we still remain connected to our deep-rooted values that bind us a nation of diverse spiritual traditions. Prayer, meditation, chanting techniques are as relevant in our lives today as they were in the past. They help us stay focused on targeted goals without distractions; calm fears to face challenges of the future; stay positive to give our best performance; have heightened awareness of surroundings to make most of given circumstances and, last but not the least, contain our egos from bloating our perspective away from the context of reality so that we remain grounded for accomplishments in a long-term sustainable fashion.
The rules governing life are not very different from those on the cricket field. And spirituality is a management science that offers techniques both in cricket and life to achieve excellence. Practices of worship and faith help us scale the extraordinary and simultaneously nurture our evolution as rounded holistic individuals.
It is interesting to point out the way context colours our responses. In the World Cup we were oriented towards a national psyche of victory for the country. Now, IPL juggles the same teams into a new arrangement where opponents become teammates and fellow mates become adversaries playing for the opposite camps. So who do you cheer and what are the rules of fair play? Like in life, there are no black and white fine lines of distinctions easily drawn. We are addressing most of the time, grey areas in the middle. May be then it is a worthy strategy to focus on the enjoyment quotient generated by the sport and celebrate good performances, irrespective of our personal geographical and cultural leanings.

Poonam Srivastava has published a book of Zen poetry titled, A Moment for the Mind, which expounds on the practice of Mindfulness Meditation. She is also involved in popularising new ideas of change in the social sector. She can be contacted at m4moment@gmail.com

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