Mindsports: The Practical Steps to Peace and peak Performance

About 30 years ago I was asked by the State University of New York to write a foreword to a new translation of an ancient text: "Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali". The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are universally acknowledged as the fundamental text on yoga and meditation in the Indian classical tradition. In India, no form of yoga or meditation is considered valid, unless it has it's foundation in Pantanjali's eight steps (ashtanga or eight-limbed) yoga practice. They invited me because my background of academic training, and experience in both Western psychology and the yoga/meditation psychology of India, gave me a unique perspective. Here are a few quotes from that forward, and other sources, that speak to the challenge of understanding and mastering the mind.  Mindsports' foundation is this Yoga Philosophy, but practically applied to the modern world we live, work, and play in.  That's why I call it: 'Mindsports: The practical steps to Peace and Peak Performance'.

"The Yoga Sutras give a clear and precise description of the functioning of the mind on multiple levels. But the Sutras also go beyond the mind...to the core of our being, the Inner Self. In other words, they speak of a deeper spiritual dimension as well."

For the athlete, for example, we know that the peak performance state, or what's called the Zone, is essentially a state of thoughtlessness... just pure action, uninhibited by self doubts, fears, concerns, or what yoga calls, 'impediments'. The goal of meditation is to go beyond these impediments to a calm state of peace. Actions performed from this state are pure and powerful, with an almost supernatural element to them. This is the state of Peak performance.   

If you inhibit thought and persevere, you come at length to region of consciousness behind thought, and a realisation of an altogether vaster Self than to which we are accustomed.
— Social scientist Edward Carpenter
The stopping of the fluctuations of the mind or its modifications implies the art of keeping only one idea before the mind’s eye and shutting out all other ideas or thoughts. This ability, acquired through constant practice is called yoga.
— Swami Hariharananda Aranya
As a 19 year old ranked first in the world in the mile, I thought I won because I worked harder and was coached better than my competitors. I thought I was tougher. I now realise it was a complex combination of those reasons, but mostly a psychological battle in which I had the upper hand.
— Marty Liquori, Middle distance running champion

The goal of yoga, Patanjali tells us,  is the dictum, 'know thyself', because, when we know ourselves, at the deepest level, we come to know many things in this universe. Millenia ago He anticipated the finding of modern quantum physics, that energy is the underlying 'stuff' of our universe. The practical approach of the Sutras imply that through the power of the mind, and various meditative techniques in his Yoga Sutras, we can manipulate that energy. Contrary to the concerns expressed by some people, yoga is not ultimately a withdrawing from the world. It is essentially a process of learning to function at a different, albeit higher level of being, and performance.


Jonathan Morton

I started in IT in 1985! I have loved watching the world change. I love to make beautiful websites that do useful things.

I sing baritone in a opera/music theatre ensemble Pot-Pourri (since 1987).

In 2012, I graduate as a teacher of yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya.

In 2015, I started keeping bees. I'm always looking for swarms and unwanted nests to provide a good, safe treatment-free home for.