EXERCISE AND COVID - PART 6: GROUP CONNECTIONS
by Eric Leskowitz, MD, David Meggyesy, Greg Warburton, Barry Robbins and Scott Ford | Sep 30, 2020
Human beings have always sought out group connections, whether with their family, their friends, their tribe, their work mates, or their sports teams. Engaging in sports reinforces this connective function for millions of Americans as workout buddies, members of athletic teams, or even as fans rooting together for those teams. But our human connections arise not just via these primary social linkages, but also through an intangible unified global network of mind, even those minds that are not in physical proximity (Nelson, 2013). The emerging scientific understanding of consciousness is that it is a non-physical and non-local force that connects all humans into one great web of interdependence (Dossey, 2018). The impact of our current disconnection from these powerful group forces is discussed by the lead author of this article, Harvard psychiatrist Rick Leskowitz.
For many people, the most challenging aspect of the Covid crisis has been the enforced social disconnection, and its attendant isolation and loneliness are well-known contributors to mental health problems (Killgore, 2020). All of these forces can be ameliorated by participation in sports. During this current phase of social distancing, many people are losing a general sense of social upliftment, as well as the enhanced mind/body coordination that comes from being a part of a group of people who share the same goals and powerful positive emotions. The video in Resources (Group Energy Entrainment) shows how our nervous systems can become entrained with one another, like resonating tuning forks. We become more aligned and more energetically coherent when we’re in a shared field of enlivening emotional energy.
Pro sports leagues are struggling to adapt to social distancing. Many matches have been held in empty stadiums, and the reaction to these preliminary trials was unanimous: “eerie”, “strangely haunting” and “deeply weird” (Ronay, 2020); that is because the crowd “is a living, breathing organism” (Liew, 2020). This sense of shared energy and human connection was missing, and without that bond, we become ungrounded, disembodied shadows.
Until the lockdown ends, there will be no true substitutes for the interactive crowd energy and team chemistry that sports activities provide. Hopefully, by the time this article is printed, sporting schedules will have returned to normal. Athletes and fans can once again enjoy the socializing and camaraderie of sports, along with the physical benefits of participation in the game itself. Disconnection from group energy may be the one truly irreplaceable loss created by the lockdown: there’s no substitute for the hugs of friends and family, the high fives of teammates (and opponents!), and the love that is so much a part of sports participation and life itself (Dorland, 2020).
Watch the video: Group Energy Entrainment (6 min)
These energetic interpersonal connections that we experience in sports and in exercise will soon return to our lives, and the restoration of these emotional bonds will be a major bonus to the end of lockdown. But in the meanwhile, a blend of multi-dimensional training techniques from the world of sports can keep our bodies, minds and spirits in good shape, whether or not we are top-level athletes. By re-connecting with humanity as a whole, and with our inner spiritual core, humanity is addressing life on all levels, from the existential to the immunologic. These practices can help us decrease our stress, enhance our immune resilience, and renew our awareness of humanity’s interdependence, thereby helping us to thrive even during these strange times of the Covid pandemic.
* This article was originally published in The International Journal of Healing and Caring, Volume 20, No. 3
About the Authors
Dr. Eric Leskowitz is more of a sports fan than an athlete. He produced a baseball-themed documentary for PBS about group energies in sports, called “The Joy of Sox: Weird Science and the Power of Intention”. He worked for 25 years with chronic pain patients in the Harvard- affiliated pain clinic at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.
David Meggyesy was a linebacker for the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL, but his career ended in 1969 after he engaged in the first on-field protest for social justice by an American professional athlete. He co-founded the Esalen Sports Center, and for many years was a Regional Director of the NFL Players Association. His book “Out of Their League” was named to the Top 100 sports books of all time by Sports Illustrated, and he is an Adviser to the Harvard Football Players Health Study.
Greg Warburton, MS is an author and sports performance mental-training coach, and is one of the world's pioneers in applying Energy Psychology techniques in sport. He has worked for many years with the perennial Division I baseball national champions from Oregon State University. ESPN broadcasts at the College World Series in 2007 and 2013 featured athletes Warburton was working with using his EFT tapping protocol during the games.
Barry Robbins was a nationally ranked athlete and First-Team All-American fast-pitch softball player before training with George Leonard in ITP and becoming the lineage holder and Vice President of ITP International. Each year, he and several ex-PGA pros coordinate a golf tournament featuring the use of blindfolds to cultivate inner attunement.
Scott Ford is certified as an elite level coach by the US Professional Tennis Association. He has coached tennis pros, college students, Navy SEALS, and consciousness students, and has given coaching seminars around the world on his parallel mode process to “get in the Zone by choice, not by chance”.
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