Our 6-day Race champion Petra explains the link between running and meditation

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

Petra Kasperova from the Czech Republic took won 2018 Sri Chinmoy Six Day Race in New York this April with a total of 370 miles - at only her second attempt at running a multi-day event. Petra is a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy, who felt that sports and meditation could go hand in hand as part of a fulfilling life. As well as offering free meditation classes and concerts around the world, Sri Chinmoy's students also organise athletic events, and have become especially well known for organising ultramarathon races such as the 6 day race that Petra won.

Petra KasperovaOn the surface, these races are quite gruelling and the runner has to overcome many obstacles. However, as Petra explains, the key for her is just to stay happy.

"I try to go with the flow and do what gives me joy. Because it is about joy! Do not underestimate the power of joy. I mean, suffering and pain is part of it, but overlooking it all should be your fulfilled, joyful you."

Participants in these races are often out on the course for many hours at a time, and so learning to deal with having so much time on your hands is essential. For Petra, the practise of meditation is key:

"(Meditation) has been part of my life since 2010. It has transformed my life and I cannot imagine my life without it. It is something very natural, something that we all can do if we try to stop the constant flow of thoughts flooding our minds. It takes practise, patience, perseverance but it is 100% worth it."

"The techniques can change from race to race and even during a race. I like to repeat mantras, qualities and prayers...I try not to think at all, just to be focused. Repeating qualities like gratitude seem to keep my mind clear and make me more aware of what is going on inside of me and also outside of me...

I love identifying myself with the beauty and vastness of nature. I get a lot of inspiration and joy from Mother Nature. I also like to sing songs. I find that when the mind is focused, not roaming about thinking and daydreaming, I feel a constant flow of energy flowing in and through me, my intuition seems to work better, I am more present in the here and now and I feel more conscious of what I am doing and why."

Of course, one big question is why people would want to do these kinds of races. For Petra, these races are part of a quest for greater self-discovery and to be a better person. Her teacher, Sri Chinmoy loved the concept of self-transcendence - the idea that one could get tremendous joy and fulfilment by going beyond their perceived limitations. Petra describes running as "part and parcel of our spiritual path... Running is a symbol of self-transcendence, physical fitness, discipline, self-giving... which are all pillars of Sri Chinmoy's path."

"I find that running has made me stronger, not just physically but on many different levels. It is always when we go outside our comfort zones, outside what we think is possible, when we transcend ourselves in any field of life (not just running), that's the time where we need to dig deep, and when we do, we get glimpses of who we truly are and who we really want to be – for a happy self and a happy world."

superhumanPetra was recently featured in a new inspirational book 'Superhuman' by Rowan Hooper. The book highlights a range of people who have achieved notable features of self-transcendence. Hooper examines the inner strength, discipline and motivation of these different individuals who have achieved extraordinary things.

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Photos: Utpal Marshall. Perfection Journey (Blog on finish of 2018 race)