“My lab studies how people perceive and reason about space. Studies include investigations of how our bodies and abilities influence spatial perceptions. For example, physically fit people see hills as appearing less steep than do unfit people and baseball players see the ball as appearing larger when they are hitting well. Our research is conducted in outdoor, natural environments, controlled laboratory settings, and virtual reality.”
Dennis R. Proffit, Commonwealth Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia.
As a baby boomer, competing in Master Track and Field and more recently in triathlons, I like the idea that “space” might be as much about how it’s perceived as it is the distance between the starting blocks and the finish line. The same could be said about time.
Some days, running 400m intervals on a track, time and distance expand and 400m feels more like 600m. On other days I can get lost in thought during a sixty minute run in the pinewoods of southeast Virginia.
Am I more “fit” on one day than another? Or, is my thought in a different place on these days? I think it is the latter. Thought or consciousness that is free from past mistakes or future worries, being conscious of good we are free to do our best.
I recently took a “Yin” yoga class that was scheduled to be 75 minutes. I rarely do Yin yoga, preferring the most strenuous Vinyasa/flow yoga practice with lots of motion, arm balances, inversions etc. In Yin the idea is to hold one position for three or more minutes and just focus inward. During this practice I really worked a staying “in the moment”. Before I knew it the instructor said that time was up. If you had asked me, I would have said that only about twenty minutes had passed, instead of the 75.
I no longer doubt the connection between what I am conscious of and how my body performs in training or in competition. Can we use this link between conscious thought and physical performance to make training/competing more enjoyable? Can the distance up the hill decrease through changing my concept of myself and my abilities? Can a dull, burdensome, challenging run be turned into a joyous, exhilarating one by filling thought with good? I plan to continue to put this to the test.