Spiritual Experiences: Understanding Their Subjective Nature in Peak Performance

Authors: Lynda Flower

Corresponding Author:
Lynda Flower, MA
The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Australia
lynda.flower1@uqconnect.edu.au
+ 61 481 735 994

Lynda Flower is an Honorary Research Fellow (Studies in Religion), Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Over the past thirty years, sport and spirituality has grown into a major international research discipline. Of particular interest has been the reported spiritual experiences of athletes during peak performance. With many athletes interpreting peak episodes such as the ‘runners high’ as having not only physiological but also spiritual aspects it is becoming increasingly important that these altered states of consciousness are clearly understood.

While current best practice peak performance coaching acknowledges the importance of physical and mental enhancements such as injury prevention, nutrition, communication, goal setting, and athlete development the spiritual component is often overlooked. In order to provide greater understanding and a context for coaching, this paper will review the origins and historical development of spiritual transcendent states in the West from medieval times, the early 1900s, the postmodern and New Age era, and present day occurrences in sport.

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