Find Inner Peace in the Most Unexpected Places: How Dangerous Sports Can Improve Wellbeing
From the thrill of skydiving to the intensity of motocross, some of the world's most dangerous sports may seem like the last place you'd find inner peace and well-being. But as it turns out, these high-adrenaline activities can provide many of the same benefits as traditional meditation practices.
I learned about risk management and built my career by managing risks due to my inclination for unnecessarily dangerous hobbies and sports. Such activities demand your attention and constant real-time risk management.
In this article, I'll explore the idea that most of my favorite activities also deliver benefits similar to zen meditation and how they can improve your harmony, focus, and overall well-being.
I'm reasonably qualified to write this article, having once attended a 10-day silent Buddhist meditation retreat immediately followed by a 10-day Australian Army military unarmed combat course. I also meditate, compete in pistol competitions, and ride motorcycles regularly.
High-adrenaline, inherently dangerous sports may seem like an unlikely source of mindfulness and inner peace. Still, they provide millions of people, like me, with many of the same benefits as traditional meditation practices. Done safely, they can improve personal mental health risk management and overall life satisfaction.
Both motorcycling and pistol shooting requires a high level of focus and concentration. On a motorcycle, you must be constantly aware of your surroundings and make split-second decisions to navigate traffic. There is no margin for a lapse of attention, and the consequences are very real. Unlike a video game, there is no reset button or start over if you have a serious accident.
Similarly, you need to focus on your target and make precise shots when shooting a pistol, particularly in my preferred match, IPSC practical pistol. Like traditional meditation practices, these activities can help you be present and tune out distractions. Unlike meditation, the consequences of a safety breach can be deadly, so the incentive to focus is high.
In addition to promoting mindfulness, these activities can also provide a sense of balance and control. You must find the right balance between speed, road conditions, and other traffic on a motorcycle to navigate safely. Similarly, when shooting a pistol, you must balance safety, accuracy, and speed (in that order). Both activities can help you to feel more in control and more confident in your abilities.
Physical exercise associated with some types of pistol shooting (e.g., IPSC) and motorcycling can help improve coordination, balance, and overall physical fitness. Some of the most notable benefits include:
Improved physical health: Regular physical exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, increase strength and flexibility, and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Improved mental health: Exercise has been shown to affect mood positively and can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also improve sleep quality and cognitive function.
Stress management: Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve coping mechanisms for managing daily challenges.
Improved quality of life: Exercise can help improve self-esteem and body image and contribute to a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
In short, regular physical exercise can help us manage our physical and mental health and reduce the risk of developing certain conditions. It's essential, however, to find enjoyable and sustainable activities, as this can help increase the likelihood of sticking with them long-term.
In addition to being like zen meditation, motorcycling and pistol shooting can also provide numerous benefits for personal mental health risk management. Participating in these types of activities also provides endless opportunities for improvement. A process of growth and improvement that boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. As you master these sports, you'll likely feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in your abilities.
This can translate to other areas of your life and help you to feel more confident in your decisions and actions. As you learn and master these sports, you'll likely find that you can push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things.
Both activities require quick thinking and the ability to make split-second decisions, which can help to improve your mental agility and problem-solving abilities. Participating in sports that demand your undivided attention can also improve overall life satisfaction. Such activities also provide a sense of adventure and excitement typically absent for most of us in our everyday lives, adding a sense of fulfillment.
Additionally, as social activities, they help you to meet new people and form friendships with like-minded individuals. This can add a sense of community and support to your life.
There is nothing wrong with golf, video games, or knitting if they help you achieve the same objectives, but they don't appeal to me. I suspect I am not alone in this view among the risk management community.
Many of us probably found our way into professional risk management through our love of (or need) for taking risks. Risks that involve real existential consequences are arguably the fastest, surest way to promote that zen-like quality of focus that brings true fulfillment and growth.
Whether you're looking to reduce stress, boost self-confidence, or add excitement to your life, these sports may be worth considering. So why not try them and see firsthand and see if they deliver the same benefits?