When I was a sophomore in college I used to suffer from a self-induced fatigue. Basically what would happen was during the participation of a physical activity or a game, my mind would completely debilitate my body. For example, I would become either paralyzed with fear that I was going to make a mistake, or brutally punish myself for doing something wrong on the field. As this inner dialogue began, my heart would begin to race, my legs would feel like lead and my body would virtually shut down. I know it sounds crazy, but literally my mind was able to cause so much stress and anxiety that my body didn't know how to react. Many times I walked off the field feeling completely defeated and exhausted, not from any physical exertion, but from my own emotional battle.
At the beginning of the season I talked to my coaches about my unusual problem and they referred me to a sports psychologist. During our sessions he taught me how to calm my mind down and envision myself performing at a stress free level. For awhile this exercise began to help, and my coaches decided to set aside five minutes, everyday at practice and before games, for my team to participate also in these visualizations. Unfortunately, as the season continued my negative thoughts crept back in and the fatigue returned. Therefore, I tried another strategy.
During the allotted five minutes my coaches gave my team, I would pray with my entire heart and soul that my mind would not rob me of another successful practice or game. I can honestly say that I have never prayed with more of a desire to be heard.
The answer to my prayers came in a very unusual way. During my sophomore year our team had a very bad habit of being down at half time. Consequently, I would always go into the second half a little angry and fired up from another expletive filled "pep talk" from my coach. This anger would then spark the opposing team's anger, and inevitably soon after the second half started, I would either be thrown to the ground, pushed or checked in the head. In turn, this would cause me to channel all my anger towards winning the game, or in other words, completely distract me from my overwhelming mind. Game after game the same thing would happen. I would start the game overcome by my fatigue, we would begin losing, I would become angry, I would be fouled and then we would start winning. Ironically enough, I always look at my sophomore year as being my favorite year in college. We won some amazing games and we're able to go to the Final Four.
At the end of the season my coaches asked me what I had visualized each day that had led me to overcome my fatigue. To their surprise, I told them I hadn't visualized at all, but had used that time to pray. As you can imagine, they had a difficult time understanding the simplicity and power behind my spiritual strategy. However, I knew that my humble and sincere prayers had been heard and answered. Therefore, I'll never forget this experience because it taught me the power of a simple prayer.