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Wimbledon 2015: Meditation is the secret behind Djokovic’s winning form

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Novak-Djokovic2

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The pressures of being a professional athlete can take the heat out of the best of players. The top ones are able to deal with it as a part and parcel of the whole gamut of professional sport.

Novak Djokovic, the top tennis player in the world is regarded as one of the strongest tennis players when it comes mental toughness.

After recording yet another comfortable straight sets victory in Wimbledon’s Centre Court on Friday, Djokovic was asked what goes through his mind when he plays.

“I try to put myself only in the present moment, not fight against the thoughts and the pressure and the excitement, but just acknowledge them and be aware of present thoughts but also try to keep my composure and calm,” the defending champion said.

Situated on a leafy suburban street at a five minute walk from the All England Club, the Buddhapadipa Temple has been visited by Djokovic for quiet contemplation for several years now.

“Novak came here on his own. He just walked in and said hello to the people here and went on to meditate on his own”, an orange-robed Phramaha, one of seven Buddhist Monks who lives at the temple told The Independent.

The Serbian player usually meditates early in the morning when the grounds are quiet. He is respectful of the surroundings but does not speak to the monks.

“Sometimes he asks our staff to open the main temple for him, so he can get inside and sit still for a while there,” Phramaha said.

“I think he’s learned how to meditate on his own. He walks around the temple and spends one or two hours alone. He just comes to the temple to enjoy nature, the peace and the beautiful environment”, the full time monk added.

Decorated by a shady walkway weaved between trees and several arched wooden bridges that ascend into a grand staircase, it is easy to see why the world  No.1 chooses to visit the temple so often.

Intricate murals and a floor strewn with Buddha statues and candles further amplify the beauty of the temple. Further accentuating the charm are a series of wooden signs engraved with Buddhist teachings put alongside the path.

“Though one may conquer a thousand men in battle, the one who conquers himself is the greater warrior,” the sign reads.

According to the Phramaha, meditation is helpful for athletes as it focuses the mind on solving “the problem in front of you”–in this case playing on a point-to-point basis.

“Just focusing on the now: that’s the benefit of meditation”, remarks the dynamic player Djokovic.

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Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)