“The activity itself enables experiences that are beyond the everyday. People talk about their senses being alive, about being able to see things much more clearly. It gives them a glimpse of what it means to be human as in the capacities they have that we don’t tap into in everyday life.”
- Eric Brymer, psychologist, on the effects of extreme-sports
Many extreme athletes are careful and thoughtful planners, and avoid thrill-seekers when possible.
Most research that links extreme-sports to thrill-seeking, hedonism, and a taste for risk, was done using young subjects, who tend to be impulsive and poor decision-makers regardless.
What attracts many to become extreme sports athletes is something akin to the flowlike state provided by mindful meditation, one in which you’re so in the moment that everything else drops away.
People assume that extreme sports athletes have no fear, but fear is an important part of the experience. Fear makes them more alert to potential threats and mistakes and, when the conditions aren’t right, it often leads them to give up an attempt.
One of the most powerful motivators is the satisfaction that comes from succeeding at a hard sport and from the grinding it requires. Although some are looking just for the “high” extreme sports bring, some report it helps them feel closer to nature, more self-aware, at peace and even transcendent.
Those who practice life-threatening extreme sports do it to have an experience that is life-changing, to feel alive and have an almost transcendental sensorial clarity.
Extreme sports have the potential to induce powerful and meaningful non-ordinary states of consciousness. They have been shown to be affirmative of life and the potential for transformation.
The legend of Pentecost gave birth to the ritual of naghol, or land diving, where men jump off a wooden tower to pray for a bountiful yam harvest, and to prove their manhood.
The world got to know about this in a BBC Documentary in 1950.