Daniel Westley is a Canadian athlete who won 12 medals—four of which were gold—while competing in five Paralympic Games. Westley says he relied on his daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique to help him compete in the Paralympics, a biennial event run in parallel with the Olympic Games for elite athletes with a physical disability. He also says that the positive influence of the TM program has extended far beyond sports.
Here’s are excerpts from Tom Hill’s Vancouver Sun’s feature story:
Daniel Westley is a world-class athlete who has won gold medals in both winter and summer sports. But his rise to athletic excellence was sparked by a tragic turn of events.
In fact, he had barely shown any interest in athletics until after a tragic accident forced doctors to amputate both of his legs.
While in the hospital, Westley happened to meet a young Rick Hansen (another future Paralympian) who introduced Westley to wheelchair athletics.
Westley was hooked. After being released from the hospital he started playing sports as much as possible, earning his spot in the 1988 Paralympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.
“I happened to get involved in 1988 and at that time they embraced disabled sports.” recalls Westley, who lives in New Westminster (British Columbia).
But as the Paralympic Games grew in size and popularity, so too did the pressure of training and competing on the world stage. Westley was now participating in both the summer and winter games in a wide range of sports that included everything from wheelchair racing to skiing.
“Any given day I was racing two and three times a day,” he explains. “It was a pretty high level of intensity to be competing at.”
At a young age, Daniel realized that remaining centered was critical to being a successful athlete and maintaining his overall health. He found a technique that suited him perfectly.
“I practice Transcendental Meditation. I learned when I was 20. When I was first getting involved in my sports the other guys were training pretty intensely and I thought that if I wanted to do really well I had to rest really well.”
Transcendental Meditation is a technique that involves two 15- to 20-minute sessions a day. It promises it’s practitioners a cool and quiet calmness. For Daniel it offered the focus he needed to train hard, to perform in high-pressure situations, and avoid burning out.
“So I took up TM and it gave me a chance to settle down and recover from my training, so that I could become fresh again and then get the most out of my next training session.”
With his meditation keeping him centered, Westley certainly did do well, going on to win 12 Paralympic medals – four of which were gold medals – in five Paralympic Games.
And yet, for Westley, who now works in sales for a home medical equipment company, the positive influence of meditation extended far beyond sports and has helped him sustain a positive attitude in all facets of his life.
“If you really step into the moment and are really relaxed then the outcomes take care of themselves.”
© Copyright The Vancouver Sun
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If you are interested in learning more about Daniel Westley’s story, watch this video in which he discusses the benefits of Transcendental Meditation: