The footwear and apparel corporation Nike has partnered with the mindfulness and meditation app Headspace, introducing the practices to runners worldwide with the goal of boosting athletic focus and performance. However, the president of an organization that focuses on concerns in the sports world from a Christian perspective says that the development is troublesome and presents a false duplicate for the things of God.
According to reports, Nike has been offering audio-guided runs for some time, but most recently decided to work together with Headspace so that users of its Nike+ Run Club app can now listen to a mindfulness and meditation guide as they pound the pavement.
Headspace was co-founded by Andy Puddicombe, who, according to the group’s website, was ordained in India as a Tibetan Buddhist monk after spending years studying meditation.
A number of major U.S. corporations look to Headspace to incorporate mindfulness and meditation practices into the work day, including Google, Linkedin, Spotify, and even General Electric and Aetna. The company additionally advises the everyday user to find their “solace” from anxiety, grief, self-doubt and other negative feelings in meditation.
As for Nike, the new audio-guided runs—available to those with a NikePlus membership—were designed to assist athletes to “unlock strength and peace from within,” the company asserts in an announcement on its website.
“It’s a different way of thinking about and approaching sport and sports psychology, and ultimately another tool athletes can use to be better,” Ryan Flaherty, the senior director of performance with Nike Training, remarked in a statement. “For Nike to share Headspace with our athletes, it will help them perform better, which also informs how we innovate and serve our everyday athletes.”
“Mindfulness is the ultimate tool for any athlete at any level,” Puddicombe also claimed. “Easy to learn and simple to apply, it can help strengthen motivation, increase focus, improve resilience, enhance form, optimize recovery and, perhaps most important of all, get us out of our head and into the body for an enjoyable and fulfilling training session.”
The audio-guided runs are meant to help runners push out distracting thoughts, such as items on their to-do list or their plans for later, and focus on their running form from head to toe. SportTechie reports that Nike has already been using mindfulness training at its Oregon facility, and is now seeking to expand the offering to the world.
The Nike Training App will also offer tips each week about practicing mindfulness while performing workouts in the gym.
However, Steve McConkey of 4Winds Christian Athletics in Madison, Wisconsin says that the practices of mindfulness and meditation are not as innocent as they may sound—and as demonstrated, are derived from pagan Eastern religions. He believes there is a spiritual component inherent in such activities, even without quoting from Buddhism, with the potential of opening up the user to the darkness.
“The smokescreen is [that] they say, ‘Find answers in yourself.’ But are they really directing you to yourself? And that’s the 100 dollar question,” he told Christian News Network. “You see these kids get into yoga and all these other aspects of Eastern Mysticism.”
Furthermore, McConkey said, one does not need to look inside themselves for stamina or solace, as Christ wants men to look outward and upward to Him and His word.
“It’s obviously a replacement for prayer,” he outlined. “We’re to concentrate on God’s word and let that crowd out the negative things. For example, if you have doubts about how you’re going to get by through your day, we can go to God’s word and He says, ‘I’ll direct your steps.’ … We do live in a very tumultuous world, but at the same time, God can give us peace.”
McConkey explained that he observed New Age mindfulness and visualization practices taking place in public universities even years ago, and while there is nothing wrong in and of itself with taking time to relax or stretch, practices like mindfulness and yoga are counterfeits for the hope and peace only Christ can give.
“Eastern religions are allowed in schools through mindfulness [and] meditation as Christianity is eliminated,” he lamented in a press release. “Instead of connecting to the God of the Bible, people open themselves up to dark forces that are harmful. Teams and schools have replaced asking for God’s blessings through prayer with mindfulness meditation that focuses on themselves.”