There was no reason to expect anything out of the ordinary when runner Roger Bannister took to a wet track at Oxford University in May 1954. The record time for running the mile was set nine years earlier and hadn’t moved a fraction of a second since.
Talk of breaking a four-minute mile had started more than two decades earlier, but the intransigence of the record set in 1945 convinced many it was unachievable. We just weren’t built to run that fast, medical experts said. It would kill the runner.
Bannister joined six other runners as they lined up to race during the waning hours of daylight. The starting pistol cracked, splitting the heavy air of an overcast sky, and a new era soon dawned for outdoor track. Bannister’s finish shattered the unconquerable world record by two full seconds. He secured a place in history as the first person to break the four-minute mile.
Many believe Bannister did much more than break an athletic performance barrier that May 6. His record would not last long; but he led a cavalcade of record setting phenomena that bears his name to present day: the Bannister Effect.
The Bannister Effect
Bannister’s world record time of 3:59.4 only lasted about six weeks. Australian John Landy exceeded the landmark performance with a time of 3:58.0 on June 24. But it didn’t end there. Landy and Bannister were scheduled to compete in the mile race at the British Empire Games on July 7. Media outlets alternatively dubbed the contest as the Miracle Mile, Race of the Century and Dream Race as public anticipation mounted.
The so-called Dream Race went down in history as the first in which two runners broke the four-minute mile, but neither achieved a new record. Landy and Bannister beat the four-minute mark, but Landy’s record time in June remained the record. Bannister got the gold medal for his best mile time and as winner of the race. Landy earned the silver for second place, but his prestige as the fastest mile runner stood.
The Bannister Effect was just beginning, however. Sixteen other mile runners recorded a time below four minutes during the next three years. Landy’s record finally fell in the third year when Derek Ibbotson established a new record of 3:57.2.
During the next 10 years there would be six new world records set for the mile run, shaving a full 7.3 seconds off the previous “impossible barrier” of four minutes. That marked a 17.4 percent improvement over the previous 20 years of 1934 – 1954.
High-school runner Jim Ryun was the first student to break the four-minute mile during his junior year of 1964. Ryun broke that time again during his senior year with a time of 3:55.3. The young athlete went on to establish two world records of his own for the mile in 1966 and 1967.
People Began to Wonder
How did a single generation of runners suddenly and routinely overcome an achievement obstacle that had stood perhaps as far back as 1865? Why did it suddenly stop happening in 1999?
The record hasn’t budged even one-tenth of a second for almost 22 years. That’s the longest dry spell for the men’s mile record since 1852.
Obviously, the mile race isn’t run as often as it was during the 1954 – 1967 era. Races measured in metrics are more commonly run now. Yet, the mile race remains a coveted race among runners due to its provenance and prestige.
There were previous periods of mile runs that featured a fast overturn of record-breaking performances. But those were all prior to the standardization of running tracks and the wide use of moderately-priced and reliable stopwatches.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was established in 1913. Prior to the IAAF’s standardization protocols, races were held on virtually any surface. Time pieces used to measure performance could vary wildly relative to accuracy and features. Some races were held on downward grades of land.
The Bannister Effect stands out by itself as the only spate of record-breaking since the IAFF was established and enforced standards for professional races. This provides an ideal opportunity to deconstruct how the Bannister Effect could have occurred.
Deconstructing the Bannister Effect
The establishment of the IAAF limits the number of performance variables. These are:
- The runners
- The attendant crowd observing the event
Bannister’s original run provides a baseline for isolating the performance variables even further. As noted in the opening paragraph, the crowd was small and there were no expectations of a world-changing event that day. Quite to the contrary, it was deemed impossible by running and medical professionals worldwide. It was a routine track and field event in every respect. Perfect baseline.
The only remaining variable is the runner, Roger Bannister. His observations are examined below within the context of his internal energy systems.
The size and expectations of attendant crowds variable changed dramatically only after the original record-breaking run. The expectation and anticipation of a world-record breaking event was intense immediately after Bannister’s original performance and reverberated for decades. Track and field was popular again for that reason.
As a distance runner in high school during the 1970’s, I was witness to multiple meets where talk about sub-four-minute mile performances were anticipated. Those meets were always attended by larger crowds of spectators. Anyone capable of turning in such a performance was an instant track star even if the notoriety was limited to a relatively small region.
Bannister shattered the limitations imposed on human beings. To be among that class of athlete was much prized by athletes and observers alike.
Roger Banister retired from running shortly after the so-called Miracle Mile race at the British Empire Games in 1954. He went back to school to train as a neurologist. He was often asked about his record run and commented upon the accomplishment as a person with an advanced medical degree and knowledge of the human brain.
Below are three select quotes in bold text from Bannister with analysis based upon what we know about the energy universe 105 years after Einstein’s relativity theory exposed it.
Bannister Loved to Run
“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.”
The popular expression, “he put his whole heart into it,” always signifies success without any further explanation required. We all instinctively know that when our heart is in any effort our performance and results improve.
We now know the heart is far more than a simple pump. It is a specialized energy center of the body. It has an electromagnetic field presently detectible by instruments three feet around the body. It also has a “small brain” of at least 40,000 neural dendrites that communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve. The heart-brain functions independently and has its own memory.
The heart is a powerful energy center that drives human beings to perform almost unimaginable acts of bravery, resilience and ingenuity. It also releases hormones as needed.
Bannister Focused His Mind
“Without the concentration of the mind and the will, performance would not result.”
The natural rhythm of running combines with a focus on breath that leads many runners into a state of mind similar to meditation. Thoughts naturally slow down, and increased concentration becomes easier. It’s sometimes noted as “runner’s high.”
As a result, the rise of the inner voice becomes apparent, and it’s particularly crucial long-distance runners use it for encouragement. The slower brain waves of a meditative mind also provide the ability to ignore pain by redirecting attention. Many runners attribute those capacities to their endurance and success.
This special sense of awareness eventually gives rise to consciousness alone. Pure consciousness is the state of awareness without any thought processes at all. It is the coveted stage of meditation within the eternal mindfulness of now.
Anecdotal accounts by thousands of athletes verify the above mind state in association with superior performance.
Bannister’s Consciousness Awoke
“No longer conscious of my movement, I discovered a new unity with nature. I had found a new source of power and beauty, a source I never dreamt existed.”
The above quote was perhaps Bannister’s most courageous. It indicates that his consciousness was awakened. Although the feeling described is quite common for experienced meditators, it was far less welcomed among the medical community during his tenure. It was almost certainly frowned upon and scoffed at by his peers.
Bannister is describing an energy exchange between his body and the energy fields of nature. He felt the energy and information exchange only after losing an awareness of his body. That is pure consciousness or what Hindu culture calls samadhi.
Researchers have only recently begun to understand the powerful interaction between nature and human beings. Simply looking upon a nature scene in a picture can lower blood pressure and heart rate. People suffering chronic stress are increasingly directed to spend time in nature, because the body releases natural pleasure hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin during the interaction.
Bannister goes a step further in the quote by calling it a “new source of power.” This is probably quite accurate. The energy vibrations of nature were likely coherent with his own, leading to a complementary energy waveform of greater amplitude or power. This additive strength is commonly witnessed when matching ripples on a pond combine into larger waveforms. Some definitions of samadhi are noted as union with divine power.
The boldness of Bannister’s words during that era should not be underestimated. He confirmed that he sensed contributory energy from the nature around him and was empowered by it. Medical science did not recognize meditation at all until the 1980’s and still question any connection to improved performance. Yet they proffer no plausible alternative explanations that fit Bannister’s direct experience and the constants of his historic day.
Scientists withheld criticism of Bannister’s claim about an alternative energy source found in nature and had good reason to do so. He had already compelled them to accept that human beings could run a mile in less than four minutes without requiring the services of a hearse. Any discussion of consciousness was sufficient to lose a promising career in medicine at the time. Opening that can of worms wouldn’t end well for anyone.
Discussion of consciousness has only grudgingly been accepted since the year 2010 or so. There had been numerous studies conducted by that time from acknowledged scientists using validated scientific methods. Their results are increasingly published by peer-reviewed journals.
Bannister Effect Begins with Attention
When Bannister first broke the four-minute barrier, the news was undoubtedly the most exciting in the post-war sports world. After Landy did the same a few weeks later, the anticipation for the future competition between the two runners rose to a fever pitch. The news of Race of the Century circled the globe and captured imaginations everywhere. The eyes of the world were upon them.
The attention of the crowds – a worldwide crowd by that point – now changes the baseline performance variables. There is experimental evidence proving people can tell when they’re being watched, and it affects their behavior. Store security professionals remotely monitoring shoppers with cameras have known about this for decades.
Mechanistic precepts simply do not fit the evidence for the Bannister Effect by any of its theories for improved performance. These include the following:
- Physical and chemical changes of the nervous system as the byproduct of learned behavior. All the runners had different trainers and methods of practice. Bannister’s trainer did not train Landy of Australia nor any of the other 16 runners who broke the milestone within three years.
- Cultural inheritance by way of learning from a parent or other adults is equally impossible.
- Innate behavior allegedly passed along by DNA is preposterous, because all the affected runners up to the year 1967 would have already been born by 1954.
Traditional scientific reasoning does not apply to the generation of runners between 1954 – 1967, because the time frame is too isolated and too short for mechanistic explanations to work. Therefore, we must turn to quantum physics and energy fields for a plausible answer.
Bannister Effect as a Quantum Influence
Dr. Rupert Sheldrake is an acclaimed, and somewhat controversial, scientist who has authored nine books and more than 90 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals. He’s clearly a genius level thinker.
His book, Morphic Resonance, provides a possible explanation for the Bannister Effect within its focus on formative causation, or the science of how forms and characteristics are created in nature. To be clear, Sheldrake’s book does not set out to explain the Bannister Effect. Only the principles laid out in the work have been adapted for our purpose here.
Sheldrake’s work and theory of morphic resonance is a new model with a basis in quantum physics. The hypothesis is elegant, fits available evidence and is testable.
In his book, Sheldrake posits a far more reasoned explanation. He cites numerous rat and mice studies in which the rodents were taught a specified behavior. Subsequent studies using rodents of the same breed and even the control group breeds learned the behavior substantially faster than their earlier counterparts.
His conclusion, contextually summarized here, was that the subsequent rodents learned the desired behavior faster by accessing a quantum “motor field” provided by morphic resonance. The field stores the required skill as information accessible to the subsequent rodents.
By extension, human beings can create their own motor fields, which is at the essence of the Answer is One Theory.
The Answer is One Theory
The central premise at the heart of The Answer is One book is that human beings have at least six internal energy fields governing daily existence and the experience of reality. These fields are unique to each individual but common to all. The emotion field is among the most powerful and influential of those fields. The emotion field and the others involved in the Bannister Effect can and do influence outcomes.
The emotion of anticipation is known to all and routinely experienced in large groups at sporting competitions. Otherwise the increased cheering, clapping and unified chanting witnessed during nearly every event would be non-existent. People routinely and intuitively believe such actions will influence performance. To challenge that practice is tantamount to insulting billions of people simultaneously worldwide – including athletes who have testified repeatedly that it does stimulate their response.
The $200 billion sports betting industry further endorses the theory by routinely giving the home team of nearly every sporting event an edge in the odds offered to gamblers. As distasteful as gambling may be to scientists, the empirical data the industry proffers daily cannot and should not be ignored.
The Answer is One fully endorses the Sheldrake theory and extends it to human beings with the following questions to be tested:
- Could Roger Bannister have unwittingly stored the motor skill information required for breaking the four-minute mile in the quantum motor field as he ran practice miles in a state of meditative samadhi?
- Did the unprecedented procession of runners achieving the same result and better afterwards access that information while in similar meditative states?
- Did sudden attention and the focus of anticipatory emotional energy from spectators worldwide provide runners the incentive and internal motivation to access that quantum motor field?
My answer to all three questions above is a profound and enthusiastic “yes.” I therefore challenge the scientific community to put Sheldrake’s work to the test. His book graciously provides methodologies to do so.
Since the dawn of human civilization, there have been simultaneous inventions and findings made by people who never had contact with one another. The accomplishments run the gamut from complicated math to inventions such as the radio and the songs that play on the radio. The incident rate is on the rise. Exploring and understanding how information transfer is routinely occurring across the globe may be the most important pursuit of the 21st century.
It certainly could change the perception of impossible for anyone. You too.