If you’re finding it hard to control your thoughts, focus on your breathing and practice meditation, you’re not alone. I struggle too, even though I’ve been on this path for many years. You see, scientists don’t even know where thoughts come from, only that they are electrical impulses in the brain firing off its 100 million neurons every second of every night and day.
Learning to quieten down this inner noise and all the negative mental interference that comes with it might be a simple path, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy – if so, we’d all be ‘in the zone’ and totally chilled yet focused all the time! And we’d also win every single golf game we played!
But this just doesn’t happen.
I’ve received some feedback this week from a couple of students who have been really struggling with their meditation practice and finding little or no benefit to their golf game, they’ve been on the verge of giving up the journey.
So what’s going on? Am I just feeding you a line? Is it possible to reduce the inner dialogue or indeed is it even relevant to your performance on the golf course?
Here’s my advice if you’re finding this path difficult and my Six Best Suggestions to overcome resistance, enjoy your training and get ‘in the zone’.
First of all, if you’re sitting quietly for at least 15 minutes three times per week, well done! This already puts you in an elite category as the vast majority of people, although they can intellectually understand the benefits of quietening their mind rarely knuckle down and commit to the practice.
(BTW I don’t mean using apps or pre-recorded visualizations, I mean pure old-fashioned Zen which is sitting quietly without distractions, focusing on your breathing, letting it become deeper and slower and turning down the volume of chatter inside your mind).
Secondly, you need to approach this as something unlike any other training that’s out there with regards to achievement/motivation/personal development and the like. This is not a fad, nor a gimmick, nor a 5 minute wonder. Meditation is an art and science thousands of years old and therefore we need to (i) approach the practice with some reverence and (ii) don’t expect immediate results or rather, don’t look for results or the outcome but pay attention to the process.
If you’re practising mediation in the morning and then in the afternoon going to the course expecting and hoping and looking for results this is the wrong approach. Simply practice, practice, practice and keep on practising (i.e. paying attention to your breathing) all the time you’re driving to the club, walking to the first tee, preparing for your shots and so forth.
Thirdly, Chi Performance GOLF is a completely different path (see my previous comment, above) and one that needs to gently infuse your time on the range and the course. You can’t force it and you can’t really will yourself to get ‘in the zone’ but you can create the right conditions within yourself for the zone to manifest. So again, trust the process and don’t look for the outcome!
Finally, all that information and knowledge about the golf swing that’s probably filling your head when you play, all the books you’ve read, the theories you’ve studied, the different approaches to the swing and so forth need to be gently underpinned with more knowledge of yourself – learning more about your own mental processes, your emotions and the habits and patterns that might stop you playing your best.
And all this is possible only through self-awareness which can only come about through being still and being quiet, and taking this experience onto the golf course. Remember, all the greatest players the game has ever seen have talked about the silence and the absence of thoughts when playing their best shots.
So, if you’re passionate about golf and you’ve been playing for three years or more then all you need to master is the third part of the Inner Game formula: SKILL + PASSION – MENTAL INTERFERENCE or put another way, SKILL + PASSION + IMMERSION
Here are MY Six Best Suggestions to Help You
1.Understand what’s expected of you and be prepared for resistance.
2. Be patient and honour the journey; the Buddhists have a saying “That which you are seeking is causing you to search” so try to connect with the part of you that’s curious and interested in this approach rather than the part which might want to undermine and sabotage you.
3. Effort can be its own reward. You will gain more from trying than not trying!
4. Don’t judge yourself or the quality of your meditation practice, if you persist then overtime you will find your ability to stay relaxed yet focused will be greatly enhanced as you create the right internal state to experience the zone.
5. Be consistent with your practice; 15 mins per day is better than an hour once a fortnight!
6. Focus on the process and the results will follow.