How Meditation Made Me A Better Golfer
Dear Readers: This guest post by Loîs Talagrand demonstrates the point I’ve been making over the years about meditation. It can even enhance your golf game!
A few years ago, I heard about a strange practice that could take my golf to the next level.
If you’re anything like me when I was a kid, you would watch the PGA tour and your jaw would hit the floor. How were these people able to hit the ball so far and with that much accuracy?
Watching these pros was like watching modern-day magic to me. I became instantly hooked and the desire to play the game has never left me.
The turning point
After trying my hand at golf, I soon realized that this game had a mental component that no one seemed to address in books or on the internet. I hired a coach and they could tell me how to improve my stance, hand placement, and swing speed. I also spent hours researching and writing about golf clubs.
However, no one was addressing the mental component of the game. I, like so many other golfers trying to improve, have a tendency to talk to myself during a shot. Things like birds chirping, the wind blowing and a constant mental fog were holding me back.
One day, I was on YouTube when I stumbled across a video featuring Tiger Woods. He explained that his ability to climb to the top of the industry was partly due to a series of mental practices that he performs daily. He illustrated the mental conversation he had when he tried to visualize a golf shot prior to taking a swing. “When I think of where I want the ball to go, I see this image of a ball flying everywhere.”
Entering the zone
Tiger talked about how his coach instructed him to calm his mind and visualize the shot prior to ever taking the shot. This is when the idea of meditation came up. I had heard about certain religions using the technique as a way of achieving a higher state of being, but that did not particularly interest me.
What did interest me, however, was that meditation had been shown through brain scans to improve our focus, attention span, and creative thinking. All of these factors, I learned, were paramount to high-level golf.
If you are a sports person yourself, you’ve certainly heard of something called “the zone” before. You just need to turn on ESPN and you’ll hear about it. Little did I know, meditation could assist golf players in entering the zone with ease.
The zone is a state where everything seems to be going right: Your swing is perfect, you use the right amount of force, your nerves are calm and the ball seems to bend and curve to your will.
The days when you can enter the zone are perfect. When I began practicing meditation to improve my golf game, I realized that these days were coming more and more frequently. In the past, I could count the days that I was in the zone on one hand.
Mindfulness takes efforts during the swing
I’ll be honest with you, meditation is hard in the beginning. My practice began with me sitting on the floor for 10 minutes upon waking. My goal was to calm down my mind and focus on my breath. Although this seemed like the perfect way to start my day, I realized that it was easier said than done.
My brain turned against me and began causing random thoughts to pop into my head. As time passed, I realized that the key was to accept these moments and try not to get too involved with them. Bringing the mind back to my focal point allowed my brain to grow stronger and perform at a higher capacity than before.
After practicing for a few weeks, I started questioning the benefits of meditation. I was not seeing any results on the course, in spite of my daily training.
What a lot of golfers don’t realize is that you need to actively control your attention to the right things. I started seeing results when I made the conscious choice of actively focusing during my swing.
Much like Tiger Woods did in his tournaments, I focused on the feeling of my club resting in my hands. I tried feeling the wind as it softly caressed my nose and eyelids.
Although this may seem overly simplistic in nature, these little rituals allowed me to use the skill I had built up during my daily meditation sessions.
Most amateur golfers are unaware of the benefits of meditation for golf. From my personal experience, meditation can help to reduce the mental chatter, especially during your swing. However, meditation is not a panacea, and you will need to actively be mindful during the game.
Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman” and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com