In the ancient text of yoga it states that the objective of yoga is the cessation of fluctuation of the mind. The physical practice is intended to prepare the body to sit comfortably for meditation. Meditation simply means the ability to sit still, quiet the mind while remaining awake. It is a powerful tool to manage stress, increase concentration, enhance visualization and calm the nervous system ' all components essential for good golf. Professional athletes use meditation to calm the mind so they can visualize their bodies performing to their maximum potential. Most well known is Phil Jackson, LA Lakers head coach, who considers meditation as important as fitness training for his players.
Every movement, from long iron shots to short putts, begins in the brain. When you practice visualization you are setting the brain patterns that your body will integrate the movement. As golfers we have a tendency towards self-loathing thoughts. When you begin to clear the mind of negative self-talk, as if wiping the chalkboard clean, you have the capacity to replace those thoughts with positive imagery.
On the golf course, you will begin to have the ability to compose yourself after a bad shot and continue playing. Meditation also teaches acceptance. Sometimes you go out to play and you are on fire, other days you wonder where your game went. Accepting how you play on any given day does not mean you are apathetic, (I am in NO way suggesting that you become a automaton, you want passion and the desire to play your best) it means you can accept the shot, leave it behind and begin again with a clean slate.
Removing negative self-talk, the inner dialogue that tries to trick you into thinking you are not capable of hitting good shots, or carrying the ball over the water, or sinking long putts (even short putts) helps you play better golf. See it before you hit it!
Here are a few guidelines for beginning a practice of sitting or meditation. It is important that your spine be straight so sit in a chair or place a few towels under you buttocks with your back against the wall. Sitting on the towels will place your hips higher than you knees and make it more comfortable. If you have back pain, lye on your back, rolled up towels under your knees for back support.
- Breathe deeply through the nose
- Keep the jaw, tongue and shoulder relaxed.
- Focus on the rise and fall of the diaphragm as you inhale and exhale.
- Begin to take your focus to the area behind the eyes, moving the focus to the center of the head.
Try to sit for five minutes in the morning, immediately after you wake up, before coffee and checking e-mails. At night sit again for five minutes. (You will have a restful sleep).
After a week increase the time to ten minutes. My suggestion is that when you begin this process, sit and focus on your breathing. As you begin to increase the length of time you sit, begin the process of visualization. Be very clear and specific in your mind ' see yourself in every detail of the golf swing, from setting your stance through the entire swing plane to the follow through. In your mind see yourself calm, steady, powerful and focused as you sink putt after putt.
Meditation is a simple process, no mantras needed, just an open mind. You will see the benefits integrated into your life, on and off the course.
Please feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your questions. My new book Yoga for Golfers ' The Total Golfers Conditioning System will be in bookstores June 20th.
Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at email@example.com.