Quieting the Chattering Mind

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I never missed a putt in my mind. - - Jack Nicklaus
 
As I travel around the world conducting Yoga for Golfers workshops I always ask the participants what is their purpose for learning yoga and why are they in the class. The majority of students mention two components ' flexibility and quieting their minds. Flexibility is easily obtainable - practice yoga for golfers three days a week and I can guarantee the body will respond. Changing the external body is tangible and measurable ' you know when you are feeling more fit and you can see the results. Quieting the mind is much more challenging and in my opinion as important, if not more than the changing the body. When the mind is calm and focused, we can more easily focus on the desired results.
 
The yoga term dhyana translates into meditation. In traditional yoga philosophy is the sole purpose of the physical practice of yoga. The intention is to bring the body to a physical state that one can sit comfortably in meditation. In Zen this concept is also called mindfulness. My students often ask me How do I begin to quiet my mind so I can begin to focus and visualize?
 
Scientific studies regarding the positive psychological and physiological effects of meditation are enormous. From measurable changes in brain function to reduced heart rate the benefits from a regular meditation practice have been tested and proven to be extremely positive.
 
You know how you feel when you just had a streak of bogies (or sometimes double bogies)? How difficult it is to focus on the next golf shot and not the last one? Do you practice visualizing your outcome? Do you see the putt sink in the cup before you hit it or are you still focused on the last chip shot? The ability to let go, quiet the mind and practice one-pointed concentration is the essence of yoga and critical for good golf.
 
To begin practicing meditation it is important that the body be free of tension. You can do this by practicing your yoga for golfers program or by taking five to ten minutes at the end of the practice for meditation. Or you can take some time in the morning (before that morning cup of coffee or logging on to the computer) to sit and begin meditation. It is better to sit upright, with the back against the wall or in a chair. If this is uncomfortable feel free to lye on your back supporting your low back with rolled up towels under your slightly bent knees.
 
Relax, breathe deeply in and out through your nose. Focus on the rising and falling of the ribcage as you inhale and exhale. As you focus more of the breath simply allow the body and mind to come to a relaxed, rested place.
 
For our Yoga for Golfers purpose you have two options ' allow the mind to become completely quiet, still in a meditative state and remain there or you can begin the practice of visualization. If you choose the latter, be very specific with your visualization. For example, if visualizing putting see in your mind the green, the path of the ball, the light on the ball the feeling of the putter in your hand and the sound of the ball dropping in the cup.
 
Practice these meditation techniques three times a week for ten minutes and you will begin to see amazing results!
 

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 info@yogaforgolfers.com.