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Meditation as a Means of Sports Improvement

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  • Jeff Belyea
    Meditation as a Means of Sports Performance Improvement (or Sales Improvement, or Life…) Imagine a golfer who only plays on weekends, yet manages to maintain
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2006
      Meditation as a Means of Sports Performance Improvement (or Sales
      Improvement, or Life…)

      Imagine a golfer who only plays on weekends, yet manages to maintain
      a pretty low handicap. It happens.
      Maybe not to you, and certainly not to me. But it happens. Now
      imagine this golfer in a member-guest tournament. He's brought his
      boss, who is not a great golfer, but he's…the boss. How do you
      imagine the low handicap weekend golfer will do - in a tournament,
      with his boss present? He will want to do especially well, won't he?
      Think he will be emotionally attached to how well he does? Of
      course, he will. Did you guess that he will tighten up and not shoot
      his best game? That would be my bet, too. But, in this case, we both
      lose the bet.

      How could that be? Luck? Maybe. But this golfer is also a
      meditator. He knows how to bring himself to a calm, stress-
      free "place". He knows how to consciously get in the "zone", where
      with quiet inner joy, he placidly and smilingly "watches" himself
      play golf. He has learned how to be a witness to events, and to be
      emotionally non-attached to the outcome. His mind stays quiet. His
      muscles stay relaxed, and his swing is almost always fluid and

      Yogi Berra is credited with saying, "You can't hit the ball and
      think at the same time." At first read, that may be thought of as
      another oxymoronic Yogi-ism. But it contains great insight. Thinking
      is linear and mechanical - Tab A into Slot B. When we think, we have
      an ideo-motor response. Muscles tighten in response to the real or
      imagined event that is about to present itself. Whether that is a
      stationary golf ball or a baseball bearing down on us at 90+ miles
      an hour.

      We don't have to think to tie our shoes, walk, drive a car, or
      perform a host of other tasks that we have so thoroughly learned
      that they have been turned over to our "automatic" pilot. This is
      especially apparent to those who have found themselves pulling in
      their home driveway behind the wheel of their car, and not recalling
      any interceding event between leaving the office and pulling in the
      driveway. Who was driving?
      How did the driver manage to avoid accidents and obey traffic
      signals, and not hit anyone (we hope)?

      When we have learned the mechanics of a sport, we can, at different
      levels, stop "thinking" and just let our automatic pilot take over.
      It is when the thinker gets in the way and tries to take control
      that we tighten up, tense up emotionally and perform at less than
      our what-have-become-natural abilities. This tension pops up
      whenever we become self-conscious. You've seen the stilted self-
      conscious walk and the cemented grin of insincerity that accompanies
      a power handshake, right?

      We are so schooled to "think" that we have been socially coerced
      into a seriousness that has forgotten the freedom of intuitive
      consciousness and the childlike joy of being in the flow, in the
      zone. That was our natural state, but now is reserved for peak
      moment, peak performance and is revered by athletes who love to tell
      of the ball becoming bigger and moving in slow motion. Our "think"
      side of the brain has muscled up and muscled into our identity to
      the point that we think that thoughts are our only tools for
      survival or accomplishment, for the most part.

      Meditation, on the other hand, can muscle up our "intuitive" side
      and return us to a balanced flow as a natural state, where BOTH our
      thinking processes and our intuitive grace become tools for not only
      survival, but great joy, and a renewed, reborn, spirit of enthusiasm
      for life. Now, after years of identifying ourselves as only a
      thinker, there may be a lot of fear and doubt, or at least
      intellectual resistance to tapping into our intuitive side - or even
      admitting to the possibility that there may be a whole new world
      with a whole new perspective "our there" waiting for us. OK, before
      we get too cosmic, let's get back to sports. Learn to meditate, find
      a meditation teacher, like the golfer, and you may find that not
      only does your golf score improve, but your entire life scorecard
      may begin to improve.

      Jeff Belyea, PhD
      Mindgoal Goal Achievement Strategies
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