There’s no getting away from the fact that the world has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. We have more distractions than ever in the form of social media, apps, message notifications and libraries of information in our pockets. Being able to focus for longer periods is getting harder and harder and it’s affecting our lives in many ways.
The constant distractions of alerts and messages (the average person checks their mobile device over 50 times a day) send us down rabbit holes throughout the day without us even realizing it. We’re constantly distracted, not only by our devices, but by our “monkey minds” that are being pulled all over the place via the thousands of different thoughts we have every day. The long-term effect is shorter attention spans, lower productivity and more stress. But there is a solution.
Why meditation is an investment
As you might know from my recent post on my “killer morning routine”, I do 20 minutes of daily meditation and I see this as a great investment. When I first bring up meditation with golfers, many say they just “don’t have time”, or they’ve “tried it and it didn’t work”. Unlike the instant gratification we’re being trained to seek in our digital world, you won’t see much immediate benefit from meditation. However, over the course of weeks and months, you’ll see a huge improvement in your productivity and you’ll be a lot less stressed. But you’ll need to do it consistently.
What are the benefits of meditation for golf?
Here are some of the ways that meditation will help your golf game:
- Improved sleep, meaning better mental and physical performance
- A quieter mind meaning you’re more focused during your shot routines
- Being aware of your thoughts and emotions in between shots, but not judging and reacting to them (which can change your mood and confidence)
- Clearer thinking about the right shot to play
- More controlled responses to negative outcomes, instead of getting stressed and angry
- Sticking to the plan during practice instead of constantly tinkering (staying with tasks for longer without giving up)
- Playing better golf under pressure
How To Meditate
Many people ask me about what books, videos and apps I recommend for meditation for golf and really, you don’t need anything except a chair to sit in. Personally, I like to put on some relaxing music while I do it. Start the timer on your cell phone (with notifications turned off) and just sit there and pay attention to your breaths. I prefer to have a set rhythm to my breathing and use counting, but either way, you need to be aware of the sensation of your breath as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. You might want to start with 5 minutes and then add a minute each day, until you get to the full 20 minutes. The controlled breathing will immediately make you feel more relaxed.
Why does meditation work?
The purpose of meditation is to help us stay for longer in the present moment and “still” the mind. It’s not that you learn to stop thinking. You will still have thoughts while you meditate – it’s a common misconception that you are failing if you notice thoughts pop into your head. What were training is your ability to ignore those thoughts, instead of reacting to them and making them more powerful. With meditation for golf, you become more of an observer of your thoughts and emotions, rather than a participant in them. When you notice a thought, gently bring yourself back to your breathing.
What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness
Mindfulness is the same as mediation in that it’s about focusing on what’s happening in the present moment. You can be more “mindful” on a daily basis as you go about your day by just noticing what you are experiencing, thinking and feeling, without reacting to it. The mind is fully attending to what you are experiencing right NOW, without going down rabbit holes and drifting off in the same way that we do with our devices and notifications. It’s complete acceptance of what is happening now and how you are feeling now, without judgement. You can think of meditation as the training that facilitates being more mindful throughout the day. I’m sure that you can already see how this could help your golf game. Too many golfers start believing everything they are thinking and feeling on the golf course and get steered by them. When you’re more mindful, you’ll learn that it’s ok to have thoughts and feelings of doubts, fear, anger, frustration, but you don’t have to live in them.
Should juniors practice meditation for golf?
I think the younger you start meditating the better. You only have to look around today to see that young kids are looking at their cell phones non-stop, which is probably why we are seeing record numbers of kids being diagnosed with ADHD. Meditation (and less time spent on their devices) could be a possible solution, and studies have shown that children that meditate are less likely to develop it. I’m working with students as young as 9 who are meditating for 5 minutes daily and I’m convinced that even at that age, they benefit from it.
Start meditating today
Make today the first day of your 30 days meditation for golf and I’m confident you will quickly see it as an enjoyable experience you look forward to doing, instead of a chore. Write me a note and tell me how you get on. Just like going to the gym (which we need to do, especially if we’re feeling stressed), make it part of your daily routine and your mental golf training. It doesn’t cost anything and every day you’ll take yourself closer to greater awareness and more freedom from your thoughts and emotions. The result will be higher productivity, less stress, more happiness, and let’s not forget, lower scores!