This article was provided by one of my mentors, Dr. Glen Albaugh.
Being present and centered is characterized by an ability to focus with clear attention and vivid awareness – to fully experience the moment. PGA Tour players know the importance of being in the present to ensure that they play one shot at a time, refocus after missed shots and manage streams of negative thoughts and emotions.
Tour players are always playing under plenty of performance pressure, and they know that being present and centered must be an integral part of their preparation. You may have an important event coming up in the near future, too. It may not be on the PGA Tour, although your club championship, a big business golf date, or just your regular Wednesday and Saturday Nassau, can offer up plenty of pressure. They are opportunities for you to learn more about the value of staying present centered.
While each of us when confronted with pressure situations are tempted to live in the past or the future, being in the present is the ideal. Where do you spend most of your time? Do past memories of similar golfing events affect your performance? Do you become anxious about the future, consumed with the possibilities of impending disaster? Or are you able to be in the present, tuned into the here and now?
Your best performance happens in the present, when you are fully engaged. Focusing on what is before you in the moment, is expansive. Your body is relaxed and ready for action. Your mind is connected to what is happening right now. All of your senses are dedicated to the present.
While no one can expect to stay in the present 100% of the time, when you find yourself future tripping, or falling back into the past, you can get back to the present. A present time awareness state is where execution for each shot begins. It’s where emotions are managed, strategies are made, all senses are engaged and your most brilliant plays are possible.
Techniques to stay more present
A good technique to stay in the present, and one that is used for exactly the same purpose in meditation, is to focus on breathing. When you feel your focus drifting to the past or future, notice your breathing and focus on what you see (the ball and the target). This clears the mind of negative chatter, reduces stress and allows you to be completely focused on your objective. You are living ONLY in the present moment and acting only with your subconscious mind. By learning to be more aware of your senses, you will learn the power of being more connected with reality.
Try another exercise to practice staying in the present:
Ask yourself: “I wonder what my next thought will be?” and notice how long it is before a thought comes in. Practice this, trying to extend the time before a new thought comes in. This improves your ability to stay in the NOW. Another way would be to focus on an object e.g. a golf ball and then notice when your mind drifts away from it. When it does, gently bring it back. Try to practice this daily, each time trying to increase your focus time.
Being present is a skill, one that you can improve every time you go out to play (and off the course too). Staying present will increase your ability to play better under pressure, and it’s a key module in my Ultimate Mental Game Training System.
Photo by Keith Allison