How come that “aha” moment tends to come almost immediately after you were ready to throw the towel in and give up? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, in that moment of extreme frustration and giving up, you actually stop consciously trying to force yourself to do something; in doing this you “get out of your own way” and let it happen.
This type of experience is not reserved for the beginner. It happens time and time and time again as you strive to improve in this rather challenging game. Yes, you do dig your golfing ability out of the dirt upon the practice range. But never forget that you also have to delve into the deeper depths of your mind and consciousness. You have to reach that point of letting go, of softness and submission.
I experienced this phenomenon yet again just this week. I played golf and dared to allow myself to think, “I’ve got it!” for just a few moments, and then the inevitable happened. I tried harder to reproduce “it” and “it” disappeared on me again! Every golfer knows this frustrating feeling. Isn’t it just so annoying?
In golf, and in most other things in life, “trying” just doesn’t work. You have to let go and do, instead of straining or trying. There are many parallels between your mental and your physical muscles.
In yoga class one day I was delighted by Rodney Yee’s description of how you have to patiently wait until your muscles are ready to stretch. He likened the process to that of a cat stalking a bird. The cat moves a couple of steps, then becomes still, watches, waits and then when the coast is clear, he or she moves another fraction further towards the bird. It is a slow and gentle process, all of the time watchful, alert, keenly observant and receptive.
When you try too hard, either mentally or physically, you become hard, stiff and tense. But what is needed in the golf swing is softness, suppleness and fluidity.
When tense you also become closed instead of receptive. Your observation skills become clouded. Your thoughts dwell either in the past (chewing over what went wrong) or in the future (what’s going to happen next?). To play good golf, your attention needs to be firmly fixed in the moment.
There’s no two ways about it; Golf is a very mental game. To play golf well, you have to tame your mind!
Roseanna Leaton, golf addict and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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