The first part of learning the game of golf is how to strike the ball and then how to hit shots with different clubs.
The second part is how to manage yourself and how to make the most of your ability to bring in the lowest possible scores every time you play. To achieve your potential, managing yourself is the most important part of the game.
If you strike the ball well, but manage your game poorly you will rarely win.
If you manage yourself well and hit the ball poorly you can win many times.
— Jack Nicklaus
When playing golf at your peak performance levels you are in a state where your mind is quiet and focused, and your body is relaxed. When you are over the ball you are focused on the process of hitting the ball. You put yourself into this mindful state of consciousness with your preshot routine so you have stopped thinking of what to do and can trust your setup.
When you are mindful, you are fully invested in the present moment; not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. You are experiencing being in the now with all of your senses. It is imperative that your body is relaxed in order to accomplish this process.
There is a natural rhythm when you go within. Being in the zone state is like being in the flow of a river. When you go against the river, it is challenging. When you are in your own natural flow of rhythm, life and your golf game proceed easily. This is how you shift and transform into your true self. You become more aware of your senses, which give you the guidance you need to execute your golf shot.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing. While mindfulness is a natural state of being, it can be accessed with the practice of relaxing your mind and body. We already have the capacity to be present so it doesn’t require us to change who we are. Mindfulness is being completely awake to the present moment and being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it.
Golfers have a tendency to project the present into the future by thinking about upcoming holes and what they need to score in order to achieve a desired outcome. This is a perfect example of creating stress within your mind and body. With this awareness of judgment of how you are doing, mindfulness is the solution to reduce the stress and bring your mind back to the present. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
Effective Deep Breathing
“Breathing is the most important physiological function of your body. You can live forty days without food, ten days without water, but only four minutes without oxygen.
Breathing is one of the few bodily functions that, within limits, can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously. Conscious breathing is used in yoga to calm the mind and release toxins. It is taught in Lamaze classes to reduce the heart rate, anxiety levels, and pain perception. It works in part because when breathing becomes a focus, other sensations move to the outside of your awareness.
If you watch a baby breathe, or watch someone who is sleeping, you will see this relaxed, natural breathing as the stomach protrudes on the inhale and falls on the exhale. We have been taught to relieve tension by sucking in our stomachs, taking in a big breath and letting our chest and shoulders rise. This actually creates tension and tightness in your chest and shoulder muscles. In golf we need to have these muscles relaxed so we can make a full shoulder turn to set up the torque for maximum golf club acceleration.
Deep breathing is the key to relaxation. The more you relax, the better your feel. The more you relax, the better you play. The more you relax, the easier it is to focus and be mindful. And the more you relax, the more powerful your mind is.
My personal preference to relax before hitting any shot on the golf course is to take in three deep breaths during my preshot routine. I take in one deep conscious breath each to calm and focus my mind, my body, and my spirit.”*
In my experience of playing competitive amateur golf at the highest levels, I believe that the most important ingredient in your mental golf game is efficient deep breathing to obtain the state which relaxes your muscles, clears and focuses your mind, and keeps your arousal level constant. When you inhale this breath of life correctly, know that you are breathing in your own empowerment.
*Excerpts are from Chapter 10: Deep Breathing; “THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances”
Play “in the zone” with Joan
Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances
Improve your breathing technique and mindfulness skill by listening to the PMI self-hypnosis CD “Progressive Relaxation of the Mind & Body” in the privacy of your own home. All eight PMI self-hypnosis CDs begin with guided breathing techniques for focus and relaxation. Available now at http://www.pmi4.com/cart
Visit the www.PositiveMentalImagery.com Archived Newsletters page for comprehensive information about the mental game of golf.
“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.
“THE HEART OF GOLF” guide book for transforming your life and golf game
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