Showing posts with label mental golf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mental golf. Show all posts

How to Release Stress and Anxiety in Your Golf Game

How to Release Stress and Anxiety in Your Golf Game
By Guest Blogger: David Geier, CIGC

You are on the first tee ready to hit your first drive of the day and suddenly you find yourself feeling nervous, anxious, and stressed. In addition, your mind is racing and distracted, and you find yourself pre-judging your first tee shot flying straight to the out-of-bounds marker.
What’s a golfer to do to release tension, stress, and anxiety?
First, we can begin to shift our attention from that part of our mind which is judging, blaming, and expecting the worst to the inner silent witness or silent observer who is simply watching what is happening in the present moment.
It is our fearful ego that is really at the center of our stress, anxiety and tension. So a part of overcoming our stress, anxiety and tension is transcending the ego and shifting our attention to our inner genius or witness.
In Buddhist meditation, our thoughts and our emotions are viewed much like clouds in the sky. One thought arises, then passes, usually followed by a gap of silence, then another cloud. This cloud could be another thought, feeling, perception, desire, fear, judgment, etc. The clouds never truly end, but if we start to pay attention to what is arising, and realizing that “this too shall pass,” the gap of silence can be extended as long as we do not attach ourselves to that which we are witnessing, whether it be a thought, an emotion, a desire, whatever. Ideally, golf shots are best executed in the “gap of silence”.
Stephen Wolinsky, PhD and the author of Quantum Consciousness (1993, Bramble Books) has written a cutting edge book which provides eighty-five practical exercises on how to develop the skill we are calling self-awareness. Wolinsky states, “Before you can do anything about how you feel, you have to be able to observe or witness it. The moment you attempt to see what’s going on inside of you, part of you separates off to make this observation. Self-awareness is also called “self reflection,” “self observation” or mindfulness.”
“Whatever the name, the essence is observation.”
Golf Application:  Prepare yourself at home, before you head out to the practice range or golf course, by shifting your attention to your Inner Joyful Witness. This is the part of who we are that experiences joy and inner peace and ultimately connects us to our core of being.
Second, we must realize that our emotions and mental states are not who we are. We have emotions, and we have thoughts and different mental states, but that is not who we are.
“For many, this is nothing more than being aware of the real you – who you really are inside...and without a doubt, an increased self-awareness is a key aspect to tapping into your witness or inner genius.”
Third, our emotional moods and mental distractions are not permanent, but rather, they are part of the impermanent passing show of life. In The Witness Exercise, as presented in The Ken Wilber Reader, you slowly recite the following to yourself, trying to realize as vividly as possible the import of each statement. The following is an excerpt:
“I have emotions, but I am not my emotions. I can feel and sense my emotions and what can be felt and sensed is not the true "feeler." Emotions pass through me, but they do not affect my inward "I." I have emotions but I am not my emotions.”
Golf Application: Begin breathing slowly and evenly though your nose. You can count one for your first in-breath, and two on your out-breath. Keep repeating this process until you can count to ten. If you lose your focus, then you can start over at the count of one all over again.
Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist monk from Viet Nam, teaches a meditation where you breathe in and smile, followed by an out-breath and maintaining a smile. This is a good starting point for reducing stress and anxiety prior to your training, practicing, or playing experiences.
Golf Application: One of the insights I learned from putting guru Geoff Mangum for quieting the mind is…quiet eyes lead to a quiet mind – busy eyes lead to a busy mind. View life thru quiet eyes as you walk at an even pace to your ball, target your tee shot, eat a ham sandwich, drink a glass of wine, or diaper your baby.
Fourth: Begin quieting your inner dialogue by placing your tongue to the top of the mouth, just behind your upper teeth. Then, place your witnessing attention at the level of your navel as you walk with an even pace to the practice range or first tee.   
Last, during pre-shot, select the club you which to use. Then after holding the club, squeeze the club tightly for about four or five seconds. In addition, breathe in for four or five seconds as you squeeze and then let go of the squeeze as you breathe out. This is called "The Squeeze and Breathe" technique. The Squeeze and Breathe technique will release excess stress and anxiety from previous shots and normalize adrenaline within a few minutes or so. It’s a good idea to follow this technique before every shot.
Summary: Managing one’s stress and anxiety at the practice range or golf course is very important if the golfer is trying to maintain optimal performances in golf. When stress and anxiety are elevated, energy is going to be lost as a result. This is why we can be running on fumes when we experience elevated stress, anxiety, and tension throughout a round of golf. Ever wonder why we sometimes hit the wall at the fourteenth hole?
Lessons Learned: Learning to maximize energy and stay in the zone or flow state is what every golfer and athlete try to sustain who want to consistently play to their potential. Your inner genius or witness is the starting point. You can experience your inner witness by practicing the meditation exercises mentioned above: Breathing with Awareness, Witnessing, and Squeeze and Breathe.  

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