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One day in college, I was recommended to try this 30 day meditation challenge, as a way of calming my mind and releasing all the stress and tension that comes with the busy schedule of being a student athlete. I initially did jump on the challenge, but to be completely honest with you, I didn’t last more than a few days.
Now, almost two years later, I am reading a book called Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty, which heavily focuses on training your mind for peace, purpose and happiness, based on Shetty’s past experiences as a monk. So far, I am really liking the book and it actually made me want to give meditation another chance. This time a more serious chance, may I add.
After meditating earlier this morning, I found myself thinking about the different ways in which meditation can help improve athletic performance. I’ve heard from before that many athletes at the highest level do some type of meditation as part of their mental practice, but I’ve never previously looked into the actual benefits of meditation linked to athletic performance.
After doing a bit of research, I haven’t found any study or anything that points out a beneficial relationship between meditation and golf specifically. However, just looking at the different benefits of meditating on a regular basis, I definitely think those benefits translate into desirable benefits for all golfers looking to improve.
One of the biggest hurdles in golf is the mental part. I would argue that most of us have a much higher potential that we leave unreached, simply because we self-sabotage ourselves with negative self-talk and let feelings such as fear and stress take over. It’s not uncommon that we invest so much emotional energy into achieving certain results on the course that, when we don’t reach those desired results, we react negatively and out of control after bad shots or bad outcomes and then move on to get ahead of ourselves by painting all of these different type of bad scenarios in our heads during a round, rather than just staying in the moment.
Thinking about some of the benefits of meditation, here are some of the benefits that I think are most relevant to golf:
- A quieter mind
- Increased focus and productivity
- More controlled responses to outcomes, good or bad
- Mindfulness and a sense of being in the moment
- An overall decrease in negative emotions, stress and anxiety
- An overall increase in positive emotions, happiness
Imagine standing above a demanding tee shot on a golf course, being able to better control the thoughts that go through your head. Instead of worrying about carrying the water from the tee, while clearing the trees that make up the dog-leg on the right and also not pulling it far too left to risk putting out of bounds in play, imagine if you were able to quiet your mind from all of these thoughts and focus your mind on the task at hand. Playing a round of golf requires a great amount of focus over a longer period of time and as meditation is said to increase focus and productivity, I don’t see how this wouldn’t be beneficial for any golfer who wants to be able to focus throughout the entirety of a round, instead of finding their mind wandering away as they approach the last stretch of holes.
One of the most crucial factors when it comes to our mental game on the golf course, is our ability to react to shots and outcomes. Meditation is supposed to help you control your response to outcomes in life (good and bad) and I therefore think it could be a great way to be more in control of our reactions on the golf course. If we are able to kind of detach ourselves from the actual outcome of hitting a bad shot, for example, and can react in ways that are more controlled rather than driven by rage and negative emotions, I think we will be able to see a major impact on our ability to keep our composure and make better and smarter decisions on the course. This also goes along with the next benefit of being able to stay in the moment. You’ve probably heard countless times just how important it is to take ”one shot at a time” and although it might sound like a cliché, it does indeed make a lot of sense. If meditation can help us stay in the moment and focus only on the shot we’re about to hit rather than getting ahead of ourselves and making up these different scenarios in our head, then I think it can have a hugely positive impact on our games.
Overall, benefits of meditation include a decrease in negative emotions such as stress and anxiety and an increase in positive emotions and happiness, which, if you think about it, is desirable in any setting in life really. Like I mentioned before, the ability to calm your mind and better control your thoughts, and with that also push aside negative talk and feelings of stress and anxiety, can absolutely have a positive impact on our performance on the golf course. Less negativity and more feelings such as joy, happiness and appreciation of being able to be out on the golf course, can only lead to a positive outcome I think.
So remember how I told you that I recently started meditating again, this time around giving it a serious go? After learning more about the benefits of meditation and seeing what I think is a clear conclusion that meditation could actually positively impact our mental game and ultimately our golf game as a whole, I am genuinely excited to give meditation a serious chance and see what differences I can spot in my golf game as a result. I understand that meditation is a long-term practice, so I definitely don’t expect to see any results right away but am interested to see what happens throughout this upcoming season. What do you think – can meditation make you a better golfer?
I’m curious to know if any of you practice meditation on a regular basis. So if you practice meditation and have (or haven’t) seen an impact on your golf game, please share your thoughts around it either below, or to me privately if you prefer, as I’m really interested to hear about your experience.
Also, if you want to check out the book that got me started into thinking about the relationship between golf and meditation in the first place, you can find Jay Shetty’s book Think Like A Monk here.