A new technique to calm your mind and improve your golfJuly, 2013
How Neuro Linguistic Programming will revolutionise your golf game
Golf’s mental game is traditionally trained independently of the swing – almost as a separate part of the game – and is aided by the use of sports psychology and, in particular, by a branch of psychology known as NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming.
Typically NLP involves helping the golfer manage their mental state by reframing negative thoughts and it encourages better performance through the use of positive inner dialogue; very useful as motivational tools.
However, experience shows us that when a golfer is actually playing their best golf, (known as playing ‘in the zone’) the internal chatter stops altogether as he or she becomes completely immersed in what they’re doing, to the point that they stop reflecting on their performance and start to trust their instincts and abilities.
This state of immersion can also be described as ‘mindfulness’ or acceptance; the non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the experience that occurs in the present moment.
THE EASTERN APPROACH
Mindfulness is a spiritual or psychological faculty that has its roots in the teaching of the Buddha 2,500 years ago. The Buddha advocated that one should establish mindfulness in one’s day-to-day life, detaching from negative thoughts and feelings and maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one’s body, mind and emotions.
Today, this practice is being employed in Western psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions and ailments.
Research over the last 20 years has also centred around the effects of mindfulness in sports performance in general, and golf in particular.
Mindfulness and acceptance have been linked to optimal performance A European University Study shows that the characteristics of mindfulness and acceptance have been linked to optimal performance, in particular seeing elite golfers enhance their national ranking and recreational golfers significantly improving their performance.
The long-established foundational practices of chi power GOLF are shown to be parallel to the four main areas of research that have been tried, tested and proven effective. They include: (a) the focus on and awareness of breathing and bodily sensations; (b) the focus on and awareness of movements; (c) mindfulness and acceptance of thoughts and emotions in a non-judgmental way; and (d) mindfulness, awareness and commitment to one’s actions.
In addition to various forms of mindfulness meditation (such as ‘watching the breath’), there are exercises that develop awareness throughout the day using designated environmental cues, to make mindfulness continuous.
Examples include the hourly chimes of clocks, red lights at traffic junctions and crossing the threshold of doors. Mindfulness itself can take the form of simply remembering to watch three successive breaths using these environmental cues as triggers.
Once you’ve established this as a regular habit in your everyday life, you can adopt the same approach in your golf game, taking three successive breaths while you walk to the ball, take your clubs from the bag and settle yourself into the address position.
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