Those of you who are golf fans will already know that the 2019 Masters Tournament is being held from April 11–14 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
When I watch golf I always find it amazing how golfers manage to stay so focused for each shot, blocking out the crowd, the TV cameras and appearing to not dwell on the importance of the occasion. Many golfers rely on a technique called Mindfulness, which is essentially ‘living in the moment’. So Justin Rose for example will view each shot as a new challenge. They will not look back at previous shots that may not have gone to plan: the past is the past and you cannot change that. No matter how many shots above par they may be, employing this technique enables golfers to stay positive and to not think about defeat.
Golf is a complex sport physically and mentally. There are many sources of information that a golfer’s brain will be aware of: the weather and wind speed, the ground conditions, how close to the tee their opponent’s ball is, their previous performance on this hole (both good and bad)…what club to use, whether to go for a half swing or a quarter swing….All this information could overload a golfer’s brain and negatively affect their performance.
The brain will naturally dwell on negative emotion, so a poor shot on the 2nd hole could lead to the brain constantly looking back on this and ‘overthinking’ : replaying that shot in their mind again and again as the brain tries to understand what went wrong. However no one can change the past, and this over-processing reduces the golfer’s capacity to deliver their next shot well as they are not focused, so performance spirals down.
Mindfulness in golf means being fully focused on your current shot, not dwelling on what has gone on before. Once the brain has made a decision as to what club to use and what type of shot to play, then the golfer will relax and fully focus on delivering that shot to the best of their ability.
Once shot has happened, the golfer will accept the result and then move their focus onto the next one.
Many of us don’t play golf, but the technique of mindfulness can benefit us all. Our lives are becoming busier and our stress levels are increasing. Our brains are being constantly bombarded with thoughts and worries: these could relate to our job, our family life, our finances…our brains can even dwell on decisions like what to cook for dinner or whether to buy the black or the brown shoes.
Taking some time out each day to practice Mindfulness gives our brains a break from the constant ‘chatter’ going on in our heads, and this can lead to improved performance inside and outside of work, improved mental health, better eating habits, better sleep, better immune function, better decision making, increased creativity and generally being more content with life in general.
The opposite of mindfulness is overthinking: this is when we get caught up in a tangle of thoughts. This affects how we perceive the world and affects our behaviour. Mindfulness allows us to become more present and see the world in a new light. It may allow us to appreciate things we have taken for granted.
So who can practice Mindfulness?
Anyone, and here are some tips to get you started:
If you are a golfer, the app Undaunted Golf uses mindfulness techniques to help improve your game.
If you are not a golfer, then try the apps Happify, Headspace or Remindfulness.