By GolferHD September 17, 2023
Ever felt like life’s moving too fast or you’re just trying to catch up? Does your personal life carry over to your round? Is your heart pounding when you have to make par putt? Enter mindfulness. It’s like a pause button for our chaotic lives that can help us enjoy the present moment in a more calm and serene way. But what is it, and how can it even help us golfers perform better? Let’s dive in.
What’s Mindfulness Anyway?
Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment with purpose and without judgment1. Think of it as being fully tuned into what’s happening right now, rather than getting lost in daydreams or worries. Some athletes might call it being in the zone, but with mindfulness you’re presently aware and not zoned out. While it has roots in ancient Buddhist traditions, it’s now a mainstream practice, helping people from all walks of life, including athletes.
Why Do I Care About Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has some serious benefits:
- Stress-Buster: Feeling stressed? Mindfulness can help reduce stress hormones2.
- Stay Sharp: It can sharpen your focus and attention, making you more alert3.
- Emotional Control: Mindfulness can help you understand and manage your emotions4.
- Improve Relationships: By being present, you can connect better with others5.
- Mental Health Boost: It’s been shown to help with anxiety, depression, and even PTSD6.
- Ace Your Game: Athletes are using mindfulness to improve their performance. By staying present, they can react faster, make better decisions, and even manage game-time stress.
How Can You Become More Mindful?
Mindfulness is a journey that requires regular practice. However, the beauty of mindfulness is that it can be practiced in small ways every day.
- Breathe Easy: Just focus on your breathing. Feel the air going in and out7.
- Savor Your Food: Enjoy every bite of your food. Notice its taste and texture8.
- Walk it Out: When walking, feel the ground beneath and observe your surroundings9.
- Body Check: Do a mental scan of your body, noticing any sensations or tensions.
Pre-round Routine: Box Breathing
If I’m spraying balls on the range before the round often times I’m subconciously worked up and I don’t even realize it. In these situations I take a moment and use the following technique. At the beginning of the exercise I might not be able to get a full breath or hold it for the full count, but continuing with the exercies has proven to calm my mind and body which results in a more relaxed swing.
Next time before you start your round or even during those moments when you need to refocus, try the Box Breathing technique. This method is used by elite athletes and even Navy SEALs to calm their minds and improve concentration10.
How to do Box Breathing
- Inhale: Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold: Hold your breath for a count of 4.
- Exhale: Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 4.
- Pause: Wait for another count of 4 before taking another breath.
- For 2 minutes: Repeat the cycle for about 8 times.
- For 5 minutes: Repeat the cycle for about 20 times.
As you breathe, focus on the counting and the sensation of the breath entering and leaving your body. This technique can help center your mind, reduce anxiety, and improve your focus before taking that crucial shot.
Sounds easy, what’s the catch?
Sure, it might sound simple, but staying present isn’t always a walk in the park. You’ll get distracted or even judge yourself. This is part of the practice. In time you’ll become aware of the distracting thoughts and let them go along with any guilt associated with not being mindful enough. It’s all about noticing distractions and gently coming back to the present1.
Mindfulness has been more than just a trend for me and many others. It’s a way to truly experience life, improve mental well-being, and even up your golf game. Not sold, that’s okay. But have you ever wondered how a simple breathing exercise could potentially save a game? Or how the top golfers in the world use mindfulness techniques to stay ahead?
I’ll be diving deeper into these topics in the coming weeks, sharing personal stories, expert interviews, and even some exclusive content for our subscribers. So, if you’re curious about how mindfulness can transform your game and life, you won’t want to miss out.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to staying present during a game? Follow me on Social Media and drop a comment. It might just be the topic of an upcoming post!
Drive and Dream,
Kabat-Zinn, J. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. Hyperion, 1994. ↩︎
Daubenmier, J., et al. Mindfulness. Springer, 2014. ↩︎
“The Benefits of Mindfulness.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 2018. ↩︎
Hülsheger, U. R., et al. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2013. ↩︎
Ma, L. K., et al. Emotion, 2017. ↩︎
Goyal, M., et al. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014. ↩︎
“Mindful Breathing.” Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley, 2016. ↩︎
“Principles of Mindful Eating.” The Center for Mindful Eating, 2019. ↩︎
Nhat Hanh, T. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation. Beacon Press, 1999. ↩︎
Stuster, J. Optimizing Performance Under Stress: A Training Guide for Combat and High-Risk Professions. Naval Institute Press, 2019. ↩︎