I was talking with a friend who is a girl on the topic of association and how important is to be careful of the people around you that could be a positive or negative influence in your life. She then proceeded to tell me about an event called Awesomeness Fest. It’s an annual event where like-minded people get together at an exotic location for a weekend of fun, education, and relaxation. In our conversation, she had used the word “mindfulness” which I had never heard of before. Being a hungry student I started my research that night, I was a googling it machine and was loving what I was finding, I watched a 90 second commercial for the Awesomeness Fest and was hooked. I continued to read more and more and couldn’t stop. I feel like this was a key piece of my life I was missing. By definition, per my great friends at google…
- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, mindfulness. Then I found this quote in my research from, Lao Tzu – “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” These were principles that I have never heard of and if I did, I was not adopting them in my life. But then at that very moment, I realized that I have been using these timeless principles and didn’t even know it.
Several years ago, I made the commitment of both time and money to pursue a true passion of mine, which is to compete as an amateur golfer. If you want to be the best at something, what do you do? Seek the best person to help you get there, so I hired a golf coach and one with a great passion for being the best youth instructor in the world. He had big goals and I really admire those who are not afraid to make bold statements about their long-term visions. We came to a mutual agreement to move forward, even though I wasn’t a junior, he was willing to take me on.
We started our journey and it was awesome. I had unlimited access, that was the agreement, we went through the typical stuff, the angle of attack, club path, club head speed and the all the stuff that goes with coaching the techniques of the game. What made him extremely unique was he did not put a lot of weight on technique, now don’t get me wrong we definitely spent time on it and worked it hard, but the area we focused on the most was the mental game and that is probably why I love the game of golf so much, because it is the most mentally demanding sport I’ve ever played. After weeks of the initial coaching sessions, we got into the stuff I eluded to early about mindfulness. We were on the range and he had made an observation, that when I hit poor shots, he could tell there was tension in my golf swing. You are probably thinking the exact same thing I was, how the heck can you know that I have tension in my golf swing, his answer was I can tell by the body language in your hands, arms and your face when you have tension and when you don’t. This is where it gets really good, he continues to tell me that he can confidently take any golfer of any level and within minutes on the range get them to hit their best golf shots. This is where mindfulness comes into play, he said the key to hitting the best golf shot is to be present. Remember the definition above ”a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment” present is the key word here. He then continued to tell me the only way to be present in the moment is by using the 5 senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. The next step was to identify which of those was the strongest for me and then use that to stay present. We spent 100’s of hours testing which would produce the best result and keep me in the present moment at the time of executing my shot, which is only 3 to 4 seconds.
It’s so logical as you start to think through it, going back to the quote from Lao Tzu, if you are depressed you are thinking about the past and if you are anxious you are thinking in the future, now apply this to my example. On the last hole you hit a beautiful tee shot into the water and then another out of bounds over the green taking a 9 on a par 4, you get to the next hole and tee up your ball to hit the next shot and guess what creeps into your mind, “I can’t believe I just took a 9, I was playing so well” and I think you can predict the results of your next shot, there was tension because you were not present, you were thinking of all the ways you could have avoided that 9 on the last hole. Now another example is you are having the round of your lifetime you know you only have 2 holes left and if you just par the 2 next holes you will shot your all time low, you walk up to the tee with confidence because of your round on the day and look out to the fairway for your tee shot and see a huge bunker right and trees on the left, your heart is pounding, you are gripping the club just a little bit tighter than normal and you are praying please just put it in the middle so I can make my par, right there you are completely done, there is so much tension in your golf swing there is no way you are hitting your best shot and there it goes into the woods and shot after shot has tension and you conversate with your boys about how good you were playing, “if it wasn’t for those last 2 holes, I would have shot 86” I could go much further in this process but this article is not meant to be a golf lesson but to show an example of mindfulness.
Flashing forward to the current day, I am very aware of whether or not I am present, not to say that I am present all the time, a matter of fact it’s not even close. Let’s pretend what it would be like, to not think about what your boss said to you yesterday about the TPS reports you turned in late or how you are going to get everything done in time for your kids birthday party this weekend. Think about a day of being free, free of worry, free of doubt and just being free of anything that doesn’t bring joy into your life. I am not an expert in mindfulness, but I will you tell this, a great way to start is to commit to being aware without judgment. I challenge you today to just be aware of how you feel, ask yourself, is it about something that has or hasn’t happened yet. Matter of fact there has been numerous research that says 85% of what we worry about never materializes. Then you’ll know if you tend to focus on the past or future, just observe it. Now the key is how to stay present, It starts with awareness first, then use your senses to keep you present. You can start by doing simple things throughout the day, you can focus on a cloud simply watching it pass by, focus on nothing else, expect that cloud, listen to the sound of the leaves on a tree during a windy day. This all may sound silly, but if you want to be at peace with yourself every day, it requires practice. The only goal here is to start, just start doing something small each day using your senses to stay present.A very common practice of mindfulness is meditation, I enjoy studying the habits of highly successful people in all areas of life and consistently I see that they meditate every day. That was enough proof for me if a mom shared a story about how she is able to not worry or stress about her young kids day
This all may sound silly, but if you want to be at peace with yourself every day, it requires practice. The only goal here is to start, just start doing something small each day using your senses to stay present.A very common practice of mindfulness is meditation, I enjoy studying the habits of highly successful people in all areas of life and consistently I see that they meditate every day. That was enough proof for me, if a mom shared a story about how she is able to not worry or stress about her young kids day today and she has considered herself to be a highly successful mother and contributes her success to being present, then I am all in. Mediation is tough because the results do not come quickly, remember it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. From experience, I can tell you, that you will become more mindful every day just from a 10-minute meditation daily. It takes time to rewire your brain to remain present. Where the biggest challenges come is when you are under pressure, an example would be you have a massive project that is due and the deadline is very tight, most of us will worry about how we will get this done on time. All very natural, however, there are people that are masters at mindfulness and they remain calm and never worry because they maintain a sense of being present. I know it may seem impossible but at one time it was believed to be impossible to fly.
Please be patient so many people will meditate for a week and give up because they say that it’s not working. Nothing great happens overnight, it takes daily discipline, consistently applied over time. Remember that mindfulness is a skill and that any skill can be learned. I encourage anyone that desires to be at peace more often day to day, is to start with awareness first and then find some daily practices that work for you. There is no right way, the only wrong way, is to do is do nothing.