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Be the Ball: How meditation has helped my golf game–and my golf game helped my meditation.

Be the Ball: How meditation has helped my golf game–and my golf game helped my meditation.

“Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.” — Chevy Chase in Caddyshack

I let my shoulders drop, I exhaled easily but consciously. I closed my eyes. I opened them. I saw the ball but then I was the ball. I let go of consciousness and restrained myself to not exert too much strength into the shot. The power of connection would be stronger than the power of my triceps. I didn’t release my gaze from the ball as I brought my arms back and up then let them swoop down with ease, grace and the power of not trying too hard. Whack!

I never thought I’d be quoting Caddyshack and … taking it seriously.

Throughout the 18 holes, I tested the theory: would trying less produce more results? The answer was clear. The less force and strength I used, the better I’d hit the ball. Please note, dear serious golfer critics, I don’t know the difference between a bogie and hogie or an eagle and a beagle. I don’t know which driver to use and don’t know what PW stands for. I just like the feel of a clean hit. I like when you connect to something so purely and cleanly that you become a part of it. I do know what it means to connect with the ball–and now I know it on the physical as well as, well, spiritual level.

The more I played, the more it translated into my meditation practice: the harder you try, the worse the outcome. The more strength and oomph and effort, the less accurate the trajectory of the ball. When you’re tired and not focused, the ball will veer off course. When you say, “I’m going to really whack this one!” you might whack it far and maybe 1 out of 10 times, you’ll get a straight shot, but more often than not, it’s just going to be brute force. In fact, it’s probably your worst shot that top spins and sadly dribbles through the grass or worse: you whack it with all your might and get a nice chunk of grass and dirt and little ball.

Skeptics might cry, “So, Mr. Zen Golfer dude, I just close my eyes and I win the Masters?” No, but you can try too hard. There must be some sort of graphed curve that shows the perfect balance of strength and ease or trying and surrendering or maybe focus and flow. I don’t know the exact combination or mixture. If I did, I’d probably win the Masters. But of course, to win the Masters, I’d probably have to not only Be the Ball, but I might want to play golf more often. It’s not going to get me very far to Be One with the Ball when it’s once in a while.

Whether it’s golf or work or health or work, Chevy might have been onto something. It’s not about you. It’s about the ball:

Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.

  • Possible: be the club.
  • Impossible: be the club and the ball.
  • Repossible: be the ball.

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