A recurring theme in this blog is freedom, as in the ability to completely relax and allow your swing to freely — and therefor, efficiently — swing.
It all falls apart when we try to force any aspect of the swing or muscle the swing. Counterintuitively, it causes it to slow down. A free swing is a fast swing. And one of the ways to find freedom is through peace.
I’ve written about this very early in the blog’s existence in, “About This Zone Thing.” where I write about using mediation to experience nothing. “Nothing” as in a deep, black state of consciousness devoid of any thought. It is still. And in time, we find it enveloping in an extraordinarily peaceful way.
In, “Who Are You Really,” I take this concept of peace deeper still by talking about how using these deep meditations can lead us to discovering the peace of our spiritual essence.
And more recently in, “Ai Miyazato: Finding Freedom by Not Trying to Find Freedom,” the great Japanese star takes us through her mental progression from peace (and/or confidence) to freedom.
So my antennae went up when Bernhard Langer came into the Charles Schwab Championship on Tuesday off a truly great year and attributed it to the peace that he had found in his life. It ordered everything for him. And then it came up again on Sunday at the Cochise course at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, as he basked in having won the Charles Schwab Cup :
“It still has to sink in. It’s really been a very unique year. I’m at a wonderful place with my private life, my wife, my family, and I think it reflects in my golf to some extent. I’ve been more relaxed this year and more at peace with everything than maybe in a number of years.”
So as the interview session was winding down, I came back to this idea of being at peace:
Q. You mentioned the other day and again today how you’re at peace in your life and that that helps your golf. Can you talk about the way in which that peace impacts on your game and flesh out the details for us on that?
“Well, I’m in a great spot with my — you know, I was going to say out there on the 18th, the prize giving, but I never had a chance, there’s two relationships that impact my life greatly and my golfing life as well.”
“The first one is the relationship with my wife, our marriage, and relationship with my kids, that’s one. And then the relationship I have with God, the personal relationship I have there and the strength that I get out of that and the peace and the patience.”
“People say, well, he’s incredibly patient or he has this inner strength, he has whatever, this determination. That’s where it comes from, you know. It’s just reading the Bible and having fellowship with other believers and just knowing where I’m going, where I’m going to spend eternity and all that kind of stuff. It just puts me at ease with life in general, with the pressures I’m facing, and again the relationship with my wife has been better than in many years and all that kind of reflects, I think you focus better, you’re more relaxed at what you do.”
For those of you annoyed by religious conversations, I understand. When I began my nine-year effort to qualify to play on the Champions Tour I was in the same place. I was an easily aggravated agnostic who bristled at the mere mention of God’s name, because I always thought of it in the context of my formal Christian upbringing which did not go well and put me off for almost forty years.
Somehow my efforts to reach higher levels of awareness so that I could work on my golf swing led me to a discovery about myself: I would routinely say “no” to new things for no good reason. So when I discovered this about myself, I was determined to experience the exhilaration of “yes” unless there really was a good reason not to.
That openness led me to accept a dinner invitation with new friends, inconveniently in San Francisco, where I discovered a fascinating book on higher consciousness. And that led me to a highly successful spiritual book, “A Course in Miracles,” which had been channeled by a clinical psychologist at Columbia University in New York. This highly plausible book explained the nature of God and our relationship to him and to each other. I have not been the same since. But my faith in God is a spiritual one based on that book and the extraordinary things that were happening to me as I trod along the path to my Champions Tour tour card. (That’s what my book, Generating Miracles: A Spiritual Adventure on the Champions Tour, is all about.)
One of the things I notice about these athletes who credit God or Jesus for the peace in their lives is that it always stops there on the surface; there are no details to help us understand the depth of that relationship. So when Langer opened the door by repeating his well known religious views, I asked him to go a little deeper for us:
Q. What I was really going for was this discussion about faith that you got into here again. For people who don’t really understand that, can you give us a sense of the depth of that, how that relationship leads to that peace?
“Well, that would take a while but I’ll try and be short.”
“It starts off knowing who is the Creator of the world and that he loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and when you realize how big and great that love is, then you try to love similar.”
“I try to love unconditionally. I try to love my wife unconditionally and my kids and other people, and that’s very difficult to do. Whenever I have an issue, I call my spiritual mentor, the chaplain on the tour, and sometimes he puts me in my place and he says, You’ve got to love the way Jesus loves you. It’s like, uh-oh, there we go, unconditionally.”
“Just knowing I’m not scared of dying. I remember the day 9/11 and it was a very sad day, horrific day, but people wouldn’t get on an airplane for weeks and months. It didn’t bother me at all. He has my time in his hands. When I say he, God. He controls. I might drive home tonight or get killed in a car crash, who knows what. I’m not in control of anything, he’s really in control of it all. Understanding that, that frees me up, you know, because it’s ultimately him.”
“So I try to live my life to an audience of one, not to please you, not to please the people out there. I’m trying to please him. And if I please him and live in his world, then life will be a whole lot better than if I’m trying to do what I think is my will and my plans. He says my ways are far greater than yours, something like that. I’m trying to quote a few scriptures here. There’s a lot more to it. It says the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control.”
“If you can do all that, you’ve got to live a great life. Very satisfying life.”
For Bernhard Langer — and for me — so far, so good. I just got there a different way.