Practicing Practicing

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about attaining a higher level of consciousness by simply tuning out the ego and the thoughts and feelings that come with it. And that when we can pry the ego off of our essential self, we get access to the peace and fearlessness the ego continually masks. 

Once we experience it, with practice, we can find our way back to it over and over again. What we find there is heightened awareness, objective observation and sometimes, seemingly magic. Magic because our essential self is the repository of our genius; it seems a stretch to believe that observing our swings with a quiet mind will get us to where we want to go. But it’s true. 

And once we connect that presence with improvement, we relish the solitude of the process and want to go back there again and again. It is just so…peaceful. And it’s the same place we want to go when we’re under the gun. 

This isn’t always easy. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to go to the range to hit some balls. When I arrived, the pyramid of balls on the very end of the line was untouched. Perfect. People who are seriously working on their swings appreciate the solitude the end of the line affords. 

Three piles away, a young mini-tour player arrived and began setting up an intricate practice station with alignment sticks on the ground, a video camera, plumb lines and his notebook; serious stuff. Shortly, another mini-tour player arrived and selected a pile between the mechanic and me. 

I had my awareness wide open at that point and was working on some very subtle stuff that I had previously identified as needing attention: my grip pressure in my left hand, whether the club was passing in front of my right shoulder before I started turning back through the downswing, how far I wrapped the club around my body at the finish of the swing and my balance in the post-swing pose. Not all at the same time, but sampling one for a dozen swings and moving on to the next. Swinging and watching, swinging and watching. Very interesting. 

When tour players gather, they begin to “tour chat,” that friendly banter about tournaments, other players, clubs, golf courses they have in common. It’s an initial burst of ten minutes or so that soon gives way to the practice they came for. But this one went on…and on…and on. Primarily about college football in their respective college teams’ conferences. But when it got down to the coaches, the previous coaches, the assistant coaches, the schedules, I began to get angry. Angry that they had deprived me of my solitude, a solitude that my position on the end of the line implied. As tour players, they would know this. 

At first I just kept working on my swing, but I noticed that my awareness had been shut down by their distraction and my shots were getting sloppier and sloppier. 

The obvious thing to do was to politely point out their disruptive conversation to them. But then I realized that there was a training opportunity for me in this circumstance. 

I began to look at my anger, to acknowledge that that’s what it was and how justified it was. Are these guys this clueless? But then I saw that there was a greater value to me in dealing with my anger, to see if I could continue my practice with anger in the equation and slowly diminish it simply by being with it, by observing it. 

And over time I made some progress. It helped, of course, when one of them asked the other if he would watch his clubs while he went over to the putting green. 

This came to me today as I reflected back on yesterday’s post and thought that it might be valuable to point out that the process of seeking higher consciousness is never done. It is so easy to say that all we need to do is turn off the ego and that we will forever be transformed.

Not only do we have to continually practice, we also have to continually practice practicing.

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