Last week, I wrote about a day I spent fishing on the San Juan River and described how I had the most successful day I'd ever had by slowing down, paying attention, and then acting on what I observed.
I ended last week's piece with a series of questions relating to what we're doing here: "To what degree are the improvements in our golf game simply the willingness to slow down and pay attention as we practice? What is it that makes what we're doing with TTW any different from what I did at the San Juan?"
Over the past week, I've put a lot of energy into those questions, and the answer I've come to is that essentially, it's exactly that willingness to slow down and pay attention that's driven our improvement. That is exactly what we are trying to do with TTW: to slow down and attend deeply to the moment, seeking to create a space where our rational mind and our intuitive self can engage with the task at hand and work together optimally instead of fighting each other. To feel our bodies as best we are able and to discern what happens moment by moment with as little judgment as possible. To bring a sense of play to our practice.
With the techniques at the heart TTW, we're trying to create a ground for this to happen. That is what centering, this practice of bringing attention to the body and the breath, is all about. That day on the Juan, the circumstances were as they were, and I flowed with the river. On another day I might have succumbed to frustration, smacked my rod against the water, and broken the tip off. (How I know to offer that specific detail as indicative of frustration taking hold will be left as an exercise for the reader.)
The practice of centering is to give us an always-with-us, easily available means to access that state. For most of us most of the time, access into a calm, centered, flowing state happens at best haphazardly, during those few fleeting moments when our focus in some activity becomes just so. For many of us, it happens not at all.
Centering and related techniques offer the promise that this state--what has become popularly known as flow--can be accessed at will. More precisely--this is very important--flow is a skill that can be learned. It needs to be practiced. It gets easier to access as you work at it, and grows in depth as you practice. Like any other deep skill, it will meet your explorations of it with ever deeper rewards, and will still never become fully discovered. You will never exhaust that exploration.
Now think back to the story Jerry told about his client who speaks of the decline of her golf game but says that she doesn't like to practice. What if we could convince her that practicing is fun? What might happen then?
How would we do that? It starts with centering. Centering brings your attention to the present moment, and the present moment, properly noticed, turns out to be fascinating. If she practiced centering as she practiced golf, and suddenly practicing golf became fun, what might happen with her golf game? More importantly: what might happen with her life in general?