Ritual Practice Part 5

I have been creating, practicing and teaching the concepts and techniques of centering and flow for the last twenty years. In his piece last Friday, Ben captured the essence of the idea beautifully.

To be centered is a state of being. We practice centering to become. We practice as a meditation. We practice as we exercise. We practice as we live.

Yes, centering can improve your golf game, your tennis game, even your poker game. But it only helps in proportion to the amount of and the type of practice. If you’re not honing your centering skills, the ability to create and stay within a state of flow will escape you when you need it the most.

I experienced a test to my centering skills a couple of weeks ago before my trip to Arizona. I was at the driving range working on my pre-shot ritual. A golf pro was a few spaces down giving a lesson. I watched for a couple of minutes, shook my head in disbelief and continued on with my practice. The disbelief was caused by the absolute look of frustration on the student's face as he struggled to make the adjustments the instructor wanted. The more frustrated the student became, the louder and faster the instructor talked. Soon his booming voice had every person at the driving range distracted and frustrated because they couldn’t tune him out. After hitting a couple of horrible shots, I exchanged a look and another head shake with the guy hitting next to me. I contemplated leaving but decided it was a great time to practice my centering skills.

I stood behind my ball and dropped into center. Using the breath to establish a sense of flow, I went into my pre-shot ritual and calmly stepped up, addressed the ball and continued my practice. I was able to do this because I diligently practice using and developing my centering skills. I try to practice at both the best and worst of times. By practicing under duress, I am able to rely on my skills in the most stressful of circumstances. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have the ability to struggle and let situations get the best of me. But the more I practice being centered, the less it happens.

I was discussing this with my client right before my Arizona trip. We talked about why even though she’s quite skilled at centering and controlling her energy, it rarely helps her when golfing. Especially lately, she’s really been struggling with her putting and centering hasn’t been helping. I suggested that she needed to go to the range and practice her centering techniques and putting at the same time. We discussed a couple of different techniques to try. She agreed to try practicing 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. She had managed a couple of practice sessions and sent me this text while I was in Arizona.

“Just to let you know – golfed much better yesterday- 94 (43 on the front) Still had some blow ups, but lots of pars too and one birdie. Putting much better” 

In her rounds prior to the practice sessions and that text she had been scoring well over 100. I heard that she was playing in a tournament this week with a friend. I will be curious to see if the practice sessions continue to help.

This week I’d like you to spend some time thinking about the essence of centering and creating flow. Think about where it could be most beneficial in your life.

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