Meditation: Old vs. Young

Most of the blogs I write require some research into the subject I am writing about.  Even golf articles, I will research certain ideas, to see what other people’s opinions are.  This blog will be an exception, in that I will be writing and discussing strictly from experience. What does old vs. young mean.  It is the long standing belief, of the older generation that the youth of today, have it easy,  are lazy, and in fact are not very intelligent.  I grew up hearing this from my elders, and about 4 years ago I experienced the other end of the spectrum, when I heard some of my former classmates from high school, talk about today’s young people.  They particularly hit hard on the intelligence of the  younger generation.  One  was a former school teacher, so I guess she felt that she should know.    How did all this get started, where the older generation thinks that the younger generation, has it so much easier than they did.  Besides that, it seems that this type of thinking can pervade everyone’s thinking no matter what the age of the person. There is the old saying, the grass is always greener on the other side.  I think that should be changed to the grass is easier to take care of on the other side.  Let’s look at my experiences with this.

I grew up having the best father a child could have.  He taught me how to play baseball, golf, and bowling and he taught me well. He spent many hours with me and to this day was my main mentor in life. He taught me more about life than any person I have ever known, and I will always be grateful.  But even he fell into this analysis.  When he thought I was being a shiftless 10 year old, he told me that when he was 10, he and his brother laid a concrete sidewalk around and through his parents property.  He gave me other examples of how tough things were doing the depression, and how easy I had it. One can hear stories like this, even if the age difference between people is not that great.  When I was in the 5th grade, I would hear from my older friends how much harder the 8th grade was.  When I was in veterinary school, I heard how much harder it is out in the “real world” when I would be trying to work for a living.  But you know what I found out? It was not harder but just different.  As you grow older, and go through life, things are changing, you make adjustments and most of the time things will work out.  Life can give you some harsh blows, with the loss of love ones and health issues.  These things in life do not make you stupid or lazy or less than the older generation.   Of course, this goes in the other direction where young people think the older generation, is feeble, losing skills, out of touch, and is taking up space where younger people could do a better job.  As I moved into my 30’s and 40’s and had my own successful veterinary practice my father gave me more credit and respected my work ethic.  But he put that moniker on my daughter’s generation as the ones who were now the lazy group, and their life was now too easy.  He was saying the same thing about that generation, that he had said about my generation, but it looked like I had turned out pretty well.. I wonder if he thought he had a hand in that, because of him telling me how lazy I was as a youth.  I really don’t think he thought that way.

So why does the older generation think the younger generation is going to screw up the world with their bad attitudes, laziness, and lack of intelligence. Maybe because the older generation, has already screwed up the world, and it makes them feel better to think that the next generation, will do it worse. This  breaks the basic rule of meditation.  People do not look within, they look at outside of themselves, to make decisions, and evaluate the world.  We all have had crosses to bear.  Some have had it harder than others and some people have been able to overcome great odds to have successful careers and lives.  Some of their stories have inspired many people to create a better life.  But each of us has to look within, to see what we can do to make our life better and more enjoyable. At times, this is not an easy task, no matter who we are or where we come from.  One of the things that will not make our lives better, is to compare.  That is essentially what one is doing, when it decides a generation is lacking, or a part of society has had it easier. In some cases your feelings and thoughts  maybe close to the truth. The bottom line is, that  is still not helping you to make a better life for your self. Stop caring and evaluating what that other yard looks like.   Look within and figure out what your next move will be, no matter what your age or status.  The outside world does not need your judgement on the future.    Start meditating and young people will improve, without having to age.

Golf: The Mind

This blog is about the mind, not the brain, and there is a difference. Boy, is there a difference. If you look up information about the mind, you will get a large variety of ideas and theories.  What I found interesting is, if you start with googling the brain, you will get mostly, if not all, academic and scientific sites.  If you google the mind, you will get philosophic sites, and some of the other two sites.  The mind has much more debate, about where it is,( yes not everybody thinks it is in the brain), about what it does, and how to control it.   The mind seems to encompass all facets of life, the past, the present, and the future. Most sites seemed to be interested in what the mind can do with the future.  The mind can change the way you eat, behave, and perform various activities relating to work and recreation.  These are all related to changing thought processes and attitudes. Mind control is discussed at various sites, ranging from brainwashing, hypnosis, and marketing ploys, to affect the mind.  On the other hand, the brain sites are much more scientific and discuss the functions of the brain.  We have learned a lot about the brain, over the last 40 years because of advance neuro imaging, which shows which parts of the brains are functioning, when we are thinking, or performing simple tasks. However, all this brain imaging has at times led us down the wrong path concerning how the brain really works, and has not helped us much in answering questions about the mind.

There have been plenty of books on the “Golfing Mind,” and these books could be classified as books on the mental game of golf.  These books discuss a variety of subjects.  They range from visualization, planning of the shots, first tee preparation, positive thinking, and handling pressure, to name just a few.  But does all this have anything to do with the mind.  Before I started reading all these sites on the mind, my answer would have been a 100% positive yes.  After looking at some of these sites, I am not too sure  these golf mental processes have anything to with the mind.  The other question is, what controls the mind?  On the site wikiHow, there is a list of things you can do to control your mind.  They are various things but all of them are related to thoughts. Now where do thoughts originate from?  That can have many answers, including nowhere.  As you can see these questions can go around and around with many perspectives and answers.  But the bottom line is this, do we, as golfers, really care, or should we be concerned with this? This time the answer can be an unequivocal, no.

After pouring through numerous sites on the brain, the mind, and thoughts, here is one man’s view, on what all this means for the golfer.  I think you can forget about a lot of the so called mental preparation that would go into playing a round of golf.  If you like to do these things, plan your round, visualize shots the day before, pre game relaxation exercises, then go ahead. They are not going to hurt you game at all, but probably, they are  not going to help much, either.  Listen, it’s always good to not beat yourself up, think positively, and have an upbeat attitude on the golf course, no matter what happens. This not only can make you a better golfer, but a better person to be around. No one wants to play with a grouch, who gets upset at the first bad shot of the day.  Is there one thing that you can count on from the mind?  In my view yes.  I  believe there is one thing that you can count on from the mind.  I am 100% sure of this. I do not have proof of this, or articles I can reference, because there are just as many articles, that would refute what I am about to conclude.  I think the mind controls the body 100%.   It controls the body so well, that it can even tell us what not to do.  It’s not like our thoughts.  It’s not like the old story, about telling  a person to think about anything but a white elephant in the room.  What do they think about, the white elephant. If your mind tells your body not to do something then it will not do it.  By the same token, if the mind tells you body to do something, it will do it.  I will explore this further in future blogs, and how it applies to playing golf much better.  For now, let this sink in and believe it. The mind controls the body.  The mind controls the body. The mind controls the body. Am I trying to brainwash you? Never mind.

Meditation: Management

This blog will follow a pattern of many future meditation articles. This article will not have any thing to do with the process of meditation.  As you know, despite all the benefits of meditation, it is not done by the majority of North Americans. What I hope to show, is some of the things that can  happen, because of a lack of meditation.  The world has a wide diversity of people, views, and attitudes.  There  seems to be very little common ground, for the world inhabitants.  But there is one thing that  almost everybody seems to do, and that is to consume.   We are called consumers.  There are magazines, Consumer Reports and Consumer Digest, which will make you a smarter consumer.  There are people and companies that provide these goods and services, that we consume. Naturally I am a consumer, just about everybody is.  I have also been a provider of goods and services for around 44 years.  I have owned and run a business for about 28 years, and I have worked for various companies and institutions for the other 16 years. So lets look at these two factions of people, and see how they compare. Remember, some people do both, and some are just consumers ,depending what their job may be.

The consumer wants to get quality goods, and quality service at a good price.  Most consumers will do research to get that result.  They may make dozens of phone calls, and solicit many opinions from friends and relatives, before making a decision.  Obviously, some consumer decisions are bigger and more important than others.  I am not going to consider purchasing a home because that can be a life decision with many factors involved.  The next biggest consumer decision is purchasing a car.  We all want to get a good deal, because this will be our most costly decision, except for buying a house.  Next, will be furnishing and maintenance of your house and car.  Then, there are the more every day consumer decisions, of where and what to eat, movie to go see, sporting event to go to, clothes to wear, etc. etc.  In all of these situations the consumer just wants to be treated fairly and with respect. Some may want more than that, but most people know that every body has to make a living, and there is going to be a cost involved in any purchase or endeavor.  They want the provider to be a least polite, respectful, and listen to their questions and concerns.  They want the provider to be knowledgeable and have their best interest in mind, beside trying to make a profit.

Now we come to the provider.  Remember all providers are consumers, but not all consumers are providers, and that could be the first problem, but I don’t think so. What is  the big problem with providers?  Once they become the provider, they seem to forget what it’s like to be a consumer, even when they just stopped to get coffee on the way to work.  Watching other management teams work I see two major flaws.  One, they make no efforts to cut costs.  I mean absolutely none.  I guess they try to make up for this by paying low wages, another major flaw.  I was in a business that provided both goods and services.  I made sure that the goods I acquired to sell were at the best price I could get them. This took time and effort.   I have never seen another management team do that. It was a top priority in the business I owned, to keep costs down.   I paid my employees well, and they in returned provided good service.  Other companies I worked, paid low wages and had very high turnover rates, and  basically poor service.  It still boils down to the provider forgetting, that once he closes his doors he will become a consumer, again.  It is that inability to put oneself in the other persons shoes just for a little while, that seems to be at the heart of the problem.  I know that seems to an overly simple view of the subject, but sometimes the solution to a problem can be that simple.  If we can get in the consumer mode, when we are providing a good or service, then the interaction should be much more satisfying for both parties.  Just imagine that we are buying this service from our selves.  Could it be that easy?  My answer is a resounding yes.  Could meditation help us  to see what the other person is going through, and experiencing.  Another resounding yes. Can the same thing be said in reverse.  Yes, maybe, sort of.  As a consumer you can try and put yourself in the provider shoes and realize that the person does have to make a living, but if you are unhappy in the least with the goods or services, then just move away and move on.  In every situation, there are more choices to made in consumerville.  Don’t be lazy, go make them. Don’t be that over demanding consumer, who wants something for nothing. It is a two way street. Try  meditation, and see if it doesn’t make you a better provider, and a better consumer.

Golf: Season Wrap Up

Even though there is golf yet to be played in Western Pennsylvania, the handicap season ended on November 15th and the golf will be hit and miss for the rest of the year. It is time to look back at the golf season of 2019 and see what was good, bad, and indifferent.  This was the year of 100% mental golf, and it was neither a success or a complete failure. I learned some things, but in the end, did not make much progress in improving my game.  I started the year with a 4.1 index and ended with a 4.8.  My highest was 5.2, and the lowest, other than my start, was 4.2.   Before I summarize the year, lets break down each section of my game for 2019.

Driver.  This was the best part of my game.   I would have a bad driving day once in awhile, but for the most part I drove the ball well, and kept my driving distance steady, and did not lose any distance this year.

Fairway wood.   Contrast this with the worst part of my game.  Fairway woods gave me the most problem for the year.  I bought some new 15 degree clubs, and they made things worse, and I went back to my old Orlimar fairway woods, of 16 and 20 degree, and this seemed to help some.  It was with the 15 and 16 degree clubs, that I had the most trouble getting the ball airborne.  This part of my game contributed a lot, to seeing my index go up .7 points.

Irons.  I had a fair year with the irons.   I changed to Titleist AP3 irons with regular graphite shafts.  Theses clubs had strong lofts so a 5 iron was like hitting a 4.5 iron.  These clubs gave me such increased  distance, that I had a hard time adjusting.  I did have some really good days with these irons and will continue to play them.  Even though I have been playing them, since Mid May, I still feel I am going through a learning process with them.

Short game.  This part of my game improved.  I got rid of the chip yips ( another blog) and I am getting better around the greens.  My sand game is still bad but hoping for improvement. One of the things that have helped me is, I went back to using a 60 degree wedge with zero bounce.    This club is the old Cleveland 485 60 degree wedge.  I acquired the club about 2 months ago and have been doing betting around the greens. I use to play this club all the time, and I am glad I went back to it.   Will discuss zero bounce more in another blog.

Putting.   This was the most inconsistent part of my game.  Most recently I have had a good run of putting, which has helped with some low scores, but not quite enough to offset some bad ball striking.  Again getting rid of the yips on the greens has helped immensely.

To summarize, the biggest problem I had this year was where my bad shots went.   I had a very prolonged slump in golf, that started at the end of 2015 and lasted until about June of 2017, and this was the same problem, except then it was much worse.  I had about 10 to 15 rounds in 2016 and 2017, where I did not break 80, but my handicap score was between 76 and 79 due equitable stroke control.  I had the same thing happen in 2019, but not as often. When you top a ball 80 yards, or hit it so far off line, that its in the woods, scoring goes out the window.  My fairway wood game was this bad.  I would hit some iron shots, and  trap shots, that were just as horrible.    So that will be the first goal, to hit better bad shots.  Easier said than done, but I will give it a try.  Now to 100% mental golf.  I am still undecided about how to split the game up between the mental and physical side, and I hope to come up with a solution soon.  First I thought it was a 50-50 split.  Then, I went all the way over to 100% mental, and still think that is possible.  It is difficult to remove the physical side of the game entirely.  Maybe I should go a long with Yogi Berra, when he said, baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical. The older I get, which is getting pretty old, I feel that golf will be that mystery game,  I will never solve.  Maybe in Wonderland, tornado anyone.

Meditation

Even though there are hundreds of books and apps on Meditation, many of them do not go into the breathing method to use when meditating. There are two kinds of breathing.  The first type is chest or tension breathing.  This seems like the “normal” way to breath.   When you inhale your chest expands and on the exhale your chest contracts.  If you pay attention to this, you will see that this breathing does create tension.  The second kind of breathing is abdominal or relaxation breathing.  When you inhale, your belly does the expanding and when you exhale the belly contracts.  Pay attention to this type of breathing, and you will see it is more relaxing.

The best way to experience relaxation breathing is to lay flat on your back on a hard surface, like the floor, and place your hands over your belly button.   Just try to relax a little bit, and then start to breath.  You will see that in this position, it is almost impossible to breath, except to allow your abdomen to expand on the inhale, and then it will naturally contract on the exhale.  You will also find that your breathing is deeper and fuller.  Even though you are laying on a hard surface,  as you continue to breath this way, your body will become more relaxed.  Just continue to take nice deep belly breaths, and you will begin to experience true relaxation of the various parts of your body.  Then start to concentrate on each section of your body. It does not make any difference whether you start at your feet, and work your way up to the top of your head, or the other way around.  I like to start at the feet.  Relax your feet, ankles, calves, knees, and thighs.  Then once you feel like your lower extremities are totally relaxed, then start with your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and upper arms. Once the upper extremities are totally relaxed, then work on the trunk beginning with the lower back and upper buttocks.  Work your way up the mid back and the upper back and shoulders.  Once that is relaxed, then relax the neck, lower jaw, cheeks, the eyes, forehead, and finally, the top of the head.  Once you have the entire body in a relaxed state, try and maintain that for 5 minutes. This will get  you about half way through a good meditation.    Then it’s time to explore your inner self.

There are many ways of doing this.  You can just try and go inside yourself.   You can create an inner sanctuary or a relaxation  place.  This could be a lake, the ocean, or a mountain and river scene. But think of a place that will enhance  this relaxed state that you are in.  A place where you have felt relaxed in the past.   Getting to your inner self can be quite rewarding but also scary, as you may finds things that you may not like about yourself.  This is a very personal journey, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.  It may take many meditations and months to begin to get inside yourself, and see what makes you really tic.  It will still be up to you, to go in a different direction or continue along the same path you have always gone.   There is no right or wrong here, either.  You just become aware of the things that have enabled you to be where you are now, and you then decide if you should change, or continue down the same path.  The biggest thing you become aware of is, you are exactly where you want to be, right now, even though it may not seem like this is what you want.  You are totally in charge of your life, if you really want to be.  Sometimes, and I have experienced this,  you really don’t want to be in charge.  Simply, it is  much easier to look outward and blame, rather than looking inward and accepting responsibility.  Good luck.

100% Mental Golf Rounds 95 to 102

I played 8 rounds since September 1,with a Grand Canyon vacation in the middle from the 9th to the 16th. The rounds were the normal with a lot of ups and downs. The scores were in chronological order, 76,77, 81,75,8,74,80, and 80. The last two 80’s were really disappointing coming off a nice 74. The last round yesterday was in a tournament format, where I imploded on the last 6 holes. This will be a 100% Mental Golf wrap up, as this will be the last blog with this title. The rest of my exploits on the golf course will be under the heading of Golf.

Did I learn anything this year and do I still believe that for a low handicapper golf is 100% mental. You always learn something every time you play a round of golf, even if it you should take up bowling. The game continues to mystify me in so many ways, that I can not write about it in such a small format. I have discussed some of this in previous blogs but I am still lost at times on how to play this game most effectively. One of the things I did learn this year is that it is hard to define 100 % Mental. You would think it would be easy but the thought processes during the round can lead to confusion. You have to play physically. There are times when playing golf your body seems so dysfunctional. This happened to me yesterday. I said I imploded on the last 6 holes but in reality I imploded for almost the entire round. Amazingly I putted very well yesterday. Many times when you are playing tournament golf, that is what costs you the most is poor putting. It was a combination of good luck and some very good putting that got me to two over par after 12 holes. Then I played 6 over for the last 6 holes and many of these holes are not very difficult. I am not going through the gruesome details here but one thing I felt was good during this collapse was my thought process at the time. It was my ball striking for the day that let me down. Going in the day I did not shoot a good round on Friday but that did not bother me. This tournament was a synopsis of how my year has gone. I had 34 full swing shots. I rated them as such: Excellent shots 13, Good shots 6, Average shots 5, and Poor shots 10. On four holes where I made poor shots I was able to scramble for a par. I one putted one time for a bogey. I hit 24 shots that were average or above, it was those 10 poor shots that led to my demise. Now current thinking would have you believe that there may be a flaw in my technique which can only take me so fare. When the pressure builds then the flaw rears its ugly head and bad shots ensue. I do not buy that but I also can not give an answer either. I will see what the rest of the season brings and ” enlighten you in future blogs.

The most interesting thing to happen over this time frame is I think I have stumbled on a working solution to control the yips. I have written blogs in past on the yips. This solution is for the putting yips and the chipping yips. I may elaborate if this proves to be a successful endeavor. I can guarantee you that the yips will have another article in the coming months. But for the overall golf game it is back to the drawing board for now.

Food

Food should be such a simple thing. We need to eat to survive, but most of us really enjoy eating. A lot of that enjoyment is taken away from us by so many food rules, developed by God knows who. Foodist have written more things about food, and the things they have written about over the years have, at times, changed dramatically. Let’s go through just a few, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or not. Eat complex carbohydrates, or not. Do not eat after 7pm, or go ahead its no big deal. Eggs are good for you, or not. Drink or don’t drink water during a meal. Stay away from red meat, or not. You can eat too much fruit, or not. Dairy products are bad because you are older than 6 months, well maybe. Eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day, or not. Sugar is bad for you, but it still not as bad as artificial sweeteners, which does not get enough publicity. Do you think money has anything to do with that. I could go on and on about this, but you get the picture.

The big advice out there, is you should listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full. I don’t know about you, but I could say that I never feel hungry when I eat. The dictionary defines hungry as feeling an uneasy or painful sensation, from a lack of food. However, another definition is the desire or need to eat food. Now I have felt that baby, every day. So when are you supposed to listen to your body. Are you supposed to wait until you feel pain to eat. I hope not. Forget about all that nonsense about waiting until your hungry to eat. When you feel like eating, then eat and if you don’t feel like eating then don’t. Don’t feel like you have to eat at a certain time. I skip breakfast more than I eat breakfast. I think it is more important to listen to your body, after you eat. I am not talking about the full thing either. Who knows when your “full” and who cares. I am talking about how you generally feel after you eat. Without a doubt you should feel better. I think there are many idiosyncrasies that people can have to one particular food. I do not care what kind of food it is supposed to be, like really good for you, if you do not feel right after you eat it, then stay away from it. This could be a subtle feeling, like you just don’t feel right, or it could be more distinct like abdominal pain. You never want to get into the trap of eating something because this is what you should eat. Broccoli may be considered a super food but if every time you eat it, you double over in pain, then stay away from it. Always eat things that you like, and that make you feel good, after you eat them. It almost should be a form of relaxation.

Now I know there are proven intolerances to Lactose and Gluten, but being tested for a lot of other food issues, to me, is unnecessary. Your body will tell you if a food is not agreeing with you and when it speaks just listen and avoid that food. I think a lot of health issues regarding food are related to not listening to your body after you eat and stressing over what you should eat. Just remember there is no bad food. So enjoy the food that makes you feel better and stop trying to get it right.