Although golf is a competitive sport, every time I step onto the links, it’s not me competing against the other people in my group, it’s me versus myself. To me, the real game of golf is an inner game. What do I mean? When I play golf, I play in two boxes: my think box and my play box.
The Think Box
My think box is where I prepare to play the game of golf. This is when I step back and survey where the ball is located in the fairway. In the process, I glance towards the pin on the green, assess how far out I am, and take note of the slope of the green. If I am 140 yards out, I might choose a 7 or 8 iron. I survey the landscape and take note of where the trees, the lakes, or the sand traps are. I might pick up a few blades of grass and toss them in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.
This is the start of the mental rehearsal I perform in my mind—I review all of the individual steps that I need to put together in order to remember and execute my best swing. I mentally review how I’m going to hit the ball, the crack I will hear when my club hits the ball’s sweet spot, how fluid and effortless my swing will feel, the trajectory the ball will take, where it will land, how it will bounce, how far from the pin it will be, and how good I will feel as I see it all come to fruition. Still in my think box, I take a few practice swings to get my body involved in order for my actions to match my intention. Then I move into the feeling, step up to the ball, and I put it all together.
In doing so, I step into my play box.
The Play Box
In the play box, there is no thought. I have done the work, I performed the mental rehearsal of priming my brain and body for the act ahead of the actual experience, and I have assimilated in my mind the required information into a formula for the outcome I want to create—all of which originated in my think box. Since I no longer need to think, I just let go and let my body do the work.
When you are in your play box, you’ve already reminded yourself everything you need to know so that you don’t need to analyze, criticize, or rethink. Because you’ve already made up your mind as to what you’re going to do, the “play” simply becomes the execution of the mental rehearsal. If done properly, the thought and action merge into one—your behavior and intention aligns. In this moment you’re so caught up in the act of alignment that you create the experience in your external world that you had originally created in your internal world.
This process of the “think” box vs. the “play” box is the same process I use when I do my own work in my meditations. In my think box, moments before I start my meditation (whether it is a seated, standing, or walking meditation), I review in my mind why I am doing the work and what I am going to do during the meditation when I enter my play box. When you understand the why and what, the how becomes easier.
I also review what I want to bring to the particular session. I might want to refine the breath of pulling the mind out of the body. I might ask, why am I doing the breath? The think box tells me to create more energy in my brain; to release the energy of unwanted emotions stored in my body; to create coherent gamma brain wave patterns; to activate my pineal gland for the lucid moment, etc. Then I think about my technique, as well as what kind of energy I am going to use when I do the breath. I might ask myself, what kind of passion or intensity do I want to bring to this session? What do I want to focus my mind on getting better at? Then I think about how I am going to do it—and I review all of my steps so that I don’t have to think about it when I begin my meditation. When I step into my play box, I want to so present and engaged with the process of what I am doing that the thought and act become one. That’s the moment you are in for a new experience.
Next week I’d like to coach you more specifically on how you can do this for yourself so that you can gain greater value and results in your own practice.