Imagine a warm summer day, a slight breeze is blowing, and you are carrying a hand-picked picnic basket stocked with your favorite snacks and drinks. You are excited as you ready yourself for the beautiful, nature-filled, leisurely canoe ride that awaits you.
After much anticipation, alas, you reach your destination. However, your leisurely adventure suddenly turns anything but relaxing. Without hesitation, you put your boat in going upstream. That’s right, instead of putting your boat in the water heading downstream, only needing to navigate the boat as nature leads you down the course, you instead must paddle against the natural flow of the river. You quickly wonder why you are not making any headway. You are standing still for a moment. Then unexpectedly, you begin sliding backward. You are left confused and bewildered.
Reading this, you might find this scenario preposterous. Yet, I assure you, many times we are paddling upstream. In those times, you may recollect, life seems very difficult, if not impossible. When you’re in this predicament, you can forget the golf game, which becomes a useless battle.
What can you do to “right” your boat? How do you learn to go with the flow?
A simple to learn and must-know solution is Neuro-Linguistics Programming. Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) is a technique used by many athletes, executives, students and counselors. The foundation of NLP is modeling. We have always known that modeling the “Greats” is the best way to bring us closer to their level of mastery. In NLP, we use our own senses to guide us in recalling a peak performance state. Once found, we anchor it. Anchoring, another process of NLP helps us re-access that peak performance state when we need it most. Using NLP for golf is about experiencing those times of excellence through proven mental techniques. NLP is most helpful in times when you feel like you are paddling upstream. Use the exercise below to help you be in the flow. After all, flow is a state of Oneness, effortlessness and pure pleasure. The essence of flow is to unconsciously act from a place of inner excellence and stillness. This comes from a definitive book about flow written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Take a moment to practice this exercise. Although it appears simplistic, the impact can be immense.
First, recall a time when you played golf extremely well. A time when you played to your own personal peak. It doesn’t matter if you are a high or low handicapper.
Next, recall what was happening around you. Was it sunny, warm, bright, cool, cloudy? Are you talking to yourself in this moment, or listening for something else? If you are speaking within, notice the tone of your voice. What are you saying to yourself about yourself?
Now, be aware of the quality of your feelings as you play your best golf. If you were to give these feelings a label what would you call it? Satisfied, relaxed, fulfilled, confident, calm, blissful? Where in your body do you experience these feelings of playing your best golf? Key into that part of your body.
This seemingly superficial exploration of your internal state provides a downstream passage to your potential as a player. As you continue to practice, you will most likely get deeper into the concept, and notice many powerful distinctions and subtleties; distinctions and subtleties that can catapult your game to new heights, even if you’re not clear on how this will play out. This exercise is so valuable because you will learn how to access your peak performance state. When you are keyed in, you are living in the flow. You will experience peace, joy and ease. So be in the flow. Choose to paddle downstream!
Beth Pry is a “Mental Performance Coach,” and specializes in hypnotherapy. She works with many professional and competitive golfers throughout the country.