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Comment from John Callahan
Golf can be regarded as another awareness practice, much like walking meditation, except much more rich and complicated.
And like all awareness practices, the real benefits are the skills and lessons carried into everyday life. Learning awareness
in a practice influences how we are.
Pam's response to John's comment
We, as a species, need these awareness skills now
and will need them even more in the future. The faster things change the more
we need to know what is happening here and now.
Here is a sample from the manual's Gestalt Glossary:
Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price,
by John F. Callahan,
MINDFULNESS: This is a state of enhanced awareness of one's sensations, perceptions, thoughts, motivations and actions. It is an essential element of the Buddhist Eightfold Path that leads to liberation. Mindfulness is the basic objective of insight meditation. The practice of mindfulness consists of bringing one's awareness into the present moment, away from preoccupation with the past or future. One method (among many) to accomplish this objective is to pay attention to breathing, which inevitably happens in the present. By staying with the present, the practitioner realizes that their mind is continually thinking about and judging experience. This produces the insight that some thoughts are not necessarily useful. Ultimately, this process leads to freedom or release from these thoughts. The concept of mindfulness is a fundamental point of intersection between Gestalt practice and the less mystical schools of Buddhism, such as Theravada. The difference is that Gestalt practice, besides enhancing awareness, employs techniques that a practitioner uses to directly intervene into the intermediate zone where thinking happens, to resolve conflicts and integrate aspects of mind.
Definition of Gestalt golf: seeing the ball and the grass, all at once in the moment of the swing.
Instead of just keeping your eyes on the ball, you allow your eyes to see the foreground and the background.
On your tee shot, after you see the flash of the club going through your frame
of vision, you see the tee jump. Then you see just the grass.
Derivation of "Gestalt golf": (1) gestalt psychology with focus on the interplay of foreground and background;
(2) gestalt awareness practice, originated by Fritz Perls and developed by Dick and Christine Price,
with focus on practicing awareness in the moment; (3)Transcendent golf as described by Michael murphy in Golf and the kingdom.
Coined by Pam Portugal Walatka 2010.
Easier said than done
Nothing in golf is harder than focusing on the ball. Nor more important.
If you look up in the middle of your swing, your eyes are not telling your arms where the
ball is. Being a nanometer off target sends your ball into the woods.
All golfers know they are supposed to keep looking at the ball but
only the pros can do it consistently. Being in the moment, experiencing the
moment, is extraordinarily difficult and requires years of practice on the golf
course and off. The art of staying in the moment can be learned through mindfulness meditation or
gestalt awareness practice.
The keyword in this story is PRACTICE. You learn to focus by practicing awareness
meditation every day for the rest of your life.
Awareness in Gestalt golf includes an awareness of miniature differences in the ground surrounding the ball.
When you are actually seeing the ground, you see the elevation of the ball compared to your feet.
One quarter inch change in the elevation could determine whether or not the sweet spot on your club makes
contact with the exact back of the ball.
You take a practice swing to determine where the ball is compared to your feet.
But then you move your feet. When you move a few inches closer to your ball,
your relationship to the ball might change slightly. Enough to throw off your swing.
If you are practicing gestalt golf you look again at your relationship to the ground around your ball.
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