Gestalt Golf

Esalen's Dick Price and Mike Murphy combined in one concept.
See the ball, see the grass, see the club.


Your comments here

Please send me your comments:

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.

Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price, by John F. Callahan,

Here is a sample from the manual's Gestalt Glossary:
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.
In golf, if you really
look at where the 
ground really is, 
as opposed to where 
you expect it to be, 
you will see what a 
moving target life is.

Gestalt golf

Definition: seeing the ball, the grass, and the flash of the swing, 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, the background, and the action simultaneously. 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: (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.
Coined by Pam Portugal Walatka 2010.

Easier said than done

Nothing in golf is harder than focusing on the ball. You look up in the middle of your swing and then 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.

Happy golfing! --Pam Walatka

See also

See also our other sites

me yoga
Pam's Yoga
Esalen in the 1960s
beach house
Adjacent beach
houses for rent
in Nicaragua
Wild Horses
Peter Portugal
Automobile Design
and Fabrication
Lazy Compost

Copyright © 2014 Pam Walatka
Web Work: Sandy Johan &
Pam Portugal Walatka

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If you look, you can see the club go by. Probably your swing is faster than mine, but I'll bet you can see a glint of sunlight on your club as it passes through your frame of vision.

Make a Gestalt Golf video!

I made the rather lame video, above. You could make a better one. If you do, post it on YouTube, send me the link or embedding code, and I'll post your video here.

Here is what I did:

  • Took my point-and-shoot camera, clear packing tape, tees, yard-work goggles, and my driver to a driving range.
  • Taped the camera to the front of the goggles, leaving a little space to look though at the bottom of the goggles.
  • Turned the camera on, zoomed in, and tried very hard to keep my face pointed toward the ball and the grass behind it as I swung my club. Exact placement of the camera took some trial and error.
  • Repeated this procedure many times until I got the shot.
  • Edited the video down to just the swing.
  • Posted on YouTube.


Other work by the author of this page