The mind is an amazing tool. It’s the functional interface between thought and action. Or as quantum theorist David Bohm described, between the implicate order and the explicate. Mind is the seat of power where the Law of Cause and Effect rules. We see examples of the power of mind every day but unfortunately we often mistake analytical prowess as superior to unconscious direction.
Our conscious mind is a rational, data-driven device capable of some pretty impressive tricks. It can assess data and spit out a potential outcome. It can add numbers, enumerate and alphabetize, put things in a quantitative order. And it never hesitates to tell us what it thinks. The reality is, my laptop can do all that — and faster.
But there is a more powerful part of the mind that does everything else. What we commonly call the subconscious is that part of the mind that does the other 90 percent of the things we do in life. Our subconscious mind runs our bodily functions ranging from immune system response, respiration, digestion, regeneration, blinking, focusing our vision, walking, talking, keeping our balance and spatial orientation — everything, and often all at the same time without so much as a “Out of Memory” prompt. The subconscious is the part of the mind that drives a car, types words, plays guitar, shoots a basketball or — hits a golf ball. It doesn’t analyze nor is it rational. It intuits. It knows. And it does.
Stroke it. Take the “simple” act of hitting a golf ball. If the intellectual, rational, analytical conscious mind were in control of that action, consider the number crunching that would have to go on all at once inside the conscious mind. Data would aggregate like a parade of thoughts. “Let’s see, the ball is 175 yards from the pin, the wind is .79 meters per second, vectoring at 293 degrees. If I deliver 277 Joules of linear energy to the exact point on the surface of the 46-gram ball with an angle of 17 degrees lift, adjusting for topography and gravity, the ball should land and stop within 6 inches of the target.” Or something like that.
Then the conscious mind would have to think out all those parameters while delivering precise conscious instructions to every facet of the golfer’s body function, telling each skeletal muscle what to do and compensate for, increase heart rate, decrease vascular pressure to feed quick-twitch muscles, focusing eyes, keeping balance, decreasing aural input, — everything needed to complete a swing. All of that while still running the other vital functions of life support.
The conscious mind is incapable of all that and the best place for thinking in the act of athletics is out of the way. Ask any pro athlete. With golf, basketball, tennis — anything vital — you want to turn off the conscious mind and leave all the heavy lifting to the part of the mind that can do it: the subconscious. In the world of thinking versus feeling, the feeling part of the mind wins out every time.
Can’t force it. That powerful subconscious mind works much differently than the intellectual mind. And it needs to be addressed and utilized in a different way. In the case of the subconscious mind, less is more. In other words, the harder you try to do something with the subconscious, the less likely you succeed. For example, the more effort you consciously expend on remembering someone’s name, the less likely you will be to remember it. It’s when you relax, maybe in the middle of doing something else, and the name just pops into your mind, effortlessly. Because the conscious mind “got out of the way,” the subconscious performed easily.
In using the subconscious mind, the first order of business is to get the busy-ness out of the mind. Learning to still the babbling conscious mind is the key. Then, using specific methods to engage the subconscious, we can connect the mind with the functions of the body as well as our interaction with the physical world.
Specific methods are many. Preparation of the mind is an important step. Learning the discipline of quietude away from the scene of action pays dividends when it comes to the moment of truth, just like spending an hour in the gym benefits the other 23 hours of the day. Meditation or relaxation techniques prepare the subconscious to accept gentle guidance. Visualization and affirmation are but two of the techniques added to the mix. Proper use of imagery allows the subconscious to act as a projector and display results on the silver screen of our reality.
Ask any pro or any scratch golfer, the shot that is best is the one that took less thinking. That ecstatic feeling of striking the ball just right, becoming one with the entirety of the explicate order, is a feeling never forgotten and drives them back to the links, seeking it again and again. That feeling, that oneness, is not limited to sports. All of life is that way. Athletics is just a great example.
Heartland Healing is a New Age polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Visit HeartlandHealing.com for past articles.