Succeeding with the Mental Game requires embracing attitudes that support self-awareness and a healthy ability to self-regulate. Our Juniors had the opportunity to dive a little deeper into one of these attitudes this month. The attitude of a Beginner’s Mind.
A beginner’s mind can be thought of as a state of wonder, curiosity, and openness. It’s akin to the state of mind a very young child has as they experience their world and everything in it for the first time. The idea is that we learn to apply this attitude here and now- even though we are no longer young children and (we likely believe) much of the world is not new to us anymore. Application of this attitude means we willfully choose to experience our moments, relationships, experiences, and the world as if we were seeing it all for the first time.
Imagine you’re holding a cup in your hand. In this cup you have placed all your understanding of the world and yourself. All of your to-do’s, your past experiences, your future dreams, goals, and aspirations are in this cup. Also in the cup are all of your beliefs, thoughts, emotions…all of your relationships, including the relationship you have with yourself. All of your knowledge, your language, your material possessions- in the cup. See the cup full in your hand and imagine that (just for this moment) you turn it over and dump it all out. Now see yourself standing there with an empty cup and notice, how do you feel?
If you’re able to imagine the above and actually empty the cup, you’ll likely come to a close realization of the feeling state that is a beginner’s mind. We experience a quiet mind, calm heart, sense of ease and joy, and a relaxed body in this attitudinal state. Due to the cup being empty, we have space to be listening and open to receive with an interesting readiness and willingness to learn.
For a golfer to continuously improve, they must be open-minded, willing and ready to receive new information. They must be able to experience their body as if for the first time when they are working on any technique so they can be aware of subtle shifts and changes to be applied, while also open to the potential of experiencing something new in their body. They must be willing to look at every hole as if for the first time, as each day brings new conditions to the course. A golfer must be able to keep his cup (mind) empty on demand for it to be of any use for most all the skills they’re looking to accomplish.
A full mind, like a full cup, has no usefulness. That’s why we practice a beginner’s mind.
The usefulness of a cup is its emptiness.