In last month’s Instinctive Golf Blog Artist or Mechanic on this site, we investigated the attributes of an artist and a mechanic, especially how they pertain to our golf game. I’m of the belief that our golf game is best served by cultivating the aspects of an artist to develop a flowing and rhythmical golf swing. This is best accomplished through a “letting go” of conscious control of trying to “fix” the so-called parts of our golf swing, which would be more like the attribute of a mechanic. By relying more on our subconscious instincts, the attributes of an artist, the freer and more reliable our golf swing will be.
If the intellect is engaged during a motion,
the body will not be free.
The Fluid Motion Factor
Last month’s Blog concluded with the question of “How can we develop trust in our subconscious instincts?” Trust is an intangible; it’s beyond our self-will, our conscious mind and our ego. It’s a personal attribute that we can believe in, depend on, rely on, and have confidence in. The opposite of trust is doubt. The cause of doubt is our ego, conscious belief in effort and “hard work”, and fear. The ego thrives on work and thrives on fear, for it “gives it something to do.” The ego likes to be in control, so it often creates fears to “keep it busy.” In golf, I think the biggest fears come from: fear of mistakes, fear and concern of what others think about us and our performance, and fear of “losing my swing.” These are obstacles to freedom and instinct – the attributes of an artist. The ego also views success as a threat, for then it would have nothing to do and nothing to “work on!” That’s why the ego likes to promote the mechanical side of the golf swing – to keep it continually busy trying to control and fix our swing.
The attributes of trying and effort are obstacles to trust. Trust happens; we can’t force it and can’t try to make it happen. The best place to cultivate trust in our subconscious kinesthetic instincts is in an exploratory and unstructured golf practice. Rather than a regimented practice of trying to perfect a repeatable golf swing, I believe we are best served by cultivating trust in a flexible and adaptable golf swing. This can be done through “variable practice,” exploration, experimentation, curiosity and self-discovery. This is the path of developing trust in our subconscious kinesthetic instincts.
We may not be born with subconscious kinesthetic instincts to hit a golf ball or make an effective golf swing, but we are born with instincts to learn! My “answer” to the question, “How can we develop trust in our subconscious kinesthetic instincts?” is to practice our natural attribute to learn. We cannot learn unless we notice how we’re thinking, what we’re feeling, and how we’re moving.
Learning readiness can be cultivated through physical movement
by “bringing together the thinking intelligence
and the coordination of the body”.”
Educate Your Brain
We develop kinesthetic instincts through movement, especially variations in movement. We are never too old to build neural/muscular connections, and the best way to do that is through variations in movement……with awareness. (See the September 2020 Instinctive Golf Blog Awareness on this site). The instinct-awakening golf exercises in Awaken Your Inner Golfer are designed to facilitate awareness and attention to the present moment through the slow swings of chip/pitch shots and half swing full shots. And the variations in grip, stance, swing and focuses on our subtle sense of feel will engage our ability to learn.
In her book, Move Into Life” about movement and vitality, Anat Baniel states, “….the fourth Essential for Vitality is variation. Brain research has shown that variation – think of it as the opposite of repetition – actually increases the synapses in the brain. As synapses increase, so too, do the number of connections between nerve cells. This expands the brain’s potential for learning new things and for quickly adapting to new and challenging situations.”
Baniel also states, “One of the world’s foremost minds in movement science, the late Russian researcher Nicholai A. Bernstein, stated that when we need to learn something new, or improve upon what we already know, we get there through a series of variations. It is these variations, not the effort to duplicate and repeat a correct pattern, again and again, that help the brain make the selections, figure things out, and evolve.” Baniel further states, “Experimenting with many variations not only allows us to develop new and more effective patterns, but also to perceive subtler and subtler differences……As adults, when we give ourselves permission to play with and vary how we do things, we discover that we are as vital, energetic, and interested in life as when we were children……The habits and rigidities we develop in adulthood eventually become virtual casts, grids of limitation that restrict how we move and think and feel. If we are to live full and vital lives, we must remove these virtual casts and reawaken our brains through play and variation.”
Our personal lives are continually engulfed in the quest for greater efficiency and higher productivity – often at the expense of play, fun and unstructured curiosity and inquiry. This “mindset” inevitably flows to how we approach our golf game and our golf practice. Our focus on disembodied rationality and effort comes at the expense of trusting our instincts and our body-knowing.
In his book, Trying Not To Try, Edward Slingerland states,” Getting the mind to shut off and allow the body to do its thing is clearly a challenge. An even bigger problem – and one we encounter much more often – is the trick of getting your mind to let go of itself. (See the September 2017 Instinctive Golf Blog Trying vs. Allowing on this site).
Learning to develop trust in our subconscious kinesthetic instincts involves a “letting go” of the conscious mind ego’s need for control and its projections of fear. The golf exercises can help you let go of the fear of mistakes and attempts at control. Like an artist, if we can embrace the process of experimentation, exploration and curiosity in our golf practice we can bask in the present moment where we nurture the seeds of potential and possibility.
I urge you to play, have fun, experiment and explore in your golf practice with curiosity and awareness. You will discover new movements, new feelings and build a new level of trust. You may develop a very deep trust in your subconscious kinesthetic instincts by entering what I call “the cycle of self-discovery:”
- More exploration = more self-discovery
- More self-discovery = more satisfaction
- More satisfaction = more trust
- More trust = freer exploration
- Freer exploration = more self-discovery
- More self-discovery = more satisfaction = deeper trust
If you can embrace this mindset of exploring and experimenting with curiosity and awareness in your golf practice, you will develop a deeper trust in your subconscious kinesthetic instincts. This approach cultivates freedom and flexibility in your golf swing. Isn’t that our ultimate intention – to have a free, more flexible, and adaptable golf swing?! When we embrace the mindset that “there are no mistakes, only learning” in our golf practice we gift ourselves with access to our potential. We are HERE to learn, and to honor that ability Nature gifted us with!
Tap into instinct
Discover what you know
Quiet your mind
And tap into FLOW
Our minds are conditioned
By everything outside of us
We’re taught to ignore
Our internal genius
You learned to walk
You learned to run
You can develop your golf swing
Through play and fun
We learn movement through our body
Not through our head
To discover what we know
Not follow what we’re fed
So, if you can trust
In your body’s intelligence
You will have access to FLOW
And your instinctive magnificence!