Play, Fun and Learning

Play facilitates fun……and connects us with the present moment. The present moment is the only time that we learn.

Have you ever felt a relaxing physical and mental release after some good clean fun or a good laugh or chuckle? That ‘release’ is something that allows your body/mind and your kinesthetic instincts to flow. Trying is the antithesis of play. Play opens us to possibilities. Tryingis limiting and impedes flow; it brings us up in our mind and our intellect. 

It is an interesting experience to discover how much tension is held in our body when we are in a trying mode. I urge you to explore trying vs. playing in your golf practice. (See the March 2019 Instinctive Golf Blog, Golf Practice and Play, on this site). The act of trying involves mental activity. Remember, our mind does not control our body and our physical movements. We can set an intention for physical movement, but then we need to let go and allow our body to carry out that intention.

Can you recall a time when you’ve experienced the feeling of joy, satisfaction, surprise and fulfillment at performing a physical movement that you had not previously experienced? A child integrates these feelings every time it learns from exploring something new – like learning to walk, riding a bike, balancing on a narrow curb, batting or kicking a ball, or any number of things. It’s how our body learns – through exploration and self-discovery – facilitated through play and fun – the way of a child. I’m reminded of an often referenced quote……”Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten!” Are we having fun yet……?!?

The instinct-awakening golf exercises in Awaken Your Inner Golfer are designed to generate surprise and satisfaction at discovering how capable our bodies are when we let go of trying and open to play and fun. We’re never too old to have fun, and never too old to learn.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old, 
we grow old because we stop playing.
George Bernard Shaw

PGA Master Professional Michael Hebron’s book, Play Golf to Learn Golf, brings together the art and science of play and physical movement. Here are a few insightful quotes from the book:

“When learning is brain compatible it is a playful active process, guided by the best ingredients on earth: acts of curiosity, imagination, and random improvisation. We all clearly play to learn, we do not have to learn how to play.” (But, we may need to remember how to play!)

“When it comes to playing golf, it could be argued that technical instruction created the need for mental coaches who are telling individuals to ‘free up your mind and just play’.”

“Technical approaches to fixing habits can lead us away from the inner power of play and self-discovery.”

“I have come to realize that golf is a game to be played, not a subject to be taught.”

“In playing-to-learn environments individuals could be seen as travelers and explorers on a journey of self-discovery and self-evaluation.”

“Today there is evidence that supports using variable training (i.e., different speeds, swing sizes, paths, and clubface alignments) in a golf swing motion, does in fact promote more effective learning of rules of motion.”

The sample of forty instinct-awakening exercises in Awaken Your Inner Golfer utilizes this concept of learning through play, as opposed to ‘trying to improve’. The process of play, fun, exploration and self-discovery will lead you to effortless improvement. The forty exercises are just a sample of the huge variety of instinct-awakening exercises I’ve “discovered” through playful exploration. Without ‘trying to improve’ they’ve helped me awaken my natural instincts (especially in the short game). It is truly the natural path to improvement.

Until I publish another book with a variety of instinct-awakening exercises, you can make up your own playful exercises in addition to those in the book. Be creative, improvise and explore. I wish you joy, success and natural improvement in awakening your inner golfer!

Are we having fun yet?!?

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