In Awaken Your Inner Golfer, I write about “feel” – ‘building feel,’ the ‘feel in your hands,’ and the ‘feel of pure impact,’ etc. But what is ‘feel?’ Where is it? Is it in your body? Is it in your mind? How do you produce or experience it?

I’ve used the word ‘feel’ as a noun, but the Webster’s New World Dictionary tells me it is a transitive verb, and the noun is actually “feeling.” So, for proper grammatical English I should be using “feeling” – ‘building feeling, the feeling in your hands, and the feeling of pure impact.’ But, please excuse me for I have been using ‘feel’ for over 50 years as appropriate in “golf language!” 

The Webster’s dictionary defines the noun “feeling” as “the sense of touch, the ability to experience physical sensation, an awareness, a sensation, an emotion, sensibilities, sympathy, an opinion or sentiment.” In a golf context, the ‘feeling’ in our golf swing is not an emotion……although you may experience an emotion from having awareness of a sensation or ‘feeling!’

So, how do you become aware of and experience ‘the feel of pure impact’, etc.? Again, is it only in the body or only in the mind? It’s rather abstract, isn’t it? We don’t “think” a feeling into existence, but our mind is involved in the awareness of a sensation in our body. So, similar to why I suggest not overanalyzing our golf swing, let’s refrain from overanalyzing ‘feel’ in order to avoid further “paralysis by analysis”……and let’s conclude that ‘feel’ is a body/mind experience!

The key question for me is, “How can we cultivate awareness of our experience of ‘feel’ in using a golf club, whether it be for a golf swing or our putting stroke?” In Steven Yellin’s recent book, Simplicity, and a previous book, The Fluid Motion Factor, he examines the relationship between the mind and the body in performing  motion, specifically in a golf swing, to produce fluid, efficient and effective motion. He talks about the benefit of using abstract criteria to evaluate our golf swing  (such as our levels of anticipation, awareness, acceptance, and our direction of focus) versus the limitations of using concrete criteria to evaluate our swing (such as technical swing analysis and evaluating our swing  according to our score). He states, “If fluid motion is produced when the mind is abstract and not produced when our mind is concrete, then shouldn’t your practice sessions be set up so that you are culturing the mind to be extract?”

In today’s overly left-brained analytical world, would you agree that we need a little abstraction, maybe even a little distraction?!? Might play, fun, exploration and self-discovery in your golf practice provide the ideal tool to access that abstract state of mind for improved performance?!? 

When I first started developing the instinct-awakening golf exercises, of which there is a sample of forty in Awaken Your Inner Golfer, I was going to call them “abstract golf exercises,” but through trials and explorations with some friends we determined that they would be better classified as “instinct-awakening golf exercises.” Steven Yellin’s books have helped me to understand that there is some level of abstraction in the exercises. They focus on the feeling in our body, and a building of trust in our body/mind to fulfill our intention of performing an effective motion. They do not focus on the concrete aspects of technical swing analysis (mechanics and positions in the golf swing), or focus on specific results.

Many of the exercises start out with “Make the only focus for your swing be to feel……” The purpose of this is to set a clear focus and intention for each exercise to feel and be aware of the sensations in your body while exploring each unique exercise. In Simplicity, Steven Yellin states, “When you generate an intention from the surface level of your mind, you only have access to the surface level of your body. But the mind/body connection is set up such, that when you generate an intention from a softer, quieter level of the mind you have no choice but to access the deeper levels of the body’s knowledge.” The instinct-awakening golf exercises are designed to generate an intention from the softer, quieter level of mind rather than the analytical part of the mind……to access the instinctive kinesthetic intelligence of your body.

So, my ‘answer’ to the opening question of “how do we produce or experience feel in our golf swing?” is to cultivate awareness, a quiet mind, and an awakened body in your golf practice. Sounds a bit like meditation, doesn’t it?!? (See the December 2021 Instinctive Golf Blog, The Meditative Nature of the Golf Exercises on this site).

So, once again……play, have fun, explore, be open to discovery……and have a somewhat abstract intention of cultivating awareness of the feeling in your body when exploring the exercises. Your body/mind will be very pleased and offer its gratitude through improved performance!

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