DISCS & ZEN – Disc Golf & Meditation

In last weeks podcast we discussed mediation. The word meditation means so many different things to different people, as a matter of fact there probably are as many definitions as there are practitioners. And for each of those there is another definition for non-practitioners. This is why there are many schools of thought on the practice of meditation. This is also why there is such a stigma that surrounds it from those people not really sure what it is.

The easiest way to define something is to describe it in terms of both what it is and what is isn’t. That way you reach both sides of the coin. The truth lies somewhere in between.

Webster’s defines meditation thusly:
The act or process of spending time in quiet thought : the act or process of meditating.
Jon Kabat-Zinn describes it in his book, Wherever You Go There You, Are like this:
“In Pali, which is the original language of the Buddha there is no one word corresponding to our word meditation even the meditation might be said to evolved in an extraordinary degree in ancient Indian culture. One word that is frequently used as Bhavana and Is translated to development through mental training”

You will notice that Webster’s makes no attempt to define either a solid practice or a final result of meditation. This is because there are many practices or paths to Bhavana. Some are strict and rigid such as the Zen school which requires practitioners to be in very specific seated poses for lengthly periods of time.  And some very loose such as the westernized Mindfullness school who simply advise to find a quiet place where you can sit or lay down comfortably.

But in truth, the path and the the destination all lie within the circle of the practice. Meditation can be those activities (or in-activities) that assist in developing an individual through mental training. In Z&TAODG I argue that disc golf itself can be a path to mental training and thus its own form of walking meditation.

This of course involves developing an an awareness of the moment rather than sifting from one moment to the next and tossing one shot after another without regard to what’s working or not on the course.

Our thoughts are like discs in our disc golf bags. Sometimes we run across a disc that simply doesn’t work for us. We can’t work it into our game. And generally, we either decide to keep throwing it and failing or we lug it around, weighing down our shoulder straps with no purpose other than we do not notice it or refuse to let it go.

Thoughts have the same effect. Any negative thought or lie that we tell ourselves needs to be removed from our bag because it does our round and our lives no good. There is no use for these thoughts and so we must remove them before they weigh us down and do more harm than good. Removing them only makes room for better thinking just as removing a disc doesn’t work and replacing it with a disc that does.

Meditation is building the awareness that allows us to see things for what they are, helping us not to cling onto thinking that is not useful to us . It takes practice to develop the awareness to know the difference and to remove the thoughts that are not helpful, replacing them with thoughts that are. This awareness begins with the awareness of the moment. Your shot is the moment. Your disc is your thought. Choose the thinking that works best for the moment, as you would choose the disc that works best for your shot. This is true meditation.

Next time you are on the disc golf course, use these tips to help develop a solid foundation of moment to moment awareness and thus use disc golf as meditation in itself:
  • Take a deep breath before each shot. Feel the oxygen enter your body. Imagine it flowing through you, feeding every cell of your body. Then exhale slowly before taking your shot.
  • Feel each disc in your hand before throwing it. Notice the weight of the disc. Notice the feel of the plastic.
  • Feel the breeze on your skin. Notice its effect on trees.
  • Listen to the birds or water flowing on the course
  • Listen to your own thoughts. Notice confidence or anxiety wrapped up in your thinking and how it affects your heart and breathing.

Patrick McCormick

– Author of Zen & The Art of Disc Golf (Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook)
– Host of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Featured photo by @rheia760 on Instagram

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