Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thinking in Your Head vs Feeling in the Moment

"Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” - Bruce Lee

You're the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. Classic fourth-quarter two minute drive. You need a touchdown to win. Last play of the game.The game is on the line. A flood of thoughts start rushing through your mind. How will you be remembered? When all is said and done, are you going to be the champion, living in glory? Will you wear a Super Bowl ring, something you've been dreaming about since you were five? Can this really be happening? Will it finally work out with that head cheerleader you've been spying? 

You struggle to push these thoughts out of your head as you call the huddle, but you can't keep your focus. Doubt starts creeping in. You lose focus, and lose confidence. Your heart sinks. You snap the ball and just at the last moment you see a crowd member with a sign with your name on it and "Super Bowl Champion". You drift just for that moment, and then the next thing you see is black. Sacked. Game over.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" Ecclesiastes 3-1, King James Bible

I have an immense amount of respect for pro athletes. These guys are good. Really good. They train to the point where they can't get it wrong. And the champions are able to stay focused on the task at hand regardless of what's going on around them. Cheers, boos, losing scores, they alway keep their heads in the game rather than mulling over what's going on. What is going to happen after the game when they still have the power to control it. But a razor-like focus shouldn't be restricted to a select few percentile of the people out there. I want to train myself to carry it as well.

When I'm thinking, I'm in my head. My eyes glaze over. I kinda shut down my other senses to be able to think about a certain thing. My mind skips like a pebble flung across a clear lake on a lazy summer day. Each time it taps down on the glassy surface it hits on something else I remember. Cool when I'm bored and most of those things I think of are funny, or when I'm trying to learn something by making connections with things I know. Not so handy when I'm on the road or have a job to do.

But when I'm meditating, intensely into a sport, karate, or mission, or drunk I am only thinking a few steps ahead. At MOST. It's all about drinking in the atmosphere and maintaining complete focus on the task at hand. Not allowing my mind to drift. And that's the discipline I intend to gain through meditation and focusing on the task at hand.

When I'm in my head I think about what I want to do. I think about what went on. I think about what I am doing. And quite often this disrupts me from doing what I'm supposed to do. For instance. If I'm playing volleyball, and I start analyzing what's going on, I become a spectator. Instead, at all times I'm thinking 'What do I need to be doing right now? What is my next step? If I know that, what is the step afterwards?' If I break focus for one second, it's enough to muff a serve or cause me to react a hair too late to pick up a short little dink over the net. Focusing on the moment carries the day.

I don't mean to say that analysis doesn't have its purposes. It can be great at figuring out how to do something better. It's nice to know how a course can be improved, to watch a tape and pick apart strengths and weaknesses of form and whatnot. But it only matters as long as I take the right action from there. Sure, it's awesome that I now know that if I'm in the back row I have to step forward to prepare for a quick little dink over the volleyball net. But only if I act on it.

So action carries the day. Thinking about it during a 'debrief'' allows me to refine what I do. And next time it'll be better. Mess up the order? Bad juju.

It has been said that it's the thought that counts. We can think till we're blue in the face. But I think that it's the action, reflecting the thought, that counts.

No comments:

Post a Comment