Neuroplasticity, Golf, The mental game and meditation

So today in class we were learning about neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is basically the ability of neurons to regenerate and to change.

So we learned about how there is a pathway between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Basically the amygdala is the portion of the brain responsible for the flight or flight response. You know that feeling you get when you stand over a down hill left to right breaker and you need to make it to make a personal best round or win a tournament or whatever.

So anyway there was a study done on monks who meditate for multiple hours per day and how they are able to suppress the amygdalas reaction to things such as everyday stressors. Like for example your boss yelling at you at work or whatever. These monks literally feel no stress because the prefrontal cortex is so trained at eliminating these stressors that the body doesnt ever release stress hormones.

So my question is have any of you experimented with meditation. Does it help your mental game and help you to either 1. Not feel the effects of a poor shot or 2. have no reaction at all to a poor shot?

I may start a bit of a meditation practice myself and see if it improves my game. I can think of several instances where I couldnt pull it back together for that next shot and it ended up hurting me.

Let me know what you guys think,


If I meditated four hours a day I get stressed from having no time left to do anything else.

But seriously, I have mediated not extensively, but a bit, but never specifically for golf.

I do however regularly use an emotional acupressure method known as EFT (emotional freedom techniques) generally driving to the golf course and for the most part it works. No concern over bad shots.

But those rounds where you miss every fairway by an inch, backspin when you’re land short of the flag and kick on when land past it and then burn the hole all day, well they haven’t been totally tamed yet.

It’s really all about self-acceptance and understanding why such things anger. Most people I know who get annoyed on the course either:

  1. Put a far greater effort into the game than others, and feel they’ve wasted their time, and/or

  2. Grew up with parents that demanded results.

Meditation is about being at peace with yourself, respecting yourself, really loving yourself. It’s half an hour or whatever of time that is totally for you and no-one else. When you become content with yourself, there is no embarrassment over a poor shot. I believe most of the time anger is a convenient place to go, away from the more uncomfortable feeling of embarrassment.

yeah that’s nice, i never really thought about it like that

i think it’s also about getting ourselves in perspective & looking out rather than in, i’m not sure i really hold with the self love idea, self love & self hate are the same deal really

most (perhaps all ?) of our stresses come from the idea that we are more important than anyone else - it’s not really true, how can we all be more important ? it doesn’t add up

Interesting you brought this up because I watched “The Secret Life of Plant’s” last night, and I couldn’t help but think about how some of the concepts presented in the film could possibly impact playing golf, since golf is still played through a valley of plant life forms, until the powers that be realize it is more cost effective to generate profits for shareholders to play golf on an artificial surface.

I find module work to be very meditative in it’s own way.

Great post, Steb.
From my experience I’ve played hands down my best golf during periods of consistent meditation and breathing work. I don’t honestly know if it’s a physical or emotional thing that it effects or produces, but the overall feeling that it produces for me, is acceptance and understanding. And it’s not just on the golf course, the golf course then becomes just another part of the day and not an event, as such. That sense helped my putting a lot. A thought that I came up with that summed it up for me and is still very helpful is ‘judgement without intent’. That may just make sense to me, but it allows me to assess the situation as the situation, not as something that has to be done. So, when reading greens it allows me to read the green as the green and not the actual hole. The hole almost disappears and I’m just reading the slope on a blank surface. And when hitting the putt, I would sort of say the line to myself and it allows me to start the putt on a line that’s just going somewhere. Maybe a bit abstract, but the thought and feeling came out of my meditation and has stood the test of time. The question is, why did I stop? I wish I knew. :unamused:


the module work being meditative. I have had that sort of feeling before. I have had several times where I have worked really hard at doing something. Hundreds and thousands of reps and you sort of just go into a trance.

Alternatively sometimes you go into a zone. I remember last year when I shot 75 on a tough track and before i learned to putt it was like I was like I was in some sort of meditative trance. A feeling ive only felt a couple of times in my life. The other time I threw 4 touchdown passes in a highschool football game and had 200+ yds rushing. I wonder if the trance like work could make it easier to get into a “zone”?

Meditation could help with this too. Ie no threats no addrenalin and less of a chance of falling out of that zone.

Want to get out for a game soon? They just sanded the greens at Mare I went out to go hit some putts and its all sandy :imp:

This also raises the issue of wether you meditate to ‘perform’ better, or the actually act of performance is the meditation. Similarly, alot of people think of Zen meditation as ‘no-thought’ etc, or just accepting any outcome (ie. playing golf without a hole with any sort of technique . . . ie. poor technique). But really, when you really check out the Zen arts, it’s about ‘hole-in-one-ness’ . . . allowing your body to do it’s thing PERFECTLY through physical and mental training. It’s really a hardcore thing, not some airy fairy hippy acceptance deal. I’ve often thought alot about this with respect to golf, and the use of golf as a form of moving meditation . . . but I’m pretty bad at it!

And I’m not really into the whole Golf In the Kingdom thing . . . but real competition. Being able to flow under the pressure. Infact, if it’s real Zen-like training, you need the pressure. The more pressure, the more release. Tension/release. Just like music.

Also, my feeling is that the classic gear enables a more ‘pure’ experience . . . for me. If I could find modern gear that felt as pure and funky, i’d use it (and possibly will). But, i havn’t yet.

I have to take issue with this remark, “wabi_sabi”, as it’s a direct reference to something from my post. Feel free to ask me the details of my observations before drawing your ill informed conclusions.
If you want to get to the essence of the line of a putt, you have to read the whole green, not just the path between your ball and the hole. In the particular lies the universal, and vice-versa.

Sorry Bom, I havn’t read that post of yours. Wasn’t making any reference to it at all. I’ll have a look.

ok, sorry, I just read the above posting from you. I wasn’t referencing it. The hole is part of the green, and you can’t read the line without reading the green, and the surounds. So, I agree with you. Play the ball as it lies refers to the reality of the situation, be aware of the situation. Accept it, but be aware of the grass, the wind, the slope, the space, etc. Not judging it, etc. I agree with you.

Zen…anyone ever picked up the book zen golf or zen putting? I picked it up last year before a flight. Its a quick read I finished it in about 45 mins on flight up to seattle.

Doesnt really address zen as I was hoping it would but rather talked about ways to change your mind into putting. One of the best tips was that long down hill putt.

He told a story about a tour player who came to him with fear of a putt and the author turned his fear into a visualization of the putt just trickling into front of the whole. I thought it was interesting but like most golf books on the mental game. Didnt address what i was really looking for.

Any good recomendations for readings on zen meditaiton? Id like to take it up its just a matter of getting a frame work to start working off of.


Sorry about all those spelling mistakes. I’ve been studying for 12 hours. Losing the ability to communicate effectively.

Joe Hyams’ Zen in the Martial Arts is ok. A great read is Helen westgeest’s Zen in the fifties.

The D.T. Suzuki books are great, but better are his interactions and interpretations by composer John Cage . . . can’t think of them off the top of my head.
Also good are the Zen and the art of Archery, and the sword one. I spent a fair bit of time in Japan chasing this stuff via various martial arts, and I think it’s actually pretty hard to grasp it without knowing the language and culture it comes from. But, there are definately ‘western’ equivalents . . . we just use different names. Flow, the zone, etc. Caring less, etc.

I think some of the non golf books like Effortless Mastery (by pianist Kenny Werner) are pretty useful.

You are lucky to have all the cutting edge stuff available to you because of the journey you have chosen. Please keep us informed. Hopefully, at the end of your training, you will not only be a skilled surgeon, but also a sub-scratch golfer.

As far as neuroplasticity, a good book is “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Doidge. It tells some fascinating stories of what the brain is capable of, even after serious strokes or birth problems.

"The Talent Code " was also informative. It is mentioned in the the instructional book thread. For me, it gave strong support to the ABS process.

“Powers of the Mind” by Adam Smith, come out in the 70’s I think. I can’t put my hands on it, but it delved into Transcendental Meditation. It was not really a “how to” book. It did discuss Joe Namath, the great quarterback for the Jets, and also the monks who were claiming to levitate.

"The Sweet Spot in Time " by John Jerome is exploration into peak athletic performance.

The “zone” you mention, and have experienced in football and golf, is a magical place desired by all on the golf course. It seems to be that place where one achieves his maximal potential, whether he be a 15 or a 1 handicap. Some have theorized that this zone is just like our mental state when performing simple everyday acts that have been committed to habit… like brushing one’s teeth, signing one’s name, buttoning a shirt, or driving a car…these are not things we “practice” any longer… nor do we even give them thought while we do them. When performed unthinkingly, and by proper habit, these acts are not subject to the wrecking effects of anxiety. The only trick…getting there.

one of the best books that I have read as it pertains to understanding the practice of zen is “Zen in the Art of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel. Written by a German philosopher who while living in Japan took up the art of archery towards an understanding of Zen. He gives an illuminating account of his experience in this very short book.

Thanks for all the recommendations guys. I will check them out after the next round of exams.

As for the zone…well I’ve been in search of it since I felt it those few times. In the process I get better at whatever I’m doing. I think that’s wht keeps me coming to the course. That search.

Trying to find a book on “Zen” would be in itself very “unzen”.

It might be better zen find you than you find zen.

And once you’re aware of being in the moment, you’re no longer in the moment. It’s quite the challenge.

truth…never thought about it that way.

Must be the medical student in me… :laughing:

I loved Coyle’s The Talent Code . . . i read somewhere that one of the the things that got him interested in the idea for the book was the recent proliferation of top rated female S. Korean golfers. It led him to examine what was happening over in S. Korea (and in particular southern S. Korea) that would give rise to so many top golfers. Brian Eno talks about this with regard to ‘genius’. He thinks of it more as ‘scene-ius’ . . . a genius scene where socio-economic conditions are right for talent and ideas to flourish, for instance the bebop era of jazz, the baroque era, post war industrialisation, and probably the 50s-60s of golf in the US (post-war, rise of commercialisation and marketing, rise of industrialisation, the concept of ‘leisure’ time, etc) . He sees the problem as when 1 or 2 people get to claim credit, or are credited with the advances, whereas, it was the whole scene that gave rise to the developments.