Book Review & Giveaway: The Mindful Golfer

The Mindful Golfer - How to Lower Your Handicap While Raising Your Consciousness by Stephen Altschuler surprised me. You see, I don't golf, but after reading this book, I wanted to, even though the joint destruction I have from rheumatoid arthritis proclaims otherwise.

After a stop in the Starter's Hut/Introduction, you are taken through 18 holes of golf. That's 18 enlightening chapters of the history and trajectory of golf; its illustrious players - famous or not; golf etiquette, skills and techniques; sand traps and mind traps; and more importantly, how increasing your consciousness, or mindfulness, can improve your relationship to the game.

So much of what Stephen shares is applicable in life, as well:

"To quiet your own mind - and that is where golfers and Buddhist meditators come together - you must first hear yourself talking to yourself, and then tell yourself to shut up. There will always be external noises and sights that you have no control over - crows, people, squirrels, waterfalls, alligators - but the voices within can be commanded to stop." (Page 14)

There's instructive humour to be found in this book, too. After describing a technique for squashing a golfing slump - and none of you are immune from experiencing slumps from time to time in different aspects of your  lives - Stephen tells you:

"Now, go play. Chances are your slump may be over, or, as Leonard, the Native American shaman on TV's Northern Exposure, always said, 'Or not.' " (Page 47)

Like so many golf balls scattered across a driving range, you'll find plenty of examples of descriptive writing, such as:

"Profanities roll off the tongue like a drunken sailor." (Page 47)

Or, such as this example on page 81:

"Memories stick to the present moment, hanging there like the underside of embroidery. That side is messy, complicated, while the finished side is smooth, unencumbered, and...well...finished."

If you play golf, you know that golf can elicit strong emotions. Therefore, it's important to know and practice techniques to manage those emotions, whether it be on the golf course, in the boardroom, or on the freeway. By becoming more mindful of your thoughts, emotions and feelings, you recognize that your golf swing, just like your emotions, can change from day to day, as well as over the course of your lifetime.

Aspects of mindfulness, when regularly applied, can go a long way to restoring rhythm and balance to your life. Stephen has observed through his study of meditation and practice of Tai Chi that:

"A loss of balance can catapult you out [of] the present moment and into a precarious flirtation with chaos. In golf, that chaos translates as mis-hit shots, poor decisions around course management, and letting big numbers affect your entire day." (Page 74)

You'll read about Stephen's experience when he was unable to get out and practice as much as he had been doing.

"We practice to gain some sense of control over this impossible game. But sometimes we go too far and overload the body/mind/spirit with too much information." (Page 87)

This can lead to frustration, desperation and a loss of the body's intuition. The way through is by learning to let go.

"Letting go, though is tough for a golfer, or anyone in this culture. We're hard-wired to hold on tight and make it happen." (Page 168)

The amygdala gets a mention, too. Its function is to help you get through the challenges in life, but it can become dysfunctional, thus triggering the stress response.

Stephen believes that your game will improve if you are a more conscious and conscientious golfer.

"Being more conscious of others helps you be more conscious of yourself - your body, mind, swing and your relationship to the moment at hand." (Page 145)

That's something that is much needed in this technology-addicted world.

"Two things connect you to the club: the hands and the head. One thing connects the hands and the head: the heart. To play this game you need feel, which comes from the hands; focus, which comes from the head; and passion, which comes from the heart. Take away any one, and most likely you're not enjoying the game." (Page 211)

As I delved deeper into this book, I began to think about the physical activities I have done in the past and how mindfulness would have augmented the experience. Approach this book with curiosity and you'll discover that there's much to learn, not only about golf, but also about life.

Thanks to Sky Horse Publishing for the opportunity to offer this book as a giveaway.

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

  1. To enter the giveaway, leave a short comment on this post.
  2. Entries must be received by midnight PST on Sunday, September 27th, 2015.
  3. This contest is open to anyone of legal age who has a mailing address in Canada or the US.
  4. For extra entries to the draw, get social:
  • On Twitter? Share the following: #Book #giveaway from @AuntieStress for The #Mindful #Golfer by @mindfulgolfing #mindfulness #golf
  • Make your way over to my Pinterest Board called "Giveaways." Earn one entry by clicking “Comment” then leave one. Earn another entry by re-pinning this giveaway announcement.
  • On Google+? Be sure to +MariannaPaulson when you share the link, and you’ll earn another entry.

One winning entrant will be drawn from a hat.

You will be notified via email. Your name will appear here, as well as on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and in my newsletter.

Good luck!

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