Golf’s most famous yogi has the answer to mental clarity
What can a golf guru teach you about your game? Golf Digest Editorial Director, Max Adler discusses the coexistence of sport and spirituality.
Released on 10/13/2017
If you'll give Tiger Woods to me for two weeks,
maybe I could put him right back on the top.
Golf was born in the western world,
but the nature of the game has often led golfers
to look east.
Sadhguru is about the last guy you'd expect to encounter
in the golf world.
He is this spiritual leader with a massive following.
He goes around on a global scale, teaching meditation
and yoga, lecturing at the UN,
but, he's also a 14 handicap, and a passionate golfer.
He brings his clubs everywhere he goes.
From halftime prayers to players thanking God
after a winning performance, we've seen Christianity
be a part of basketball, football, and baseball.
But where golf is different is a player is out there
for five hours alone, trying to concentrate
in an endlessly frustrating game.
And that's why they're looking for answers on
better mind-body coordination.
And meditation and this extreme focus is a huge pillar
of eastern thought.
When Tiger Woods was on top of the world,
he wore a string bracelet blessed by a monk.
There was all this speculation that his Buddhist upbringing
fostered by his mother, Tida, who is Thai,
was responsible for this seemingly magic ability
for him to focus under pressure.
While Tiger would never comment on any special powers
of concentration, he did say the bracelet
brought him protection and strength when he was playing.
Then you have one of the most widely read golf books ever,
Golf in the Kingdom, which was this mystical novel
by Michael Murphy that spawned the Shivas Irons society,
which was this sort of occult organization
whose members tried to achieve zen through golf.
Then, of course, the most famous intersection
has gotta be Caddyshack.
I got on as a looper in a course over there
in the Himilayas.
And who do you think they give me?
The Dali Lama himself.
But while all these were works of fiction,
we found the genuine article, Sadhguru.
For me, golf is a certain sense of geometry.
about the land on which you're walking,
about your own body, about the way you hold the club.
Because it's a sitting ball, and why is it not
going the way you want it.
You somewhere getting the geometry all wrong.
Sadhguru is wery of the ways modern yoga studios
compartmentalize certain aspects of eastern thought,
while ignoring others.
So first of all, we must get this idea out,
there is something called as meditation.
There is no such thing.
You can become meditative.
If you cultivate your body, if you cultivate your mind,
your emotions, and your energy to a certain level
of maturity, you will become meditative.
Because you could be praying and thinking of many things,
but you can't kick or hit the ball unless you are
The intensity of involvement is a must for a game.
This is something every human being has to learn.
In every activity, the intensity of involvement
is what gets us to our best, and a game
gives us that opportunity.
Oh, what a shot.
I had the unique opportunity of playing with Sadhguru,
and we talked about a lot of big ideas,
but what I found most immediately useful was
his advice to pay more attention to my breath.
Out there on the golf course, your breath is about
the one thing you can control.
And by breathing more evenly, that'll translate
to smoother tempo, and better shots.
The way you think is the way you breathe.
And also, the way you breathe is the way you think.
If a certain amount of work is done on your breath,
keeping your mind alert and calm becomes
a very natural possibility.
So consciously bringing your breath to a certain level
of measure will also bring your mind to a certain
balance and tranquility.
If there's one takeaway, it's this reassurance
that golf is a worthwhile pursuit.
Here's a guy who has reached enlightenment,
who travels the world battling deforestation,
and poverty, building schools, teaching meditation
and yoga on a massive scale to try to save
humanity from despair, and yet he still values
the importance of playing games.
A lot of people in Sadhguru's world are surprised
that he plays what's perceived to be such a bourgeois game.
But Sadhguru makes the point that we shouldn't
take ourselves so seriously, and the the true meaning
of existence is to explore one's potential
in as many ways as possible.
And games are perfect for this.
So this idea that playing a game for four hours
is a waste of time, I think one biggest problem
with lot of people is they become so dead serious
about their life, that they're not a game for life.
But, human beings don't live on bread alone.
Other aspects of life are needed.
If you go like this, what is useful, not is useful,
you will cut away all the flower gardens because
they are not useful.
You can plant vegetables instead of that.
You will take away dance and music, because
that's waste of time.
You will do only mathematics and computer science.
No. That's not the way to handle life.
Life involves many ingredients.
This is just one more game.
And, it's an excellent game.