Golf Digest Videos

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

Transcript

00:00
If you'll give Tiger Woods to me for two weeks,
00:04
maybe I could put him right back on the top.
00:08
(laughs)
00:11
Golf was born in the western world,
00:12
but the nature of the game has often led golfers
00:14
to look east.
00:16
Sadhguru is about the last guy you'd expect to encounter
00:19
in the golf world.
00:20
He is this spiritual leader with a massive following.
00:24
He goes around on a global scale, teaching meditation
00:26
and yoga, lecturing at the UN,
00:29
but, he's also a 14 handicap, and a passionate golfer.
00:33
He brings his clubs everywhere he goes.
00:36
From halftime prayers to players thanking God
00:39
after a winning performance, we've seen Christianity
00:42
be a part of basketball, football, and baseball.
00:45
But where golf is different is a player is out there
00:48
for five hours alone, trying to concentrate
00:51
in an endlessly frustrating game.
00:53
And that's why they're looking for answers on
00:55
better mind-body coordination.
00:57
And meditation and this extreme focus is a huge pillar
01:01
of eastern thought.
01:04
When Tiger Woods was on top of the world,
01:06
he wore a string bracelet blessed by a monk.
01:09
There was all this speculation that his Buddhist upbringing
01:12
fostered by his mother, Tida, who is Thai,
01:15
was responsible for this seemingly magic ability
01:18
for him to focus under pressure.
01:20
While Tiger would never comment on any special powers
01:23
of concentration, he did say the bracelet
01:26
brought him protection and strength when he was playing.
01:29
Then you have one of the most widely read golf books ever,
01:31
Golf in the Kingdom, which was this mystical novel
01:34
by Michael Murphy that spawned the Shivas Irons society,
01:38
which was this sort of occult organization
01:40
whose members tried to achieve zen through golf.
01:43
Then, of course, the most famous intersection
01:45
has gotta be Caddyshack.
01:47
I got on as a looper in a course over there
01:49
in the Himilayas.
01:50
And who do you think they give me?
01:51
The Dali Lama himself.
01:55
But while all these were works of fiction,
01:57
we found the genuine article, Sadhguru.
02:01
For me, golf is a certain sense of geometry.
02:08
about the land on which you're walking,
02:11
about your own body, about the way you hold the club.
02:15
Because it's a sitting ball, and why is it not
02:18
going the way you want it.
02:19
You somewhere getting the geometry all wrong.
02:21
Sadhguru is wery of the ways modern yoga studios
02:24
compartmentalize certain aspects of eastern thought,
02:27
while ignoring others.
02:29
So first of all, we must get this idea out,
02:31
there is something called as meditation.
02:34
There is no such thing.
02:36
You can become meditative.
02:38
If you cultivate your body, if you cultivate your mind,
02:41
your emotions, and your energy to a certain level
02:44
of maturity, you will become meditative.
02:47
Because you could be praying and thinking of many things,
02:50
but you can't kick or hit the ball unless you are
02:53
absolutely involved.
02:55
The intensity of involvement is a must for a game.
02:58
This is something every human being has to learn.
03:01
In every activity, the intensity of involvement
03:04
is what gets us to our best, and a game
03:07
gives us that opportunity.
03:09
Oh, what a shot.
03:10
Thanks.
03:12
I had the unique opportunity of playing with Sadhguru,
03:15
and we talked about a lot of big ideas,
03:17
but what I found most immediately useful was
03:19
his advice to pay more attention to my breath.
03:22
Out there on the golf course, your breath is about
03:24
the one thing you can control.
03:26
And by breathing more evenly, that'll translate
03:29
to smoother tempo, and better shots.
03:32
The way you think is the way you breathe.
03:35
And also, the way you breathe is the way you think.
03:38
If a certain amount of work is done on your breath,
03:41
keeping your mind alert and calm becomes
03:45
a very natural possibility.
03:47
So consciously bringing your breath to a certain level
03:50
of measure will also bring your mind to a certain
03:55
balance and tranquility.
03:58
If there's one takeaway, it's this reassurance
04:00
that golf is a worthwhile pursuit.
04:02
Here's a guy who has reached enlightenment,
04:04
who travels the world battling deforestation,
04:07
and poverty, building schools, teaching meditation
04:10
and yoga on a massive scale to try to save
04:12
humanity from despair, and yet he still values
04:15
the importance of playing games.
04:18
A lot of people in Sadhguru's world are surprised
04:21
that he plays what's perceived to be such a bourgeois game.
04:24
But Sadhguru makes the point that we shouldn't
04:26
take ourselves so seriously, and the the true meaning
04:29
of existence is to explore one's potential
04:31
in as many ways as possible.
04:33
And games are perfect for this.
04:36
So this idea that playing a game for four hours
04:40
is a waste of time, I think one biggest problem
04:44
with lot of people is they become so dead serious
04:47
about their life, that they're not a game for life.
04:50
But, human beings don't live on bread alone.
04:57
Other aspects of life are needed.
04:59
If you go like this, what is useful, not is useful,
05:02
you will cut away all the flower gardens because
05:05
they are not useful.
05:06
You can plant vegetables instead of that.
05:09
You will take away dance and music, because
05:11
that's waste of time.
05:12
You will do only mathematics and computer science.
05:15
(laughs)
05:16
No. That's not the way to handle life.
05:18
Life involves many ingredients.
05:20
This is just one more game.
05:23
And, it's an excellent game.
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