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26 November 2014

It’s not just about a hole-in-one

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by Selina van Orden

[groups_non_member group=”Registered”]When I was younger, my parents took me and my sisters to play golf. The sun was shining, I took my first swing at the ball and it went flying through the air with a satisfying wooden-clonk. I took a second shot and again, the club hit the ball and I heard rounds of applause in my head as this was almost certainly going to be a hole-in-one. We started walking around the course, I remember getting weary of the walking, I wanted to be getting holes-in-ones, not wandering around this sprawling space by the sea (I had hardly noticed the sea beside me).

Then came my third shot, I missed the ball. My fourth, fifth and sixth were hardly better. Beginners luck the guy tutoring us exclaimed. Real skill takes some practice! Pffftt, I thought. I can’t be bothered with this. I asked my father for the car keys and went to sit in the car. Oh how I grew bored as I waited for my family to finish knocking balls around. It had started to rain now too. Come on guys, I called.

 

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[groups_member group=”Registered”]When I was younger, my parents took me and my sisters to play golf. The sun was shining, I took my first swing at the ball and it went flying through the air with a satisfying wooden-clonk. I took a second shot and again, the club hit the ball and I heard rounds of applause in my head as this was almost certainly going to be a hole-in-one. We started walking around the course, I remember getting weary of the walking, I wanted to be getting holes-in-ones, not wandering around this sprawling space by the sea (I had hardly noticed the sea beside me).

Then came my third shot, I missed the ball. My fourth, fifth and sixth were hardly better. Beginners luck the guy tutoring us exclaimed. Real skill takes some practice! Pffftt, I thought. I can’t be bothered with this. I asked my father for the car keys and went to sit in the car. Oh how I grew bored as I waited for my family to finish knocking balls around. It had started to rain now too. Come on guys, I called.

When I went on my first retreat at the age of 23 (about 10 years after my first and last golfing experience), I found it difficult to sit for 30-40 minutes, surely there were better things to be doing with this time? I had heard talk of blissful states and visualisations of internal organs, lights and supernatural sounding feelings. I wanted to feel those things right there and then. My mind was one that revelled in peak experiences: I liked things to be delightful and instantaneously gratifying, and although I had had glimpses of something beneficial through meditation, I couldn’t see how I was going to prioritise this over all the other important things I had whirring around my head.

But a seed had been sewn and I came back to meditation seriously some years later. Seeing this world of distractions in which we all live – people everywhere on their phones: just looking into their palms and laps on the bus, trains, in restaurants; the sea and sky all around, but no one taking much notice, apart from when recording it for their Instagram feed – I knew I had to investigate clearing my mind.

One of the most profound realisations that I had about a year ago was that to reap the benefits of meditation takes a lot of practice; real dedication and commitment. This is something I will be refining and exploring for the rest of my life. This feeling that I now know of actual stillness, deep stillness that is everything, and everywhere: around and within all of us all the time, if we would take to the time to look. And by look I just mean turn up in the moment, rather than thinking the mind’s nattering or the digital-musings of your mate should take priority over sitting still or feeling sunshine on your face.

This has then translated into my life: I have taken things up, hobbies and study that I am so excited to be an amateur in, for I have the rest of my life to learn and perfect them. I realise that the greatest things are those that I have to put work into, that the most profound gratification comes from things I dedicate myself to completely in that moment and will continue to practice and practice. It also means I can sit in a car in the rain, happy just to be.[/groups_member]

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