Saturday, June 24, 2006

Moving Meditation on the Lanes

I bowled better last night than I have in a long time. I scored better too. I attribute it to being true to my new bowling ideal. My ideal is not to be concerned with how I score or with whether I win. My ideal is to focus strictly on mindful execution of my approach and delivery. My ideal is for bowling to be meditation in motion.

Last night it was just that much of the time. I began my first game with eight strikes in a row. Interestingly, I lost my focus a little in the ninth frame, as thoughts of a perfect 300 game began dancing in my head, and I threw a bad shot and ended up with an open frame. After that, I regained my focus and struck twice in the tenth for a 260 game. I began the next game well and had a chance at another high score. And, once again, I threw some bad balls when I became more concerned with my score than I did with my execution and ended up with a 221 game after opening in the tenth frame with a split. I was able to stay focused on execution the third game and bowled a 277 game. That gave me a 758 series for the night. By not trying to score well, I scored my best league series of the year. By not trying to win, our team won all three games. Alan Watts
had two names for this intriguing phenomenon: "the law of reversed effort," and, more simply, "the backwards law."

I accomplished this by focusing on execution instead of score, and also by giving up trying to throw the ball hard with a lot of revolutions the way I did when I was younger. Instead, I tried to be smooth and steady with my approach and release. And what I lost in power and in the exciting explosiveness of my ball at the pins, I more than made up for in the consistency of my ball reaction and by outstanding carry on a variety of different ball entrances to the pocket.

I think last night's experience helped to make me a wiser, better bowler.

3 comments:

dr.alistair said...

i am fascinated by the spiritual nature of sport when performed at the highest level. my studies of nlp and visualisation have answered a lot of what knew instinctively growing up and playing competitive soccer. getting into a zone, or out of one`s head to be more focussed or impeccable if you will, in you deliver of the ball is critical to consistant performance.
mirror neurons?

Nagarjuna said...

Ken Wilber says there are many meanings of "spiritual." One of them is a very high level or stage of development along a particular developmental line or mode of intelligence.

Certainly, the highest level of athletic performance in any sport would seem to be the manifestation of a high level of development along one or more lines. Thus, great athleticism could be said to be "spiritual" in at least one sense.

I'm not sure about any of that. What I AM sure of is that when I treat bowling not as a competitive sport, even when I am matched against other individuals or teams, but as moving meditation instead, it certainly feels "spiritual" to me in the additional Wilberian sense of an altered state of consciousness, and I also tend to score better and win more of my matches that way.

Namaste,
Steve

dr.alistair said...

then that is right for you, no matter what anyone else says.
i tend to agree with what wilber says about performance. i`ve experienced it in sport, music, art and in my work. it`s all a moving meditation. i`ve even experienced it in playing with my children or hiking or working in the garden.