Why does research show that people who have a spiritual life lead happier, more resilient lives; are there things that non-spiritual people can incorporate into their own lives to obtain a similar result?

I am not surprised by these findings. They are certainly consistent with my personal and clinical observations over the last thirty years and the information presented in my LA Times Bestselling book, Sacred Healing: Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy.

People who have a spiritual life have different core values and different internal states than individuals who profess no spiritual beliefs or experiences. One of the most important aspects of a real and authentic spiritual life is the realization that one’s true nature is eternal and a part of a larger consciousness. Individuals may vary in their belief about this force, be it God, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Mohammed, or a particular enlightened Master. The actual belief concerning the nature and source of this spiritual reality is not the most important issue. It is the actual experience of this spiritual source that solidifies one’s personal beliefs and values. The actual states of love, joy, peace and bliss are not tied to or determined by outer reality or circumstances. This is one of the reasons that spiritually aware people are more resilient. They are not at the total mercy of outer circumstances for their happiness.

When I traveled to India many years ago I was surprised and moved to see so much joy and light emanating from those individuals in dire poverty and living on the streets in Bombay, now Mumbai. These individuals possessed nothing by our Western standards, yet they appeared happier than many more wealthy Americans. The nature of spiritual realization results in a direct awareness of the soul, which is by nature love, joy, peace and bliss. One discovers this inner truth not by the acquisition of outer gain, but by the redirection of one’s awareness to an inner reality that has great depth and wisdom.

Once the inner spiritual world is discovered, many fears disappear. Certainly the fear of death dissolves as the realization of the eternal nature of the soul emerges. Loss of any kind no longer has a devastating and catastrophic result because a deeper sense of identity, support, and security exists. Anyone with a real degree of self-realization knows that life is transitory and attachments ultimately lead to suffering. When consciousness is stabilized in the deeper Self, then outer forces have less emotional impact.

I have had three major losses in my life: my younger brother by six years and both parents. I was especially close to my father when he left his body several years ago. Grief is a natural state of the human condition. There are strong energetic cords from the subtle body that connect us when we have loving, bonded relationships. It is emotionally painful when these are severed. I felt the waves of grief roll through my heart and it was painful. After three months, I decided to take a week off and go on retreat in Hawaii. I spent four to seven hours a day in deep meditation and by the end of the week I was so immersed in Divine light that the grief process had shifted. Even at the moment of my father’s death, my experience was different from those with only a worldly context and experience. His room was filled with a sublime, golden light that was very loving. His presence was tangible! I sat with him for three hours in deep communion with his soul. He was no longer in his physical body, but yet still present.

In my most recent book, Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down, I discuss the importance and power of a spiritual life.

There is an additional boon to a spiritual life—wisdom. Direct spiritual knowledge is a function of the soul through an intuitive process. It is possible to experience the interconnection within all life. This direct knowledge removes the sense of isolation and separation that most people experience on a daily basis. This sense of unity creates a degree of comfort and support as you realize that God is in your heart, and we are all in this creation together. The eternity of the soul is revealed, and most fears fall away—especially the fear of death. More important than mere comfort, this Divine presence can have a tangible impact on your life and help you in the most amazing ways. ¬¬¬

Resilience become possible when we feel are not alone and experience a tangible spiritual force which helps us feel stronger and support our every need in this human condition. Isolation, helplessness, despair and fear undermine our ability to cope with the changes and challenges of earthly life. It is possible to live with hope and happiness and recover from loss and personal harm when we are consciously connected to a greater spiritual force. Even personal healing from disease and injury is facilitated by this subtle reality.

Another important reality to consider is that spiritually aware individuals feel a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. They feel connected to a larger community and are motivated to help others. The result is a sense of joy. We suffer most when we are totally consumed and preoccupied about our own happiness. Self-centeredness and selfishness does not bring joy!

The term “non-spiritual” is interesting because we are all made in the image and likeness of God. This does not change just because we have no realization of this reality. It is probably better to describe someone has “unaware” or a “non-believer” of these realities. If someone has no direct experience of these more subtle realities, not to worry. I believe that the desire to be physically healthy and emotionally strong provides enough motivation to a try a simple research proven method: meditation. The research shows that meditation will lower heart disease, increase job satisfaction, improve interpersonal relationships, and lower stress and anxiety. These are all positive outcomes for any life. In additional, as one learns to quiet the mind and internalize consciousness other more subtle realities may emerge. It does not take spiritual motivation or desire to incorporate a little meditation and proper breathing practice into one’s life. If one also spends a little time trying to help others, that will lead to a great sense of joy as well.

Ronald L Mann, Ph.D. is a best selling author, and a Peak Performance Coach for Golf and Business development. His doctorate is in clinical psychology and he has taught worldwide. His published books include, Sacred Healing: Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy, The Yoga of Golf, and Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down. He has helped individuals and business from the corporate world to the non-profit such as EBay, Self Realization Fellowship, Windstar, United Way, Dixon World Charities, Little Mendelson, UCLA Women’s Golf Team, and Ventura and Arizona Junior Golf Programs. Please visit his website at www.ronmann.com and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ronald.mann1.

© 2011 Copyright Ronald L. Mann, Ph.D.

The recent shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and a number of other people including a 9 year old child here in Arizona has created a lot of conversation about gun control. Since I live in Phoenix Arizona, not too far away from Tucson, I have some thoughts about all this.

I own a Glock 17 which is similar to the weapon used in this tragedy. The Glock 19, used to shoot these people, is a smaller version of a 9 mm, which is designed for better concealment. I got my handgun because I received some anonymous treats on my safety/life and I was concerned. I spoke with the police and they could not do anything about what happen happened via telephone and text messages so they recommended the Glock as the weapon of choice.

I had never owned a handgun. I went to the local gun club, tried a few different models, requested purchase of my Glock 17 and they made a phone call to check on me. Five minutes later I was the proud owner of a new handgun. Since I had recently moved from Southern California I was surprised how easy it was to purchase the gun. California has a waiting period. In fact, many years ago when I had a private practice as a psychologist I had a patient who was enraged at her boss. She had purchased a gun with the intent to kill her boss. She had a waiting period of a couple weeks, which gave me the time to effectively deal with the issue. She gave me the receipt and never picked up the gun.

I was now the new owner of a handgun and did not even know how to load the magazine. I knew nothing about this weapon and no one at this store asked me if I knew how to use it. I decided to take two intensive classes to develop more skill and knowledge about this handgun. I took the basic gun course of 8 hours and the course to get a concealed weapon’s license. Both of these course gave me a much great knowledge about gun laws and made me a more educated owner of this weapon. I was surprised that the NRA teachers were very non-violent and expressed the best gunfight you will ever have is the one you are NOT in. The teacher for the concealed weapons license stressed the best thing to do if you have a gun and you see something “going down” call 911 and stay out of it. I am very happy I took these courses.

Much to my surprise the governor of Arizona recently signed a law waiving any requirement to carry a concealed weapon. No longer does anyone here in Arizona need any training to buy a gun and carry it. I am speechless about this law. We require some training to drive a car but nothing to own and use a gun.

I believe that people should be able to own a gun. I also believe that people should be required to have some training on the proper use, the current laws and proper mental state for gun ownership. What in the world do people need fully automatic weapons for if they are not in the army or police department?

I was told at my classes that any gun fight usually only last for 3 shots, anything more than that becomes a gang war or worse. If guns are for self-defense, why do we need a clip of 33 bullets? None of this makes any sense to me. Is it possible to have guns laws that are reasonable and minimize the potential danger of misuse? I know this is possible. It is well known that guns don’t kill people, people do. It is the people who are handling the guns. Why not do something to insure that the people owning the guns are educated, well informed, psychologically sound, and have a mature approach to their use. I think it is possible to honor the Second Amendment without being an idiot at the same time. Do you?

Find the Zone

Find the Zone: Master the Mental Game Golf Coaching
by Dr. Ron Mann

What is this approach?

What does it take to play great golf? Good equipment? Good swing mechanics? A strong mental game? All of the above! The mental game is probably the least understand and the least addressed aspect of the game, expect for pros on tour who make a living at this game. They understand the competitive importance and necessity of a strong mental game. The average golfer does not.

My approach with mastering the mental game is based upon thirty years of experience as a clinical psychologist, forty seven years of playing golf and holding a 5 index, and thirty five years of spiritual practice with meditation and yoga. I know golf and I know how people are put together. I understand the nature of consciousness and the power of the mind/body connection. My extensive yoga and meditation practice has taught many subtle things about the power of the mind and the nature of consciousness to impact performance. I have integrated all these aspects of our being into my approach in Mastering the Mental Game.

I am writing this to explain my method and my approach. The concepts are simple, but they do require some dedicated practice in obtaining self-mastery. Let’s understand how everything relates to peak performance.

1) Our personality and how we master our emotional life is critical in golf. When we are emotionally reactive and out of control, we lose focus and the power to play well. Emotional upsets that are not quickly released, lead to breakdown and big numbers. Different types of personality patterns respond differently in various circumstances. Each one of us has strengths and weaknesses. We need to know our strengths and capitalize on them, as well as learning how to overcome our weaknesses. I have been certified in the GolfPsych Coaching Methods which includes the GolfPsych test based upon the 16PF. This test has been given to professional golfers and shows how you compare to those playing on tour. It is very accurate and a great start in the Mastering the Mental Game Coaching Process. It is important to understand your personality and resolve any issues that might limit your competitive ability.

This is especially true for junior golfers. They are developing a mastery of self and have a lot of normal developmental issues to resolve. Often, the most important is their relationship with parents. When young people feel pressured by parental expectations and demands for success, it affects their game. Parents often do not want to address this reality. However, if it is ignored, the child’s performance will suffer or they can lose interest in the game altogether.

So, first we must address psychological factors that hamper great self-esteem, self-confidence, determination, perseverance, concentration, focus, and mental toughness.

2) The mind is affected by many things and it takes a lot of practice to master one’s mind. A wandering mind with little focus does not achieve great results. How do we master the mind and develop a laser like ability for concentration and focus? I have found meditation and advanced yogic breathing techniques to be the best tools. Meditation changes consciousness very quickly and develops concentration and focus. It also opens a greater sensitivity to energy and consciousness, which results in a greater power to direct the will and achieve higher levels of success in competition.

Visualization techniques are known to be helpful in peak performance training and have more power to achieve results when the mind is clear and quiet. Simple relaxation techniques are not as powerful as advance meditation practices. I have explored many different approaches to meditation, self-hypnosis and yogic breathing methods. These practices are powerful and will help an individual achieve at a higher level when done properly.

3) Self awareness leads to self mastery. Self-awareness opens the possibility for balance of mind, body and soul. When one finds inner peace and inner balance and has developed physical strength and skills, then great things can happen. An open and aware inner life results in newfound abilities and insights into peak performance. As one becomes more aware, subtle aspects of consciousness emerge that are very powerful in affecting performance.

So there is an obvious relationship between mind, body and spirit that results in higher levels of performance. My recent book, Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down, which is based upon interviews with world-class athletes, speaks to this reality. The Mastering the Mental Game approach is based upon all these factors and integrates all aspects of human functioning. We address both outer and inner dimensions that lead to peak performance. The work goes from the inside out. My book, The Yoga of Golf, has some great information on the power of self-mastery as it relates to golf. I also created a 3-hour CD called Find the Zone: Master the Mental Game of Golf, which is loaded with state of the art sport psychology information and actual guided meditation programs for enhanced concentration, focus and visualization.

Personal development, growth and change do not usually happen overnight, although it can. My work with subtle energy does speed up the change process. My work as a psychologist and healer in complementary health care taught me how to more quickly and more effectively facilitate change in those who are open and interested.

In summary, Mastering the Mental Game is more than a series of techniques to develop concentration and focus. This approach is about self-mastery and how to apply a new perspective to golf for enhanced performance. This approach is philosophical, psychological, practical, and transformational. If you would like to find out if you are ready to this approach, give me a call.

©2010 Copyright Ronald L.Mann

This is a great part of an hour interview on the Freeman Michaels Show.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOe7eUT2Q0g    

We talk about the difference between religion and spirituality and how to gracefully move through life’s greatest challenges. The interview focused on the information in Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down.

This will appear in the September issue of Arizona Golfer.

I have the all too common experience of watching people who are serious about their game, want to score low, but don’t know how.  They make decisions about club selection and execution as if they were either ten years younger and had the skill of a tour player or, they are so cautious, they add numerous strokes to their game.  If you are serious about scoring low, then there are a few things that will help you.

 Playing to win requires in integration of five components. 1) Good fitted equipment; 2) Sound swing mechanics; 3) Good course management; 4) Solid Pre-shot routine, and 5) Self Mastery.

 1)     Good equipment works with you to make good contact with ball.  If your shafts are too flexible or too stiff, you are in trouble. You will mishit shots and think it is your swing. Make sure you have the best equipment fitted for your swing.

2)     If your swing mechanics are off, be it your grip, stance, balance, swing play or whatever you will frustrate yourself. Get a couple of lessons by a PGA professional if you need it and stop wasting stokes.

3)     You have to make intelligent decisions for good course management.  Bad decisions can cost you a lot of strokes. You have to be realistic about your ability to make the right decision. If you have at least a 50-50% chance of success then you are thinking well. Play to your strengths and trust your short game. You will save a lot of strokes.

4)     A solid pre-short routine provides a foundation for success. When target focus, visualization, yogic breathing, commitment, and rhythm are ignored, you are limiting your ability to succeed.

5)     Self-Mastery of emotions, concentration, focus, self-talk, expectations, and negative thinking will take your life and game to another level. Master the basic fundamentals for a sound mental game and you will see strokes fall off your game.

I am now offering Find the Zone golf clinics at the Phoenician with PGA Master Instructor Michael Lamanna. This is an integrated mind, body, spirit approach to golf that is proven to work. Let us know if you want to drop five strokes off your game and have a lot of fun doing it.

 Dr. Ron Mann teaches an integrated mind/body/spirit approach to peak performance.  He is the author of the LA Times Bestseller, Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy, Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down, The Yoga of Golf, and the audio CD Find the Zone II: Master the Mental Game of Golf.  You can contact him at mannr@ronmann.com or 602-687-7644. Please visit his website www.ronmann.com for more free materials.

©2010Copyright Ronald L. Mann, Ph.D.

The spotlight is back on Tiger.  I remember Nick Faldo’s comments months ago stating that he thought Tiger should just get back into the Tour and start playing again.  I think the challenge for Tiger is much greater than just not playing enough competitive golf. Tiger has a lot of personal healing work ahead of him.  It would take the average person a couple of years to fully recover from what he has lost: family, love, respect, and an unshakeable belief in himself.  Tiger being Tiger, he could make it in half the time.

Tiger had a sense of self that was invincible.  He and everyone else thought he was unbeatable.  He believed he could do whatever he wanted.  His ego was inflated because of success, wealth and power.  He lost touch with his inner core. He lost the connection with his soul and his core values.  Once his life came crashing down, he lost the psychological inflation that sustained him.  His identity was shattered. You could see him on TV months ago. He looked fragile, ashamed, tentative and unsure. His self-image was devastated. 

 Golf performance is dramatically affected by one’s emotional state. Tiger must reconnect with a deeper sense of being and identity.  He lost a tremendous amount of love and respect. To fully bounce back and recover he must find a sense of self that is grounded in his soul and not on his behavior or performance.  He will have to make peace with his wife and family.

 This process of spiritual/psychological reconstruction does not happen overnight.  There is no way to predict how long it will take Tiger to do this.  I believe that Tiger has a depth of inner strength and awareness that will speed up this process.  His Buddhist path is important to him because it provides a foundation for this recovery.  Meditation is a vehicle for personal awakening and grounding into one’s core.

I am writing this on the opening day of the US Open. We will see how he does in this important tournament. It is impossible for me to predict how long Tiger’s recovery will take because I do not have access to his private life.  His performance this week (and you will already know the results by the time you read this column) will give us a better understanding of his hidden reserves and his path to recovery.

 We all get tested in life. It is how we recover that can define us.  I wish him the best in this process and hope the public has the patience and understanding to support him however long it takes.

This discussin will appear in the Arizona Golfer.  You can find the online verison at www.azgolfernews.com.