What is Real Power?

Most people want to feel more powerful. They want to feel like they are the masters of their own destiny and can control what happens. They want to feel like they can fulfill their desires and get their needs met. They want to have an influence over their environment. The underlying motivation, often unconscious, is a wish to avoid pain, hurt, suffering and feelings of inadequacy. This is a futile attempt at power since we all must die and loss is part of life.

I suggest there are two types of power: transitory worldly power and a more enduring power that comes from a realization and conscious connection to the deeper Self. Let’s take a look at each one.

Worldly Power:

This type of power comes from the ego (the spiritual definition). The individual feels little if any real connection to anything greater than himself or herself. There is an underlying lust for control over people and circumstances, with a resulting reaction of anger, when control appears to be lost. Wordily power is about self-inflation and an attempt to defend against underlying feelings of inadequacies and helplessness. The deeper self has not been realized and one’s inner life is empty of the wellspring of divine love and joy.

Unfortunately, we see this type of power in politics. Individuals do not strive for understanding, compromise, or cooperation. Individuals only want their way and will fight and bully to get it. We can also find examples in relationships where people attempt to get others to comply to their own wishes and desires to fulfill their own needs. Worldly power has little experiences with selflessness, acceptance and surrender. Extreme attempts to gain worldly power of often associated with pathological character disorders, which allow for little or no availability for cooperative problem solving because deeper vulnerabilities are so defended.

It is impossible to let go and trust all will be well when the self is only perceived and experienced as a psychological entity with thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. When the sense of self is limited to this contracted experience, it is difficult to trust and maintain an inner sense of well being when threatened by loss, hurt, or narcissistic injury. The psychological sense of sense is too vulnerable and fragile, despite the attempt to present a façade of strength. When personal positions and postures become rigid, it is a good indicator that something is missing within and the inner realms of deeper realization have been unexplored.

Attempts to gain worldly power are everywhere, at home, in the office, national and international politics. Wars are the result of such power grabs and are inevitable because the nature of wordily consciousness is based in duality. Light and dark, good and bad, likes and dislikes are the nature of worldly delusion. When we feel so separate and isolated, how can do anything but look out for our own interests because we are totally unaware of the damage we do to ourselves when we hurt others. We have no realization of the interconnection of all life and how energy is a unified field and the apparent separation between subject and object, others and ourselves, is a delusion. This realm of perception is not possible from the ego mind. When consciousness has not been realized, then the possibilities for more enlightened understanding and action are severely limited, if not impossible.

The tragedy is when the mind has concepts and ideas that are believed to be “truth” and actions and behavior are determined by these rigid ideologies. Extreme political and religious groups are the result of this type of thinking and lack of psychological and spiritual development.

The bottom line is that we cannot expect to see more enlightened behavior from someone who has not done the work of personal development and awakening. It is easy to adopt a philosophy and blindly live by some teachings that are not personally realized. It is a lifelong process to work with the awakening of consciousness for greater realization. Worldly power is difficult to achieve and sustain. However, when done so the result is typically a tremendous loss of motivation for personal awakening and development. Paramahansa Yogananda said it is more difficult to be self-realized as a king than a beggar.

Anandamayi Ma had a disciple with a lot of physical illness. He begged her for years to heal him. She finally did so and then confided to one of her close disciples, “I hope I did not make a mistake by taking away his illnesses. He was making such spiritual progress because of them.”

Enduring Power

There is another type of power that results from inner realization and self-mastery. I heard this story from Ram Das many years ago.

“There were a group of Chinese militants going into a Buddhist Temple and killing all the monks. These men were thugs and very arrogant. The meanest of them all came upon a monk who was not afraid and just stood standing, looking into his eyes. The militant said to the monk, “don’t you know that I can take my rusty sword and run it through your gut without blinking an eye?!” The monk responded, “Don’t you know that I can have you run your rusty sword through my gut without blinking an eye?!”

I love this story because it speaks to a different kind of power where an individual is not reactive to fear, threat, loss, intimidation, or attachment. When we confront a person with personal power we feel something. There is a steadfastness of spirit that is unwavering; not from rigidity, but from a degree of focus and sense of self that is beyond the body, mind, and emotions. Consciousness has power when realized and is the result of inner realization, not outer material gain.

This enduring power that comes from a realization and conscious connection to the deeper Self has the power to move mountains. The paradox is that one has to move beyond personal attachment and identification with the limited ego, to access a more powerful inner self that is the manifestation of Spirit. I was in India in 2013 at a conference. There was an eighty-year-old man who had known Gandhi as a child. He was a real yogi and had a sense of peace and power about him. Most of the people attending the conference were academics and never had experienced an individual like him. One professor asked him, “Dr. Singh, how is it that you can have obtained such a degree of intellectual understanding and also maintain the type of presence they you have?” Dr. Singh replied, “I have attempted to reduce myself to nothing!”

Again, the paradox is that nothing is everything! Nothing refers to the ego, the limited self identified with senses, desires, needs, and attachments. When one realizes how to move beyond that level of self-identity, then a great sense of Self emerges that has real power. This is the soul. In this consciously awakened state, one has access to subtle realms of power to heal, manifest, and maintain a sense of equanimity in all circumstances. I suggest that lack of fear regarding death, injury, and loss is real power. Power over oneself and one’s mind and emotions are real achievements and not easily won.

This level of power is the result of a non-dualistic state of being. Consciousness is a unified field. God is not “out there” separate from us. God is in everything, in every atom of existence, in every tree, leaf, and person. God’s energy is dancing in the light and reflected is every aspect of creation. When we are able to consciously realize consciousness as one field and experience that consciousness moving through us, animating us, guiding us, directing us, then fear subsides. We live in everything, have access to all that we need, love everything and everyone, comprehend the bigger picture, and lose the desire to manipulate and control. It becomes impossible to injure others when they are perceived as the self.

However, it is not enough to believe this is true. It is not sufficient to say, “I am one, I am the creator of life, and I do not need to do anything.” if there is no direct realization and experience of this reality. Yogananda stated that reality is that which you can perceive. When one does realize his or her oneness with all creation, then striving does naturally cease. How we awaken to this inner truth is another matter and a topic of further discussion.

So you decide, what kind of power do you want?


The premise for all the forthcoming articles is that there is a difference between being “awake” and “not.” I think we need to be clear about what this means. We all know there is a difference between being asleep and awake, or do we? When we are sleeping we can have conscious dreams in which we are fully aware, even though we are in a “sleep state.” Medicine has discovered that individuals can be in a coma and yet know what is being said in the room. Studies on “Near Death Experiences” reveal that an individual can be “brain dead” in surgery for as along as forty-five minutes and return to “life” with no brain damage, and in fact, be very aware during that time of “death” of another state of existence that is highly charged with love, light, and the presence of Higher Beings. Advanced yogis can stop their heart rate for extended periods with no physical damage. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I die daily.” The yogic interpretation of this statement is that he learned how to stop his heart by advanced meditation techniques like Kriya Yoga.

I am suggesting here that are concept of awake and sleep is not as easy to define as one might think. So how do we begin to understand being “awake?” First, we must understand that there are different states of consciousness that go beyond the brain. Remember, we can be clinically “dead” with no brain activity, and yet be fully aware and conscious. This state of awareness is not limited by, nor defined by the body. To be fully awake at a “conscious level” appears to mean a level of perception that exists beyond our definition of physicality. To make matters even more complex, time and space at no longer limiting factors for “awaken consciousness.”

If you believe in the Bible’s accounts of Jesus and the resurrection, then He reappeared from another dimension and another time frame. If you read the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda you will discover additional accounts of other “Higher Beings” like Mahavatar Babji who have been manifesting for one thousand years and periodically seen by devotees on this physical plane. Yogananda himself gives a very moving and vivid account of his guru Sri Yukteswar materializing in physical from a few months after his “death” to reveal the secrets of life and death. This account can be found in Chapter 43 of his book.

So for our purposes, being “awake” has a much more profound mean that just getting up in the morning after a night’s rest, drinking a cup of coffee, and getting started with your day’s activities. Awakening Consciousness is a profound journey to move beyond the limitations of body identification with the more limited definition of self that is defined by one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and physicality. It is realizing a more expanded state of self beyond the limited “ego” to a higher sense of self or the soul.

In my book, Sacred Healing: Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy,” I attempt to define what we mean by the term ego.

“The word ego is subject to great confusion and is used widely and loosely in both psychological and spiritual circles. For clarity’s sake, two symbols will represent two different meanings of this word herein. The Greek letter psy (y) follows the term ego when its meaning is within the psychological realm. The Greek letter iota (i) follows the term ego when it is used in its spiritual sense. In the psychological context, the ego (y) performs a very positive function for the self. The ego (y) is a hypothetical construct for those functions of thinking, perceiving, organizing, and integrating. It is psycho- logically important to have a strong ego (y) in order to function well in daily life. Those with a weak ego (y) structure have difficulty with their own emotional life. They feel overwhelmed by their feelings; they are confused about their inner experience; and they have difficulty accurately perceiving outer reality without projecting their own unconscious material.

A strong ego (y) allows one to confront the difficulties of life with confidence and have the strength and flexibility to be open to other people’s thoughts and feelings without feeling threatened or overwhelmed. A strong ego (y), in this context, allows one to be intimate and to merge psychologically with another person without the need to create conflict and anger as a way of defining one’s sense of self. Knowing what one feels and thinks is a great asset. Knowing how to communicate that information to another person is a great gift in any relationship. A strong ego (y) results from integrating all parts of the psyche, the light and the dark, the masculine and the feminine, and the various aspects of the personality, such as the child, adult, and parent. A strong ego (y) allows one to let go and explore new territory when one’s consciousness begins to expand. If one has a very solid and well-integrated sense of self at a psychological level, then one can more easily allow for an inner shift of self-perception that includes a greater sense of one’s own being.

This leads to the other meaning of ego (i). From a spiritual perspective, ego (i) is the aspect of self that experiences a separation from God. Ego- consciousness (i) is believing that “I” am in total control of “my” life, that “I” am the total creator of “my” existence. The inherent limitation of this notion is that it does not allow for the full, expansive understanding and experience of God-consciousness. This limited ego-identity (i) creates a contracted and reduced field of awareness. For example, when a disciple asks his/her guru1 for cosmic consciousness, the guru may reply, “If I were to give it to you now, it would kill you. It would be like placing a million watts of electricity through a one-hundred-watt light bulb.” This ego-obstacle (i) occurs as long as consciousness is identified with the limited aspects of the self, which does not allow for the flow of higher vibrational energy.

Ego (i) consciousness restricts the amount of higher energy that is able to flow through us. Every level of consciousness is like a sheath of energy that vibrates at different levels. If we identify only with a particular level of Being, we limit how much energy can flow through us. The physical experience of receiving an influx of Divine energy that is larger than we are able to handle can be painful or emotionally damaging. The process of transformation, however, through spiritual practices and disciplines, allows for a gradual changing of consciousness as well as a strengthening and conditioning of the physical body, so that the entire Self or Being can conduct and resonate at higher energetic frequencies. Physical cells actually need to be purified in order to receive these higher vibrations.

Many years ago, I participated in a retreat for children with Joan Halifax, Edith Sullwold, and Sun Bear, in Ojai, California. Half of the children present had terminal illnesses. On the first evening, I awoke around two o’clock in the morning, feeling a great pulsing of energy around me. My tent was located in the center of all these young participants. I opened to their energetic presence and realized that I was actually feeling the process of life and the development of the personal self that was emerging within these children. I realized then that one cannot transcend the ego (i) until one has enough ego (y) to transcend it. I realized that spiritual life develops and evolves in its own organic way, with its own developmental timing so to speak, and this process was literally breathing all around me.

This little story illustrates the relationship between the two forms of ego, for many individuals are not ready and able to carry out the profound and difficult work of spiritual development. They do not yet have the inner strength and personal integration that is required of one who is devoted to spiritual unfolding and of anyone who seeks to assist in the healing process on these levels. In fact, such an aspirant finds eventually that his/her ego (i) must be burned, sacrificed, in the fire of purification. The little ego (i) gradually dissolves as the greater Higher Self or soul awareness becomes revealed. Therefore, spiritual life is truly for the strong at heart and the dedicated, for only the courageous survive the supreme tests that are given to purify the heart, foster growth, and awaken the consciousness to the reality of cosmic forces.

In the process of spiritual growth or sacred healing, one does not actually “get rid of the ego.” Rather, through spiritual practice we shift the identification of the self beyond the ego (i) to the Soul. This is a process of transformation in which we transcend our attachment to and identity with the little ego (i). Deep states of meditation provide the experiences in which one actually perceives, through subtle and intuitive levels of perception, the distinction between ego-consciousness and soul-consciousness. The ego (i) tends to claim personal responsibility for an experience, since it is totally identified with thought, physicality, and emotion. On the other hand, the soul perceives itself as being a channel or instrument of the Divine, through which experience flows. To the soul, knowledge, information, wisdom, healing, and action are experienced as coming from something greater: the Infinite. Ultimately, all these aspects of the Self are merely energies or levels of consciousness. The shift from ego-consciousness to soul-consciousness actually produces a change in vibration. Yogic meditation practices facilitate this change in consciousness because they provide a relatively precise means of quieting the mind, withdrawing the life-force energy, and shifting the identification of consciousness away from the outer senses of perception to
the deep, inner reality of soul awareness.

Many years ago, I had a very interesting experience in meditation, in which I was given the perception of my ego (i) as an energy sheath. I thought that perhaps I could pry that energy body away from me and then be free of my ego (i). I imagined that I had a crowbar and began to pry at this energy body. Immediately I felt a great pain in my physical body and realized that the ego (i) could not just be scrapped. Thereafter, I developed a much greater appreciation and acceptance for the process of transformation of energy as a major aspect of spiritual transformation.”

I hope this brief discussion of the term “ego” helps to clarify our purpose. A higher level of consciousness in which we are “awake” accesses powerful subtle vibrations that will change our perception of reality, our relationship to our physicality, our relationships with others, our sense of identity, and our ability to influence our lives. The information in this educational community will give you grater understanding the techniques to awaken and become more conscious in every aspect of your life. In future articles, we will discuss in more detail how to achieve higher states of awareness and how they impact every aspect of your life.

Please email me with questions and I will post new articles in response.

Glenn Griffith is a good friend and colleague. We have taught Junior Golf Workshop together. He is a great instructor and accomplished golfer. He is playing this week in the PGA Tour Waste Management Event. Let’s wish him the best. I did a brief interview with him about the game. We talk about his philosophy on swing mechanics, the mental game and how it feels to be in a tour event.

The recent confession from Lance Armstrong about his steroid use in win seven consecutive Tour de France victories is another blow to professional sports.  A few years ago, Doug DeCinces and I discussed this issue in Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down.  That discussion is very relevant now and my comments as well. Here is how is appears in Bouncing Back.  The book is available in all format at amazon.com


Doug DeCinces and Steroids

The following discussion about the impact of steroids on baseball is very interesting.  It relates to several areas of our discussion: belief in yourself, spiritual awareness, individuation, and emotional maturity. I include it now, because anyone who chooses to use steroids has some doubt about his or her ability to fully compete and be successful based solely upon his or her God-given talent. We pay a price when we try to cut corners and find an edge.  It can be through performance-enhancing drugs or shady business practices. The results can be the same. Eventually the truth comes out, and we lose something. All along the way we have lost our integrity, which creates a gap in the heart and a wound to the soul.  Here is what Doug had to say about steroid use and my comments.I asked, “What do you think about the steroid problem in baseball?”

“I think if you’re talking about the mental approach, obviously the mental approach is that somebody’s taking steroids because it makes them physically stronger and play better. And they’re not thinking about tomorrow; they’re thinking about today. I think until Major League Baseball and everybody stepped up and said, ‘Hey, this is illegal,’ I don’t think you can really condemn those guys beforehand.   But frankly, I don’t think Rafael Palmeiro should go to the Hall of Fame. He’s accomplished a lot, but he accomplished it on illegal drugs that he knew he shouldn’t have been taking. I may be a little outspoken about that, but guys who took steroids, I mean, guys are hitting … Barry Bonds hitting seventy-plus home runs a year.  I said, ‘You know, that’s physically impossible.’ And yet they’re just blowing through record books after record, and just making a mockery of all the guys that played before that didn’t do that.  I don’t know, I just feel like—okay, I hit 240 in my career. Well, if I would have taken steroids, I can tell you I hit 240 balls to the warning track that probably would go out if I were taking steroids.

“So, where does that put me in the—or all my other peers that went out and played without it? I played with some guys I knew that were taking it, and it totally changed their physical abilities, 100 percent. So is that the right thing to do? I know when my son was in the Minor Leagues; we had numerous conversations because he said, ‘Dad, how am I supposed to compete? If I don’t take it, how am I supposed to compete?’

“And I said, ‘You compete on what God gave you. And if you can’t do it on that, then you need to do something else!’

“Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I drank coffees, and, you know, I did things that, you know, help you get up. That’s a long season and stuff like that.  But I never took any steroids or anything like that that would—you know, heck, when I was going through there, there was a huge cocaine problem. And I was the head of the Players’ Association at that time. We’re trying to take care of the Willie Wilsons and all the guys, the Norrises and guys like that who got busted for it all the time. But we had—it was more of a cocaine problem in the big leagues than steroids. And now you look at this, and I mean, you see players this year that the last three years, you look at them, and how did they get that good? You know? But the guys are sitting there, and they’re going, ‘Do I have a choice? I take them so I can stay in the big leagues and make my money and fulfill my dream. But if I don’t take them, that general manager is going to send me back down, because he’s going to bring up a kid that is taking them.’

“So I think baseball is more at error than the players. I mean, it’s a pressure-driven job, to go out and compete on 161, 162 games a year and to go against the greatest in the world, and somebody’s saying, ‘Hey, look at the results I get from taking this’—oh my gosh. Guys aren’t going think to—you know, their mindset is to take it. ‘Okay, let’s go take it.’

“But then there are others’ mindsets that say, ‘Hey, that’s not the right way to do it.’ And now how do they compete against the guys that are cheating? I mean, you look at Ivan Rodriguez this year [2006]. I mean, he’s not even the same person that’s been an All-Star every year as a catcher [13 years on All-Star team]. You look at—I mean, I’m just going to be glancing around, but, I mean, how do guys in their late forties throw ninety-plus miles an hour? Think they’re doing that all by themselves? I don’t think so. You know, I would say Nolan Ryan was one of those guys that was really unique. But he had a unique body. But he wasn’t all of a sudden twenty-five pounds heavier and—you know, looking all different. I mean, I look at that thing that happened with Roger Clemens and Piazza, you know. How do you go off like that? You know, steroids do some things to your brains and stuff like that, too.

“That’s just kind of the way I look at it. I mean, I think it’s wrong. And I think that Palmeiro, of all guys this year—you stand in front of Congress and point your finger at them, and then you go out and take it? And look at Sammy Sosa this year. He’s not taking steroids. You look at him, and he’s shrunk down enormously and his bat’s way back here. It’s not out in front, hitting home runs anymore. It’s back here. He can’t catch up to the ball. There’s a marked physical difference in their abilities, your quick twitch muscles and all those things that require you to hit a fastball further or to throw a ball harder. You see a lot of pitchers today, they all of a sudden—they were throwing ninety-three, throwing eighty-eight, eighty-nine. All those guys that are in the Hall of Fame back there, you know, all of them … first of all, all pitchers—I don’t want to say all—a lot of pitchers cut balls, use pine tar, use spit, use what else, you know? That’s kind of—how do you say it’s cheating? It is cheating. It’s part of the game, but it’s cheating, and if you can get away with it, I guess they’d do it. It’s like the guy that used corked bats. If you can get away with it, you do it. But, you know, I remember using a corked bat against Gaylord Perry in a game. And Gaylord Perry was just—I mean, it was a joke how much he was cheating on the mound. And so I borrowed somebody’s bat on my team, and I went up there—hit a double in right center. I’m standing on second base going, ‘Nobody pick up that bat. Oh my gosh.’ I was scared to death, you know, scared to death. And I never, ever used a cork bat. I used it one time, one at-bat, and got a double, and I don’t think it would have made a difference.”


Steroids use in baseball is a rather complex economic, ethical, and spiritual issue. I believe it is unfair to only blame the individual players without taking into account the larger organization and cultural factors.  Individual players have tacitly been given permission by baseball to use drugs. At first, it was individuals who made the choice; but once the organization looked the other way, the culture became corrupted.  Individual players were trying to make a living and compete. They took the drug to remain competitive. That is the economic reality. Some may argue that if they wanted to remain in the majors, they had to do it.

However, there are also ethical issues. Does one allow himself to become corrupt because of financial gain and worldly success? In the American culture, the answer is often yes! Our culture is built around fame, power, and fortune. We often place money above anything else—especially in sports and the business world. Does it matter that historic records were being broken because players had the physical advantage of drug enhancement?  If the drug use was openly acknowledged, then the answer might be no.  But it becomes a much different ethical matter when players lie about the truth and still claim the victories.

Is there much difference here between lying about using performance enhancing drugs in sports and lying about the finances of a business? How about lying about the nature of low-interest loans? How about lying about investment programs that rob people of billons of dollars?  All this is based in greed—the desire to get more at any cost. The United States has paid a huge price for this type of ethic.

With regards to surviving during very difficult times, does it matter how we get there?  Are we only concerned about performance, about success, and about winning, or are we also interested in the process of victory and what that process does for the development of the individual?  The intent of this book is to look at the deeper character aspects among great athletes to see what we can learn about life, the human will, and the human spirit.  This book is not a cookbook about how to win and make a lot of money.  It is about finding your way through difficult times without losing your soul.

Peak performance has magical moments, like when Dick Fosbury is being lifted over the bar to win an Olympic gold medal. Those who believe in a spiritual reality believe that there is a relationship between the human will, the human spirit, and God. What resides in one’s heart is important. A pure heart can attract many wonderful and wondrous things. When a person takes a drug, then something is lost. The experience becomes, at best, a peak at a potential or possibility, but it does not become an integrated part of one’s being. What is lost is the real growth of human consciousness and human ability to move to the next level. Once you take away the drug, then you strip away the ability to actually perform at that level.

On might argue that life is an experience to learn something more about who we really are, not just to make a lot of money and gain power and prestige.  This learning process is most profound when we draw upon our natural inner resources that transcend our human condition and lift us to a high realm—a realm that clears the mind, opens the heart, and touches the soul.  Sports have the ability to do this.  The movie The Natural did such a thing. Real victory in the sports world inspires us all to greater hopes and greater accomplishments.

The spiritual loss with drug use in sports is that our children learn the wrong message.  They learn that wining at any cost is more important than honesty, integrity, and the evolution of the human will.  They become robbed of the deeper meaning of life and are sold a Madison Avenue marketing version of life’s meaning and purpose. While it is exciting to see a ball hit 400 yards and pitchers throwing in the nineties, baseball is about more than that—all sports are. The magic of peak performance is lost when success is only attributed to chemical means.  The magic of life is also lost when we turn to drugs and alcohol when life becomes too stressful.  Life will test us, and with the right methods, we can find the strength to overcome all adversity. While chemicals may help soften the pain and dull the senses, they do not provide a means for mastery.

The use of marijuana is a relevant issue here, especially as a way to cope with stress. While medical marijuana may have its place, daily use for stress release has its problems.  During my many years in clinical practice as a psychologist, I saw people when the complaint that their lives did not seem to be going anywhere.  These individuals were kind and loving and just did not seem to have the drive to accomplish what they desired.  These people were getting stoned every day!  Pain, frustration, and discomfort can be a great motivator for change. If you artificially take away the pain, all life is good.  The saying “no pain, no gain” may have some relevance here.

While the ethical discussion might seem beyond the scope of this book, I believe it is important, because my goal is to do more than just provide a roadmap for success. While honesty and integrity may not be necessary for peak performance—and in fact, it appears they are not—these qualities do matter in higher ethical realms.  Sports provide a model for young people of how live.  Professional sports are just a game. How one relates to friends, spouses, business partners, etc. is not a game. If the message becomes “win at any cost,” then the human spirit takes a hit. We lose trust and respect for each other and damage our ability relate as a society.  How we play the game is as important as whether or not we win! Golf is probably the one sport that maintains its commitment to this high ethical and moral standard.  It is the only sport where a player will call a penalty upon himself. The bottom line is that you do not have faith in yourself to come out the other side if you look to external, artificial supports to get you there. Don’t be seduced by the promise of “success” if you have to cheat, lie, or steal. Learn to develop the trust and faith in your inner core—your true self—and you will become stronger and enhance the essential values that mark a victorious life: integrity, honesty, perseverance, and faith.

© 2013 Copyright Ronald L. Mann, Ph.D.  All Rights Reserved.

The Great Hearts non profit foundation, http://www.greatheartsafire.org/ , will be presenting ten (10) bracelets at the Jalgaon Conference to recognize a select group of people. We will have 73 people from 13 countries. Check out the Great Hearts website for more information about them.

There are many people of Faith who want to integrate their spirituality into every aspect of their life. Here are some thoughts on how this applies to golf

Golf is a game and by definition is it something we play. We may work at it to get better, but once we are actually in the game, we are playing it.  We may be thinking about what we want to do or what we think we should do, but in the end, we play ­­–– for better or worse.  We may make a great shot and get a low score, or we may miss a lot of shots and post a high one.  We may be elated or we may end up frustrated and depressed. That really depends on our relationship with your core self, our attitude about life, and how we view this game.

What is play?  It is something that children do spontaneously.  They have fun, laugh, and use their imagination to make things up, create adventures, visualize the invisible, draw, dance, and run, typically without any thought or concern about the result. The reward is in the act of play itself and the fun of being lost in the process. Play has its own reward.

Somewhere along the way of growing up we learn that the result is more important than the play itself.  We learn and begin to believe that it is more important to win and be the best. We begin to lose touch with the joy of playing the game because we become so focused on the ultimate goal of winning. While it is true that hard work is required to ultimately play our best, the danger is that practice can lose it fun and the game can become tedious. At an early age, too much work, too much emphasis on just winning leads to burn out.  Once all the fun is gone, the child usually walks away from the game. When the fun and joy is lost, it is no longer play.

Is it possible as an adult to recapture the spirit of the game and learn how to play again?  Is it possible to discover the fun and inherent joy in the game that may typically leads to great performance?  I believe so, but only by letting go, not by trying harder.

What exactly needs to be released if we are to let go?  Do we want to discard our desire for greatness, or our wish to be the best? Do we want to discard our discipline and willingness to perfect and hone our craft (our ability to play the game)?  I think not because it is a lot more fun to do something well.  How do we find a way to play our best and recapture the essence of play?

We need to let go, yes!  However it is essential to know what to let go.  We need to let go of our ego, our mind, and our little self that is caught in a struggle for perfection and only identifies our value with our performance.  If we are caught in identification with our ego and little self, we feel wonderful when we play great, and our self-esteem is lowered when we falter.

There is a deeper sense of Self that holds the key to greater play and joy. We hear about it as the Zone. The Legend of Bagger Vance talks about it as the true self, and the Bible and great spiritual teachings refer to it as the soul.  Spiritual Realization is the knowledge that we are made in the image and likeness of God and have a sense of perfection encoded in our being.  We have a purpose and meaning in life that is holy and important. There is value in the essence of our being that can be expressed in all that we do.  In fact, we learn that whatever we do has a greater meaning, value, and impact when it is inspired and directed by this deeper aspect of Self.

There is a paradox here because the soul or essential Self is free from the limitations of our limited ideas of who we think we are.  The soul is joy and can express itself through any action or thought.  The soul is selfless whereas the ego is consumed with self ––how do I look, how am I performing, how much do I have, am I winning, etc.  Inspired action at its highest level, whether it be in the performing arts, playing golf, raising a child, or serving others, is effortless!  Action, speech, and thought are happening, but without effort or preconceived ideas. When the soul is awake, the heart is open, joy is present, and the love and beauty of Spirit is expressed. We rise above that which separates us and express the wonder and grace that unites us.

We live in a spiritual reality, if we choose to see it.  We can be elevated to a higher level when we invite God into our hearts and mind.  Life can become play with the fun and joy of the miraculous.  Let’s be realistic. Life is not always fun and joyful: terrible and horrible things do happen.  However, even in those times, we can be uplifted, strengthened, loved, and guided by God’s invisible hand. He will touch us, guide us, and care for us during our greatest trials.  And we can celebrate his glory and presence during our greatest victories.

There are two kinds of faith: blind faith and true faith.  Blind faith is based upon belief. It is a trust that what is written and is told is true. It starts in the mind and may only reside there.  True faith is based upon experience.  You believe something because you have felt it, seen it, and it is a real and tangible part of your life.  It resides in your body –– in your cells.  It is your direct, personal experience.

Faith and Spiritual Realization –– what comes first?  It can be either.  When you have a real spiritual experience and feel God’s love, joy, and bliss, then you believe. You have true faith.  However, if you begin with blind faith and believe that something is possible and do the work to invite that presence into your life, you will have a real experience. Your faith is now deepened.

So it is not a mystery that we find so many world-class athletes in all sports who have a strong faith and profess to a realization of a living God that touches every part of their lives. We find men bonded together from this faith to play stronger, be more dependable, and surrender more to the common good of the team.  Many Christian football coaches like Tony Dungy, Bob Gibbs, Bobby Bowden, and Joe Taylor have created powerful programs through the expression of their faith.  Phil Jackson developed many wining basketball teams through a Zen philosophy that helped individual players rise above their ego. Many PGA golfers such as Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Corey Pavin, Aaron Baddeley, Tom Lehman, and Payne Stewart (passed on) have strong faiths that have helped them in both their personal lives and professional careers.

When we learn how to integrate our spiritual beliefs and realization into every aspect of our lives, then something changes. We are uplifted to a higher level. We strive for a great degree of excellence and share a positive light with all those around us. We become a source of inspiration and contribute to making the world a better place.  Our work becomes play as we are blessed with the opportunity to excel and share our gifts with others.

When we win, it can be an inspiration to others if we remain humble and grateful.  When we are blessed with a gift to do something well, like play golf, our game can go to a higher level when we get out of the way.  Major breakthroughs in performance are not just the result of practice, equipment and swing mechanics. Major changes, either for the better or worse, are the result of profound shifts in the heart and mind. When Zack Johnson won the 2007 Master’s on Easter Sunday, he said he felt Jesus walking with him on every hole –– nice person to have in your gallery!  Tiger Woods lost his way and his game when he forgot his values and deeper spiritual principles.  Fortunately for golf and him, he is on his way back.  We wish him the best in his process of recovery.

It is too easy to lose one’s Self with all the distractions of modern life: TV, social media, money, fame, sex, and drugs. When we lose our Self, then all is lost –– meaning, purpose, integrity, joy, and valor.  A spiritual life can be the foundation and guiding light to keep us on course (no pun intended) and on a path of excellence.  It also provides a way to move beyond the ego and our little definition of self.  It is one way to help us play in the Zone. Our deeper Self or soul, knows so much more, has so much wisdom, and an ability to perform at the highest level. Do you want to play your best?  Then make the choice to let your higher Self be part of the game.


Dr. Mann is an expert coach for the mental game and teacher in spiritual development. His LA Times best selling book, “Sacred Healing: Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy,” discusses the process and methods for spiritual growth.  His latest book, “Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down,” is based on interviews with world-class athletes and discusses the eight fundamental principles for success in every aspect of life. In addition, he has produced a number of audio CD’s for meditation, self-healing, and personal development.  All these training aids can be found at www.ronmann.com.  He is available for individual, team, and corporate coaching. Please email him at mannr@ronmann.com with any questions.



Junior Golf is a wonderful opportunity for young golfers to develop their skill and love for the game.  It is a well-organized organization across the United States and offers many competitive opportunities for the young golfer.  It is a pathway for some to the PGA Tour and college golf scholarships.

Junior golfers are very sophisticated today with the advent of advanced teaching methods and great swing coaches. We see so many young golfers with incredibility good swing mechanics shooting low scores. Proper equipment and great swing mechanics go a long way to help young players be their best.

However, great equipment and good technique can only take you so far.   It still remains that the person hitting the ball and making the shot is the most important thing.  The sport has evolved and it is common knowledge that a player’s mental, emotional, and spiritual attitude has a lot do with winning and success.  We see Tiger making a comeback after two years.  I am not surprised that it has taken him that amount of time. He made some bad decisions that led to his identity and life falling apart.  It takes a lot more than practice to put all that back together again. Personal development does not happen overnight. And the fact is, the better the foundation, the easier it is to change, grow, develop, evolve, and recover after breakdown.

Part of our purpose here on earth is to grow and develop. The early years of a junior golfer can establish a foundation for life. Golf is such a great game because it offers the opportunity to learn so many things: values, integrity, patience, accountability, responsibility, emotional maturity, discipline, focus, determination, balance, respect, self-worth, service, acceptance, and love of nature. There is a lot to gain from this game. Lessons learned at this early age can last a lifetime and great positive habits and patterns for success in every aspect of life can be developed.

However, these valuable lessons are not automatically learned. Every child and adolescent can use wise parental guidance and coaching.  It is the responsibility of a parent to create a healthy emotional and spiritual environment, which will support a child’s development.  Sometimes, a parent can be too emotionally involved in the success of their son or daughter.  It is all too easy for a parent to live out their childhood dreams and wishes through their children.  Parents who wish they could be a professional athlete often work to create that in their children. Parents who have high expectations can often take the fun out of sports and place too much pressure on their children.  It is impossible to separate the psychological functioning of child from the family environment.  Children feel and respond to everything. Parental desires, fears, and wishes are expressed both verbally and non-verbally.  Who you are does make a difference in the ultimate performance of your son or daughter.

When a junior golfer has great talent and great practice rounds, but is not performing at his or her best in competition, it is usually because of deeper emotional issues, not raw talent.  Here is where a good coach can be very helpful.  Good coaching creates a safe environment where everyone can explore his or her feelings and learn new ways of thinking and being.  A good coach will help you all get to another level that you cannot access on your own.  If you look at the greatest athletes on all sports, they all have coaches.  It is not a sign of weakness or failure to ask for help.  It is a sign of wisdom and maturity to enlist the help of experts who can show you how to define and achieve your goals.

So, what are the six most important issues for the Junior Golfer?

  • Emotional Control
  • Focus and Concentration
  • Realistic Expectations
  • Perseverance
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Self-Worth Beyond Golf
  • Self-Belief

What are the four most important issues for the parent of a Junior Golfer?

  • Non-attachment to your child’s performance.
  • Trust
  • Unconditional Love
  • Patience

Let’s take a brief look at each of these.


Emotional Control

One of the biggest causes of breakdown for this age group is a massive melt down due to one bad shot.  One slice, pull hook, shank or duff can lead to an explosion of anger and frustration that can last for the rest of the round. Emotional control and the ability to “bounce back,” the title of my last book, provide the foundation to recover from breakdown.  Lack of emotional self-control is a sign of immaturity at any age.  The ability to have emotional control in highly intense and stressful situations, such as competition, is a huge advantage over the field.  Most kids are losing it.  Overly high expectations can be a cause for loss of emotional control.  If you think you should execute each shot perfectly, then it is easy to be upset when you do not live up to what you think you should be doing. High expectations are not the same as having lofty goals. A mature person, junior or adult, accepts mistakes and learns from them.  In fact, taking risks can lead to great learning and higher levels of performance when learning occurs in the process.

One of the chapters in, Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down, is on Emotional Intelligence. In that chapter I state, “We all have emotional reactions to various situations.  It is what you do with them that makes the difference.  Emotional intelligence is the result of several factors: the awareness of your feelings, the ability to express your feelings, the ability to contain your feelings, the ability to organize your feelings, and the ability to resolve your feelings.  It is possible to be intellectually intelligent but not have an equal and corresponding emotional intelligence.  Just because you have a good mind does not mean you have done any work on your emotional self.  Emotional intelligence is something that can be developed and learned.”

If you are wondering how you or your child is doing is this area you might consider the following questions. This is taken from Bouncing Back.


Self-Analysis—Emotional Intelligence

Answer the following questions: True or False

1.   I realize what I am feeling in specific situations.

2.   When I become upset, I know why I am reacting.

3.   I introspect daily to deepen my self-awareness.

4.   If I have interpersonal conflicts, I am able to distinguish between my feelings and the feelings of others.

5.   I am not quick to anger.

6.   I am able to articulate my feelings to others.

7.   I can describe my emotions with clarity.

8.   In highly charged, complex situations, I am able to discern the various feelings and issues involved and take appropriate action.

9.   I speak up when necessary.

10. I have clear and well-established values that guide my life.

11. I am able to define clear goals that guide my actions.

12. I am able to set priorities and adhere to them.

13. I am able to forgive others.

14. I am able to resolve old hurts.

15. I am able to let go of anger.

If you answered “false” to one or more of the above items, you may need to do some personal work in the area of emotional maturity.

There is also more information on this topic on my podcasts. I have a video and an audio posted at https://ronmann.com/category/podcast/.

Focus and Concentration 

Lapse of focus and concentration is an issue for golfers of any age.  The diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is so widely used today that many younger golfers feel they have concentration and focus problems.  Personally, I think this diagnosis is overused. Golf is one of the sports where one’s inner life is paramount.  Unlike other sports, which are more reactive like tennis or baseball, the little ball is just lying there on the ground. There is so much time to think that it is easy for the mind to wander or start thinking about things in the past or the future that do not enhance peak performance. Poor concentration along with lack of emotional control leads to poor decision-making and bad course management. Good decisions throughout a round can save many strokes and avoid big blowups.  Greater concentration also allows for enhanced visualization skills ––another important factor in peak performance.  Great performance results in the ability to stay in the moment and play one shot at a time. This is often very difficult in tournament play, especially if one is in the lead on the final three holes.  One part of knowing how to win is to be able to manage intense positive emotions and increased adrenalin.  A strong mental came requires an ability to stay focused when it really counts.

There are a couple of things one can learn to help in this important area: meditation, self-hypnosis, and yoga breathing techniques. Also, diet can play an important role in supporting enhanced focus and concentration: junk food with lots of sugar will lead to mental breakdown.

I have created a number of audio CD programs to help with meditation, self-hypnosis, and enhanced golf performance.  All these golf training aids can be found at my website https://ronmann.com/catalog/.

Realistic Expectations

The junior golf can spare himself or herself a lot of unnecessary frustration if he or she will realize that golf is a very difficult game to master.  It takes years and thousands of hours of dedicated practice to become a scratch golfer. There are so many aspects to the game: driving, irons, short game, trouble shots, putting, chipping, and bunker shots.  There are also so many different conditions that need to be learned: windy days, rainy days, cold days, hot days, foggy days, etc.  This is not a game that one masters in a few months or every a few years.  It is a game that requires a long-term perspective.  Learning and change takes time. Bob Rotella has a great saying, “Golf is not a game of perfect.”  The sooner a junior golfer can learn this and make peace with mistakes and the learning process, the happier and more successful he or she will be.


As I mentioned above, golf is a tough game. It does take a long time to become very good and a lot of practice and learning to become great. A player has to persevere and keep at it.  If a child has a tendency to give up when frustration hits and expects instant success, then trouble lies ahead with this game. Patience is a virtue that supports perseverance.  It can take a year to make a major swing change and as a child is growing with physical changes, he or she has to adapt ­­–– all this takes time. Long-term goals are important for the junior golfer with the patience to keep working to obtain them.

Personal Responsibility

Part of growing up is learning to take responsibility for your actions and behaviors. Since golf is such a difficult game, it takes a lot of work to become great. A junior golfer has to show up to practice, work on the thing that are identified by his or her coach, and realize that there is no one to blame for lack of progress and success: bad lies, tough greens, tough conditions, or other players are not the cause of poor performance.  It is the person swinging the club.  Golf is a great game for a child or adolescent because it does provide the opportunity to instill values that will last a lifetime.  Learning to be accountable is an important part of integrity.

Self-Worth Beyond Golf

One’s sense of value and worth should be based upon deeper and more important issues than one’s golf game.  Unfortunately, the junior golfer that is still developing a solid sense of identity may only rely on outer definitions like golf performance, what their friends think of them, or physical appearance.  If your worth is defined by how well you hit a golf ball and how low you can score, then the door is open for an emotional roller coaster of elation and depression.

The junior golfer needs to know that their worth and value is inherent in their being. Spiritual families can draw upon their faith and encourage a child to realize that he or she is made in the image and likeness of God and he or she has a special purpose in this life, well beyond a golf score. Non-spiritually oriented families can find deeper value in one’s overall connection to life, people, and one’s ability to love and care about others. Whatever the source for self worth, it must be much more than how one hits a golf ball.


A key to success in any aspect of life is to believe in your ability. When you believe in yourself, you never give up. You are willing to work hard and take risks. A round of golf has its ups and downs.  It is rare to play 18 holes of golf and not have a couple difficult shots or holes. The winner is usually the one who best handled adversity. If you make a terrible shot, you have to believe that you can make a good recovery shot. As an adult, if you make a bad business decision, you must believe that you can learn from that and do better in the future. Self-belief keeps you in the game.  Self-belief is also the result of hard work and refining one’s skill.  It is not just saying, “I am good.”  Because, if you have not practiced, prepared and developed a level of skill, you know you are only hoping for the best. You know there is little depth to your belief. Hard work, perseverance, and good training result in a realistic belief in yourself that will sustain you when life gets tough.


Non-attachment to Your Child’s Performance

It is a common occurrence in junior sports to have parents so emotionally involved in their child’s performance that they become a liability.  The AJGA had to implement rules for parents’ involvement with the child during competition because of this issue.  Little League has done the same. Why do parents become too involved to the point that it actually impairs their child’s performance?

First of all, parents can become too focused on outcome. They forget that the process of learning and the ability to focus on the moment creates a better outcome.

Second, their own identity becomes too wrapped up in their child’s performance. They are too emotionally involved in outcome and it affects their own sense of well-being.

Third, parents can set high expectations that are very difficult to achieve. Perfection in golf is not a realistic goal. Mistakes will happen and breakdown will occur.  How a child recovers from these setbacks is the important thing.

A parent needs to have a life and identity beyond that of their child golfer.  If they are to provide a solid and stable parental environment and be a positive role model, they need to demonstrate that there is more to life than golf.


A parent cannot micro-manage their child and expect to help him or her develop and strong, independent sense of self.  A part of trust is letting go and allowing your children the space to learn and develop on their own.  Children will respond to a parent’s expectations.  If you think your child will fail, then there is a greater chance that will happen.  If you believe that your child is responsible and capable, then he or she will more likely behave that way.

When a parent believes in his or her child, they feel that. The child feels more loved, valued, and respected –– all important qualities for a positive self-esteem.

Learning requires making mistakes.  If a parent does not allow their child the space and opportunity to fail, they are robbing them of important life experiences.  It is important for a parent to trust that his or her child will learn from the mistakes and trust them to do the necessary work to improve.

Unconditional Love

This is the foundation for good parenting.  No matter what happens, a child needs to know they are loved.  If love is conditional and only based on low scores and winning tournaments, then problems will arise –– if not now, then later in life. Love is the foundation for all important relationships.  A good friend and fellow author, head football coach Joe Taylor of Florida A&M University, has a saying –– “they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Discipline, rules and structure are important, but they all must exist within a loving environment.


Growth and development is a process. Skill development takes time and work.  Success takes a lot of dedication, commitment and hard work.  If a parent expects instant results, then all that pressure will only make it more difficult for a child to perform well.  It is impossible to maintain a great round of golf when, in the back of your mind, you are thinking about how your mom or dad is going to feel about your score. Good parenting requires patience to allow a child to learn over time.


Coaching for the mental game should be an important part of any long-term strategy for a junior golfer who wants to continue to play golf in college, get a scholarship, or hopes to play on the PGA Tour. Addressing the mental game provides a balanced approach along with excellent club fitting, competent swing mechanics, physical conditioning, and proper nutrition.  Don’t leave out one of the foundational building blocks for a enhanced competency on and off the course.

Dr. Ron Mann is a recognized expert in Peak Performance Coaching for the mental game of golf. He is also a best selling author, speaker, and executive coach. He can be contacted for individual or team coaching and speaking engagements at mannr@ronmann.com.  Additional training materials can be found on his website at www.ronmann.com.


© 2012 Copyright Ronald L. Mann, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Are you ready for a revolutionary way to think about the game of golf?

Do you want to find out how to integrate your mind and body for a better golf swing?

Do you want to find out how to reduce injury?

Do you want to learn one central concept that will relate to all swing mechanics and sport psychology concepts?

Are you ready to step up your game to the next level?

GolfintheSpine integrates what I have learned over the past 30 years into a simple approach that will give you a competitive advantage to successfully accomplish all the swing changes and mental tools that you might have in your bag.

First, let’s looks at swing mechanics. Turn on your TV and watch any professional tour player and see how they finish each shot. Luke Donald, the world’s number 1 player is a great example. He has balance and control. He is standing solid and watching his ball. Unlike the average golfer, he is NOT, falling over, falling backwards, jumping off the ground, nor twisting his feet and spinning left out of control. His balanced and controlled finish tells you a lot about his swing mechanics and the source of real power in a golf swing. Amateur golfers who are trying to get more distance often throw themselves out of position to make perfect contact with a square club face because they have lost all sense of gravity, focus, centered, and balance. They might hit it long, but probably not very straight.

Good golf instruction teachers a player to rotate around their spine and finish standing firm and balanced. Nick Faldo often talks about using the sternum as a focal point to maintain maximum spine angle for distance and accuracy, both for power and the short game. Spine angle is often discussed in reference to a negative pivot where the left shoulder (for right handed players) dips down, resulting in loss of power and a strong slice or fade. Of course we know that there are different styles and methods to swing mechanics. We see the results from Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, and Sean Foley through their tour players. However, they all have these common elements. Every good teacher addresses balance, focus, rhythm, timing, and spine angle.

Once the grip and setup are established, then a player’s ability to rotate and follow through without losing the proper and optimal spine angle becomes very important for a powerful and consistent golf swing. Flexibility is obviously important in the swing. Players with spinal problems often struggle to perform at their best. Freddie Couples received some great treatment for his spine in Germany and a few weeks later won again on the Champion’s Tour. We often hear the phrase, “swing within yourself.” What does this really mean? Many amateur players are not aware of themselves. In my golf coaching, I will always ask, “what were you aware of,” on that last shot. I often hear, “nothing.” “I was not aware of anything.” There was no awareness of body sensation, body position, balance, thoughts, emotions…nothing. With this type of player, it is difficult to accomplish, “swing within yourself,” when there is no recognition or awareness of “self.”

This idea of “self” may seem too abstract or conceptual for the average player without a Ph.D. in psychology. However, awareness, focus and the ability to reflect on what just happened all assumes someone is watching and observing what is happening. Thus, a “self” is there somewhere. The big question is how one develops and matures this sense of self for peak performance on the course. Golf is a great game because it provides an opportunity for a player to learn more about himself/herself if he or she really wants to improve. Just going to the range and pounding balls is not the roadmap for success.

Now, let’s consider the mental game taught by sport’s psychologists and mental coaches everywhere. Everyone talks about focus, concentration, the ability to visualize, the ability to stay in the moment, the ability to manage inner emotional states, the ability to stay positive, and the ability to quiet one’s mind of distracting thoughts. These are among the most important, basic principles for a sound mental game. There are other issues that do get addressed for the serious golfer that have deeper psychological roots, but the above issues are key to any success in golf or life. I have discussed in detail how to address all of these issues in my various books and CD’s. (Find the Zone II: Master the Mental Game of Golf; The Yoga of Golf; Bouncing Back: How to Recover When Life Knocks You Down; Inspiration for Meditation; and Sacred Healing: Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy.)

How do we make all this rather complicated and sophisticated information more easily understood and applied? GolfintheSpine brings both the body and mind together for an integrated approach that makes a lot of sense.

What is GolfintheSpine ? All tour players know that great golf requires both a physical and mental state of excellence. In a recent interview with David Feherty, Greg Norman told David that if he had to do it all over again, he would get more involved with a sport psychologist. So why do I talk about the spine in relationship to both the physical and mental game?

The Physical Game

The physical aspect of the game is more obvious. Spinal flexibility allows for more rotation, more stability and more fluidity in a golf swing. The spine is in the center of the physical body and is a central point of awareness for advanced players. When the spine shifts, then balance is lost along with power and control. Everything falls apart when the relationship with the spine is lost. The spine becomes to root cause and focal point for balance. The question, what does it take to keep the spine in the right position helps to identify problems with take-away, shoulder turns and follow-through. If any of these things are off, it will throw off the spine angle. It is impossible to self-correct if you are not aware of the problem. Paying attention to the spine provides a way to analyze mechanical problems and find their root cause. The head sits on top of the spine. If one’s spine is stable, then the head is still and a good golf swing results. The head does not pop up or move ahead of the ball when the spine is stable. Spinal health and spinal awareness result in a sense of being “centered.” Access to the zone is related to one’s ability to “be in the spine.” All the golf instruction in the world will not yield the desired result if a player’s sense of balance and conscious connection to the body is not addressed. Being aware of the spine brings a player to a deeper physical connection and awareness that will result in better performance. Years ago I was coaching a young female high school golfer. She wanted to develop a knock-down shot with a three quarter swing. She complained she could not do it.
I asked her what she felt in her backswing and where the club was.
She responded, “I have no idea.”
Now here was a very coordinated, healthy young girl who sure looked like she was more connected to her body than she was able to identify. I asked her if she ever did ballet.
“Sure, I had years of ballet lessons.”
Now we had something to talk about.
I said, “When you were dancing and spinning, didn’t you have a sense of your body and how you were moving?”
She replied, “Sure I did.”
OK, we had just created a realization that she did have a conscious awareness of her body from her dance background that we could bring that memory to her golf game. I asked her to pay attention to her take-away and feel how much she was turning. She quickly became aware of a ¾ turn vs. a full backswing and began to hit the shot she was looking for. This all happened in fifteen minutes. Because of her ballet training, she had body awareness and a sense of her center in the spine. Feeling these sensations from the center of her core, rather than focusing on the hands or arms, resulted in very quick learning and success. She was a much happier player!

Hatha Yoga provides some very easy, yet powerful, poses to help develop a deeper sense of spinal awareness. My book, The Yoga of Golf, has suggestions for standing poses and spinal rotation postures that will achieve this result. For example, the Tree Pose is very easy when you have your awareness centered in the spine. If you don’t, you will fall over when you attempt to stand on one leg. Without proper balance and a sense of your inner core, i.e. spine, you will fall out of balance on side hill, downhill and uphill lies.

The Mental Game

The power of spinal awareness and its relationship to consciousness and the mental game is less known. I have learned some profound things that apply to golf and peak performance as the results of thirty years of meditation and hatha yoga training and practice, a Ph.D. in psychology, and thirty years of practice as a clinical psychologist. Quite honestly, I do not know anyone in the field of golf coaching that understands the hidden potential in the spine. GolfintheSpineR unleashes a powerful energy and level of awareness that changes one’s mental and emotional states. The ancient yoga philosophy of Sankhya and Kriya Yoga explain the hidden reserve of energy that lies deep within the spine.

In normal waking consciousness the life force energy is directed outward through the five senses for hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, and smelling. The ancient rishis understood that there are actually two qualities of the mind: one identified with the physical senses and one resulting from a deeper flow of energy within the spine creating a higher level of perception and discrimination. There are three subtle currents of energy the flow along and within the spine: ida, pingula, and the sushumna. When awareness in centered deep within the spine, then the sushumna is more dominate.

When the energy is flowing outward, the left side of the brain is more activated promoting more rational thinking and more reactive responses from the primitive brain stem. The fight or flight mechanism is programed into our primitive brain stem. When the life force energy is consciously internalized in the spine and drawn up to the higher centers of the brain through breath and visualization, then the right side of the brain is more active, resulting in more intuitive knowing, less thinking, more visualization, more focus and less emotional reactivity. All of this is discussed in great detail in my two books, Sacred Healing and The Yoga of Golf.

What does this mean for the mental game? Awareness in the spine with an internalization of consciousness results in a profound shift in mental and emotional states: the bread and butter for sport’s psychology. It is often suggested that a golfer needs to focus better, concentrate better, stop reacting emotionally and visualize every shot, but there is often not much advice or direction given on how to achieve these lofty goals. Most golfers do not even realize the importance of the mental game and the value of a solid pre-shot routine. The average golfer is not even utilizing the profound and powerful techniques that will take many strokes of his/her game. The average golfers keeps doing the same thing, playing the game without any degree of consciousness and just keeps swinging away missing fairways, greens, and putts and feeling frustrated at their lack of improvement. Even with all the improvements in equipment and golf balls, the average index has not gone down. A big reason is that the average golfer is playing from the outside in and is clueless to the deeper techniques that can improve their performance. If you don’t care about your performance or self-improvement, then this information is of no value to you. However, if you have high standards for personal excellence and want to be the best you can be, then this information can be very helpful to you.

GolfintheSpine address your state while you are playing. The Zone does not have to be a mystical state of pure chance or luck. Learning to internalize your state of awareness into the spine will result in a profound change in your perception, your ability to visualize, your ability to manage your mind and emotions, and your ability to maintain physical balance with enhanced swing mechanics; all together your score will go down and you will have more fun as you explore a new type of game.

The power of consciousness is not widely understood in our culture. All too often I see amateur players going out there without any degree of awareness. They are just swinging at the ball making the same mistakes: little self-awareness, and no self-correction. Peak performance comes from the inside out, not the other way around. If you can ground your awareness in the spine, you will see significant changes in every aspect of your life.

If you would like to know more about how to accomplish this shift, please contact me at mannr@ronmann.com.

About Dr. Ron Mann

Dr. Mann obtained his Ph.D. from the California School of Professional Psychology. He maintained a private practice over 30 years in Beverly Hills, Nevada City, and Sacramento, California. He is also a certified Hatha Yoga Instructor and student of Kriya Yoga as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda. He has been playing golf for almost 50 years and holds a low single digit index with two hole-in-ones to his credit. As a youth, he was very involved in organized baseball and even played in the Western Boys Baseball Association World Series. He has taught programs on consciousness and spiritual development worldwide and was very active during the Cold War with Projects for Planetary Peace, which was a citizen diplomacy program between the United States and the Soviet Union. He is a best selling author and has produced several audio programs for the mental game of golf, meditation, and self-healing. More information about Dr. Mann and his products can be found at www.ronmann.com.

© 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