Meditate for better golf focus

The mental game can be the biggest hurdle to success

A version of this post was published in March 2015.

Phil Mickelson once said mental rehearsal is just as important as physical rehearsal, while Jack Nicklaus said his ability to concentrate was his greatest asset. Who hasn’t been distracted by the fear of a water hazard, people watching you, or the birdie you missed three holes back? Enter Muse, which proposes to help golfers change the way they think through guided meditation.

Muse is a flexible, rubber headband that fits across your forehead and anchors behind your ears like a pair of sunglasses. Like a Fitbit for your brain, sensors in the band detect and monitor your brainwaves. The product’s accompanying app (named Calm) measures the brain’s electroencephalography (EEG) activity and converts it into easy-to-understand graphs displaying whether your mind is calm, neutral or active. This data reflects your brain’s ability to achieve and maintain a focused state for extended periods of time.

Just as you would train in the gym, users work out their “focus muscle” by meditating before or after golf sessions.

PGA golfer and performance coach Andrew Parr (pictured) from London, Ontario, is an advocate for meditation.

“Golf takes a lot of energy and focus. When we are not trained in those aspects we let negative thoughts and emotions dominate our play,” said Parr. “Just like we train our bodies in the gym, we can now train our minds with real-time data. When we can flex our brain muscle, and practise that daily, we can then take that state to the golf course.”

Parr had heard of the benefits of meditation but found sitting on his own difficult. It wasn’t until he started using the Muse headband that he was able to improve his concentration, or what Muse calls focused-attention training.

Training with Muse allows users to recognize distracting thoughts and refocus at will. Soothing audio cues guide the user through the training sessions, which can last from three to 20 minutes.

muse

Every session ends with a summary of one’s brain activity along the calm-neutral-active spectrum. Points are awarded for every second that the brain is in a neutral state with extra points for a calm state of mind. The sound of falling rain or ocean waves give immediate feedback. The more calm your state of mind, the softer the background noise. If you are really calm, you’ll hear birds fly by and rest in your serene virtual world.

“The net result is building the capacity to spend more time in a state of focus and less time in distracting sequences of thought that draw you away from what is truly important at that time,” says Jocelyn Umengan, senior manager of public relations and events at InteraXon Inc., the technology company behind Muse.

Parr says golfers using the headband have experienced improvement in focus, concentration and reduced distractibility.

The physical demands of golf, of course, are not to be underestimated. The skill and proper technique required comes with discipline, constant learning and lots of practice. But with a strong mind game, the game can be enjoyed with less frustration. As the popular golf saying goes – golf is played on a five-inch course – the one between your ears. And if an 80 gram rubber headband will help you on that course, you’re more than halfway there.

The Muse headband has a 30-day money back guarantee. Price: $300. Available at Indigo, Best Buy and Amazon.

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