The ability to focus the mind, to harness the will, to stay on purpose is an awesome ability, a stupendous skill, a tremendous tool. He who can command his mind, keep it on task, quiet the mind, still the mind, direct the mind is a power to pursue.
Stilling and directing the mind is one of the oft-touted benefits of meditation and I believe it is true. However, I’ve yet to find it in me to sit still for any great length of time and contemplate my navel, or listen to my breath, or watch thought bubbles form and burst in my consciousness.
Seeking the benefits of meditation in a way that came naturally to me I stumbled on the concept of “moving meditation.”
I now seek to achieve a form of meditation when I play racquetball. I seek to focus my mind. Specifically, I banish thoughts of anything other than the game at hand. I resolve for the next hour that I will think only of things within the four walls, ceiling, and floor of that racquetball court.
I then seek further not to think about the game before or the game after, to concentrate solely on the game I’m playing now. If thoughts come to mind of what happened during the day, or what I want to do to prepare for tomorrow, or what I will be doing that night, I bid those thoughts goodbye, saying not now, now is not your time. I am focused. I am on purpose.
The next level is to allow only thoughts in my mind that concern the current point, to not think of the point before or the point to come. If I win the current point, the point I’m currently playing, well, the game and the match will take care of itself.
The finally level, the zone level, is where I float. The level where it is only the present stroke, the present shot that matters, the one preparing for now, the one I’m setting up for now, the one I’m hitting now, the one I’m following through on now. If I miss the shot, I will rapidly replay it in my mind, seeing the ball hit as I intended to, seeing it as I know I can hit it, seeing it roll out, seeing it catch the corner perfectly, low and tight and unreturnable, seeing it float along the side wall, caressing the wall, all but unhittable.
When I can block out the distractions of the world, when I can play serenely in the present moment, I feel my power, my efficacy, my effectiveness multiplied by my ability to focus, to stay on purpose, to stay on task.
I believe that being able to do this on the racquetball court——the ability to concentrate and focus my thoughts, attention, and energies with laser-like intensity——is a transferable skill, one that helps me achieve, do, and be more in all areas of my life.
The potential applications of moving meditation are many: I have heard of runners who meditate, people who enjoy long drives in order to clear their minds, or who wander the beach and deliberately zone so as to refresh and restore the mind.
The key is to consciously clear the mind, to successfully banish the incessant self-talk that the mind loves to engage in, the on-going “monkey chatter” that occupies us, to achieve the skill and discipline of holding the mind empty of all but the present moment for longer and longer periods.
“Every moment of conscious breath is meditation.” – Eckhart Tolle