The More I Practise
When someone asked a world class golfer what his secret was to winning the championship tournament five years in a row, his response was a memorable one. He said, “the more I practise the luckier I get.”
Reflecting on this, one is reminded of the deep significance of practice, not just in golf, but in all the aspects of life. In fact, it is interesting to observe that the qualities required to practise golf are the very same elements needed to practise meditation.
When golfing professionals provide guidance, they usually give advice on what type of equipment to use, the right posture and balance to maintain; and they explain the various techniques necessary to execute the perfect golf swing.
Just as the correct application of these methods determines our ability to play the sport successfully, so too will the correct application of the techniques given to us at the time of initiation contribute towards the success of our meditation practice.
At the time of initiation, the spiritual Master imparts a specific technique on how to meditate. This involves sitting in a particular posture and repeating the five holy names while holding our full attention at the eye centre and listening to the inner Sound. This technique forms the foundation of our meditation and every part of it is crucial towards the success of our spiritual practice.
Every good golfer knows that he has to focus his mind solely on the shot he is playing at that single, specific moment. If he thinks of anything else, the seamless connection between the eye and brain is severed and the game is lost. Without that intense level of concentration, it is impossible to execute a good shot.
In meditation, concentrating the mind, withdrawing the attention from the world and holding it at the eye centre is a constant battle for most disciples. The mind is so immersed in sensual pleasures and flooded with thoughts, that it is extremely difficult to direct it inwards. Like the avid golfer, every serious meditator knows that only intensity of focus and strict confinement of the mind to the present moment can lead to successful meditation. Every vagrant thought that passes through the mind during meditation makes concentration impossible. Only deep, penetrating repetition of the five holy names can achieve that intensity of concentration.
In golf, through persistent practice one develops rhythm, coordination and muscle memory. One develops a feel for certain shots, so that when one is out on the course, it becomes natural to execute the proper shot.
One often hears comments like: what a lucky shot that was, or it was his lucky day. But luck, as they say, is what is left only after one has given one hundred percent. The fact is, when we witness any inspiring performance what we might consider is what we did not witness – the endless hours of practice that led to the execution of that piece of perfection.
The mystics inspire us when they say ‘practice makes perfect.’ Despite the obstacles we may encounter in meditation, we simply have to go on practising diligently, until the entire process becomes a habit. Eventually, it will become easier to accomplish, as the mind is a creature of habit. The Masters always emphasize in their teachings that it is only by obediently sitting in meditation that the disciple can subdue the mind. Even if it rebels, one just has to sit. Eventually, meditation itself generates the desire for more meditation.
At the end of the day, there is no substitute for plain vanilla practice. Practice, when done with discipline and dedication, eventually leads to mastery in any endeavour. The only difference is that in a worldly endeavour, practice leads to perfection. But in meditation, practice is the means to realize the perfection that already exists within us – our soul, a drop of the Perfect One. And when we give him one hundred percent of our effort from the bottom of our hearts, then his loving grace makes our practice perfect.