Mind Could Be Performance Reducer

A day at tennis court:

I enjoy playing tennis with my buddy. We are two amateur players who are motivated to go out and do some physical exercise and have some fun time out during the summer. We are about equal in capability to win a game. Mostly we play two sets. And each day either we win one set each or some days one of us wins both of them. So it’s been a game of equals so far.

But sometimes mind could become a performance reducer. As it happened a few days ago. We were playing our usual stuffs. And I was one set down with all my left hand shorts going onto the nets or outside. So I thought of improving my second set and ended up 3–1. But suddenly I was again on the wrong side by losing continuously 4 games. And score became 3–5. During these four games my mind was busy trying to improve and get better with my shorts. I would think about the mistakes and try not to repeat it. But it was all going in vain. More I would think, more miserable I became. At the end of 3–5 score, I got tired of all the planning to win and do better. So I decided to stop thinking at all. To do that, I just looked at the court surface for few seconds before I served and again looked at the court before my buddy served. In other words, I put my attention to look at the nature of the surface of the court. I looked with 100% of my attention, whether is was black, it had some bumps, and had some small fissures or cracks on it. This way I could stop my mind from doing all the calculations and thinking about improving my game. And wow… I just ended up winning 4 games in a row and the set.

What made the difference? Actually I just allowed myself to utilize what I knew so far. That’s all. Isn’t it amazing? I already had the knowledge and skills to play good enough to win but my mind was becoming emotional and trying to achieve the win. And in that process, my play was not optimal. I wasn’t able to do what I already knew. In other words, I wasn’t using full of my skills. This is what happens when we allow our emotions (greed, fear etc.) to drive us along with the skills that we have to solve a problem or deal with a situation. This reduces our performance and makes us miserable and sad in our day to day life.

Now the question is “How did I notice the behavior of my mind and act on it?”. This has been the result of practicing meditation on a daily basis since last 7–8 months. When we meditate regularly, our awareness increases and that includes being aware of our thoughts as well. It’s like part of ocean comes on to the shore to watch the waves happening in it. So we use our mind to observe what’s arising in it as thoughts. When we are aware about it, we can act on it. And this is one of the many benefits offered to regular meditators.