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Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 8:47 AM
Anyone practicing during competitive sports like tennis ? I've been experimenting with some limited success. Seems a great environment to learn because there is a fair amount of emotion, distraction etc. while there is no downside of an experiment gone wrong.

Watching other people play it seems we have a split personality - literally talking to ourselves e.g. "you idiot" after a mistake or "YES" after winning a point. It has been a surprise to watch men in their 50s and 60s throw tantrums (quitting when loosing, throwing rackets, screaming...) At the same time there are some people who have a calm that is imperturbable. 

When I think about what I'm doing I tend to make more mistakes. Trying to stay with the witness helps turn the thinking off. But after making a mistake (or more often after a series of mistakes) the inner critic really kicks in, sometimes speaking out loud!

Seems that thinking can be useful for example in identifying a problem e.g. backhand, looking for a rational theory as to why it is not working e.g. position of the ball at impact then "pre-programming" a new behavior with intentions but stopping the thinking during the actual shot. Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.

Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 2:00 PM as a reply to Mark.
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 3:41 AM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Scott Kinney:
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

I guess it depends if you consider mental skills to be part of the expertise in sport. Agreed that the physical skills need physical training. Personally I see the mental skills are a part of the expertise needed to play sports well. "getting out of my own way" resonates with me too. A state of flow is how I've often heard the experience of achieving peak performance described but this is like a complete immersion so there is no witness. Mindfulness would seem to change the experience of flow. I've not experienced mindfulness of flow but it would be great if there is be a positive feedback loop there.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 7:19 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Scott Kinney:
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

I guess it depends if you consider mental skills to be part of the expertise in sport. Agreed that the physical skills need physical training. Personally I see the mental skills are a part of the expertise needed to play sports well. "getting out of my own way" resonates with me too. A state of flow is how I've often heard the experience of achieving peak performance described but this is like a complete immersion so there is no witness. Mindfulness would seem to change the experience of flow. I've not experienced mindfulness of flow but it would be great if there is be a positive feedback loop there.

I do consider mental skills to be part of sports expertise; particularly in things like martial arts. Mindfulness of flow in sport is as tricky as it is in meditation. If you start consciously thinking, "Hey this is going really well!" chances are it will start to fall apart. There's a balance between strength (or concentration or thought) and surrender (to the flow) to be struck. You won't get to experience flow without strength or concentration or thought, once you are experiencing it, though, extra thought or concentration may not help. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 10:43 AM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Scott Kinney:
Mark:
Scott Kinney:
<my opinion, your mileage may vary>

Meditation does not provide expertise in sport, athletics or other competitive activities. Coaching, lessons, and practice still have their place. What I think meditation does provide (at least in my experiences in running, shooting, martial arts, and playing bridge) is the benefit of 'getting out of my own way'. Improved concentration, plus demoting self-talk and other distracting thoughts to a background level helps you to perform at the highest level of which you are capable.

If you want to do better than that, you need training and practice.

I guess it depends if you consider mental skills to be part of the expertise in sport. Agreed that the physical skills need physical training. Personally I see the mental skills are a part of the expertise needed to play sports well. "getting out of my own way" resonates with me too. A state of flow is how I've often heard the experience of achieving peak performance described but this is like a complete immersion so there is no witness. Mindfulness would seem to change the experience of flow. I've not experienced mindfulness of flow but it would be great if there is be a positive feedback loop there.

I do consider mental skills to be part of sports expertise; particularly in things like martial arts. Mindfulness of flow in sport is as tricky as it is in meditation. If you start consciously thinking, "Hey this is going really well!" chances are it will start to fall apart. There's a balance between strength (or concentration or thought) and surrender (to the flow) to be struck. You won't get to experience flow without strength or concentration or thought, once you are experiencing it, though, extra thought or concentration may not help. 

Would be interesting to hear of anyone experiencing mindfulness of flow - maybe that is impossible if flow if defined as a deep absorption in the task. From wiki "The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one's emotions."

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 2:35 PM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Scott Kinney:

I do consider mental skills to be part of sports expertise; particularly in things like martial arts. Mindfulness of flow in sport is as tricky as it is in meditation. If you start consciously thinking, "Hey this is going really well!" chances are it will start to fall apart. There's a balance between strength (or concentration or thought) and surrender (to the flow) to be struck. You won't get to experience flow without strength or concentration or thought, once you are experiencing it, though, extra thought or concentration may not help. 
That is an interesting issue and good to be aware of.  I've seen it used.  For instance, if you say to a player with a good serve something like, "You have a great serve, how do you do that?"  and often they will start goofing up their serve once they start trying to analyze it.  Part of the mental game is observing that kind of thing in others, and make no mistake, some players will use that ploy on you and the naive will have no idea the reason behind it, thinking it is merely a kind compliment.  So it's good to understand that aspect of the game as well as how those words process through your own mind and what effect it has on you and how to have more control of mental outcome.  I actually like to play with those kinds of people sometimes because it gives me a chance to strengthen my own headgame and become more immune to manipulation.  Also interesting, those who like to play headgames expect me to not like it, so if I say something like, "Please do that all you like, it's fun," they tend to get all confused and frazzled which is also interesting.  Another one that I personally like is when playing as a team, help your team mates with their own mental game.  Sometimes I just like to repeat' We're good we're good' and let that be sort of a mantra, expecially if we hit some bad shots a few times in a row.  It can be interesting to just play with things, see how what you say out loud and to self effects the next few shots. Interestingly, I have found that saying to myself things like, "I have to start focusing better, I have to concentrate, etc" has a poor outcome.  Apparently it works about as well as all those times people tell themselves they ahve to start eating less, working harder, getting up earlier, being on time for work, etc.  IE, yelling at self for being lame does not seem to work.  ;-P   

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 2:41 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva,

That happens in bridge also. My partner and I often play with people who come to the table replaying/analysing/critiqueing the last hand. We love to play with them because they are already distracted from the hand we are about to play. And I'm not that great a bridge player, so I'm happy for any advantage I have available.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 2:48 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:


Watching other people play it seems we have a split personality - literally talking to ourselves e.g. "you idiot" after a mistake or "YES" after winning a point. It has been a surprise to watch men in their 50s and 60s throw tantrums (quitting when loosing, throwing rackets, screaming...) At the same time there are some people who have a calm that is imperturbable. 
At higher levels of sports where skill levels are very similar between players (or any time when skills levels are similar), head game is usually what makes the difference as to who wins.  I work very hard to not say to myself things like 'you idiot,' not out low and not in my head.  Works much better to say something like, "You can get that next time when you focus, it wasn't that hard of a short to get and you can get it."  You program yourself every day and every minute with what you tell yourself, may as well choose wisely what words you choose. 



Seems that thinking can be useful for example in identifying a problem e.g. backhand, looking for a rational theory as to why it is not working e.g. position of the ball at impact then "pre-programming" a new behavior with intentions but stopping the thinking during the actual shot.
In fast sports, you often don't have time to think if there are only fractions of a second to react.  But i agree, positive visualization and thinking beforehand are beneficial, I remember in the past there were some stories from tennis players about how they used positive visualization to go from OK to top ranked winners.  Of course they were already getting top of the line training in other ways but the attitude adjustment was what made the difference. 

Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.
I don't see any downside to working on attitude and thought processes along with regular training.  Also, as you say, it's interesting to watch how it pans out in others as well as self.  For instance, I see some players after they hit a bad set up shot sort of give up, mentally convinced the point is probably over for them whereas others will not mentally give up and sometimes get some amazing shots back instead.  If I am on the other side, it's good to hit at the one who looks like he/she has given up, of course, or anyone who is acting frustrated.  ;-P  When you are frustrated and upset with self or others, that distracts from focus on the ball and the rest of the game, then you play worse, and then you can get more frustrated.  Ability to marshal thoughts to a more productive state makes the difference between playing bad all day or just playing bad for a bit and then getting it together again.  But to do that, you will probably need to watch and learn very carefully how your mind works and make appropriate adjustments.    

Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.
I don't think ALL mental thought goes, just the useless chatter, which is most of it.  But if you go to the grocery story, I would guess a 4th pather would still be thinking something like, "Ok I need milk, bread, and toilet paper," and plot a course accordingly.  ;-P

As for meditation and sports, I find that sitting on the mat teaches certain lessons and skills but those lessons are a lot more valuable when applied all day long as much as possible in many different situations.  I really personally do not understand the concept of meditating a certain amount of time per day and then expecting that to dramatically change your life by itself.  IMO, it only works strongly if you take those same lessons and work with them all day long every day whenever you can remember. 

I have not taken an official tally or anyting but those that make it far down the paths seem to be working on it all day, not just for a few hours at designated times. 
-Eva

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 4:12 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
Mark:


Watching other people play it seems we have a split personality - literally talking to ourselves e.g. "you idiot" after a mistake or "YES" after winning a point. It has been a surprise to watch men in their 50s and 60s throw tantrums (quitting when loosing, throwing rackets, screaming...) At the same time there are some people who have a calm that is imperturbable. 
At higher levels of sports where skill levels are very similar between players (or any time when skills levels are similar), head game is usually what makes the difference as to who wins.  I work very hard to not say to myself things like 'you idiot,' not out low and not in my head.  Works much better to say something like, "You can get that next time when you focus, it wasn't that hard of a short to get and you can get it."  You program yourself every day and every minute with what you tell yourself, may as well choose wisely what words you choose. 



This reminds me of "affirmations" where the results are not as obvious as we might first assume. With affirmations it can depend on the personality as to whether they have the desired effect. If for example there is a low self-esteem then positive affirmations can actually have negative results. I have the impression it is related to authenticity - if you absolutely believe you can "get that next time" then it is a good thing to reinforce, if however that is unrealistic it may actually have the opposite effect similar to what negative affirmations might cause.

Words are certainly powerful but if the underlying drivers are negative then hiding that with positive words is probably not desirable.






Seems that thinking can be useful for example in identifying a problem e.g. backhand, looking for a rational theory as to why it is not working e.g. position of the ball at impact then "pre-programming" a new behavior with intentions but stopping the thinking during the actual shot.
In fast sports, you often don't have time to think if there are only fractions of a second to react.  But i agree, positive visualization and thinking beforehand are beneficial, I remember in the past there were some stories from tennis players about how they used positive visualization to go from OK to top ranked winners.  Of course they were already getting top of the line training in other ways but the attitude adjustment was what made the difference. 



I heard that the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" published in 1972 was a revolution in sports and also inspired the modern "coaching" concept where people help business professional be more effective. From the wiki "In 1960, Gallwey was captain of the Harvard University Tennis Team. In the 1970s he learned the meditation techniques of the Divine Light Mission's Guru Maharaj Ji, which Gallwey said enhanced his powers of concentration in a manner that improved his game."



Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.
I don't see any downside to working on attitude and thought processes along with regular training.  Also, as you say, it's interesting to watch how it pans out in others as well as self.  For instance, I see some players after they hit a bad set up shot sort of give up, mentally convinced the point is probably over for them whereas others will not mentally give up and sometimes get some amazing shots back instead.  If I am on the other side, it's good to hit at the one who looks like he/she has given up, of course, or anyone who is acting frustrated.  ;-P  When you are frustrated and upset with self or others, that distracts from focus on the ball and the rest of the game, then you play worse, and then you can get more frustrated.  Ability to marshal thoughts to a more productive state makes the difference between playing bad all day or just playing bad for a bit and then getting it together again.  But to do that, you will probably need to watch and learn very carefully how your mind works and make appropriate adjustments.    



Hmm that is a logical conclusion. The mental aspect is an important part of the game, as I would exploit a weak service it would also make sense to exploit poor mental habits. I had not thought about this - it seems sort of cruel emoticon But I think you are right that it is part of the competition. Obviously it can be done in an unskillful way (reminds me of McEnroe). I'll try to watch that aspect of the game more!




Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.
I don't think ALL mental thought goes, just the useless chatter, which is most of it.  But if you go to the grocery story, I would guess a 4th pather would still be thinking something like, "Ok I need milk, bread, and toilet paper," and plot a course accordingly.  ;-P



This seems to vary. Some people claim to live in the moment i.e. there is no planning. So I guess that sort of mental talk may not happen. It is not the mental talk that remembers the milk and bread. It seems conceivable that you would just get more milk out of habit etc. so no need to talk about it. I'm not sure that this applies so much to learning new skills - perhaps then mental talk can serve a sort of integrative function - by expressing a story the mind can then react to that story and explore the subject further. I very much doubt that mental talk is always detrimental.


As for meditation and sports, I find that sitting on the mat teaches certain lessons and skills but those lessons are a lot more valuable when applied all day long as much as possible in many different situations.  I really personally do not understand the concept of meditating a certain amount of time per day and then expecting that to dramatically change your life by itself.  IMO, it only works strongly if you take those same lessons and work with them all day long every day whenever you can remember. 



Practising off the cushion makes a lot of sense. Ideally off the cushion is just another form of practise. Then life can be considered all practise or/and no practise.

However I think there are things that are useful on cushion that can't be reproduced off cushion. I'll try an analogy. If you are learning math there may be very few occasions in the day where you get to use the math skills, studying 1 hour a day over years allows you to get very good at math, then one day you have a problem in every day life where the math skills can be applied. Without the earlier period of training the opportunity to apply math would not have been noticed and the skills would not have been available.

Shinzen Young describes the concept of shifting the baseline level of clarity, concentration and equanimity. Intense practise can allow for "breakthroughs" that may not otherwise happen.



I have not taken an official tally or anyting but those that make it far down the paths seem to be working on it all day, not just for a few hours at designated times. 
-Eva


Experience seems very diverse. On DhO I think you are right because there is a lot of emphasis on noting and that can be applied throughout the day. But other methods like direct pointing would not be so applicable. Ritual practises can require very controlled circumstances so again they are not going to occur during the day.

If you consider the eightfold path then there is a large part of it that cannot be practised on the cushion and likewise a part of it that probably can't be practised off the cushion.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 3:13 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

This reminds me of "affirmations" where the results are not as obvious as we might first assume. With affirmations it can depend on the personality as to whether they have the desired effect. If for example there is a low self-esteem then positive affirmations can actually have negative results. I have the impression it is related to authenticity - if you absolutely believe you can "get that next time" then it is a good thing to reinforce, if however that is unrealistic it may actually have the opposite effect similar to what negative affirmations might cause.
I agree it works much better if you believe it, otherwise you may be sayng the affirmation but mentally denying it a second afterwards.  I only work with ones I think I can believe.  The fact that I soetimes can get a shot is enough for me to believe I am capable of getting a shot, so I a statement like, "I am capable of getting it next time." is something I can believe.  I also think that just kind of repeating statements someone gave you without looking at the mental processing you put in for and against them may not work well.  You will want to look at the whole big picture of negative and positive thought and attitude.  For instance, if you fundamentally believe you suck, then just a few positive sounding affirmations will probably not have an effect, you will need to look instead at that whole world view you have of yourself overall that may be sitting on your chest like a giant elephant the whole time. 
Words are certainly powerful but if the underlying drivers are negative then hiding that with positive words is probably not desirable.
Yes!  I didn't see this earlier but yes, I think you just said what I just wrote but in a more concise way. 



 heard that the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" published in 1972 was a revolution in sports and also inspired the modern "coaching" concept where people help business professional be more effective. From the wiki "In 1960, Gallwey was captain of the Harvard University Tennis Team. In the 1970s he learned the meditation techniques of the Divine Light Mission's Guru Maharaj Ji, which Gallwey said enhanced his powers of concentration in a manner that improved his game
That might have been it, it was a bit after that time frame, around the 70s I think, when I heard that info on tv, it left a bit of a strong impression on me, but ironically it would be decades before I actually seriously applied that kind of thing to my own thinking. 


Without the thinking there is a tendancy to simply avoid unreliable techniques - but they will never improve that way.


Hmm that is a logical conclusion. The mental aspect is an important part of the game, as I would exploit a weak service it would also make sense to exploit poor mental habits. I had not thought about this - it seems sort of cruel emoticon But I think you are right that it is part of the competition. Obviously it can be done in an unskillful way (reminds me of McEnroe). I'll try to watch that aspect of the game more!
McEnroe was sometimes out of control mentally, it may have hurt him more than it helped him, besides just looking bad as well.  ;-P  For the rest, it's personal how far to go.  I have no problem hitting to the person who is weaker or is missing more for whatever reason, it's an assumed part of the game, assuming my goal is just to make points.  (but sometimes it's fun to hit to the best one instead because the return shots will be more educational. )  I like to mostly focus on my own improvement of attitude for self and partner.  Ironically it was only when I started really focusing on that when I saw what some other players were doing to manipulate.  So I think it's good to know the methods so you can help block the effects or throw them back if they get sent your way to yourself or your partner.  It helps a lot of observe dynamics between players, both the other side and hwo they get along with eachother and you and how you get along with your partner.  For instance, since your partner is on your team and teamwork strengthens your team, you will want to make sure that what you are sayingd and doing helps your partner to that effect.  That means understanding your own motivations and weaknesses as well as theirs and how they interact.  There are a lot of teams that sometimes or often become weaker due to negativity or squabbling.  
-Eva   



Perhaps meditation can allow someone to be very happy playing at a poor level. Or maybe it can allow someone to be happy making progress.  I wonder how much of this relates to general life experience. Often meditators are pretty negative toward inner thought, if I did turn it off completely I wonder if I'd make much progress in tennis - maybe I'd need to put myself in the hands of a coach.
I don't think ALL mental thought goes, just the useless chatter, which is most of it.  But if you go to the grocery story, I would guess a 4th pather would still be thinking something like, "Ok I need milk, bread, and toilet paper," and plot a course accordingly.  ;-P



This seems to vary. Some people claim to live in the moment i.e. there is no planning. So I guess that sort of mental talk may not happen. It is not the mental talk that remembers the milk and bread. It seems conceivable that you would just get more milk out of habit etc. so no need to talk about it. I'm not sure that this applies so much to learning new skills - perhaps then mental talk can serve a sort of integrative function - by expressing a story the mind can then react to that story and explore the subject further. I very much doubt that mental talk is always detrimental.


As for meditation and sports, I find that sitting on the mat teaches certain lessons and skills but those lessons are a lot more valuable when applied all day long as much as possible in many different situations.  I really personally do not understand the concept of meditating a certain amount of time per day and then expecting that to dramatically change your life by itself.  IMO, it only works strongly if you take those same lessons and work with them all day long every day whenever you can remember. 



Practising off the cushion makes a lot of sense. Ideally off the cushion is just another form of practise. Then life can be considered all practise or/and no practise.

However I think there are things that are useful on cushion that can't be reproduced off cushion. I'll try an analogy. If you are learning math there may be very few occasions in the day where you get to use the math skills, studying 1 hour a day over years allows you to get very good at math, then one day you have a problem in every day life where the math skills can be applied. Without the earlier period of training the opportunity to apply math would not have been noticed and the skills would not have been available.

Shinzen Young describes the concept of shifting the baseline level of clarity, concentration and equanimity. Intense practise can allow for "breakthroughs" that may not otherwise happen.



I have not taken an official tally or anyting but those that make it far down the paths seem to be working on it all day, not just for a few hours at designated times. 
-Eva


Experience seems very diverse. On DhO I think you are right because there is a lot of emphasis on noting and that can be applied throughout the day. But other methods like direct pointing would not be so applicable. Ritual practises can require very controlled circumstances so again they are not going to occur during the day.

If you consider the eightfold path then there is a large part of it that cannot be practised on the cushion and likewise a part of it that probably can't be practised off the cushion.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/15/15 4:49 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Anyone practicing during competitive sports like tennis ? 
It seems to me the mind has multiple capacities and dimensions.  It is up to us to push the limits for ourselves, meditation can be both sitting and during movements.  The mind can be very fast, indeed much faster than the ego verbal formations can ever possibly keep up with.  There is that flow, and in that flow that is where it really connects, hitting the ball, catching the pass, throwing the dart.  

So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.

Another thing that comes to mind is how the mind sets limits, and does not let one perform to capacity, probably some kind of evolutionary self protection mode, so we do not go around damaging the body.

But maybe we could look at the hypnosis studies where one can do far more repetitions with weights than they could ever do while not under hypnosis.  Maybe not the best example of how the ego process gets in the way, but maybe serves up a point...  Tennis pun?  And, well, I can not find any studies, though I remember reading about them in a college library some many years ago.  I have run into to this knowledge censorship before... Mushroom Factor at Large in all fields of study anyone?

  Maybe someone else knows of these studies?  Where say, one can do 10 overhead presses with a certain weight normally, but under hypnosis they can do like 50.

Anyway the point was to examine states of athletic performance while in the flow, versus not in the flow, does the narrative help in training, or get in the way?  Or is it a little of both, and both modes are used?  Flow Mode, and Narrative Mode. Mixtures.

And, does Negative Self critisicm help us train ourselves?  They say we learn more from pain that pleasure?  Or is it just the training that helps, and the Negative reinforcement does not actually help?  I wonder myself.  It seems to help, but....

(Edited for deletion of video,  was special effects, oops)



Psi

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 4:17 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:
Mark:
Anyone practicing during competitive sports like tennis ? 
It seems to me the mind has multiple capacities and dimensions.  It is up to us to push the limits for ourselves, meditation can be both sitting and during movements.  The mind can be very fast, indeed much faster than the ego verbal formations can ever possibly keep up with.  There is that flow, and in that flow that is where it really connects, hitting the ball, catching the pass, throwing the dart.  

So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!


Another thing that comes to mind is how the mind sets limits, and does not let one perform to capacity, probably some kind of evolutionary self protection mode, so we do not go around damaging the body.

But maybe we could look at the hypnosis studies where one can do far more repetitions with weights than they could ever do while not under hypnosis.  Maybe not the best example of how the ego process gets in the way, but maybe serves up a point...  Tennis pun?  And, well, I can not find any studies, though I remember reading about them in a college library some many years ago.  I have run into to this knowledge censorship before... Mushroom Factor at Large in all fields of study anyone?

  Maybe someone else knows of these studies?  Where say, one can do 10 overhead presses with a certain weight normally, but under hypnosis they can do like 50.

Anyway the point was to examine states of athletic performance while in the flow, versus not in the flow, does the narrative help in training, or get in the way?  Or is it a little of both, and both modes are used?  Flow Mode, and Narrative Mode. Mixtures.

And, does Negative Self critisicm help us train ourselves?  They say we learn more from pain that pleasure?  Or is it just the training that helps, and the Negative reinforcement does not actually help?  I wonder myself.  It seems to help, but....

(Edited for deletion of video,  was special effects, oops)



Psi

There is a big difference between observing something that is done poorly e.g. "I'm not following through enough" and self judgement e.g. "I'm an idiot". Perhaps that is a good distinction to focus on - to criticise with objective facts related to playing well. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 2:45 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Psi:
Mark:
A
So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!

Well depends on the sport.  I like fast sports and there's typically not much time for narrative once the point starts.  You are typically strained just to monitor where all the players are located and moving, decide who gets and goes where on my side, and if it's my shot, I will want to both choose a shot according to ability and strengths and location of other players and also execute that shot.  Immediately upon execution, I will want to be already moving to my correct position on the court and the process continues until someone misses.  If I can get that much observation in, I am doing well.  The majority of my narrative comes between points when there is time to think.  When I am really in the zone though, it's more like instinct instead of narrative.  My goal with the narrative is often to get to where I am more in the zone and don't need the narrative as much.  ;-P   

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/17/15 12:48 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
Mark:
Psi:
Mark:
A
So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!

Well depends on the sport.  I like fast sports and there's typically not much time for narrative once the point starts.  You are typically strained just to monitor where all the players are located and moving, decide who gets and goes where on my side, and if it's my shot, I will want to both choose a shot according to ability and strengths and location of other players and also execute that shot.  Immediately upon execution, I will want to be already moving to my correct position on the court and the process continues until someone misses.  If I can get that much observation in, I am doing well.  The majority of my narrative comes between points when there is time to think.  When I am really in the zone though, it's more like instinct instead of narrative.  My goal with the narrative is often to get to where I am more in the zone and don't need the narrative as much.  ;-P   
Yes, I agree, there is a time for narrative , and a time for thinking and planning, and there is a time for just playing out of instinct.
And, yes, thoughts can be used as triggers, to trigger different states of mind.  

As relating to Awakening and Enlightenment, and also to Competitive Sports.

What about this proposition.  Thoughts can be a tool.  Thoughts are a sensation that arise within the mind.  People can either use the thoughts as tools....  Or, be slave to the thoughts that arise.  Same with other sensations, Slaves to hunger sensations or sexual sensations, for instance.

So, is it then that we can either shape, form and manipulate these thoughts for our own benefit, or be enslaved to the thinking process as it arises and just react instinctively, thinking we are the thoughts.

It seems it all goes back to different mind modes, or states of consciousness.

 Planning and contemplative thought, which is beneficial for both Awakening, Daily Living and Competitive sports.   

And Discursive, Random Thoughts, which is not beneficial for either Awakening, Daily Living or Competitive Sports.

Then there is Flow and Pure Mindfulness, probably same or similar states of consciousness, and this has its place too, in both sports and daily living.


Well, and besides all that,  there is the ole hitting the fastball studies, fastball is travelling too fast for planning or thinking, yet people hit the ball where they want to different sweet spots in the outfield , and so on.

https://www.braindecoder.com/your-brain-on-fastball-1141094402.html

Great, a spider just crawled across me, and now I can not find it!  Guess I have a sleeping buddy...

Ha! caught it with an empty glass and a piece of paper, it is free and gets to live outside, Goodnight!!!

Psiderman

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/18/15 10:41 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:


What about this proposition.  Thoughts can be a tool.  Thoughts are a sensation that arise within the mind.  People can either use the thoughts as tools....  Or, be slave to the thoughts that arise.  Same with other sensations, Slaves to hunger sensations or sexual sensations, for instance.

So, is it then that we can either shape, form and manipulate these thoughts for our own benefit, or be enslaved to the thinking process as it arises and just react instinctively, thinking we are the thoughts.

It seems it all goes back to different mind modes, or states of consciousness.

 Planning and contemplative thought, which is beneficial for both Awakening, Daily Living and Competitive sports.   

And Discursive, Random Thoughts, which is not beneficial for either Awakening, Daily Living or Competitive Sports.

Then there is Flow and Pure Mindfulness, probably same or similar states of consciousness, and this has its place too, in both sports and daily living.


Well, and besides all that,  there is the ole hitting the fastball studies, fastball is travelling too fast for planning or thinking, yet people hit the ball where they want to different sweet spots in the outfield , and so on.

https://www.braindecoder.com/your-brain-on-fastball-1141094402.html

Interesting, I actually played badminton for many years and shuttles go a LOT faster than fast baseballs.  Fastest recorded was 262mph, it's the ffastest racket sport and the space between hitter and receiver is a LOT shorter as well.  Plus you are likely to have to run to your spot before you hit the bird and may be strstretched out or still moving at times.  You don't get to just stand there and wait for it with perfect stance set up in advance.  ;-P  Your only comparitive advantage is that the racket has larger surface area than a bat, but you will still need to hit close to the middle if you want to make a decent return shot.  In comparison, the fastest tennis serve ever recorded was 163mph and their court is much longer.         
With those kinds of speeds, the analysis of that article is blown out of the water, badminton should not be possible yet it is.  I remember reading long ago that scientists's understanding of how fast brain signals could travel did not correlate with observed sports reactions times which were way to fast to be explained by signals traveling to and from the brain.  Scientists could not explain the fast reactions and hypothesized that the body must be operating at times with out the signal making it to the brain. 

IME, the body sometimes just sometimes does stuff on it's own when the sport gets too fast, the more the body takes over, the better the shots too.  Seems like the body can hit perfect killer shots if the brain is totally out of the way.  I don't know what happens then, but seems like some kind of subconscious awareness process that happens and is running the body if the mind will get out of the way and let it.  People will tell me it was a great shot but I will be at stunned as them when it happens!  It's kinda like performing like the movie The Matrix.  Too bad I only do it once in a while for a second or two!  ;-P  I suspect others just chalk it up to a lucky shot when they perform similarly but it's interesting if you really look at what your mind was doing (or not doing) when such shots occur.

Anyway, yeah, I agree, thought IMO is a tool.  When it is there, just understand it and use it wisely.  I know in the past on others threads there was much discussion on getting rid of thought.  Personally, I suspect it is there for a reason and I consider it a tool.  I have also found that if the tool is well understood, it runs more efficiently and tends to quiet on its own.  There was a discussion in which someone said something to the effect that if you use thought to quiet thought, using a computer analogy, it would be like running yet antoher program on the computer, perhaps called 'methods to to deal with your stuff program' or whatever, which would be yet another program running and yet more yammering thought.  The idea being that using thought to quell thought was not a good idea. 

I spent some time thinking about it and from my experience, while  that might be true at first, IME once the stuff is actually dealt with, the yammering of the stuff stops and the 'fixing the stuff' program also stops.  I would liken it more, if we were to continue the use of computers as an analogy, of running a virus killer program.  At first, there may be viruses hogging processor power.  The user than runs virus killer programs.  Then the computer is using a ton of processor with all those programs runnign at once, but once the viruses are sorted out, those stop, plus the virus killer program also terminates, end result being less yammer than you started with.  ANyway, I think that works good for the daytime normal hours, not saying you want to initiate such yammer while on the cushion though, even the mind needs to take a rest sometimes.  Just that from my experience, if you can effectively deal with your stuff, the useless mental chatter really drops on its own.  Seems like most of the mental chatter is driven by stuff and habit, which I think are both highly intertwined (I don't have much opinion on concepts of things like karma influences that are sometimes also said to influence).
-Eva    

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/17/15 3:44 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
Mark:
Psi:
Mark:
A
So, I do think that the narrative thinking about the actions, the planning on how to do better, the visualizations and whatnot does play a part in training for competitive sports.  But, perhaps while actually playing, if one is in narration mode, it is like having a governor on the engine, or a distracting commentator needlessly reporting every movement,  belatedly.



Yes it certainly seems to particularly mess up timing!

Well depends on the sport.  I like fast sports and there's typically not much time for narrative once the point starts.  You are typically strained just to monitor where all the players are located and moving, decide who gets and goes where on my side, and if it's my shot, I will want to both choose a shot according to ability and strengths and location of other players and also execute that shot.  Immediately upon execution, I will want to be already moving to my correct position on the court and the process continues until someone misses.  If I can get that much observation in, I am doing well.  The majority of my narrative comes between points when there is time to think.  When I am really in the zone though, it's more like instinct instead of narrative.  My goal with the narrative is often to get to where I am more in the zone and don't need the narrative as much.  ;-P   
I'm not sure if we are talking about the same things. I agree there is not time to build a narrative in a fast sport, during individual points, there are many things taking concentration. But even in the fastest sports I think there is the possibility of thoughts interfering with actions. For example the delay between starting a swing and hitting a ball is very short but there is time for conscious thought to interfere - for example a voice saying where to hit the ball that may modify the swing and more often than not results in a poor shot.

Thoughts can form narratives, like a story about how important the next point is but they can also be very simple concepts like "don't double fault" which can occur in an extremely short period of time. Are you noticing those sorts of thoughts ?

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/18/15 11:05 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
I'm not sure if we are talking about the same things. I agree there is not time to build a narrative in a fast sport, during individual points, there are many things taking concentration. But even in the fastest sports I think there is the possibility of thoughts interfering with actions. For example the delay between starting a swing and hitting a ball is very short but there is time for conscious thought to interfere - for example a voice saying where to hit the ball that may modify the swing and more often than not results in a poor shot.

Thoughts can form narratives, like a story about how important the next point is but they can also be very simple concepts like "don't double fault" which can occur in an extremely short period of time. Are you noticing those sorts of thoughts ?
I do see certain players have probs with changing their mind about where to hit a shot and missing at times when that happens.  Could be they had time to think or tried to have time to think.  Personally I don't seem to do that, once i decide, I don't typically change the plan, I just don't have time.  For the double fault thing, that is a thought I may have to grapple before I start a point, ie right before a point.  In some schools of thought, like NLP, they advocate that saying 'don't' is a bad plan becuase the brain processes in the following order, by first understanding concept of 'double fault' and then adding the concept 'don't' to it.  End result is you are partly telling yourself to double fault when you say don't double fault.  There is in fact some evidence to suggest this might be the case as small children often have trouble with 'don't do blah blah' type commands.  For instance, instead of telling a child 'don't write on the walls' there is evidence that something like 'crayons are for paper' might work better.  It's like small children have difficulty processing the negative part of the sentence.  

Anyway, so back to the in game point, I rarely have time for a fully formed thought, maybe occasionally if the ball is running mostly to my partner that can happen though.  If the ball comes to me suddenly then when I am thinking narrative, my performance may not be good so I try to avoid doing that.  A lot of shots missed on my part are from a millisecond of inattention.  Other times, I may have kind of half formed thoughts, more like a feeling almost.  Like when you meditate and you can see that a thought is just starting to form and could either blossom into a full thought or kind of subside and you just get a vague feeling of it but couldn't really describe it, sometimes I can feel that kind of unformed/almost formed thought and yes, those will influence my game as well. I have to eespecially be careful of any subtle feelings of inadequacy, those seem to be one of my main enemies.  I will hit like I feel, if I feel inadequate, my shot will typically reflect it in kind.  For instance, sometimes when the pressure is on, I may feel like I don't want to get the ball hit to me for fear I will not be able to perform well enough, such a feeling tends to lead to me not performing well enough!  Whereas a feeling like I can get it and do it well tends to lead to that instead.  Kind of like when Yoda said, "Do not try, do."  Trying insinuates insecurity that you can't do it, which is IMO, not the best mind set.
-Eva         

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/20/15 4:13 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:

Personally I don't seem to do that, once i decide, I don't typically change the plan, I just don't have time. For the double fault thing, that is a thought I may have to grapple before I start a point, ie right before a point.  


That is quite a different experience - interesting. If I consider a serve, from the time I'm tossing the ball until the time of impact there seems to be a lot of opportunity for thoughts to arise. For example I am conscious if the toss is good or bad. At the time of impact there can also be an analysis of whether the strike is good or bad and if it is bad often an idea of what was "wrong" e.g. not snapping the wrist enough. Often before the ball reaches the net I have an idea if the serve was good or bad - this is all some sort of thinking as I see it. It is often not verbalised - there is not enough time. But very short words might slip in if I am not concentrating well e.g. "no", "shit", "yes", "great"

 
Other times, I may have kind of half formed thoughts, more like a feeling almost.  Like when you meditate and you can see that a thought is just starting to form and could either blossom into a full thought or kind of subside and you just get a vague feeling of it but couldn't really describe it, sometimes I can feel that kind of unformed/almost formed thought and yes, those will influence my game as well.


This is perhaps closer to what I'm including as thought - it can be tempting to see it as "feeling" but I would associate feeling with physical sensation in the body - for example stress might be felt in the stomach or nervousness as instability in the legs.

Thoughts are different as I see it - firstly they can be much much faster than feelings. Perhaps you are assuming that thoughts must be narratives. For example the "inner critic" is one process that often creates narratives. But consciously attending to some aspect of a shot is also some sort of thinking and that can happen without verbalisation and extremely quickly. I'm also pretty sure that type of thinking makes is harder to get into a state of flow.

Yesterday I noticed getting annoyed before a shot was even finished because I knew the impact point was "wrong" and the ball would go out. I suspect that thinking is really not helping!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/20/15 12:06 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Eva M Nie:

Personally I don't seem to do that, once i decide, I don't typically change the plan, I just don't have time. For the double fault thing, that is a thought I may have to grapple before I start a point, ie right before a point.  


That is quite a different experience - interesting. If I consider a serve, from the time I'm tossing the ball until the time of impact there seems to be a lot of opportunity for thoughts to arise. For example I am conscious if the toss is good or bad. At the time of impact there can also be an analysis of whether the strike is good or bad and if it is bad often an idea of what was "wrong" e.g. not snapping the wrist enough. Often before the ball reaches the net I have an idea if the serve was good or bad - this is all some sort of thinking as I see it. It is often not verbalised - there is not enough time. But very short words might slip in if I am not concentrating well e.g. "no", "shit", "yes", "great"
Ok, yeah, sometimes a short word can get in like those you just mentioned, although I find that anything other than 'out' for when it is out or 'mine' or 'yours' when needed, is a distraction that takes away from better focus.  Well event those 3 are a kind of distraction but they contribute in other ways obviously.  For the serve, I don't play tennis so we don't through the ball up,  The ball is let go just the tiniest millisecond before the racket makes contract so there is really no time to be thinking.  For tennis, although I did not play it much, I found that I did have time to think longer thoughts.  The ball moves much slower and the court is longer, you have to start the swing earlier due to the heavier racket and you may need that extra time because you may need to run a longer distance is all, skill/training is more predominant over reflex  (although of course you need both), and there is more time in that process to have thoughts was my experience.     

 
Other times, I may have kind of half formed thoughts, more like a feeling almost.  Like when you meditate and you can see that a thought is just starting to form and could either blossom into a full thought or kind of subside and you just get a vague feeling of it but couldn't really describe it, sometimes I can feel that kind of unformed/almost formed thought and yes, those will influence my game as well.


This is perhaps closer to what I'm including as thought - it can be tempting to see it as "feeling" but I would associate feeling with physical sensation in the body - for example stress might be felt in the stomach or nervousness as instability in the legs.

Thoughts are different as I see it - firstly they can be much much faster than feelings. Perhaps you are assuming that thoughts must be narratives. For example the "inner critic" is one process that often creates narratives. But consciously attending to some aspect of a shot is also some sort of thinking and that can happen without verbalisation and extremely quickly. I'm also pretty sure that type of thinking makes is harder to get into a state of flow.

Yesterday I noticed getting annoyed before a shot was even finished because I knew the impact point was "wrong" and the ball would go out. I suspect that thinking is really not helping!
Well I have definitely had it where I hit a shot and then knew right away that it was going out, into the net, a set up for the other side or whatever.  But that was after the shot, I'd say it was some other millisecond of lack of focus that caused the original mistake before the shot though.  But yeah, I think we are using diff terminology for a similar thing.  I consider thoughts to be some kind of word type narrative.  If they are more preemergent, they feel more like an emotion to me, they are just a feeling but perhaps not developed enough to be labeled emotion either.  Often thoughts and feelings are so intertwined anyway, like a feeling of fear and inadequacy combined with words like 'Uh oh, that guy hits really good and I just set him up.'  What would you call the fetal version of such a feeling thought?  It's a subtle nuance that effects my outcome, not sure how else to describe it. 

But observation of those processes in the mind and how they correlate with performance are interesting and I've found that when all those nonuseful thought-feeings are gone, there is a natural joy and relaxation and also a much greater skill that comes out in my game.  The last time it happened, the condition also spread to my partner and we totally dominated, beating teams that usually stomp us.  But beyond just winning or losing, that state is just a very peaceful joyful one and so worth cultivating.  Seems like it's 'just' a matter of sweeping away all the nonuseful thoughts.   I think that is part of the reason I like to play these days, the more I succeed at getting that in the zone kind of concentration in the game, the more that centered even keel feeling lingers through the rest of the day as well.  IME, the best play involves very much a kind of zen like zone you want to be in, like a kind of moving concentration meditation, the side effects seem similar to regular meditation except you also get exercise and the concentration can require more focus with so many other factors competing with attention.  Anyway, working with mental states during the game has given me a lot more to think about and work with lately and definitely gives some new dimensions to the play.  ;-P
-Eva     

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/20/15 1:05 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
I consider thoughts to be some kind of word type narrative.  If they are more preemergent, they feel more like an emotion to me, they are just a feeling but perhaps not developed enough to be labeled emotion either.  Often thoughts and feelings are so intertwined anyway, like a feeling of fear and inadequacy combined with words like 'Uh oh, that guy hits really good and I just set him up.'  What would you call the fetal version of such a feeling thought?      

Perhaps dependent origination could give a common framework. Consider https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Nidānas The twelve-fold chain uses the term feeling. Feeling or sensations are of six forms: vision, hearing, olfactory sensation, gustatory sensation, tactile sensation, and intellectual sensation (thought).

It seems the part we are pointing at is "intellectual sensation" which would itself be arising dependent on a lot of other sensations and influenced by emotional state.

The wiki entry classifies fabrications as "bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications." which confuses me as to why there is a separate class of verbal fabrications. I'd consider verbal fabrications to be mental fabrications expressed through sound, mental fabrications might also be experienced through internal vision etc.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/16/15 7:29 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi,

If you find those hypnosis studies, please see if they describe the nature of the hypnotic conditioning used, that would be critical in understanding the outcome.

Also, to another point you raised, Narrative, in a way does play a role in training. It sometimes helps to break complex sequences into cues, or performance cue words. These help in drills and practice, They can also provide a safety net of sorts in performance, giving you a way to reset your attention and re-anchor your technique. It gives you a place to go if you are overtaken by events.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/28/15 5:34 PM as a reply to Mark.
I read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall recently, and he puts the hypothesis that a greater ability to feel love could be the key to great distance running. Bigger more open heart, more spiritually awake = more ability to go longer and faster.

heres him giving a 15min synopsis of the book on TED. 

https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_mcdougall_are_we_born_to_run?language=en

 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/29/15 3:09 AM as a reply to b man.
b man:
I read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall recently, and he puts the hypothesis that a greater ability to feel love could be the key to great distance running. Bigger more open heart, more spiritually awake = more ability to go longer and faster.

heres him giving a 15min synopsis of the book on TED. 

https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_mcdougall_are_we_born_to_run?language=en

 

Inspiring, thanks, I think I might give barefoot tennis a go! 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
8/15/15 8:47 AM as a reply to Mark.
I'll jot some notes here.

Eva mentioned a preference for fast games and I met an interesting character playing tennis the other day. He has not been playing very long. We had a hit after a game of doubles and I really let fly with the serve, it was almost comical as the ball came back just as fast and well placed. He took the game. It was similar for a few other shots where I hit pretty much as hard as I can and again the ball came back well placed etc. It did not seem like chance. We spoke a little about this and he explained that as soon as he plays against a slow player it is a disaster, he starts thinking about what he is doing! I wondering if he would be better off in faster games, like Eva.

I've been lucky to play a couple of people much better than I am. It makes concentrating easier. I've noticed three types of concentration:

i) I have some thought/concept of where I want to hit the ball just before I hit it, often make a mistake
ii) I am watching myself play, a bit like the witness, less mistakes 
iii) I am not aware of watching myself, no thoughts come up, few mistakes and playing better

Between points I do not try to hold i,ii or iii. Chat with the other player, I might talk to myself etc. But as soon as the point starts I try to get into iii by focusing on the ball in the same way one might focus in meditation.

Sometimes I forget to do this but I'm getting better at it. It is probably because I'm playing better players that my game is improving. Today was a 3 set 3 hour match, tie-break in the third,  so plenty of time to experiment!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
8/16/15 10:01 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
I'll jot some notes here.

Eva mentioned a preference for fast games and I met an interesting character playing tennis the other day. He has not been playing very long. We had a hit after a game of doubles and I really let fly with the serve, it was almost comical as the ball came back just as fast and well placed. He took the game. It was similar for a few other shots where I hit pretty much as hard as I can and again the ball came back well placed etc. It did not seem like chance. We spoke a little about this and he explained that as soon as he plays against a slow player it is a disaster, he starts thinking about what he is doing! I wondering if he would be better off in faster games, like Eva.
Tennis seems a bit slow when I play it compared to other sports I've played a lot of (badminton and pickeball).  In tennis, the ball comes from far away, and takes a while to travel all that distance, but you do have to start your swing a bit early because it takes longer to crank that heavy racket into position.  So yeah, he might like a faster game, but still you will need to learn the slow game as well as the fast game strategy for all the games I have played.  If players find out you are weak on the slow (dink shots, place shots, etc) game, then (assuming they have the slow game skill themselves) they will be happy to play slow game all day with you.  Slow game also conserves energy for the hitter.  The only game I can think of that is mostly if not all faster game, and granted I am not an expert on it though, is ping pong.   
I've been lucky to play a couple of people much better than I am. It makes concentrating easier. I've noticed three types of concentration:

i) I have some thought/concept of where I want to hit the ball just before I hit it, often make a mistake
ii) I am watching myself play, a bit like the witness, less mistakes 
iii) I am not aware of watching myself, no thoughts come up, few mistakes and playing better
Interesting, I don't have those divisions like you have.  I can think ahead and hit to a planned position without any special chance of missing, or see a hole in their position and aim for there.  Granted it won't alway go exactly where planned, but it would still have the regular chance of being a good shot overall.  Best play for me is obtained when I am feeling confident and relaxed and feeling like I want to hit it and can hit it, could be this is like your iii, I don't have many extraneous thoughts, mind is focused on job at hand .  So I work on gettign that mindset, that I can get anything that comes, that I am eager for it (not afraid I will screw up), remind self I am having fun (weird how many people play but don't seem to be having fun)  If I miss, I can do better next time, etc. Those kinds of thoughts help me get to the state iii.  Plus I work on my attitude and perception of ball speed.  I try to think of it as going slow and easy to hit.  Attitude about ball speed changes perception of ball speed.  If I tell myself it's slow enough and I can get it, it becomes true.  If I get deep into that state of attitude and concentration, then I see more of what I consider my own 3rd stage, which I only get flashes of but is really neat, when my hand or body does cool stuff by itself, etc.  It's like a second of the matrix, my hand hits a perfect very hard shot and my mind had no clue beforehand.  Other people of course do that too, I think they write it off as luck quite often, but I suspect is is just another part of the human contraptiion, the subconscious mind or whatever you want to call it, that can do all that without the need for the conscious mind.  And not only can it do all that, but it can do it far far better than the conscious mind does it, it can be so skilled as if in the Matrix.  I have long suspected the conscious mind (ego or whateve ryou want to call it) is actually a limiter on many kinds of ability like sports, memory, etc, it slows us down in many areas I suspect.  Get it totally out of the way for a second and amazing stuff can happen!

Between points I do not try to hold i,ii or iii. Chat with the other player, I might talk to myself etc. But as soon as the point starts I try to get into iii by focusing on the ball in the same way one might focus in meditation.

Sometimes I forget to do this but I'm getting better at it. It is probably because I'm playing better players that my game is improving. Today was a 3 set 3 hour match, tie-break in the third,  so plenty of time to experiment!
Yeah, mind skill becomes more and more impt the higher you get and playing better players drives and hones skill, that's probably true for all games. 
-Eva

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/23/15 9:25 AM as a reply to Mark.
Further minor notes. If I meditate not long before playing tennis this seems to drop my level of play. I've seen it happen each time but obviously not a very scientific measure but it is what I have to go on.

Hard to describe what the issue is, I feel less grounded, maybe the witness state is too present and what is needed is closer to a state of flow.

Raises the question of "pre-loading" one's state depending on the activity.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/25/15 9:37 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Further minor notes. If I meditate not long before playing tennis this seems to drop my level of play. I've seen it happen each time but obviously not a very scientific measure but it is what I have to go on.

Hard to describe what the issue is, I feel less grounded, maybe the witness state is too present and what is needed is closer to a state of flow.

Raises the question of "pre-loading" one's state depending on the activity.

What seems like a good theory is that I don't play as aggressively if I meditate shortly before playing. This is a key aspect in tennis - being able to dictate the point so as to win it as opposed to hoping the opponent makes unforced errors.

On further reflection, aggressive is not the right word, attacking would be more appropriate. Probably insightful that association between aggresive and attacking. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/25/15 11:01 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

On further reflection, aggressive is not the right word, attacking would be more appropriate. Probably insightful that association between aggresive and attacking. 


From the dictionary:

Aggression: 
2. 
any offensive action, attack, or procedure; an inroad or encroachment.
3. the practice of making assaults or attacks; offensive action in general.

Of course, aggression may also have a connotation of hostility, which is probably not the case here, but I don't believe ill-will is inherent in the word.  You can be an aggressive tennis player, salesperson, debater, etc.  This does not mean you are acting with the intention of harming others.  

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/26/15 4:21 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
Mark:

On further reflection, aggressive is not the right word, attacking would be more appropriate. Probably insightful that association between aggresive and attacking. 


From the dictionary:

Aggression: 
2. 
any offensive action, attack, or procedure; an inroad or encroachment.
3. the practice of making assaults or attacks; offensive action in general.

Of course, aggression may also have a connotation of hostility, which is probably not the case here, but I don't believe ill-will is inherent in the word.  You can be an aggressive tennis player, salesperson, debater, etc.  This does not mean you are acting with the intention of harming others.  

Hi Vince,

Valid criticism, thanks. For me the opposite of aggresive would be passive, the opposite of attacking would be defending. Perhap what I'm trying to point at could be the level of "arousal". Meditation tends to have a calming effect and perhaps that lowers the level of arousal. So while I still play an attacking style of tennis it is less so shortly after meditating.

It seems the challenge for me is to have a higher state of arousal to play an attacking style of tennis while not using aggression to get into that state. For example I'd imagine Federer is good at doing this - he is one of the best attackers in the game but he is rarely angry/aggressive. In comparison John McEnroe was one of the best attackers in the game and he seems to have used anger/aggression to get into that mental space (obviously that failed him sometimes).

I think you are right that ill-will is not inherent in the word aggression but often I think people associate it with emotional state. So if someone is an aggressive player it might show in their facial expression, self talk, body language etc - there can (not always) be an element of intimidation. While attacking is refering only to the style of tennis, so Federer might be calm and friendly while he serves 4 aces in a row...

It seems for me the ideal would be to have an attacking style of tennis while being calm (i.e. closer to passive than aggressive). I'm keen to learn more options for stimulating arousal in this context. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/26/15 3:30 PM as a reply to Mark.
Hi Vince,

Valid criticism, thanks. For me the opposite of aggresive would be passive, the opposite of attacking would be defending. Perhap what I'm trying to point at could be the level of "arousal". Meditation tends to have a calming effect and perhaps that lowers the level of arousal. So while I still play an attacking style of tennis it is less so shortly after meditating.

It seems the challenge for me is to have a higher state of arousal to play an attacking style of tennis while not using aggression to get into that state. For example I'd imagine Federer is good at doing this - he is one of the best attackers in the game but he is rarely angry/aggressive. In comparison John McEnroe was one of the best attackers in the game and he seems to have used anger/aggression to get into that mental space (obviously that failed him sometimes).

I think you are right that ill-will is not inherent in the word aggression but often I think people associate it with emotional state. So if someone is an aggressive player it might show in their facial expression, self talk, body language etc - there can (not always) be an element of intimidation. While attacking is refering only to the style of tennis, so Federer might be calm and friendly while he serves 4 aces in a row...

It seems for me the ideal would be to have an attacking style of tennis while being calm (i.e. closer to passive than aggressive). I'm keen to learn more options for stimulating arousal in this context. 
Hey Mark, I get what you mean, and actually have made this transition myself (from what you consider aggressive to a tranquil yet offensive state).  I found that I played overly aggressive when I had a strong desire to win or when I was feeling annoyed at myself or others for not performing in line with my expectations.  Now that I have mostly eliminated these causes and focus on enjoying the game with little expectation, I am far more peaceful and light-hearted during game play, and it seems in this state my skills manifest more easily and to a greater extent.  It was essentially a matter of removing the thoughts that led to the intentions that caused the aggression and replacing them with more wholesome and beneficial mental activity, namely a quiet, concentrated and alert mind and a feeling of peace, contentment and confidence (without the loss of energy that can come with cultivating tranquility, of course).  

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/26/15 1:04 PM as a reply to Vince.

Hey Mark, I get what you mean, and actually have made this transition myself (from what you consider aggressive to a tranquil yet offensive state).  I found that I played overly aggressive when I had a strong desire to win or when I was feeling annoyed at myself or others for not performing in line with my expectations.  Now that I have mostly eliminated these causes and focus on enjoying the game with little expectation, I am far more peaceful and light-hearted during game play, and it seems in this state my skills manifest more easily and to a greater extent.  It was essentially a matter of removing the thoughts that led to the intentions that caused the aggression and replacing them with more wholesome and beneficial mental activity, namely a quiet, concentrated and alert mind and a feeling of peace, contentment and confidence (without the loss of energy that can come with cultivating tranquility, of course).  

Hi Vince, I think a strong desire to win is part of competitive sport, otherwise I'd call it social sport. Enjoying the game with little expectation is a great approach, particularly in a team sport. Personally I'm interested in establishing a strong desire to win while still enjoying the game. I've typically played social sports and had a relaxed attitude about results. But I think competitive sports can be a sort of pressure cooker for experimenting with progress in concentration skills (mainly achieved through meditation).

A friend described the idea of the "reptilian" brain that is more associated with aggression and how that can be a huge reserve of energy and combativity in sport. The challenge is perhaps to orient that energy rather than avoid it. 

I would have guessed that a content, peaceful mind state is not very conducive to being extremely alert. Which is is contradiction to what you indicated, interested to have your thougths on that.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/26/15 3:57 PM as a reply to Mark.
I feel like in the case of sports, a strong desire to win is probably a result of attachments and other unwholesome states/qualities of mind.  My experience is that winning is actually more likely once the egoic tendencies which drive this desire are removed.  

Regarding the seeming contradiction you noted, the peace and contentment I mentioned is simply a lack of mental and emotional agitation.  I don't believe there is anything about this that would hinder one's ability to maintain an alert focus- in fact, it seems this is far more conductive to being alert, for there are no distracting thoughts and emotions conflicting with one's intention and focus.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/27/15 3:12 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
I feel like in the case of sports, a strong desire to win is probably a result of attachments and other unwholesome states/qualities of mind.


If the strong desire to win is motivated by an attachment to winning then you'd be right. But the desire to win could also be motivated by other things, for example the nature of the game. In my case I think the main motivation is to experiment with mindfulness in challenging situations.

Perhaps the best indicator is how the result is perceived. We could imagine someone who wins being concerned about the feelings of their opponent and someone who loses not being bothered at all by the result (weak attachment). We could also imagine someone who becomes arrogant upon winning or breaks down into tears upon loosing (strong attachment).


 My experience is that winning is actually more likely once the egoic tendencies which drive this desire are removed.  


If your attachment was to the result then that would create problems. For example if something goes badly you may have worried about loosing or if something went well you may have become over confident etc.


Regarding the seeming contradiction you noted, the peace and contentment I mentioned is simply a lack of mental and emotional agitation.  I don't believe there is anything about this that would hinder one's ability to maintain an alert focus- in fact, it seems this is far more conductive to being alert, for there are no distracting thoughts and emotions conflicting with one's intention and focus.
Agreed that agitation is not helpful. But I think some level of stress probably does heighten alertness. There is a certain "edge" that high performers seem to have. Here is an example mentioning improvement in performance for sprinteres who "psych up" http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Citation/2014/11000/Time_Interval_Moderates_the_Relationship_Between.29.aspx

A quick Google about psyching up led to https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201005/sports-psych-techniques 

I certainly think that these techniques are not important in social sport. If someone is not able to enjoy social sport because they are attached to the result then learning to not worry about the result is going to make the game much more enjoyable (and improve performance). In competitive sport I think the enjoyment can come from being the most competitive one can be, while still not being attached to the result. This is a finer line to tread as it means being very passionate about winning - being "psyched up" is perhaps a good term. For many people I think being psyched up will probably lead to problems because it is a delicate balancing act.

I think the best performers are able to dig a little deeper and find the tiny differences that quickly accumulate on the scoreboard. Having a neutral mental state is probably not enough when an opponent with similar skills is "psyched up" in the best sense of the term.

Beyond sport I think this touches on a confusing topic, the difference between desire and attachment. For many desire does come from attachment and learning Buddhist concepts can make that clear. However there is a risk of seeing all desire as attachment which would be a sad result.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/27/15 11:58 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Vince:
I feel like in the case of sports, a strong desire to win is probably a result of attachments and other unwholesome states/qualities of mind.


If the strong desire to win is motivated by an attachment to winning then you'd be right. But the desire to win could also be motivated by other things, for example the nature of the game. In my case I think the main motivation is to experiment with mindfulness in challenging situations.

Perhaps the best indicator is how the result is perceived. We could imagine someone who wins being concerned about the feelings of their opponent and someone who loses not being bothered at all by the result (weak attachment). We could also imagine someone who becomes arrogant upon winning or breaks down into tears upon loosing (strong attachment).


 My experience is that winning is actually more likely once the egoic tendencies which drive this desire are removed.  


If your attachment was to the result then that would create problems. For example if something goes badly you may have worried about loosing or if something went well you may have become over confident etc.


Regarding the seeming contradiction you noted, the peace and contentment I mentioned is simply a lack of mental and emotional agitation.  I don't believe there is anything about this that would hinder one's ability to maintain an alert focus- in fact, it seems this is far more conductive to being alert, for there are no distracting thoughts and emotions conflicting with one's intention and focus.
Agreed that agitation is not helpful. But I think some level of stress probably does heighten alertness. There is a certain "edge" that high performers seem to have. Here is an example mentioning improvement in performance for sprinteres who "psych up" http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Citation/2014/11000/Time_Interval_Moderates_the_Relationship_Between.29.aspx

A quick Google about psyching up led to https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201005/sports-psych-techniques 

I certainly think that these techniques are not important in social sport. If someone is not able to enjoy social sport because they are attached to the result then learning to not worry about the result is going to make the game much more enjoyable (and improve performance). In competitive sport I think the enjoyment can come from being the most competitive one can be, while still not being attached to the result. This is a finer line to tread as it means being very passionate about winning - being "psyched up" is perhaps a good term. For many people I think being psyched up will probably lead to problems because it is a delicate balancing act.

I think the best performers are able to dig a little deeper and find the tiny differences that quickly accumulate on the scoreboard. Having a neutral mental state is probably not enough when an opponent with similar skills is "psyched up" in the best sense of the term.

Beyond sport I think this touches on a confusing topic, the difference between desire and attachment. For many desire does come from attachment and learning Buddhist concepts can make that clear. However there is a risk of seeing all desire as attachment which would be a sad result.


A desire to win without attachment? It doesn't seem likely, although I am open to hear new ideas regarding this. Of course, the particular attachment driving the desire may vary from person to person, and not all attachments are necessarily bad.  If in some special case, winning a game could lead to something beneficial, such as a large donation of the winnings (if something of material value was won) to charity, etc, then that would probably not be a case of an unwholesome attachment or desire if helping others with the donation was the driving force behind the motivation to win.  I'm sure there are other examples as well.  

If we take a look at the definition of competition, it is "the activity of competing," which is "strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same." It would seem the very basis of competitive sports, the "nature of the game" as you put it, is driven by egoic one-upmanship, at least according to this definition.  

In my case, my drive is more about improving and performing my best, rather than defeating others.  If I lose against someone of a much higher skill level than myself but played my best, learned and improved, that is great.  If I lose against someone of lower skill than myself, then I obviously did not do my best and this is the reason for the negative thoughts and emotions that would arise as a result, rather than a desire to win just for the sake of it.

The "edge" you mentioned probably does make a difference in terms of performance, and is probably the result of an intense desire to win.  Of course, my practice is not about experiencing extreme desires and emotional states, but is about eliminating suffering and transcending temporary and unsatisfactory good feelings for those of a more genuine, lasting and unconditioned nature.  Thus I am not interesting in cultivating this edge or desire to win, but am more focused on purifying my mind as I engage in my daily activities, which includes competitive sports.  

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/27/15 1:57 PM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

A desire to win without attachment?

Yes


It doesn't seem likely, although I am open to hear new ideas regarding this.

I can try.

Of course, the particular attachment driving the desire may vary from person to person, and not all attachments are necessarily bad.


I'm not sure how you define bad but any attachment brings suffering - at least that is how I understand the 4 truths. 


If we take a look at the definition of competition, it is "the activity of competing," which is "strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same." It would seem the very basis of competitive sports, the "nature of the game" as you put it, is driven by egoic one-upmanship, at least according to this definition.  


It is surprising that you introduce the terms "egoic" and "one-upmanship" when they are not in the definition you provided. Competition does not need to be about egos, for example scientific theories can compete. If someone believes that competition is about ego and one-upmanship then that is how they will behave when competing. If someone believes that competition is a way to excel in a human endeavour then they may have no ego issues when winning or losing.

In my case, my drive is more about improving and performing my best, rather than defeating others.


It may depend on the sport, in a game like tennis exploiting the weaknesses of the other player is how the game is played. Something like golf does not have that aspect to the same degree.



If I lose against someone of a much higher skill level than myself but played my best, learned and improved, that is great.  


It depends how you define skill level but that can often lead to frustration as you may be more physically skillful yet loose because of things outside of your control - maybe the opponent was lucky etc. It is also unrealistic to always play your best - that is by definition an exception. Continually improving is also unrealistic, there are ups and downs. Perhaps the best approach is to try not to create expectations.


If I lose against someone of lower skill than myself, then I obviously did not do my best and this is the reason for the negative thoughts and emotions that would arise as a result, rather than a desire to win just for the sake of it.


This is perhaps pointing at an issue "my best" is something that is not always achievable. The most important aspect for an experienced player is mental attitude and the negative thoughts and emotions afterwards are probably more of an issue than the performance.



The "edge" you mentioned probably does make a difference in terms of performance, and is probably the result of an intense desire to win.


The idea is not to "win just for the sake of it" it is far more important how one wins than whether one wins. Most of the factors as to whether one wins a game of tennis are out of one's control on the day e.g. physical condition of both players, mental attitude of the opponent, umpire's calls, weather conditions, court surfaces, luck, the list is long.


Of course, my practice is not about experiencing extreme desires and emotional states, but is about eliminating suffering and transcending temporary and unsatisfactory good feelings for those of a more genuine, lasting and unconditioned nature.  Thus I am not interesting in cultivating this edge or desire to win, but am more focused on purifying my mind as I engage in my daily activities, which includes competitive sports.  

I see how my skills at dealing with a situation depend on the intensity of the situation. At one extreme there is sitting on a cushion in ideal conditions and at the other extreme there are rare life events like near death. Competitive sports is a harmless environment where things can be a little more intense than the everyday situations we are dealing with most of the time.

Back to the desire vs attachment question. You might investigate attachment in the 4 noble truths. Attachments even to what appear to be noble traits like compassion are not seen as wholesome in my understanding.

If someone has no attachments that does not need to mean they have no desires. Perhaps consider desire in relation to the process and attachment in relation to the result. For example one can desire to eat but not be attached to eating, in that case being hungry may not cause suffering (obviously most people will start suffering at some point).

Bringing this back to winning, the desire to win is about playing as well as possible in each moment. The process is important, the actual end of the game makes the result unimportant as the game is over.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/27/15 10:20 PM as a reply to Mark.
My statement about not all attachments being necessarily bad means that some attachments are actually used to progress along the path.  As an example, most practicing Buddhists probably develop an attachment to our meditation practice, which, if the attachment is used skillfully and not taken to an extreme, results in motivation, dedication, effort and development.  For more on this, check out this talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu: http://www.diydharma.org/skillful-attachments-thanissaro-bhikkhu

Regarding my use of the words egoic and one-upmanship, the definition states "striving to win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others."  Defeating others and establishing superiority over them sounds like something the Buddha probably wouldn't have condoned.  Of course, it's all about intention.  I imagine many people play sports, at least in part, because they enjoy winning for the feeling of superiority it brings.  The words I used seem appropriate.  A person free from the ego's unwholesome tendencies probably has no desire to win a sports game.  

What I meant by "playing one's best" is always giving it your best shot.  This is more about the intention than the result.  The same goes with what I said about continuously improving.  It's more about the intention than anything.  Some days may be better than others, but with the right intention and focus, improvement will continue over time.  This has certainly been my experience anyway.

I have to disagree with your statement "the desire to win is about playing as well as possible in each moment," at least partially, as this is not a blanket rule applying to all.  I know may people who have a strong desire to win, and their personal performance is secondary to the end result.  They cheer just as hard, if not harder, for their oppontent's mistakes as they do for their own successes.  The desire to play as well as possible in each moment is a desire in and of itself, having little to do with actually winning.      

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/28/15 4:31 AM as a reply to Vince.
Hi Vince,

If you want to take on another perspective then I'm happy to try and provide one. I you want to defend your current perspective there is no need. If it helps, I used to have a very similar point of view to the one you are expressing.

Vince:

I have to disagree with your statement "the desire to win is about playing as well as possible in each moment," at least partially, as this is not a blanket rule applying to all.  I know may people who have a strong desire to win, and their personal performance is secondary to the end result.  They cheer just as hard, if not harder, for their oppontent's mistakes as they do for their own successes.  The desire to play as well as possible in each moment is a desire in and of itself, having little to do with actually winning.      

I'm speaking of my own experience not trying to create a blanket rule applying to all. If I was interested in playing competitive sports in the way they are typically played then I would not be bringing up the topic on this forum.

In a game like tennis, playing well in each moment involves exploiting the weaknesses in the opponents position/skills etc so it is closely related to the tactics for winning.

Thanks for the discussion - I'm inching forward on a different understanding of competitive sports. Will put it to the test once again on the weekend!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/28/15 7:30 AM as a reply to Mark.
I agree that performing one's best relates to winning, as one tends to naturally lead to the other.  My main point is that desiring to perform one's best is very different from desiring to win- that is, desiring to defeat or stand superior to another.  The outcome may be similar or the same, but the intention and driving force are two worlds apart.  But perhaps what you have been trying to express has gotten lost in translation, or perhaps I have simply misunderstood.

Regarding the blanket rule comment, I was not aware that you were only speaking for yourself, as your wording "the desire to win..." gives a bit different meaning as "my desire to win..."  Thanks for that clarification.

As I said, I'm willing to listen to other perspectives, but if by "take on another perspective" you mean adopt the perspective, this I can only do if the perspective is logical and agrees with my beliefs, values and goals.

If you used to have a similar perspective as mine, I'm assuming you mean to say that your perspective has somehow evolved for the better.  I'd be interested to hear about this evolution and why your current perspective is superior to your old one.  What do you believe are the downfalls of my perspective of competitive sports?  And perhaps you can explain your current perspective a bit more, as I don't think I've been exposed to it fully.  Thanks! 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/28/15 9:41 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
My main point is that desiring to perform one's best is very different from desiring to win - that is, desiring to defeat or stand superior to another.  The outcome may be similar or the same, but the intention and driving force are two worlds apart.  But perhaps what you have been trying to express has gotten lost in translation, or perhaps I have simply misunderstood.


The concept of "standing superior" could be confusing. Demonstrating during a particular game one or the other player is better at the game is not what I would associate with "standing superior". In a game like tennis defeating the opponent is what is required to perform well against an opponent of similar skill i.e. play is adapted to the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. There doesn't need to be anything personal about competing to win, it is a game.



As I said, I'm willing to listen to other perspectives, but if by "take on another perspective" you mean adopt the perspective, this I can only do if the perspective is logical and agrees with my beliefs, values and goals.


The problem I see is that while one is holding onto (identifying with) beliefs, values and goals the ability to see the advantages and disadvantages of a different perspective is limited. If logic were sufficient you would not need to mention beliefs, values and goals. This points to how logic is typically subservient to beliefs, values and goals.

One way I've found useful is trying to suspend my beliefs, values and goals while exploring another perspective. It can be difficult, even scary, to do this, if I'm identifying with those beliefs, values and goals. When I don't do this I am often defending/projecting my beliefs, values and goals and the other perspective does not seem "logical".


If you used to have a similar perspective as mine, I'm assuming you mean to say that your perspective has somehow evolved for the better.


I'd say it evolved and is better for me now. But that is not to say that your current perspective is worse for you now.

 I'd be interested to hear about this evolution and why your current perspective is superior to your old one.  What do you believe are the downfalls of my perspective of competitive sports?  And perhaps you can explain your current perspective a bit more, as I don't think I've been exposed to it fully.  Thanks! 
Maybe worth mentioning that these are perspectives. If you identify with the perspective then it might be painful or even impossible to change it. I don't think it is something that "needs" to change, it will probably evolve and maybe in different directions.

The discussion had diverged to desires and attachments. You have a notion of wholesome attachments and seemed surprised to hear of desires without attachments. I guess these are your beliefs and values and aligned with your goals, they appear logical too I assume. So I'm intrigued why you'd want to consider alternatives.

If desire required attachment then people who "wake up" would not act in the world. That is not what I've seen claimed. The four noble truths do not make a distinction between wholesome and unwholesome attachments. It makes sense to focus on the most destructive attachments to reduce suffering. Adding new attachments - even meditation - is not what I want. Desire to meditate can come from from other things than fear of failure or desire to bliss out emoticon

I hope that is of use but if it is not that is probably a good thing too!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/28/15 12:58 PM as a reply to Mark.
The concept of "standing superior" could be confusing. Demonstrating during a particular game one or the other player is better at the game is not what I would associate with "standing superior". In a game like tennis defeating the opponent is what is required to perform well against an opponent of similar skill i.e. play is adapted to the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. There doesn't need to be anything personal about competing to win, it is a game.
The way I used it is about the intention.  When the drive is to defeat another for the sake of feeling superior, that is an unwholesome intention.
The discussion had diverged to desires and attachments. You have a notion of wholesome attachments and seemed surprised to hear of desires without attachments. I guess these are your beliefs and values and aligned with your goals, they appear logical too I assume. So I'm intrigued why you'd want to consider alternatives.

I am aware of the difference between desire and attachment.  I simply don't believe the desire to win is one that is wholesome, and is probably born of attachment of some variation.  It seems you would disagree, so I would very much like you to explain your position, as perhaps I have something to learn.  

Did you listen to the audio in the link I previously provided?  I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it. 

According to the Buddha, the path to liberation is only possible by using that which is conditioned to lead to the unconditioned.  In this way, attachments may be wholesome if they lead a person to progress along the path, but must be seen for what they are and abandoned when no longer needed or useful.  I believe the Buddha considered attachment to Jhana to be a wholesome attachment.  An attachment to the attainment of wisdom and the development of virtue can be wholesome or beneficial if it leads a person to the fruition of these qualities, although again, there will be a time to let go of the attachment if further progress is to be made.

I understand that cultivating a strong desire to win may be of benefit to one's performance in sports, but my question is, is it of benefit to one's development along the noble eightfold path?  As I've stated, I believe the desire to win is likely the result of unskillful tendencies and unwholesome mind states, and will likely serve as a hinderance to the purification of mind.  You seemed to indicate otherwise, so I have been trying to get you to explain your view because again, perhaps I have something to learn, but it seems I haven't been successful as of yet.

You stated that the desire to win is about performing at one's best.  It seems there is something missing here, however, for as I've already noted, the desire to perform at one's best is about performing at one's best.  The way I see it, this has nothing to do with winning or losing, as it's not at all about the end result, but rather about achieving one's maximum potential in every moment.  So I ask again, kind sir:

Why/how is your current perspective more beneficial than your old one (apparently my current one)?

How can you explain the missing link, the cause of your desire to win, in the light that performing at one's best is not about winning?  If one simply wanted to play at one's best, then this in itself would be the desire, but you have added something else- the act of "winning."  Where is this desire to win really coming from?  As I have the desire to peform at my best but have abandoned the desire to win, I know that these two things are separate entities, even if one does tend to lead to the other.  

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/28/15 4:58 PM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

I am aware of the difference between desire and attachment.  I simply don't believe the desire to win is one that is wholesome, and is probably born of attachment of some variation.  It seems you would disagree, so I would very much like you to explain your position, as perhaps I have something to learn.  



My motivation is related to practise. It is a lot more challenging to engage is competition because of the potential attachments you are imagining. It is in challenging situations that mindfulness can be of most use but it is also those situations where it is most difficult to be mindful. I see competitive sport as a sort of training ground for exploring more stressful situations than the normal everyday.



Did you listen to the audio in the link I previously provided?



No, I'm guessing I'm familiar with it as I think I understand your perspective.



According to the Buddha, the path to liberation is only possible by using that which is conditioned to lead to the unconditioned.  In this way, attachments may be wholesome if they lead a person to progress along the path, but must be seen for what they are and abandoned when no longer needed or useful.  I believe the Buddha considered attachment to Jhana to be a wholesome attachment.  An attachment to the attainment of wisdom and the development of virtue can be wholesome or beneficial if it leads a person to the fruition of these qualities, although again, there will be a time to let go of the attachment if further progress is to be made.



The term spiritual bypassing comes to mind. That may not happen but it seems to be setting up the risk as it could easily become a "the ends justify the means" approach. But if you feel you need to be attached to wholesome qualities to develop them maybe it is better to take the approach you are suggesting.



I understand that cultivating a strong desire to win may be of benefit to one's performance in sports, but my question is, is it of benefit to one's development along the noble eightfold path?  


My guess is that it can be if the distinction between desire and attachment is explored through that practise. Maybe it would bmake more sense if I used the word preference instead of desire ?




You stated that the desire to win is about performing at one's best.  It seems there is something missing here, however, for as I've already noted, the desire to perform at one's best is about performing at one's best.  The way I see it, this has nothing to do with winning or losing, as it's not at all about the end result, but rather about achieving one's maximum potential in every moment.  


Consider a social game of tennis, I hit a low percentage passing shot and the opponent volleys a winning shot, great I performed at my best. The same situation in a competitive situation and I know the opponent is good at covering passing shots so I lob. The lob is not the best lob but it is a better choice than the passing shot (even if I performed the passing shot very well). The point is that in competitive sports like tennis the game is not just about your performance but also adapting to an opponent with an objective of winning a point.



Why/how is your current perspective more beneficial than your old one (apparently my current one)?


Introducing the aspect of winning without attachment adds difficulty to the exercise. It also sets the bar higher for performance. I'd stress that it might be better for me - that does not mean it must be better for you.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/29/15 2:15 PM as a reply to Mark.
It is in challenging situations that mindfulness can be of most use but it is also those situations where it is most difficult to be mindful. I see competitive sport as a sort of training ground for exploring more stressful situations than the normal everyday.

Absolutely.  

I think I may be catching on to your drift here.  Perhaps you are saying that you invoke the desire to win simply as a way to give rise to conditions in which more learning and development can take place, rather than because you actually want to win for the sake of being victorious over another.  Of course, this still doesn't explain the statement you made attempting to attribute your desire to win with wanting to perform well:

the desire to win is about playing as well as possible in each moment.

Perhaps addressing the missing link in the connection you made between winning and performing one's best would clarify things here.  I'll raise the question again in hopes for an answer this time:


"How can you explain the missing link, the cause of your desire to win, in the light that performing at one's best is not about winning?  If one simply wanted to play at one's best, then this in itself would be the desire, but you have added something else- the act of "winning."  Where is this desire to win really coming from?  As I have the desire to peform at my best but have abandoned the desire to win, I know that these two things are separate entities, even if one does tend to lead to the other."

The term spiritual bypassing comes to mind. That may not happen but it seems to be setting up the risk as it could easily become a "the ends justify the means" approach.

Ironically, the same concept came to mind when reading your ideas about winning, in that perhaps there is a deeper, attachment-driven motivation behind your desire to win which is being masked by an illusion of loftier values.  Of course, I only consider this a possibility, as I have yet to completely understand your stance.  

 But if you feel you need to be attached to wholesome qualities to develop them maybe it is better to take the approach you are suggesting.

I do not feel this need.  I was simply presenting an idea that is held as true by some respected members of the Buddhist community and that makes a bit of sense to me.

Consider a social game of tennis, I hit a low percentage passing shot and the opponent volleys a winning shot, great I performed at my best. The same situation in a competitive situation and I know the opponent is good at covering passing shots so I lob. The lob is not the best lob but it is a better choice than the passing shot (even if I performed the passing shot very well). The point is that in competitive sports like tennis the game is not just about your performance but also adapting to an opponent with an objective of winning a point.

The way I see it, adapting to an opponent with the objective of winning a point is completely related to one's performance, as it is an essential aspect of the game and crucial to performing well.  My point is that there is a difference in the intention between the desire to win and the desire to perform well.  The way I see it, the desire to perform well means doing what is best in every moment without the thought of scoring a point or winning, but with the thought of being as skillful as possible.  I want to spike the ball in the empty area of the court not because I want the point, but because that is the most skillful thing to do.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/30/15 3:57 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

I think I may be catching on to your drift here.  Perhaps you are saying that you invoke the desire to win simply as a way to give rise to conditions in which more learning and development can take place, rather than because you actually want to win for the sake of being victorious over another.

yes

 Of course, this still doesn't explain the statement you made attempting to attribute your desire to win with wanting to perform well:

the desire to win is about playing as well as possible in each moment.

Perhaps addressing the missing link in the connection you made between winning and performing one's best would clarify things here.  I'll raise the question again in hopes for an answer this time:



You are certainly insistent emoticon There could be many ways to win. For example you could try to annoy the opponent or cheat etc. I suspect you are reading too much into that sentence, you seem to be getting the drift up above. Basically I'm deciding how I want to win i.e. it is not winning at all costs (the ends are not being used to justify the means).

Ironically, the same concept came to mind when reading your ideas about winning, in that perhaps there is a deeper, attachment-driven motivation behind your desire to win which is being masked by an illusion of loftier values.  Of course, I only consider this a possibility, as I have yet to completely understand your stance.  


I suspect you are reading your story into this. If I understood you earlier you struggled with an attachment to winning and want to give that up. If someone is attached to winning then starts meditating etc. it is reasonable to expect they will want to remove that attachment. I'm coming from a slightly different angle because I was playing sport socially then started meditating and decided to try introducing the competitive nature of sport into my practise.



 But if you feel you need to be attached to wholesome qualities to develop them maybe it is better to take the approach you are suggesting.

I do not feel this need.  I was simply presenting an idea that is held as true by some respected members of the Buddhist community and that makes a bit of sense to me.



Not sure what to make of that, you seemed surprised by the notion of desire not being an attachment, then justified the concept of wholesome attachments. Now you seem to be saying you don't buy into that, maybe better to discuss your own experience.




Consider a social game of tennis, I hit a low percentage passing shot and the opponent volleys a winning shot, great I performed at my best. The same situation in a competitive situation and I know the opponent is good at covering passing shots so I lob. The lob is not the best lob but it is a better choice than the passing shot (even if I performed the passing shot very well). The point is that in competitive sports like tennis the game is not just about your performance but also adapting to an opponent with an objective of winning a point.

The way I see it, adapting to an opponent with the objective of winning a point is completely related to one's performance, as it is an essential aspect of the game and crucial to performing well.  My point is that there is a difference in the intention between the desire to win and the desire to perform well.  The way I see it, the desire to perform well means doing what is best in every moment without the thought of scoring a point or winning, but with the thought of being as skillful as possible.  I want to spike the ball in the empty area of the court not because I want the point, but because that is the most skillful thing to do.

As you mentioned earlier in the thread "I understand that cultivating a strong desire to win may be of benefit to one's performance in sports" I think you've undestood that desire to win can benefit performance.

I'm not sure if you play individual sport like tennis competitively but it is quite different from a team sport. The desire to win in a team sport is not that useful as I see it, because you have little control over the performance of your team. You mentioned getting angry with your team members etc and that is obviously problematic.

Above you seem to define performing well as winning a point stating they are "completely related" I'm not sure that is always true. For example in social tennis I will play to the opponents strengths so we can both "perform well". I would often do the same thing when playing social voleyball too - for example not spiking toward weaker players with the hope the point will continue.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/30/15 7:12 AM as a reply to Mark.
I suspect you are reading too much into that sentence

Perhaps I am!

I suspect you are reading your story into this. If I understood you earlier you struggled with an attachment to winning and want to give that up. If someone is attached to winning then starts meditating etc. it is reasonable to expect they will want to remove that attachment. I'm coming from a slightly different angle because I was playing sport socially then started meditating and decided to try introducing the competitive nature of sport into my practise.

Gotcha.

Not sure what to make of that, you seemed surprised by the notion of desire not being an attachment, then justified the concept of wholesome attachments. Now you seem to be saying you don't buy into that, maybe better to discuss your own experience. 

I wasn't surprised by the idea of desire not being an attachment, what I did was question the idea that the desire to win could be present without attachment.  I had not considered the idea of simply experimenting with the desire to win to test one's mindfulness in that type of situation.  For me, there is enough arising naturally in my mind to work with during gameplay without the need to fabricate other desires.

As you mentioned earlier in the thread "I understand that cultivating a strong desire to win may be of benefit to one's performance in sports" I think you've undestood that desire to win can benefit performance.

Yes, I simply don't wish to improve my performance at the cost of sacrificing my practice and values.

Above you seem to define performing well as winning a point stating they are "completely related" I'm not sure that is always true. For example in social tennis I will play to the opponents strengths so we can both "perform well". I would often do the same thing when playing social voleyball too - for example not spiking toward weaker players with the hope the point will continue.

Haha that's funny, I do the same thing when the other team is struggling.  Of course, the skill in refraining from the point to continue gameplay is putting the ball exactly where you want it in the way you want it to get there.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/30/15 8:10 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
For me, there is enough arising naturally in my mind to work with during gameplay without the need to fabricate other desires.
I would not be able to maintain complete mindfulness during a game. I can't even manage that sitting on a cushion! But I think competitive sports can help "strengthen" the abilty to not get carried away by emotions etc. If I can't play a game of tennis without getting angry at myself then I would expect life situations to easily "swamp" my mindfulness.

A teacher once suggested taking a mindful approach to help relieve suffering for minor things before expecting it to work for major things. That is probably what led to me thinking about how one can "stress test" mindfulness without waiting for major problems arising.  

This is a bit counter-intuitive because sports are often used as a way of de-stressing from daily activity. 

Edit: notice that you mentioned you "do the same thing when the other team is struggling" I guess that means you are adapting if you are winnig or not emoticon

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/30/15 9:59 AM as a reply to Mark.
I would not be able to maintain complete mindfulness during a game. I can't even manage that sitting on a cushion! 

Ideally one would maintain mindfulness throughout all of life's activities.  This is what I strive for, but as you implied, it is quite the challenge.  But definitely one worth pursuing.

Your wording ("I would not be able" rather than "I am not able") seems to imply that you don't attempt to maintain mindfulness during your games.  Can you comment on this?  Without mindfulness, how exactly do (or can!?) you apply Buddhist or spiritual practice?

This is a bit counter-intuitive because sports are often used as a way of de-stressing from daily activity. 

I'd say sports provide a distraction more than a de-stressing function, although both can be true depending on the person and the sport.  In the absence of mindfulness, sports can easily create even more stress in one's life.  Many times I've left the court in a state of regret and agitation due to a poor performance, and would find myself thinking about my mistakes long after the game.  

Edit: notice that you mentioned you "do the same thing when the other team is struggling" I guess that means you are adapting if you are winnig or not emoticon

Absolutely, adaptation is essential to progress!  

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/31/15 7:30 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

Your wording ("I would not be able" rather than "I am not able") seems to imply that you don't attempt to maintain mindfulness during your games.  Can you comment on this?  



During the game I try to get into a flow state, so there is no observer, it is different from a mindful state with an observer e.g. noting. Between points I'm trying to be mindful (and often failing!) 


Without mindfulness, how exactly do (or can!?) you apply Buddhist or spiritual practice?


The eightfold path suggests some different aspects of practise. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/31/15 8:37 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Vince:

Your wording ("I would not be able" rather than "I am not able") seems to imply that you don't attempt to maintain mindfulness during your games.  Can you comment on this?  



During the game I try to get into a flow state, so there is no observer, it is different from a mindful state with an observer e.g. noting. Between points I'm trying to be mindful (and often failing!) 


Without mindfulness, how exactly do (or can!?) you apply Buddhist or spiritual practice?


The eightfold path suggests some different aspects of practise. 

Mindfulness has two main definitions, so perhaps it would help to clarify.  One of these definitions is present moment awareness of one's experience, and the other is the act of keeping something in mind, like an intention.  Of course, it seems that one needs the other for real insight and action that leads to growth to take place.  

Are you suggesting that there are Buddhist practices in which one does not need to be aware of one's present moment experience to some extent or have a skillful intention in mind?  I'd be interested to hear what practices do not need some degree of mindfulness.  I've yet to hear of any.

I would argue that there is indeed mindfulness in a flow state.  If not you would be unaware of the state! 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/31/15 9:23 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

Mindfulness has two main definitions, so perhaps it would help to clarify.  One of these definitions is present moment awareness of one's experience, and the other is the act of keeping something in mind, like an intention.  Of course, it seems that one needs the other for real insight and action that leads to growth to take place.  



Are you speaking from experience or someone else's claims ?

What do you mean by "real insight" ? An insight is an insight in my experience. Some might come from Buddhist practises and others from other practises, it is not as if Buddhists or meditators are the only people who have insight.

Growth can obviously take place within and outside of the Buddhist practises and does not require mindfulness. Even in your own case was there no development before you started Buddhist practises ?



Are you suggesting that there are Buddhist practices in which one does not need to be aware of one's present moment experience to some extent or have a skillful intention in mind?  I'd be interested to hear what practices do not need some degree of mindfulness.  I've yet to hear of any.



Yes, there are plenty, for example meditation focused on strengthening concentration or studying Buddhist concepts or observing the five precepts, I've heard many claims that Nibbana is a state without any conscious experience. Mindfulness in my opinion is something that most people do not have most of the time, that does not stop people from developing lots of positive traits and skills.



I would argue that there is indeed mindfulness in a flow state.  If not you would be unaware of the state! 

Part of the definition of flow that I would use is not being aware of being in the flow state - it is defined in part by being immersed in the activity.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/31/15 5:51 PM as a reply to Mark.
Are you speaking from experience or someone else's claims ?

Experience.
What do you mean by "real insight" ?

An insight that is obtained from experience and reflects the true nature of reality, rather than someone else's insight or the illusion of insight that does not actually reflect truth.  I suppose just "insight" would have sufficed.  
Growth can obviously take place within and outside of the Buddhist practises and does not require mindfulness. Even in your own case was there no development before you started Buddhist practises ?

I would be interested to hear of an example of growth taking place without mindfulness- that is, without self-awareness.  Something from your own experience would be ideal.  There was indeed development before starting Buddhist practices, but this does not mean there was no mindfulness.  Mindfulness (self-awareness) and spiritual growth/personal development go hand in hand.  One does not need knowledge of Buddhist teachings or practices to be mindful.  

Yes, there are plenty, for example meditation focused on strengthening concentration or studying Buddhist concepts or observing the five precepts,

Is there not some degree of present moment awareness of one's experience in these?  If so, there is mindfulness.  If you are aware of what you are doing, and/or if you are doing something with an intention in mind, then you are mindful.  
Part of the definition of flow that I would use is not being aware of being in the flow state - it is defined in part by being immersed in the activity.

Are you saying that immersion requires a lack of mindfulness?  Is there no mindfulness in the Jhanas?  Can one be immerse in something and also aware of that immersion?

Perhaps you should consider revising your definition of mindfulness?

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/1/15 8:58 AM as a reply to Vince.
Perhaps you should consider revising your definition of mindfulness?

I think we are about to repeat a similar pattern to the desire/attachment concept. I'm also comfortable with my understanding of what mindfulness is. Perhaps you like to confront ideas to learn (I've been there and probably just reading my own story). in either case you'll need to find someone more patient than me emoticon All the best.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/1/15 1:40 PM as a reply to Mark.
That's a shame, I would have liked to hear your response to my points to get an idea of where you are coming from.  Your comment about learning is pretty accurate, I believe hearing the perspectives of others can provide good learning opportunities or at least open doors to them, especially those that differ from our own.  No worries, take care.  emoticon

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/9/15 10:55 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

As you mentioned earlier in the thread "I understand that cultivating a strong desire to win may be of benefit to one's performance in sports" I think you've undestood that desire to win can benefit performance.

I'm not sure if you play individual sport like tennis competitively but it is quite different from a team sport. The desire to win in a team sport is not that useful as I see it, because you have little control over the performance of your team. You mentioned getting angry with your team members etc and that is obviously problematic.

Above you seem to define performing well as winning a point stating they are "completely related" I'm not sure that is always true. For example in social tennis I will play to the opponents strengths so we can both "perform well". I would often do the same thing when playing social voleyball too - for example not spiking toward weaker players with the hope the point will continue.

The way I see it, they are all just games with different sets of rules.  In social sports, the rule you set may be to improve your skills and have some good chats.  You may set the priority at a more lighthearted chit chat type of game.  And within the parameters you decide to set, you then attempt to improve, perhaps at basic skills, being a more fun guy and/or whatever.  

Or you may call it 'competitive' and set your goals more towards making points, skill of shots is still important but so is skill in shot selection under pressure and strategizing.  Under these new parameters, you probably set importance on different things, now you should be civil but may not set importance on chitchat and fun, your mind is now working more towards points.  But IME, I can play that way and have fun even if badly outmatched and with no expectation of winning.  Maybe my new goal would be to get at least one point, or get more points than last time.  It doesn't have to be about winning, just about improving myself under this different set of rules and priorities we now call 'competitive.' 

I can have tons of fun getting my butt whooped though, certainly I can have a lot more fun getting clobbered and learning new skills in the process than I can clobbering someone else, which means it's not just about winning.  At least for me, it's more about improvement still.  I actually like to play social and competitive combined, joke and have fun between points, play competitive while the point is on.  But I adapt to whom I play with, not all like to do it the way I like to do it.  So yes in competitive play, point collection is set higher on the importance scale.  I also consider an important part of that as being able to keep concentration in tight competition, not make unforced errors, etc.  So when the game is tight, I set my goal to win, yes, but in true zen tradition, I find if I am TOO attached to that goal, then it interferes with clear sight, balance, concentration etc, and ironically makes me less likely to win.   A lighter attachment to my preference to win allows me to do what is needed to win without wasting as much energy worrying about losing. 

Because to win, the best way is to concentrate on the moment, each hit and each strategy in the game, it needs to be very immediate and in the now.  Thinking about the current points is not how you get more points.  Lately I have noticed that I can get behind in a game, we are kinda getting whooped a bit, but if I just settle down and 'just play my game' (something I tell myself), I can settle down and often come from behind and win a surprising amount of the time.  But that seems to come from me not fixating on the fact I am losing when I am losing but instead on me concentrating on each point in progress as it is in progress.  I need to stay in the now in order to excel in the, the later points outlay and winning/losing issue is in the future.

Previously on this thread there was also discussion about team play, yeah, you can't control what your teammates do that much, so that is another microscosm of larger life, learning how to accept what others do with equanimity.  You can control yourself and your behavior much more easily so work on that and also you can work on your attitude, which does influence  your teammates performance.  If I get a short tempered partner, the tenseness can effect my game to the negative, for instance.  Once in high school, I had a famously short tempered partner, the coach paired us because I seemed to be able to handle him better than others and he was a good player too.  The way I made it work was I told him that if he was mean or tense or cross or yelled at me at all, I would get nervous or angry and play much  worse (which was true).  He told me later he wanted to yell at me many times but since I told him I would play worse, he would hold his tongue every time LOL!  Kinda funny how just that one thing was able to convince him keep it calm, but his desire was very strongly to win so I just had to explain it in his terms as what he needed to do for us to win.  ;-)      

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/10/15 3:01 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:

The way I see it, they are all just games with different sets of rules.  In social sports, the rule you set may be to improve your skills and have some good chats.  You may set the priority at a more lighthearted chit chat type of game.  And within the parameters you decide to set, you then attempt to improve, perhaps at basic skills, being a more fun guy and/or whatever.  


There is also the option of not improving. In particular there is an age where improving skills is not possible. It can be nice to just enjoy an activity without trying to be "more".



Or you may call it 'competitive' and set your goals more towards making points, skill of shots is still important but so is skill in shot selection under pressure and strategizing.  Under these new parameters, you probably set importance on different things, now you should be civil but may not set importance on chitchat and fun, your mind is now working more towards points.  But IME, I can play that way and have fun even if badly outmatched and with no expectation of winning.  Maybe my new goal would be to get at least one point, or get more points than last time.  It doesn't have to be about winning, just about improving myself under this different set of rules and priorities we now call 'competitive.' 


Where challenges can come is when you are not improving, when you are not achieving the goals, when your are playing poorly etc. Of course if you are achieving your goals then it is easy to have a positive mental state and enjoyment. In a social sport there is no need to create goals that you risk not to achieve, so there is typically less opportunity for negative mental states to start.

My working theory is that, by getting into situations that would typically cause a negative mental state but using mental skills to avoid that negative mental state, those habits are being changed.



I can have tons of fun getting my butt whooped though, certainly I can have a lot more fun getting clobbered and learning new skills in the process than I can clobbering someone else, which means it's not just about winning. 

At least for me, it's more about improvement still.  I actually like to play social and competitive combined, joke and have fun between points, play competitive while the point is on.  But I adapt to whom I play with, not all like to do it the way I like to do it.  So yes in competitive play, point collection is set higher on the importance scale.  I also consider an important part of that as being able to keep concentration in tight competition, not make unforced errors, etc.  So when the game is tight, I set my goal to win, yes, but in true zen tradition, I find if I am TOO attached to that goal, then it interferes with clear sight, balance, concentration etc, and ironically makes me less likely to win.   A lighter attachment to my preference to win allows me to do what is needed to win without wasting as much energy worrying about losing. 



I wonder if you are always perfectly behaved and in the perfect mental state, it sounds like you are. If so, I'd like to hear more about how you got to that point and where you started from.

I think we've all had experiences where we enjoyed playing a game. I suspect we've all had negative experiences. Most people learn to avoid the negative which is possibe in sport but not in life. I think it is interesting to push the boundaries of maintaining a positive mental state in sport - for me introducing the competitive aspect certainly does that. 



Because to win, the best way is to concentrate on the moment, each hit and each strategy in the game, it needs to be very immediate and in the now.  Thinking about the current points is not how you get more points.  Lately I have noticed that I can get behind in a game, we are kinda getting whooped a bit, but if I just settle down and 'just play my game' (something I tell myself), I can settle down and often come from behind and win a surprising amount of the time.  But that seems to come from me not fixating on the fact I am losing when I am losing but instead on me concentrating on each point in progress as it is in progress.  I need to stay in the now in order to excel in the, the later points outlay and winning/losing issue is in the future.


There is some contradiction there, if you want to improve skills then typically it requires mental activity to change current habits. If you want to win with the skills you have then your attitude will get the best result given your skill level. I was listening to Pat Cash talking about his training - he said he rarely won practise matches because he was trying to improve.



He told me later he wanted to yell at me many times but since I told him I would play worse, he would hold his tongue every time LOL!  Kinda funny how just that one thing was able to convince him keep it calm, but his desire was very strongly to win so I just had to explain it in his terms as what he needed to do for us to win.  ;-)      


That is a clever strategy!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/10/15 8:07 AM as a reply to Mark.
There is some contradiction there, if you want to improve skills then typically it requires mental activity to change current habits. If you want to win with the skills you have then your attitude will get the best result given your skill level. I was listening to Pat Cash talking about his training - he said he rarely won practise matches because he was trying to improve.

So this is a condtradiction between Eva's ideas and Pat Cash's, yes?

What strikes me is that one's optimal skill level doesn't always manifest.  It generally does, however, when the advice that Eva gave is taken, which mirrors my own experience:

Because to win, the best way is to concentrate on the moment, each hit and each strategy in the game, it needs to be very immediate and in the now.  Thinking about the current points is not how you get more points.   But that seems to come from me not fixating on the fact I am losing when I am losing but instead on me concentrating on each point in progress as it is in progress.  I need to stay in the now in order to excel

Of course, attitude is a big part of this, but in my experience, an equanimous attitude is more conductive than a strong desire to win.  A strong intention to perform well, however, I found can exist simultaneously with the equanimous/peaceful mind state, and it is in this state that I perform my best.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/10/15 9:17 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
There is some contradiction there, if you want to improve skills then typically it requires mental activity to change current habits. If you want to win with the skills you have then your attitude will get the best result given your skill level. I was listening to Pat Cash talking about his training - he said he rarely won practise matches because he was trying to improve.

So this is a condtradiction between Eva's ideas and Pat Cash's, yes?


No. I was mentioning Pat Cash as an example of the implications of trying to improve vs trying to win. Eva seems more interested in improving than in winning. Improvement typically involves changing a habit, so things like reviewing the past, imagining the future, some mental talk etc can be used to improve faster - this is different from playing at one's best. To play at one's best i.e. maximising the chance of winning points, requires making the best use of existing skills i.e. it is not the time to try modifying habits.



What strikes me is that one's optimal skill level doesn't always manifest.  It generally does, however, when the advice that Eva gave is taken, which mirrors my own experience:

Because to win, the best way is to concentrate on the moment, each hit and each strategy in the game, it needs to be very immediate and in the now.  Thinking about the current points is not how you get more points.   But that seems to come from me not fixating on the fact I am losing when I am losing but instead on me concentrating on each point in progress as it is in progress.  I need to stay in the now in order to excel

Of course, attitude is a big part of this, but in my experience, an equanimous attitude is more conductive than a strong desire to win.  A strong intention to perform well, however, I found can exist simultaneously with the equanimous/peaceful mind state, and it is in this state that I perform my best.


I think you are probably both confusing the "desire to win" with negative mental talk and distraction. Desiring to win can result in those negative consequences. But as you both explain, you actually don't win more with that approach. Desiring to win with a bit of experience results in behaviours like focusing on the process, not the outcome, using psych-up and psych-down techniques, imagery, mental talk etc. If there are two players of equal ability and one has a strategy of staying in the moment and being equanimous while the other has a bunch of skills like those I've mentioned then I think that second player will probably win.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/10/15 10:05 AM as a reply to Mark.
Eva seems more interested in improving than in winning. Improvement typically involves changing a habit, so things like reviewing the past, imagining the future, some mental talk etc can be used to improve faster - this is different from playing at one's best. To play at one's best i.e. maximising the chance of winning points, requires making the best use of existing skills i.e. it is not the time to try modifying habits.


Right.  In my experience, her idea that I previously quoted about being completely in the present moment focusing solely on the game at hand without being preoccupied with winning is the key to playing at my best.  

I think you are probably both confusing the "desire to win" with negative mental talk and distraction. Desiring to win can result in those negative consequences. But as you both explain, you actually don't win more with that approach. Desiring to win with a bit of experience results in behaviours like focusing on the process, not the outcome, using psych-up and psych-down techniques, imagery, mental talk etc. If there are two players of equal ability and one has a strategy of staying in the moment and being equanimous while the other has a bunch of skills like those I've mentioned then I think that second player will probably win.


The way I see it, a desire to win is a focus on the outcome, a projection into the future, whereas the desire to perform at one's best is a focus on the present moment and again, in my experience, leads to winning more often than does the former.  

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/10/15 10:27 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

I think you are probably both confusing the "desire to win" with negative mental talk and distraction. Desiring to win can result in those negative consequences. But as you both explain, you actually don't win more with that approach. Desiring to win with a bit of experience results in behaviours like focusing on the process, not the outcome, using psych-up and psych-down techniques, imagery, mental talk etc. If there are two players of equal ability and one has a strategy of staying in the moment and being equanimous while the other has a bunch of skills like those I've mentioned then I think that second player will probably win.


The way I see it, a desire to win is a focus on the outcome, a projection into the future, whereas the desire to perform at one's best is a focus on the present moment and again, in my experience, leads to winning more often than does the former.  

It may be convienient to simplify things to "focus on the moment". Particularly if you are into mindfuleness. But I think sports pyschology has something to add. 

As you wrote earlier in this thread "I understand that cultivating a strong desire to win may be of benefit to one's performance in sports". So I'm not quite sure what your point is, my impression is that you are assuming that your tendency to focus on the outcome when you want to win, is also the way others approach this.

The most competitive players I see seem to be very aware that they should not focus on the outcome during a match, that is pretty much sports psychology 101. But they still have a strong desire to win.

The desire to perform at one's best is likely to require reviewing performance to know whether that is true. There would be judgement going on in regards to performance level. This is not really in line with the idea that focus on the present moment is the best approach. I can see there are times when present moment awareness is beneficial but if for example there is a need to change strategy after loosing a first set then present moment awareness will not cut it.


RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/10/15 1:06 PM as a reply to Mark.
I suppose what I'm really trying to do is tie it all in with my spiritual practice.  

I have a goal for my meditation practice.  I want to become enlightened, to attain Nibbana.  However, while meditating, I don't focus on this goal.  Rather, I focus on my experience in the moment and how I can make the most of it.  Focusing on the goal will only distract from the task at hand.

I see the topic of this thread in the same light.  If one focuses on the goal (winning), this will only serve as a distraction.  Is it possible to have the desire to win without focusing on that desire?  Sure, just like in meditation.  In my experience, however, this is not easy, and it is probably not common either, as I imagine my mind works at least somewhat similarly to others.  But sure, it's possible and desirable for those with this goal.  

Of course, that brings me to the goal itself and whether it is conductive to my practice, conductive to the development of wholesome qualities of mind.  As I see it, the desire to win a sports game usually comes from attachment and identification issues.  Of course, as I've explained before, this is a very different desire than wanting to improve one's skills.  There is no doubt that the majority of professional sports players have a basket of ego-driven motivations behind their goals and desires.  You've stated that you conjure up this desire simply to train your mind in a more challenging situation.  For me, the work is in dealing with, subduing, eliminating this desire to win and replacing it with wholesome desires and mind states, as it seems to come up naturally due to my past conditioning.  

So I'm basically approaching it from the angle I've just described.  Perhaps there are other angles that I have yet to consider, but if there are, they probably aren't all that common.

Regarding judging one's performance, this judgement is done in the present moment.  Of course, the mind needs to be working for this, but I don't believe a blank mind is a necessary criterion for present moment awareness.  Any moment in which the mind is not at least somewhat grounded in the here and now is a moment of weakness in sports.  In my experience it is possible to have present moment awareness and thought occuring simultaneously.  I am not somehow removed from the present moment in the presence of thought, it is simply one more element of my experience to be aware of in the present moment.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/11/15 3:05 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
I suppose what I'm really trying to do is tie it all in with my spiritual practice.  

I have a goal for my meditation practice.  I want to become enlightened, to attain Nibbana.  However, while meditating, I don't focus on this goal.  Rather, I focus on my experience in the moment and how I can make the most of it.  Focusing on the goal will only distract from the task at hand.


Use the same logic in regards to "desire to win", it can be like "desire to be enlightened" i.e. the desire can help with motivation etc.

I'll also use the sports analogy to point out that for me "being enlightened" is closer to winning a point rather than an end goal. I think you could "be enlightened" and then not be enlightened shortly afterwards. In sport the desire to win is not an end goal but a motivator to keep on maximising performance - there is always another point, match, tournament etc. Likewise enlightenment as a goal/state risks to introduce "outcome thinking" as opposed to "process thinking" but it does not have to be that way.



I see the topic of this thread in the same light.  If one focuses on the goal (winning), this will only serve as a distraction.  Is it possible to have the desire to win without focusing on that desire?  Sure, just like in meditation.  In my experience, however, this is not easy, and it is probably not common either, as I imagine my mind works at least somewhat similarly to others.  But sure, it's possible and desirable for those with this goal.  


I suspect that if one is not able to make this distinction (desire vs attachment) in something as unimportant as a game then one is not going to make the distinction when the stakes are much higher like managing desire of progress in meditation.


Of course, that brings me to the goal itself and whether it is conductive to my practice, conductive to the development of wholesome qualities of mind.  As I see it, the desire to win a sports game usually comes from attachment and identification issues.  


Same thing for the desire to be enlightened.


Of course, as I've explained before, this is a very different desire than wanting to improve one's skills.  There is no doubt that the majority of professional sports players have a basket of ego-driven motivations behind their goals and desires.  You've stated that you conjure up this desire simply to train your mind in a more challenging situation.  For me, the work is in dealing with, subduing, eliminating this desire to win and replacing it with wholesome desires and mind states, as it seems to come up naturally due to my past conditioning.  


If those "wholesome" mind states are ego-driven then the habit is being subtly reinforced. It is not a major issue but I think it will be seen through at some point.

The desire to improve and the desire to maximize performance are in contradiction (as I've mentioend up thread). One is trying to change habits the other maximise the utility of existing habits  - we can't do both well at the same time.

Desire to perform well is very closely related to the desire to win. Desire to improve can also be an attachment like desire to win - perhaps the most important point is what happens when the desires are not achieved e.g. performance is just really bad or you are getting worse rather than improving, if that causes suffering then there is an attachment. Same measure works for the desire to win - what happens upon winning and loosing ? If I'm thrilled by winning and upset by loosing then it points to an attachment.



So I'm basically approaching it from the angle I've just described.  Perhaps there are other angles that I have yet to consider, but if there are, they probably aren't all that common.


Clearly there is at least one other angle - the one I've been presenting. What does it matter whether it is common or not ? This is a thread about competitive sport on a forum focused largely on buddhist meditation. We would not find the most common interpretations of competitive sport here.



Regarding judging one's performance, this judgement is done in the present moment.


That is not a very useful concept of present moment, you can only ever be in the present moment under that conception (so the term is meaningless as there is no alternative). My definition: if you are in the present moment then your attention is on experience that is happening now. So if you are reviewing the past (i.e. judging) then you are not "in" the present moment. 

Maybe you are confusing mindfulness and present moment experience. For me mindfulness gives you an awareness of what is being experienced and the experience may be the present, memories of the past or projection into the future. 


 Of course, the mind needs to be working for this, but I don't believe a blank mind is a necessary criterion for present moment awareness.  


Agreed.



Any moment in which the mind is not at least somewhat grounded in the here and now is a moment of weakness in sports.



Not at all, for example reviewing strategy is essential to playing well (if the current strategy is not working). Dealing with stress by visualizations would be another example of intentionally not being in the here and now.


 In my experience it is possible to have present moment awareness and thought occuring simultaneously.


I assume you are referring to mindfulness ?

For me being in the present moment in competitive sport requires being aware of what is happening in the game at that moment e.g. not thinking about the past or future but focusing on what will maximize performance now.


I am not somehow removed from the present moment in the presence of thought, it is simply one more element of my experience to be aware of in the present moment.

Sure you can be aware of a thought but in my experience if that thought starts a chain of thoughts (for example reviewing performance) then attention of intention (mindfulness) is often lost.

If nothing else I think we see how competitive sport has many analogies with practise!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/11/15 5:45 PM as a reply to Mark.
Sorry, quoting everything is a bit more work than I care to do, so I'll respond in order of the points you've made in your last post.

In my experience, the desire to win is much different from the desire to become enlightened.  Yes, any desire will aid in motivation towards achieving a goal related to that desire.  In terms of sports, winning is defeating an opponent, whereas enlightenment is the purification of mind.  For most practitioners, enlightenment or Nibbana is the end goal, that is, if they are following the path and principles set out by the Buddha.  

I think for most, the desire to win is more about the end goal than it is about cultivating a source of motivation, although its byproduct is motivation.  I believe many want to win simply to feel superior or as a means of ego inflation, and also as a way to add perceived positive qualities to one's manufactured identity.  You seem to be a rare case, although as I stated in an earlier post, the goal to maximize performance should be enough to bring about the motivation to do so without needing to win.  I believe that adding the concept of winning into the mix probably comes from somewhere else.  

My desire to become enlightened is essentially a desire to end suffering and exist in a state of perfect peace and contentment.  It is a desire to eliminate attachment and identification, whereas the desire to win (as it usually exists in the average person) is essentially a desire to stengthen these potentially harmful phenomena, so I see these as being quite different.    

Regarding improving vs maximizing performance, I see these as being intimately connected.  The way I see it, if there is room for improvement, then one is not actually performing at their maximum potential.  

Yes, if wholesome mind states arise from unwholesome intentions, they will probably not bring the satisfaction that one desires and will likely not result in a lasting positive change to one's mind or personality.  

Reviewing strategy might not be the best idea in the middle of a rally.  Sure, a quick decision to change strategy could work, but a "review" seems like it would only serve to distract at a time like that.  I was referring to actual gameplay when I said that some degree of present moment awareness is necessary.

About judgements taking place with present moment awareness, this simply means that one is mindful of the fact that one is judging, which is quite different from getting lost in stories of judgement without mindfulness.  Your definition was essentially "being aware of what one is experiencing in the moment," but our experience is not just limited to the physical world, but includes our mental (and emotional) activity as well, so what I said actually fits nicely with your definition.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I feel your idea of mindfulness may be a bit limited compared to the one I'm working with (adopted from Buddhist teachings).  With this definition, mindfulness and present moment awareness can be used interchangeably.

Anyway, seems we have some different opinions but it's all good!  I hope your view serves you well and brings you what you're looking for.  Peace!

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/12/15 5:59 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
Sorry, quoting everything is a bit more work than I care to do, so I'll respond in order of the points you've made in your last post.


It is not obvious, but if you use the Source view and insert the quote tags manualy it is pretty fast.



In my experience, the desire to win is much different from the desire to become enlightened.  


Of course they are different desires but being attached to either is not a great way forward as I see it.


In terms of sports, winning is defeating an opponent


I think you are reading your own story into this. Winning involves defeating an opponent and it seems you focused on that apsect in the past. Personally I don't have that as my major focus in regards to winning - I'm trying to focus on what I can control and I can't control the opponent (of course it does involve adapting to the opponent).


whereas enlightenment is the purification of mind.  For most practitioners, enlightenment or Nibbana is the end goal, that is, if they are following the path and principles set out by the Buddha.  


You are planning on becoming a monk ?



I think for most, the desire to win is more about the end goal


This is true for you but for people competing seriously there needs to be other motivators as well as a desire to win. I get the impression you think your point of view has some authority if you think it represents the majority or average, this does not make much sense to me. People who are seriously competing will learn about sports psychology and as I've mentioned it is widely known that focusing on the end goal instead of the process leads to poor results.


You seem to be a rare case, although as I stated in an earlier post, the goal to maximize performance should be enough to bring about the motivation to do so without needing to win.  I believe that adding the concept of winning into the mix probably comes from somewhere else.  


We are back to your story. I'm not looking at winning in the same way you are. Your goal to maximize performance can be just as destructive as a goal to win if you are attached to it. It is being attached to a desire that causes the problems as I see it. If you think that winning is about inflating your ego and defeating another person then you would be wise to ignore that aspect. To me "maximizing performance" sounds like a thinly veiled desire to win.


My desire to become enlightened is essentially a desire to end suffering and exist in a state of perfect peace and contentment.


There is quite some ego in that statement don't you think ?


It is a desire to eliminate attachment and identification, whereas the desire to win (as it usually exists in the average person) is essentially a desire to stengthen these potentially harmful phenomena, so I see these as being quite different.


That is a concern, is it possible to be engaged passionately in the world without being attached and identifying with those desires ? Clearly a game is not a big deal compared with the other aspects of life. I think that if one can't do it in a game then one will not be able to do it outside of a game. You seem to be following the Buddha's suggestions so I guess you will abandon the householder's lifestyle, under those conditions it seems easier as there is no passionate engagement with the world except for helping others to disengage.

There is a risk that competition would reinforce the habits of attachment and identity. The Buddha seems to have suggested no sex, no music, dancing etc. As I understand it sport would be discouraged - I don't see any monastic volleyball teams.

A desire to perform one's best can be just as much a reinforcement of attachment and identification. Perversely "being enlightened" can also be the same thing I think.


Regarding improving vs maximizing performance, I see these as being intimately connected.  The way I see it, if there is room for improvement, then one is not actually performing at their maximum potential.  


You switched the definition from performing one's best to performing at maximum potential. Why would you do that ?


Yes, if wholesome mind states arise from unwholesome intentions


I'm really not sure that is possible - you could fool yourself into thinking they are wholesome but if the intention is unhealthy it will probably lead to problems. The concept of shadow work opened my eyes to this.


Reviewing strategy might not be the best idea in the middle of a rally.  Sure, a quick decision to change strategy could work, but a "review" seems like it would only serve to distract at a time like that.  I was referring to actual gameplay when I said that some degree of present moment awareness is necessary.


Another definition change, we need to define what a game is ? A game starts when the scoring starts and ends when the result is announced, things like the time between points are part of the game.


About judgements taking place with present moment awareness, this simply means that one is mindful of the fact that one is judging, which is quite different from getting lost in stories of judgement without mindfulness.


Personally I can't maintain mindfulness while carrying out taxing intellectual activity. If I could I would not be spending time meditating to develop mindfulness skills! For example reviewing the strategy played, the behaviour of the opponent, possible alternative strategies etc is certainly going to lead my attention away from a mindful state. I have the impression you think you are mindful all the time.



 Your definition was essentially "being aware of what one is experiencing in the moment," but our experience is not just limited to the physical world, but includes our mental (and emotional) activity as well, so what I said actually fits nicely with your definition.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I feel your idea of mindfulness may be a bit limited compared to the one I'm working with (adopted from Buddhist teachings).  With this definition, mindfulness and present moment awareness can be used interchangeably.

I explicitly agreed that experience includes mental/emotional activity. 

Maybe it would help if you explained when you are not mindful. Currently I have the impression that you believe being conscious is being mindful.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/12/15 4:35 PM as a reply to Mark.
It is not obvious, but if you use the Source view and insert the quote tags manualy it is pretty fast.


Thanks for the tip!

being attached to either is not a great way forward

Buddhist teachings indicate otherwise. See Bhikkhu Bodie's translation of the Sanyutta Nikaya for classical textual support for wholesome attachments.

I think you are reading your own story into this.

I'm simply reading the definition of "winning" as I found in the dictionary. But yes, my perspective is shaped by my story. Aren't they all?

You are planning on becoming a monk ?

Maybe in another life! I have a wife and a daughter so it wouldn't really work out.

This is true for you but for people competing seriously there needs to be other motivators as well as a desire to win. I get the impression you think your point of view has some authority if you think it represents the majority or average, this does not make much sense to me. People who are seriously competing will learn about sports psychology and as I've mentioned it is widely known that focusing on the end goal instead of the process leads to poor results.

I believe my view represents the average person, and I believe your view is a rare case. I think the way my mind used to operate in competitive situations was normal, typical, which I believe was at least somewhat confirmed by witnessing many others display the same behavior in such situations in both words and actions.

Given the definition of winning, it seems logical to assume that the desire to win has a lot to do with the end goal. I agree that there are probably other factors involved as well. Regarding the point about sports psychology, there is a difference between focusing on the end goal and having the end goal be the driving factor for one's actions.

To me "maximizing performance" sounds like a thinly veiled desire to win.


To me "maximizing performance" is about achieving one's highest potential.

There is quite some ego in that statement don't you think ?


Yes, there is identification involved in the desire to become enlightened.

That is a concern, is it possible to be engaged passionately in the world without being attached and identifying with those desires ? Clearly a game is not a big deal compared with the other aspects of life. I think that if one can't do it in a game then one will not be able to do it outside of a game. You seem to be following the Buddha's suggestions so I guess you will abandon the householder's lifestyle, under those conditions it seems easier as there is no passionate engagement with the world except for helping others to disengage.

There is a risk that competition would reinforce the habits of attachment and identity. The Buddha seems to have suggested no sex, no music, dancing etc. As I understand it sport would be discouraged - I don't see any monastic volleyball teams.

A desire to perform one's best can be just as much a reinforcement of attachment and identification. Perversely "being enlightened" can also be the same thing I think.


Yes, it is possible. I was simply speaking for the average person. The Buddha's teachings were for both lay people and monastics, so I don't believe abandoning the householder's lifestyle is necessary for living the Dhamma. Haha I'm sure you're right, there are probably no monastic volleyball teams! Wouldn't that be a sight.

A desire to perform one's best can be just as much a reinforcement of attachment and identification. Perversely "being enlightened" can also be the same thing I think.


Indeed.

You switched the definition from performing one's best to performing at maximum potential. Why would you do that ?


I simply used your term "maximizing performance," which I see as being intimately related to one's maximum potential, as one's performance cannot be maximized past their highest potential, and if one's potential is not reached, performance can be maximized further (improved). I basically disagree with the contradiction you made between improving and maximizing performance. I recognize the difference between improvement and performing at one's highest current skill level, but I see improvement as performing at that highest current level of ability (maximum performance as you see it) and taking it even further, not a contradiction but more of a progression.

I'm really not sure that is possible


Example: Wholesome mind state: happiness. Unwholesome intention: find happiness by getting rich in a business which harms others.

Another definition change, we need to define what a game is ? 


Not a definition change, just a clarification. I was speaking specifically of gameplay but failed to specify this in my initial statement. My bad!

Personally I can't maintain mindfulness while carrying out taxing intellectual activity. If I could I would not be spending time meditating to develop mindfulness skills! For example reviewing the strategy played, the behaviour of the opponent, possible alternative strategies etc is certainly going to lead my attention away from a mindful state. I have the impression you think you are mindful all the time.


If you are mindful of the intellectual activity, then you are being mindful! Perhaps you meant that you cannot be mindful of your physical activities/environment while engaging in rigorous mental activity, which I agree with.

Haha I am not mindful all the time, not even close. I am mindful when I am intentionally aware of certain aspects of my experience. Sometimes I'm just mindful of one thing, like my breath; sometimes I'm mindful of my thoughts and my physical activities/environment, like when I'm concentrating on one task (meditation, volleyball, etc) and thoughts arise; sometimes I am (or try to be) purposefully mindful of all perceptions that enter my experience, and other times (usually) I get lost in it all! If I am thinking during gameplay then I am either intentionally being mindful of both the action taking place and my thoughts, or I am only mindful of my thoughts and let the action slip into the background for the moment, or I get lost in it all and I am not mindful of any of it! If I'm playing and thoughts arise and I consciously focus on the thoughts to the exclusion of the game, then I am being mindful of the thoughts and not the game. This doesn't mean I'm not being mindful, I've simply switched the object of my mindfulness. There seems to be different ideas of what mindfulness i, some Buddhist, some not. Mindfulness, the way I see it, is intentionally being aware of either one's experience or an intention.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/13/15 6:37 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
being attached to either is not a great way forward

Buddhist teachings indicate otherwise. See Bhikkhu Bodie's translation of the Sanyutta Nikaya for classical textual support for wholesome attachments.


That is 2904 suttas according to Bodie and how many of those suttas support that position ? Are you aware of how diverse the Buddhist doctrines are in the details ? The discussion comes up on DhO fairly regularly about the importance of not getting attached to progress, states, end goals etc. it seems good pragmatic advice to me. I'm not sure why you would want to reinforce attachments if you can develop wholesome traits without attachment.

You are planning on becoming a monk ?

Maybe in another life! I have a wife and a daughter so it wouldn't really work out.


You seem to be keen on following the Buddha's example - it gets tricky with the abandoning wife and child bit. The end goal you are searching would require being a monk under Bodie's interpretation of Buddhism, as I understand it. You believe in reincarnation ?



I believe my view represents the average person, and I believe your view is a rare case. I think the way my mind used to operate in competitive situations was normal, typical, which I believe was at least somewhat confirmed by witnessing many others display the same behavior in such situations in both words and actions.


Why does the average view have importance ? Are you thinking this discussion is of interest to the majority of people ?

That you operated in a particular way in regards to competition makes sense to me. But given that you are not familiar with sports psychology I guess you have not pursued competitive sports very seriously. Your remark regarding competition is true outside of sports also I think - the same attitudes can be present but hidden under a view of "career performance" or "family values". I'm not interested in the average person's behaviour in competitive situations - they don't have any particulate training in how to deal with it. The relationship with winning and poor behaviour seems closely associated to upbringing as a child I think. What you are pointing to is not an issue with competitive sport but an issue with a competitive society that is focused on outcome over process. 

I would suspect that the majority (average if you like) of competitive sports people who are achieving good performance within a local area e.g. a city, are well aware of the importance of a process focus and also maintain a strong desire to win.


To me "maximizing performance" sounds like a thinly veiled desire to win.

To me "maximizing performance" is about achieving one's highest potential.


I don't see that as a useful definition. To achieve my highest potential I would need to dedicate my life to that activity. Sure that works for a professional sports person but that is not relevant to you or I.


Yes, it is possible. I was simply speaking for the average person.


I'd prefer you speak for yourself. I'm not sure the average person wants your representation ;)


I recognize the difference between improvement and performing at one's highest current skill level, but I see improvement as performing at that highest current level of ability (maximum performance as you see it) and taking it even further, not a contradiction but more of a progression.


I'm guessing this is due to a lack of experience is sports training. Improvement often (not always) requires changing habits and that results in lower performance while the habits are being modified. This is an issue for many amateur sports people (according to the sports psy book I read) - they can't improve much because they are trying to improve poor technique and they don't want to change the technique because it causes them to perform worse in the short term.


I'm really not sure that is possible

Example: Wholesome mind state: happiness. Unwholesome intention: find happiness by getting rich in a business which harms others.


For me that is a good example of an unwholesome state being mistaken for a wholesome state! If perceiving happiness is enabling the continued suffering of others then that experience of happinesss is not wholesome. 



Perhaps you meant that you cannot be mindful of your physical activities/environment while engaging in rigorous mental activity, which I agree with.


Yes


If I'm playing and thoughts arise and I consciously focus on the thoughts to the exclusion of the game, then I am being mindful of the thoughts and not the game.



I think you'll also find that you are not performing very well in that state. This is partly why mindfulness is not enough - concentration (focus) is critical to good performance. 


Mindfulness, the way I see it, is intentionally being aware of either one's experience or an intention.

I don't see how you can be aware of an intention that is not also an experience. I see it as an intentional awareness of experience.

I also have serious doubts that mindfulness without concentration is possible. If the mind is being pulled in any direction then it typically ends ou creating stories and that seems to be where I typically loose mindfulness. 

Your earlier statements make less sense in regards to any spiritual practise requiring mindfulness. Many practises do not encourage intentional awareness. Oh well in the end you got me writing about it emoticon

[edit - this last section I misunderstood - confused by the earlier statements and what you wrote here] 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/13/15 12:38 PM as a reply to Mark.

That is 2904 suttas according to Bodie and how many of those suttas support that position ? Are you aware of how diverse the Buddhist doctrines are in the details ? The discussion comes up on DhO fairly regularly about the importance of not getting attached to progress, states, end goals etc. it seems good pragmatic advice to me. I'm not sure why you would want to reinforce attachments if you can develop wholesome traits without attachment.


Yes, it does seem like good advice and I likewise try not to be attached to my practice etc. But I do believe that perhaps there is some substance to the idea that not all attachments are cut from the same cloth in the sense that a select few can be used to one's benefit on the path, while most others only serve as hinderances.


You seem to be keen on following the Buddha's example - it gets tricky with the abandoning wife and child bit. The end goal you are searching would require being a monk under Bodie's interpretation of Buddhism, as I understand it. You believe in reincarnation ?


What I'm actually keen on is purifying my mind and eliminating suffering. This just happens to coincide with the Buddha's example. I could never abandon my wife and child, I wouldn't want to, nor does the Buddha instruct lay people to do so. I'm not so interested in Bodie's interpretation of Buddhism (he's not the only teacher who supports the idea of wholesome attachments, I simply used him as a supporting example) and I don't believe reaching my end goal is impossible as a lay person. I believe that reincarnation is certainly possible.


Why does the average view have importance ? Are you thinking this discussion is of interest to the majority of people ?


I believe a view representing the average person is important because it best applies to myself and those in my society.

That you operated in a particular way in regards to competition makes sense to me. But given that you are not familiar with sports psychology I guess you have not pursued competitive sports very seriously. Your remark regarding competition is true outside of sports also I think - the same attitudes can be present but hidden under a view of "career performance" or "family values". I'm not interested in the average person's behaviour in competitive situations - they don't have any particulate training in how to deal with it. The relationship with winning and poor behaviour seems closely associated to upbringing as a child I think. What you are pointing to is not an issue with competitive sport but an issue with a competitive society that is focused on outcome over process. 

I would suspect that the majority (average if you like) of competitive sports people who are achieving good performance within a local area e.g. a city, are well aware of the importance of a process focus and also maintain a strong desire to win.


Sports psychology isn't exactly rocket science. I've never studied it specifically, but I believe my understanding of basic psychology is sufficient to apply it to sports, not to mention my experience playing almost every sport throughout different periods of my life under differing mental conditions, belief systems and intentions. Of course, I'm not coming at an angle of what works best for winning, my angle is what is best for purifying the mind, so sports psychology is only of use to me in the ways in which it may facilitate this.



I don't see that as a useful definition. To achieve my highest potential I would need to dedicate my life to that activity. Sure that works for a professional sports person but that is not relevant to you or I.


I believe that it is important to try, regardless of whether it is attainable. This outlook has certainly worked for me, as an example, I went from the lowest division (B- lowest skill level) in my league to the highest (AA) in just 4 seasons (1 1/2 years), moving up one division each season (in accordance to the increase in my skill level), and I haven't stopped improving since, although at this point it is less noticeable fine-tunings, I appear to be one of the better players in the division.



I'm guessing this is due to a lack of experience is sports training. Improvement often (not always) requires changing habits and that results in lower performance while the habits are being modified. This is an issue for many amateur sports people (according to the sports psy book I read) - they can't improve much because they are trying to improve poor technique and they don't want to change the technique because it causes them to perform worse in the short term.


I don't think I lack in that department. In my experience, changing technique is best during practice, while utilizing one's current skills to the maximum degree is best during the games that count. Of course, as you mentioned, improvement doesn't need to be just about "change." It can simply be learning to be more accurate and consistent with an effective technique that one already knows to a reasonable degree.  In this light, improvement is probably taking place naturally for many without the intention to do so and does not necessitate a decrease in performance.



I'm really not sure that is possible

Example: Wholesome mind state: happiness. Unwholesome intention: find happiness by getting rich in a business which harms others.


For me that is a good example of an unwholesome state being mistaken for a wholesome state! If perceiving happiness is enabling the continued suffering of others then that experience of happinesss is not wholesome. 


Well, who is to say that the feeling of happiness experienced in this example is any different from the feeling of happiness brought on by a harmless deed, other than the fact that is is probably shorter lasting? It is a very subjective matter. And of course, who is to say that the person in the example doesn't go out and do good deeds due to his happiness just the same as the one who is happy for a harmless reason, or that this happiness doesn't inspire other genuine wholesome mental factors to arise?


I also have serious doubts that mindfulness without concentration is possible. If the mind is being pulled in any direction then it typically ends ou creating stories and that seems to be where I typically loose mindfulness. 


I think concentration and mindfulness go hand in hand.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/14/15 5:34 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
But I do believe that perhaps there is some substance to the idea that not all attachments are cut from the same cloth in the sense that a select few can be used to one's benefit on the path, while most others only serve as hinderances.


That some attachments are more important to focus on than others makes sense to me, but I don't see how an intention of creating/increasing an attachment is a useful approach. It seems in contradiction with the 2nd noble truth. But if it works for you then great.

I believe that reincarnation is certainly possible.


Do you consider any claim with a similar level of evidence equally likely ?

I believe a view representing the average person is important because it best applies to myself and those in my society.

That seems irrational to me. I'll suggest that trying to conform to the average is not going to lead to great insight.


Sports psychology isn't exactly rocket science. I've never studied it specifically, but I believe my understanding of basic psychology is sufficient to apply it to sports,


If you've not studied it then you are not in position to denounce it as obvious. 


my angle is what is best for purifying the mind


You believe to have figured that out ?


I believe that it is important to try, regardless of whether it is attainable. 


Reading some sports psychology would explain why that is not an optimal approach.


I'm guessing this is due to a lack of experience is sports training.

I don't think I lack in that department. In my experience, changing technique is best during practice, while utilizing one's current skills to the maximum degree is best during the games that count.



For someone who does not have a desire to win - what does "games that count" mean ?


Well, who is to say that the feeling of happiness experienced in this example is any different from the feeling of happiness brought on by a harmless deed, other than the fact that is is probably shorter lasting?


This points to a misunderstanding of what wholesome means. If it was about the state experienced then taking drugs would be a great solution too. It is closely associated with karma in my understanding.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/15/15 10:20 AM as a reply to Mark.

That some attachments are more important to focus on than others makes sense to me, but I don't see how an intention of creating/increasing an attachment is a useful approach. It seems in contradiction with the 2nd noble truth. But if it works for you then great.


As I mentioned before, I do not attach myself to my practice. I'm simply sharing a teaching that may hold some validity.


I believe that reincarnation is certainly possible.


Do you consider any claim with a similar level of evidence equally likely ?


It only seems logical to consider that which has the same degree of evidence as having the same likelihood. Let's just say anything that hasn't been proven impossible I consider a possibility, although I also assign a degree of likelihood to each possibility according to the evidence (or lack thereof) and my personal experience and insight into the matter.

I believe a view representing the average person is important because it best applies to myself and those in my society.

That seems irrational to me. I'll suggest that trying to conform to the average is not going to lead to great insight.


It's not at all about conformity, it's about understanding the nature of the mind and how it applies to most people, as my mind and I'm assuming yours are probably not radically different from the average person aside from the habits, changes, and beliefs we have chosen to adopt. What I have spoken of regarding the average person is how my mind operates and it seems the minds of many others that I have witnessed and spoken to, and according to the teachings of the Buddha, applies to most other people who I have not witnessed as well.



Sports psychology isn't exactly rocket science. I've never studied it specifically, but I believe my understanding of basic psychology is sufficient to apply it to sports,


If you've not studied it then you are not in position to denounce it as obvious. 


I believe that the basic principles of sports psychology are naturally realized by those with a background in both basic psychology and sports.


my angle is what is best for purifying the mind


You believe to have figured that out ?


Perhaps I should have included "I believe..." in the beginning of that statement, but yes, I've experienced the effectiveness of the Buddha's teachings in their ability to purify the mind. That's not to say my mind is pure, but through practicing the teachings I've been able to rid myself of a good deal of my mind's past unwholesome qualities (there were a lot) while cultivating wholesome qualities that previously didn't exist. My angle is the achievement of complete purification. I can see through my own experience thus far that this path will probably lead there.


I believe that it is important to try, regardless of whether it is attainable. 


Reading some sports psychology would explain why that is not an optimal approach.


I'd be interested to see a quote from any sports psychology research that says that striving to achieve one's maximum potential is not a good idea. I've already experienced the validity of this approach, as I shared in my previous post. I personally don't know anyone who has achieved such an increase in skill in such a short time. Reading books about sports psychology didn't get me to my present skill level. Good luck with your book knowledge, I'm going to continue to do what works.


I'm guessing this is due to a lack of experience is sports training.

I don't think I lack in that department. In my experience, changing technique is best during practice, while utilizing one's current skills to the maximum degree is best during the games that count.



For someone who does not have a desire to win - what does "games that count" mean ?


I'm referring to practice games vs league games. I actually don't even play league games anymore. But games that count towards a person or team's official record is what I'm calling a "game that counts" here. A game in which one would not want to make unnecessary mistakes by switching techniques or trying something radically new. Note that my current perspective regarding competitive sports has only developed over the past year and I've been involved in sports for about 25 years now, so my experience in this case includes engaging in sports with a mentality and purpose that I no longer possess.  Just something to keep in mind in future attempts to fish for contradictions.


Well, who is to say that the feeling of happiness experienced in this example is any different from the feeling of happiness brought on by a harmless deed, other than the fact that is is probably shorter lasting?


This points to a misunderstanding of what wholesome means. If it was about the state experienced then taking drugs would be a great solution too. It is closely associated with karma in my understanding.


I see what you're saying, but being that the definition of wholesome is that which is conductive to good health and wellbeing, I believe a wholesome state is more about the result it produces than it is about what caused its arising.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/16/15 3:46 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:


I'm simply sharing a teaching that may hold some validity.


Why is it not valid for you ? You seem to be encouraging others to take it on.


It's not at all about conformity,


It may not be intentionally about conformity but that is a likely result. Maybe conformity to a particular interpretation of Buddhism.



it's about understanding the nature of the mind and how it applies to most people, as my mind and I'm assuming yours are probably not radically different from the average person aside from the habits, changes, and beliefs we have chosen to adopt.


In regards to things like habits and beliefs about winning we are clearly in the "aside from the habits, changes, and beliefs we have chosen to adopt. "


I believe that the basic principles of sports psychology are naturally realized by those with a background in both basic psychology and sports.


Why you would want to denigrate an area of expertise that you have not studied is hard to understand.


my angle is what is best for purifying the mind


You believe to have figured that out ?

Perhaps I should have included "I believe..." in the beginning of that statement, but yes, I've experienced the effectiveness of the Buddha's teachings in their ability to purify the mind. That's not to say my mind is pure, but through practicing the teachings I've been able to rid myself of a good deal of my mind's past unwholesome qualities (there were a lot) while cultivating wholesome qualities that previously didn't exist. My angle is the achievement of complete purification. I can see through my own experience thus far that this path will probably lead there.


I hope for you that you have the "best angle" personally it makes me doubt your insight. Typically when I learn about something I learn there is a lot more to learn. People who claim to have it all figured out are fooling themselves in my experience.



I'd be interested to see a quote from any sports psychology research that says that striving to achieve one's maximum potential is not a good idea.


I don't see the point - you already know sports psychology based on your knowledge of psychology and sports.


I've already experienced the validity of this approach, as I shared in my previous post. I personally don't know anyone who has achieved such an increase in skill in such a short time. Reading books about sports psychology didn't get me to my present skill level. Good luck with your book knowledge, I'm going to continue to do what works.


I've not seen that level of arrogance very often either, you can chalk up another amazing performance.

For someone who does not have a desire to win - what does "games that count" mean ?

I'm referring to practice games vs league games. I actually don't even play league games anymore. But games that count towards a person or team's official record is what I'm calling a "game that counts" here. A game in which one would not want to make unnecessary mistakes by switching techniques or trying something radically new.


If your main goal is to improve and not win then you would continue to focus on improving not winning. It seems clear that winning takes priority over improving when people start recording the score. This is far from the image your were painting earlier.


I see what you're saying, but being that the definition of wholesome is that which is conductive to good health and wellbeing, I believe a wholesome state is more about the result it produces than it is about what caused its arising.

That seems to be another misunderstanding. Trying to isolate cause and effect like that does not make sense. Dependent origination explains this in detail.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/16/15 6:12 PM as a reply to Mark.
Why is it not valid for you ? You seem to be encouraging others to take it on.


It's not about whether it's valid for me personally or not. If it's valid, then it's valid for everyone. The point is that it doesn't apply to me because I don't feel I need to attach to my practice to achieve results. If the teaching is valid, then those who do feel this need or happen to stumble into this situation will benefit from following the teaching. The only thing I've encouraged is recognition of the potential validity of the concept, or in the very least acceptance that it is indeed a Buddhist teaching. As I've stated before, it makes some sense to me but I don't have the experience to back up its true effectiveness.


I hope for you that you have the "best angle" personally it makes me doubt your insight. Typically when I learn about something I learn there is a lot more to learn. People who claim to have it all figured out are fooling themselves in my experience.


There is indeed a lot more for me to learn. I may even learn that this path will not lead to where I currently think it will. I try to always leave all reasonable possibilities open. I certainly don't have it all figured out and I wouldn't be so naive to claim to have. Note that when I mentioned that my angle is what is best for purifying the mind, this did not mean that I know what is best for purifying the mind, it simply means that this is the end goal that I wish to achieve.


I don't see the point - you already know sports psychology based on your knowledge of psychology and sports.


The point would be to help someone gain a better understanding. Note that I've never claimed to be an expert in sports psychology. Maybe I'll achieve that status after reading that book that you've read.  LOL.  Sorry, it felt natural to reciprocate the sass.  I'm sure your knowledge far superior.  My point is that perhaps given the degree of improvement I've achieved in a relatively short period of time (WARNING: Not intended as boasting, simply stating a fact to support an argument), such book knowledge isn't always needed to figure out what works and apply it effectively.  Also, preaching theories from a book to attempt to contradict something that has been proven true through personal experience may not achieve the desired effect.


I've not seen that level of arrogance very often either, you can chalk up another amazing performance.


I didn't think I needed to include a disclaimer that my intention was not to boast, but to simply provide a relevant example from my own experience to support my view, and although I did consider it, I decided against it as I assumed the maturity level of most on this forum was of a higher caliber and it wouldn't be necessary. Note that I didn't mention my achievements until now and only did so as direct support of the point I was making. If I was as arrogant as you believe I probably would have brought this up much earlier in the conversation, and probably just in passing rather than for a legitimate reason.

If someone spoke of their achievements and I was jealous, I would probably project the quality of arrogance onto them regardless of the intention behind their words.


If your main goal is to improve and not win then you would continue to focus on improving not winning. It seems clear that winning takes priority over improving when people start recording the score. This is far from the image your were painting earlier.


It seems you have misunderstood. I don't worry about the score, I don't focus on winning, and I don't play "games that count," so I am not affiliated with any personal or team records. Where did you get these ideas from? I essentially stated that trying new techniques is probably best when one has the leeway to make mistakes in abundance, which for the average person is during practice time. I personally always have this leeway, so I'm not sure what exactly you are basing your assumptions on. It also seems you have changed your angle here from explaining your position and responding to my inquires to making an effort to essentially frame me as a phony. I think I've made it clear that the contradictions you've fabricated thus far are not actually based in reality, but are assumptions and misunderstandings. This is not how I hoped the conversation would turn out. I think we're probably done here. I wish you well with your endeavors, take care.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/17/15 2:24 AM as a reply to Vince.


As I've stated before, it makes some sense to me but I don't have the experience to back up its true effectiveness.


I don't see the point of defending that view in that case. It might be your misunderstanding - given that you've not tried to apply it. Maybe you want to argue for arguments sake, it feels that way.

Note that when I mentioned that my angle is what is best for purifying the mind, this did not mean that I know what is best for purifying the mind, it simply means that this is the end goal that I wish to achieve.


That is not what "best" means. Look at the contradiction in the phrase above. The claim to be the "best" seems coherent with later claims.



I don't see the point - you already know sports psychology based on your knowledge of psychology and sports.

The point would be to help someone gain a better understanding. Note that I've never claimed to be an expert in sports psychology. Maybe I'll achieve that status after reading that one book that you've read.

This idea of your super abilities reappears - no you will not be an expert after reading one book. If you want someone to help you understand something then don't start the conversation by claiming to understand it without having studied it.

This attitude is why I disengaged in an earlier thread. If you make ill informed claims as a way to learn from someone rather consider other approaches.



I've not seen that level of arrogance very often either, you can chalk up another amazing performance.

I didn't think I needed to include a disclaimer that my intention was not to boast, but to simply provide a relevant example from my own experience to support my view, although I did consider it, I decided against it as I assumed the maturity level of most on this forum was of a higher caliber and it wouldn't be necessary. Note that I didn't mention my achievements until now and only did so as direct support of the point I was making. If I was as arrogant as you believe I probably would have brought this up much earlier in the conversation, and probably just in passing rather than for a legitimate reason.


I was not referring to your vanity. I was referring to your arrogance when you wrote " Good luck with your book knowledge, I'm going to continue to do what works." Now that you bring your vanity up, that you have a desire to improve is one thing but what comes through is a desire to compare and compete with others - you are the "best improver". While at the same time claiming to have outgrown that type of attitude.

You have no idea what the constraints on others were and what their goals were- maybe they were trying to have fun and were not so focused on improving. Maybe people who have been playing the game for decades don't actually consider you to have the ability you perceive. 


If your main goal is to improve and not win then you would continue to focus on improving not winning. It seems clear that winning takes priority over improving when people start recording the score. This is far from the image your were painting earlier.

It seems you have misunderstood. I don't worry about the score, I don't focus on winning, and I don't play "games that count," so I am not affiliated with any personal or team records. Where did you get these ideas from?


You wrote : "while utilizing one's current skills to the maximum degree is best during the games that count" which is clearly a claim that you would behave a different way for "games that count". 

Now you are claiming you don't play competitive sport - I think the title of the thread makes it clear that is the context.


It also seems you have changed your angle here from explaining your position and responding to my inquires to making an effort to essentially frame me as a phony. I think I've made it clear that the contradictions you've fabricated thus far are not actually based in reality, but are assumptions and misunderstandings.


In general you did not make inquires but made claims. I inquired into the validity of those claims and found some contradiction. 



This is not how I hoped the conversation would turn out. I think we're probably done here. I wish you well with your endeavors, take care.


Consider that what you write does actually reflect what you are thinking at the time. When you are trying in hindsight to redefine common terms of the English language like "best" then you are probably fooling yourself.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/18/15 6:23 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:


As I've stated before, it makes some sense to me but I don't have the experience to back up its true effectiveness.


I don't see the point of defending that view in that case. It might be your misunderstanding - given that you've not tried to apply it. Maybe you want to argue for arguments sake, it feels that way.


You sure do like telling me about my misunderstandings, don't ya! Ironically, it seems that most of what you have claimed or assumed about me is just that. Again, I believe that the fact that it exists as a Buddhist teaching is enough to warrant sharing it, as if I remember correctly, earlier you stated that the idea of wholesome attachment contradicted Buddhist teachings, so I was simply trying to expand your concepts and understanding. I made this point when it was relevant, but it appears to be getting a bit tired at this point.

Note that when I mentioned that my angle is what is best for purifying the mind, this did not mean that I know what is best for purifying the mind, it simply means that this is the end goal that I wish to achieve.


That is not what "best" means. Look at the contradiction in the phrase above. The claim to be the "best" seems coherent with later claims.


I'll rephrase it so you understand better. I approach playing sports with the intention of doing what is most effective towards the goal of purifying my mind. Of course, I hold this intention along side the intention to achieve my maximum potential, performance-wise. So far these two intentions haven't butted heads, as I have been seeing progress on both fronts. 


This idea of your super abilities reappears - no you will not be an expert after reading one book. If you want someone to help you understand something then don't start the conversation by claiming to understand it without having studied it.


Well, I actually didn't start the conversation with much interest in learning sports psychology, but I wanted you to back up your claim because of the contradiction it had with my own experience. I simply did not believe it was true. But I can do my own research, no worries. Of course, what I do believe to understand is my own psychology while playing sports, which again, has led to great results, so if your books are saying to not do what I've done to get to where I'm at now, I'll politely say no thanks.


I was not referring to your vanity. I was referring to your arrogance when you wrote " Good luck with your book knowledge, I'm going to continue to do what works." Now that you bring your vanity up, that you have a desire to improve is one thing but what comes through is a desire to compare and compete with others - you are the "best improver". While at the same time claiming to have outgrown that type of attitude.


I don't believe I was being arrogant there, but I apologize for coming off that way. I suppose I was trying to express the idea that sometimes what works best for a person may be much different than the common or accepted way, as well as expressing the fact that the book knowledge you've shared flies in the face of what I've done in reality to achieve great results, so from my vantage point, the book knowledge you've shared may not be the holy grail of sports performance advice after all.

You have no idea what the constraints on others were and what their goals were- maybe they were trying to have fun and were not so focused on improving. Maybe people who have been playing the game for decades don't actually consider you to have the ability you perceive. 


Not true. Many of them (those I've witnessed) are my friends and we often talked about these things, including their improvement and how long it took.

I don't believe I'm deluded in perceiving my current skill level. I have many areas to improve upon still.


You wrote : "while utilizing one's current skills to the maximum degree is best during the games that count" which is clearly a claim that you would behave a different way for "games that count". 


This is a mere assumption. When speaking of what was best here, I was referring to the average competitor, more like giving advice than actually making a statement about what I personally do. But if I were to play a game that counted towards my team's record, I would not put myself in a position to make unnecessary mistakes, not because I wanted to win, but because I wanted to play my best, almost like a test of where I am currently at in my abilities, whereas practice games are more like a playground to try new things and continue to try to improve.  I would also want to do my best for the sake of my teammates who are counting on me.  When I mess up, I'm not worried about losing. I'm disappointed in myself for not performing as well as I know I could have.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/19/15 5:18 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
You sure do like telling me about my misunderstandings, don't ya!
I'll stop doing that.
Again, I believe that the fact that it exists as a Buddhist teaching is enough to warrant sharing it
Can you provide a reference to the specific sutta(s) that you are referring to ?
Of course, what I do believe to understand is my own psychology while playing sports, which again, has led to great results, so if your books are saying to not do what I've done to get to where I'm at now, I'll politely say no thanks.
That you see results is not a proof that you have the best method.
I suppose I was trying to express the idea that sometimes what works best for a person may be much different than the common or accepted way, as well as expressing the fact that the book knowledge you've shared flies in the face of what I've done in reality to achieve great results, so from my vantage point, the book knowledge you've shared may not be the holy grail of sports performance advice after all.
You are claiming to have the best approach with no need to learn anything i.e. you have the holy grail. I'm not claiming that this would work better for you - clearly you are not going to listen when you believe you have all the answers.
This is a mere assumption. When speaking of what was best here, I was referring to the average competitor, more like giving advice than actually making a statement about what I personally do. 
It is tiring to have you project your advice onto some fictitious average while you do not apply the advice to yourself. Earlier you claimed that the utility of speaking for the "average" was that it applies to you. You'll get a lot more value on DhO by writing of your own experience, rather than espousing theories you are not applying.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/19/15 11:02 AM as a reply to Mark.
Again, I believe that the fact that it exists as a Buddhist teaching is enough to warrant sharing it
Can you provide a reference to the specific sutta(s) that you are referring to ?


I believe SN 51 can be interpreted as describing wholesome attachment to desires for concentration, the path, awakening, etc.


Of course, what I do believe to understand is my own psychology while playing sports, which again, has led to great results, so if your books are saying to not do what I've done to get to where I'm at now, I'll politely say no thanks.
That you see results is not a proof that you have the best method.


This is true, although I never claimed to have the best method.

I suppose I was trying to express the idea that sometimes what works best for a person may be much different than the common or accepted way, as well as expressing the fact that the book knowledge you've shared flies in the face of what I've done in reality to achieve great results, so from my vantage point, the book knowledge you've shared may not be the holy grail of sports performance advice after all.
You are claiming to have the best approach with no need to learn anything i.e. you have the holy grail. I'm not claiming that this would work better for you - clearly you are not going to listen when you believe you have all the answers.


Again, this claim to have the best approach was never made. I did imply that I believe my approach is very effective, if the results are any indication, and it seems logical that a teaching that negates a method that brought about such great results might be questionable.  You assume that I won't listen, when in fact I have specifically requested that you provide supporting evidence so that I may gain a better understanding of your side.  

This is a mere assumption. When speaking of what was best here, I was referring to the average competitor, more like giving advice than actually making a statement about what I personally do. 
It is tiring to have you project your advice onto some fictitious average while you do not apply the advice to yourself. Earlier you claimed that the utility of speaking for the "average" was that it applies to you. You'll get a lot more value on DhO by writing of your own experience, rather than espousing theories you are not applying.


Well, I actually was writing of my own experience, just not my current experience. Remember, my experience is not just what I do now, it is what I've done in the past under various mental conditions, motivations and goals, some very different from the present. One can experience something as true and then evolve beyond needing to conform to or utilize that particular way of doing things, can they not?

What I imagine is most tiring is wasting time attempting to negate a person's view using fabricated contradictions. To each his own I suppose.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/19/15 12:30 PM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

I believe SN 51 can be interpreted as describing wholesome attachment to desires for concentration, the path, awakening, etc.


I don't see any references to "wholesome attachment" or similar in SN 51 maybe you can quote it or link to where that is mentioned ?

Again, this claim to have the best approach was never made. I did imply that I believe my approach is very effective, if the results are any indication, and it seems logical that a teaching that negates a method that brought about such great results might be questionable.  


I wrote that "Reading some sports psychology would explain why that is not an optimal approach." you are misrepresenting that as a claim to "negate a method". If you were interested in learning you'd avoid the accusations. 

Your implying was "Good luck with your book knowledge, I'm going to continue to do what works." far from an attitude of learning.


You assume that I won't listen, when in fact I have specifically requested that you provide supporting evidence so that I may gain a better understanding of your side.  


I don't think that is an assumption. You create "sides" because you are looking for confrontation.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/19/15 1:36 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Vince:

I believe SN 51 can be interpreted as describing wholesome attachment to desires for concentration, the path, awakening, etc.


I don't see any references to "wholesome attachment" or similar in SN 51 maybe you can quote it or link to where that is mentioned ?


http://lirs.ru/lib/sutra/Connected_Discourses_of_the_Buddha(Samyutta_Nikaya).Vol.II.pdf

I don't believe the sutta ever actually uses the term "wholesome attachment." Rather, I believe this is an interpretation by Thanissaro, Bodhi, etc. I was referring to these monks' personal teachings and interpretations more than I was speaking of particular suttas when I brought this up initially, as my sutta knowledge is rather limited.


I wrote that "Reading some sports psychology would explain why that is not an optimal approach." you are misrepresenting that as a claim to "negate a method". If you were interested in learning you'd avoid the accusations. 


Negate was probably too strong of a word, that's my bad, although I don't believe that was the first case of attempting to use theory to discredit or find fault or contradiction in what has worked for me.


You assume that I won't listen, when in fact I have specifically requested that you provide supporting evidence so that I may gain a better understanding of your side.  


I don't think that is an assumption. You create "sides" because you are looking for confrontation.


LOL you seem to create a new unfounded assumption in each post! I'm having fun man, no confrontation intended.

Let's replace "sides" with "view." The meaning remains the same on my end but perhaps your interpretation will change.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/19/15 3:22 PM as a reply to Vince.


I don't believe the sutta ever actually uses the term "wholesome attachment." Rather, I believe this is an interpretation by Thanissaro, Bodhi, etc. I was referring to these monks' personal teachings and interpretations more than I was speaking of particular suttas when I brought this up initially, as my sutta knowledge is rather limited.


You wrote earlier "Buddhist teachings indicate otherwise. See Bhikkhu Bodie's translation of the Sanyutta Nikaya for classical textual support for wholesome attachments." Can you quote any classical textual support for wholesome attachments ? Pointing to a 40MB PDF is not very useful.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/19/15 4:37 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:


I don't believe the sutta ever actually uses the term "wholesome attachment." Rather, I believe this is an interpretation by Thanissaro, Bodhi, etc. I was referring to these monks' personal teachings and interpretations more than I was speaking of particular suttas when I brought this up initially, as my sutta knowledge is rather limited.


You wrote earlier "Buddhist teachings indicate otherwise. See Bhikkhu Bodie's translation of the Sanyutta Nikaya for classical textual support for wholesome attachments." Can you quote any classical textual support for wholesome attachments ? Pointing to a 40MB PDF is not very useful.

Sutta 51 in that pdf file is what I was referring to.  I haven't read the whole thing, but it is essentially about giving rise to desire and striving to attain the four bases of spiritual power.  The file cannot be copied so you'll have to check it out for yourself.  It seems the idea of these actually being attachments is up to interpretation.  

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/13/15 8:02 PM as a reply to Mark.
[quote=
] As I understand it sport would be discouraged - I don't see any monastic volleyball teams.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/13/15 8:10 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi  Just had to add this one, one wonders what this guy knows about sports psychology?  :

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/13/15 8:29 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi  Sorry, this is too cool of an image, hope I am not shanking the board.  But it seems there is some misconceptions of Monks.

One can be a Monk or Layperson, be competitive and still kick ass.  I do not think the Buddha said to sit on our butts and be lazy all day. Mindfulness can be practiced under all conditions, postures and during all circumstances.  The Sport Activity itself can be the object of Meditation, Contemplation, or Review.  Why not?

 I think Right Mindfulness is when it is specifically applied to the Dhamma and when one uses Right Mindfulness to liberate the Mind.

 Everybody on the planet uses Mindfulness, otherwise we would all be crashing cars together and missing the toilet...  

Well, maybe that does happen anyway, emoticon

Buddhist Monk Playing a  Game of Sepak takraw. Kick Volleyball


http://blogs.pjstar.com/eye/files/2013/09/093006.jpg





RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/13/15 9:11 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:



Okay, maybe I am wrong, one would have to have a really high level of Equanimity to not get caught up in the anger and greed usually involved in competitive sports. But, not an impossible task, it seems. This also goes without saying as to the Pride and Conceit development when one wins at competitive sports.  So, maybe, yeah it would be hard to become fully enlightened and play competitive sports at the same time, but who knows?  Beng fully enlightened is not everyones goal anyway.

My belief is that one can play competiive sports and continue to be Equanimous, joyful , compassionate, friendly and all that.  In fact it may be a good practice as the raw emotional mind states are more easily triggered during competitive sports, perhaps good grist for the mill.  Or perhaps just playing with fire.

Winning with no pride, losing with no sorrow.  Equal in gain or loss.
We often lose our perspective about gain and loss, because the modern world is very competitive. With that attitude, we are in a perpetual rub with our environment. We’re playing the game of “’What about me?’ If I gain something, I will be happy. If I lose something, I’ll be miserable.” That kind of friction simply wears us down. Competition doesn’t enable us to accomplish what we want. It just adds the grind of trying to gain by outdoing somebody else. It makes us aggressive—unable to relax in our own mind. We become susceptible to anger, which destroys any virtue that we’ve gathered. Trying to manipulate the environment by promoting ourselves and hoping for others to fail is unpleasant and delusional. We are only as good as we are, and forcing another person down doesn’t make us any better. Competition is unstable. Even when we win, we have not really won. We always have to prove ourselves again. If we want to make progress on a spiritual path, we cannot base our worth on succeeding or failing at one event. 
Sakyong Mipham


http://www.elephantjournal.com/2008/11/buddhism-vs-sports-via-sakyong-mipham-rinpoche/

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/14/15 6:41 AM as a reply to Psi.

Okay, maybe I am wrong, one would have to have a really high level of Equanimity to not get caught up in the anger and greed usually involved in competitive sports. But, not an impossible task, it seems. This also goes without saying as to the Pride and Conceit development when one wins at competitive sports.  So, maybe, yeah it would be hard to become fully enlightened and play competitive sports at the same time, but who knows?  Beng fully enlightened is not everyones goal anyway.


Absolutely, putting oneself in a situation in which unwholesome qualities of mind seem to thrive is quite the challenge in terms of Buddhist practice and principles, but not impossible, and for me it is a great way to really put my practice, concentration, mindfulness, insight, development, etc to the test.

My belief is that one can play competiive sports and continue to be Equanimous, joyful , compassionate, friendly and all that.  In fact it may be a good practice as the raw emotional mind states are more easily triggered during competitive sports, perhaps good grist for the mill.  Or perhaps just playing with fire.


Perhaps there is great potential for insight, learning and development in getting burned.

Winning with no pride, losing with no sorrow.  Equal in gain or loss.
We often lose our perspective about gain and loss, because the modern world is very competitive. With that attitude, we are in a perpetual rub with our environment. We’re playing the game of “’What about me?’ If I gain something, I will be happy. If I lose something, I’ll be miserable.” That kind of friction simply wears us down. Competition doesn’t enable us to accomplish what we want. It just adds the grind of trying to gain by outdoing somebody else. It makes us aggressive—unable to relax in our own mind. We become susceptible to anger, which destroys any virtue that we’ve gathered. Trying to manipulate the environment by promoting ourselves and hoping for others to fail is unpleasant and delusional. We are only as good as we are, and forcing another person down doesn’t make us any better. Competition is unstable. Even when we win, we have not really won. We always have to prove ourselves again. If we want to make progress on a spiritual path, we cannot base our worth on succeeding or failing at one event. 
Sakyong Mipham


Great quote. There is definitely an ego-based aspect of my desire to improve my skills in sports which is probably being made even stronger by my continued participation. Of course, it has also provided a means of doing some really beneficial Dhamma work. I suppose I could simply drop the desire to improve and just have fun with it (not that I don't have fun already, but without the drive to succeed). I can see this happening in the future.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/31/15 7:39 AM as a reply to Mark.
More notes. Experimenting with "intensity" has been really interesting. I noticed that meditation could put me into a calm mood and I did not win so many points. Rather than try to psych-up with an aggressive mood I tried to raise the intensity mainly through breathing, movement and attitude. The breathing helps a lot, the basic idea is to breath out when hitting the ball, it makes for much more fluid strokes, also short sharp breathing can increase a feeling of intensity. Movement can help raise intensity, for example before returning serve. By focusing on "attacking" the ball whenever there is an opportuntity and reminding myself to be intensly focused during the points this also seems to help. So far hard to hold this all for more than a couple of games in a row but could really see the difference in results when getting it right. Have also ordered a book on mental attitude in sports as I guess this will have more clues. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/9/15 4:57 AM as a reply to Mark.
The book "Prime Tennis Triumph of the Mental Game" arrived. I find it an interesting perspective on topics that the dharma also covers. The book centers around a hierarchy of motivation -> confidence -> intensity -> focus -> emmotions. A large part of the book is about managing internal dialog.

I'm not sure if the dharma has a lot to say about confidence and intensity. Confidence could be seen as reinforcing the ego and it seems the dharma discourages engaging in intense situations e.g. no sex or dancing for monks!

The author proposes a formula : performance = ability - match difficulty + motivation. The reason motivation is so important is that in a match it is the only contributor to performance over which the player has control. Beyond that it impcats long term development.

The author points to the heart of motivation being a great passion for the game and a love of the process of the game. There is no discussion as to why or how that comes about. I guess some people can see the game as primary - they no doubt go on to be great players. For me it is secondary - I see it is a healthy way of learning new mental habits.

Confidence is the single most important mental factor for success - how strongly you believe you can play your best. "Too often players are their own worst enemy rather than their best ally". Confidence is a skill, including goal setting, positive self-talk, body language, intenstity control to combat anxiety, keywords to maintain focus, emotional control under pressure. Adversity ingrains confidence - providing the challenge to strengthen the mental skills of confidence.

Intensity ranges from sleep to terror, somewhere in between those two you play your best. There is physical intensity in the body and the perception of intensity. If you are confident the intensity is likely to appear positive but if you are not confident then it is seen as negative. Psych-up and pysch-down techniques help to maintain an optimal intensity.

Focus is often misunderstood as concentrating on one thing. The attentional field is everything inside and outside of you. Focus is the ability to attend to internal and external cues in your attentional field. To play well focus involves focusing only on performance-relevant cues in your attentional field. Players tend to have an internal or external focus style.

Emotions sit at the top of the pyramid because they will ultimately dictate how you play throughout a match. Emotional threat vs Emotional challenge. At the heart of emotional threat is the perception that winning is all important and failure is unacceptable. Emotional challenge is enjoying the process regardless of the result, seeing the competition as exciting and enriching. Points out four emotional styles of tennis: seether, brooder, rager, zen master.

The rest of the book makes a case for specific mental skills in particular routines and imagery.

The book's suggestion is to select a couple of key areas to work on, select a couple of techniques to experiment with and thereby improve mental aspects of performance. I used a few basic ideas but don't have a plan as such yet.  Writing this up was a quick way to review the book.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
11/15/15 5:55 AM as a reply to Mark.
I sometimes play tennis in a team of four, two men, two women, each person playing a singles and then a mixed doubles. We did well winning our pool and going on to play the semi-final in our region. We won easily until yesterday where we lost the four singles (so the doubles was not played). Three of us lost in 3 sets so not as bad as 0-4 sounds.

There is a desire to win in the game of singles which is heightened by the idea that the team is counting on my performance. It is interesting to see the difference in behavior between winning and loosing. 

As far as the mental side of the game went I was fairly happy. The first set was a tie breaker and I'm pretty sure it was maintaining a confident style of tennis that let me win that. In the 3rd set I saved 4 match points. After the match I felt disappointed but was able to be mindful of that and focus on other things quite a bit so I guess that counts as equanimity. Could see a desire to make excuses but it felt good to congratulate the opponent and he reacted positively too.

Plenty of room to improve in the mental. As the situation gets more difficult I try to look at it as a better opportunity for developing the mental aspect. I'm quite often frustrated when making an unforced error, there will always be some but too many makes it very hard to win. Often the unforced error comes down to things like not being focused and managing intensity e.g. not positioning well when tired. I sometimes vent that frustration - talking to myself e.g. "com'on you idiot" not exactly wise mental attitude! Usually I switch to positive internal dialog before the next point, I guess the logic is to get that emotion out so I can deal with it and move on. There must be better strategies. Ideally I'd be focused etc and the unforced errors could be in a category of "bad luck" and can be pretty much ignored. It is also pretty easy to do this when winning comfortably - just let it slide as it "doesn't matter" unless it becomes systematic. But if focus is being lost etc it does need to lead to a change to avoid further unforced errors.

Maybe upon an unforced error the focus could be on identifying the problem and visualizing performing correctly. I wonder if that could become a reaction instead of the anger/frustration. It seems to some degree that the frustration is the opposite side of confidence - confidence sets expectations that then get frustrated. Maybe each error can be seen as an opportunity to reduce the chance of a future error - therefore a reason to be confident. 

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/23/15 11:20 PM as a reply to Mark.
I play competitive volleyball and my meditation practice has most definitely led to an improvement in my game.  

One of the most important benefits that I have noticed is my ability to maintain a clear mind free from distracting thoughts.  When I relax, clear my mind and cultivate confidence that my body will make the right movements to put the ball where I want it at any given time, I find this result manifesting with ease.  On the other hand, when my mind is distracted thinking about a past play or a potential future play, this is when mistakes happen.  The ability to see my own body and mind processes more clearly (also a result of my meditation practice) has likewise allowed me to gain insight into my movements, reactions, mental processes, and the relationship between it all.  Thus I can better see what works and what needs to change.

I have the tendency to be very self-judgemental, which really affects my game, as it dampens my mood and distracts my mind.  Meditation practice has given me the skills and insight to begin to take power over my mind, thoughts and emotions so that I can let go of guilt and negative feelings when they arise, sometimes even before they form.  I have been condtioned to be very competitive, mainly against myself, always wanting to improve and be the best at what I do.  This can also carry over to other people, wanting them to perform in ways that aren't always aligned with reality.  The development of the capacity to let go of attachments has greatly helped to release these habits and allows me to enjoy playing without needing to succeed or conform to a certain image or standard or try to fit others into these same unrealistic molds.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/24/15 7:54 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
I play competitive volleyball and my meditation practice has most definitely led to an improvement in my game.  

One of the most important benefits that I have noticed is my ability to maintain a clear mind free from distracting thoughts.  When I relax, clear my mind and cultivate confidence that my body will make the right movements to put the ball where I want it at any given time, I find this result manifesting with ease.  On the other hand, when my mind is distracted thinking about a past play or a potential future play, this is when mistakes happen.  The ability to see my own body and mind processes more clearly (also a result of my meditation practice) has likewise allowed me to gain insight into my movements, reactions, mental processes, and the relationship between it all.  Thus I can better see what works and what needs to change.

I have the tendency to be very self-judgemental, which really affects my game, as it dampens my mood and distracts my mind.  Meditation practice has given me the skills and insight to begin to take power over my mind, thoughts and emotions so that I can let go of guilt and negative feelings when they arise, sometimes even before they form.  I have been condtioned to be very competitive, mainly against myself, always wanting to improve and be the best at what I do.  This can also carry over to other people, wanting them to perform in ways that aren't always aligned with reality.  The development of the capacity to let go of attachments has greatly helped to release these habits and allows me to enjoy playing without needing to succeed or conform to a certain image or standard or try to fit others into these same unrealistic molds.
Hi Vince,

Does this mean you train/study to improve or do you accept your current ability and are no longer motivated to improve ?

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
10/24/15 9:10 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Vince:
I play competitive volleyball and my meditation practice has most definitely led to an improvement in my game.  

One of the most important benefits that I have noticed is my ability to maintain a clear mind free from distracting thoughts.  When I relax, clear my mind and cultivate confidence that my body will make the right movements to put the ball where I want it at any given time, I find this result manifesting with ease.  On the other hand, when my mind is distracted thinking about a past play or a potential future play, this is when mistakes happen.  The ability to see my own body and mind processes more clearly (also a result of my meditation practice) has likewise allowed me to gain insight into my movements, reactions, mental processes, and the relationship between it all.  Thus I can better see what works and what needs to change.

I have the tendency to be very self-judgemental, which really affects my game, as it dampens my mood and distracts my mind.  Meditation practice has given me the skills and insight to begin to take power over my mind, thoughts and emotions so that I can let go of guilt and negative feelings when they arise, sometimes even before they form.  I have been condtioned to be very competitive, mainly against myself, always wanting to improve and be the best at what I do.  This can also carry over to other people, wanting them to perform in ways that aren't always aligned with reality.  The development of the capacity to let go of attachments has greatly helped to release these habits and allows me to enjoy playing without needing to succeed or conform to a certain image or standard or try to fit others into these same unrealistic molds.
Hi Vince,

Does this mean you train/study to improve or do you accept your current ability and are no longer motivated to improve ?

Self improvement remains a top priority.  

Edit: I meant to mention that even thoughts about present moment events, like thinking about or instructing myself to move in certain ways to achieve the results I want, also interfere and clutter the mind, preventing what seems to be natural graceful movements that manifest spontaneously from a combination of muscle memory, intention and confidence.  This mainly applies after I've learned and compeltely absorbed the techniques and strategies that are involved.  Otherwise, reminding myself to adjust here and there can be helpful until it becomes second nature.

RE: Competitive Sports
Answer
7/1/16 5:02 PM as a reply to Mark.
If nothing else the competitive tennis demonstrates slow progress!

The last few games I've played I'd say I "choked", I was winning comfortabley and then started playing poorly. I could not change the dynamic, very frustrating and humbling! It seemed like such a negative term it took a while before searching to learn more about what might be going on.

I came across an article that claimed hude difference between focusing internallly or externally. The basic idea being that at some point the player gets distracted e.g. maybe has some thought about winning the game or not choking, then the focus switches to internal. An example of internal focus would be a focus on the mechanics e.g. positioning for the shot or attention on the racket. An external focus is focusing on the effect of your movements e.g. focus on the target.

I'm not sure internal/external are good terms. External seems to be related to results while internal seems to be related to execution. 

The theory I'm buying into is that being mindful of execution may be a bad thing for choking i.e. it is not going to help get into a flow state and can actually maintain tension in the body (therefore the poor performance). Being mindful of intention is perhaps a way out of that state.

I wonder if focusing on intention as opposed to experience could be a good solution - I plan to experiment.

It makes me think of an analogy of being focused on internal states (individual) or external states (social).