Getting Centered: the Intent of Mindfulness

My husband, Larry, who many people know because we hang together, and he loves the writing world and shares it with me, wrote an article: “Staying Centered: The Inner Game of Pool” for a magazine I was the editor, many moons ago, in Kauai Hawaii. It was a holistic magazine I helped start, called “Inspiration, A Journal of the Body, Mind, and Soul”. Larry is an excellent pool player, and was a CT, NY, and NJ champion–more than many moons ago.

But while I was trying to search out how we find mindfulness in what we do, as well as get centered in/ with ourselves, (as we all often try to do) as a continuance for my “Mindfulness and the Power of Detection” articles, I realized Larry had already addressed “staying centered”. Almost like a survival instinct, we inherently find a mindfulness in what we love, an ultimate focus where we are truly being with ourselves, and not allowing the outer world distract us. Like Sherlock Holmes, the art of detection is within ourselves.

“Staying Centered: The Inner Game of Pool” by Larry Morin

Staying centered sounds like a cliché, proverb or gold, doesn’t it? It’s an elusive phenomena that we strive to obtain; however it always seems to be slipping away from our grasp. This never stops our pursuit to maintain a center of balance in most things that we do in our lives. Although we try hard to live in the perfect realm, life pressures, unforeseen complications, self-doubt, and other factors force us from that wonderful place. We try to stay in the zone by minimizing variables and keeping things as simple as possible while concentrating on the execution and follow-through of what we’re doing here and now. Not easy, is it? It is the same with the inner game of pool; the game that is played to your full potential can take you into a world of pool ballet in motion that at times seems to defy the very laws of physics. It’s a place or zone were it is okay to selfishly steal away precious time from pressures and demands. It can yield the marvelous benefits of feeling accomplished and mentally recharge. It can be a safe and solid place to go to get centered when all else seems just the opposite. After all, isn’t it great to have a hobby, such as pool, being an ingredient to really living life? Let me take you on my path into the inner game of pool. Let’s see if my passion of 35 years relates to the guidelines of my hobby. You be the judge, and who knows, you may even decide to take up pool.

All of us get hooked on instant gratification and results. Runners is building endurance. After running the first smile, they try for two, then three and so on. For the golfer, it’s getting the lowest score, and perfecting the swing. And pool, the special feeling comes from pocketing a ball, or reaching your desired position with the cue ball to get in line for your next shot. What an exhilarating feeling when you have size up a shot, determine where you want the pool ball positioned, and have executed everything to plan! Your self confidence grows! You must know what this feels like. At times, the click of the cue ball and the snap of the object ball dropping into the pocket, and the ballet of seeing what they can do in those positions is exhilarating! You begin to think, “Hey, I can do this a second time, and a third time, too!” Total concentration takes hold and everything else is blocked out, leaving you in your own pool-table world. It’s a world where the pockets begin to invite the balls, creating snap sounds. The six doors that appear to be exits seem to open wider producing ball quick-snap music. You are lulled into a deeper trance induced by more concentration. Possibilities seem infinite. You feel like you can carry out any shot you choose. You are now on the next level of “dead stroke” where life’s worries are for the moment forgotten. It’s the magic zone where you are totally centered. You can only win. And your knowledge and experience have brought you here.

The five steps that he outlines (with a lot more pool talk) are:

1.Consistency, it eliminates confusion.

2. Seek the support of the table. Lock in to your position. Focus.

3. Take aim at the shot you want.

4. Take a risk with your shot. Make a commitment. Don’t change your mind. Go for it.

5. Follow through with your shot. Always look at the object ball.

6. Give 100 percent.

7. Evaluate.

8. Adjust, and add to your learning foundation.

Larry ended with “See you at the pool hall.”

The art of detection: Is it that much difference?





Mindfulness and the Power of Detection

Mindfulness and the Power of Detection

Our brains gives us the power to speak, imagine and ...

Irene Adler: Why are you always so suspicious?

Sherlock Holmes: Should I answer chronologically or alphabetically?
Ortega y Gasset: “Tell me to what you pay attention, and I will tell you who you are.”
Deep in the great minds of homicide detectives and mystery writers are characteristics that enhance the creative powers of detection. I believe one of the most important characteristics, that helps answer the who, why, where, and how questions, is mindfulness.
    There is a big difference between seeing and observing. Holmes often points out his “powers of observation” and what others merely “see”. He asked Watson how many steps in his house, and Watson, who had traveled them countless times, didn’t know. Watson had seen them, but made no observations about them.
    In Psychology, (Philosophy and Spirtualism) this kind of observation is called mindfulness. What is Mindfulness?  Mindfulness is, according to Jon Kabit-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program in Massachusetts:
“Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.” No daydreaming or fantasies allowed. No obsessing over what should have been done, or what to do.
    My friend once called me annoyed. She had told herself to go to the liquor store to get wine for our dinner. She even wrote herself a note during work. But what did she do? Drove right by the store, to her home, into her garage, and then cursed herself out loud for driving right passed the store–then asked me to pick up a bottle up on my way to her house. (Yes, I remembered!) So this is not an example of mindfulness, but it is an example of what most of us do everyday, probably more than we would like to admit. We give in to the routine we have established, without even a thought. 
    However, while waiting in my car for a light. I observed a man going into a store, and as he spoke to the retail person, his hands flew into the air, the retailer stepped back, another female retailer came over to the man who continued to point to something on, what I thought must be, the counter. I said to myself, “God, he must be really pissed off.” I had to move on, with the traffic, from that observation. Once I stepped back and reflected on the situation, still in observation mode (and another characteristic of a good detectives), I asked myself (and I bet you know what I’m going to say): “Hey, can I create a mystery short story around this?”
    Part of the road blocks to minfulness in this “day and age” is the use of computers, iPhones, and digital media. It decreases mindfulness, and also decreases the use of attention on the whole. How often do you notice anything about you and the environment as you multi-task? It steals much of our creative powers. We don’t notice our own thoughts and thought patterns anymore. But don’t get me started on how our minds are deteriorating. Thank goodness for that extra sensitivity we have to mindfulness and the the true powers of observation.