“That last set, you played better than you’ve ever played before.”
Me: (I’ve played since I was 4. I’m a little older than that now.)
“Right? I thought only I’d felt it. I was so present and focused. At each moment, with each ball I was fully there, contained, committed to being present, continuous and flowing and ready to enjoy the game and keep the ball in the air.”
As I stood by the baseline to serve or receive, I observed my mindset, my breath, my intention, my presence and told myself:
Make it playful and make it challenging for the opponents, not by force but by placement (where I send the ball and how)
Get on the tip of your toes
Ready yourself to spring forward towards the ball
Be swift and focused
Contain your inner beast, be playful
Focus on the intention to hit the ball with complete faith, gentle playfulness and love
Remove all doubt
Remove all fear
Focus on where you want to send the ball
I would turn off my thoughts right before the ball hit the air, and it was up to my nervous system, my heart, my eyes, my concentration, my breath, my overall intuition and rapid, strategic reactions. At that point, I was not thinking, I was acting.
Interesting to discover that by focusing on each moment and containing the strength that I intended to apply, I ended up creating more winners or at least allowing for more opponent errors by keeping the ball in the air and keeping placement challenging.
I wondered how else and what other thoughts I could entertain and cultivate over the course of the match.
How do I remind myself of all the different variables that I want to be aware of? The answer is: constantly. Each ball is another opportunity to remember the nature of how I want to inform and express my game, my presence on the court.
Obviously once the ball hits the air, the point unfolds differently each time and that is where lies the beauty of it. As the point unfolds and transforms, and I make sure I keep the ball in the air, I allow room for expression and transformation, for lobs, dropshots, volleys, placement and movement in all directions. Like a constant process of discovery upon which you actually have very little or no control.
How would you know how it is going to unfold?
When I don’t allow myself enough time for the game to unfold and all the varying expressions of the game to present to the players, I miss out. And I want to participate in a fun, flowing game. I want the fun to last a little longer.
Life presents us with a subtle unfolding of events that is available when we open our thoughts, perception and heart coherence and do not judge what we are experiencing in each moment.
If thoughts inform our reality, how about love, curiosity, care and dynamic flow for thoughts and intention?
At the tennis club, the guys who play don’t usually stop during odd games. There’s a certain rush not to follow the rules of the game, surely out of sheer passion to play nonstop.
I personally prefer to stop at odd games, and also take a few seconds between the end of a point and my next serve. I do so to catch my breath, surely, and also to come back to center, to contain and commit to a certain intention and emotion to remind my body, mind and heart how it is I want to stand on the court.
I want to be:
Like water or wind, versatile and dynamic.
And then the ball hits the air and I trust I’ve reminded my body, heart and mind enough and there’s no more room for thought inside me. Pure action, intention and care.
Focusing on that direct, serene awareness while enjoying the game, looking after each ball, may lead to winning the game. But winning the game was not the focus of my intention in the first place.
Now, the slightest disturbance, either inside my mind or my attention, even just looking at a leaf in a tree on the side of the court can throw me off. As in a meditation, a thought arises that does not necessarily belongs there. Problem is, in tennis you can’t really observe the thought and let it go. There’s no time to observe the thought, the ball is coming right at you, or slipping away.
Refining that focused connection with each present moment is a great Art.
How does this translate to daily life?
Before I go there, I’ll say this:
In 2013 I didn’t train harder, I did a little less yoga than usual, I moved more yes, but not because I practiced crossfit or functional movement. I swam in the ocean, I walked, I played beach volley. I played a lot with my eating patterns, I tried different diets (paleo, Bulletproof, ketogenic, wild, vegan, juice cleanses and so on).
In 2013 what I did do was I decided to change how I did everything. I decided I wanted to be open, flexible and dynamic. I had a life changing year of discovery, I talked and listened to extraordinary people about health and holistic wellbeing, about nature, about food, about movement, about attitude, about sleep, about being present, about mindfulness, about habits, and I experimented a lot with myself.
I practiced HRV (Heart Rate Variability) High Coherence training with a small sensor and an app on my iPhone by Heartmath.
I trained my nervous system with an ARP (Advanced Neurological training device) designed by Jay Schroeder.
I meditated, I observed myself.
I mostly trained my mind, my nervous system, my heart-centered breathing (HRV), my watchfulness, my intentions, my emotions.
I practiced being more aware, non judgmental and curious. And I played tennis better than I ever did before.
What else is next I ask myself. How does observing every moment and event inform my days?
Keep the flow. Delicious thoughts.
Wishing you all a 2014 filled with bliss, purpose and playfulness.