Having committed the past few months to becoming more aware, understanding, practicing and playing golf using the art and science of creative visualization, intuition is offering that imaging is quite simply another body-mind mastery skill that we need to learn, practice, experience and commit to trust when making shots on the golf course. Working with creative visualization reminds of a memorable experience while in Gangtok, Sikkim India in during the Fall of 2003.
As a Naropa University Study Abroad student, it was a priceless treasure to study Tibetan Buddhist thang-ka painting for six weeks with Thinlay Gaytso, a Tibetan Buddhist thang-ka painter. (A thang-ka is a scroll painting which generally uses gouache on a cotton canvas and depicts various religious topics such as Buddha, episodes from his lives, tantric deities, mandalas, Buddhist scholars, and saints.) Thinlay’s studio was in bustling, downtown Gangtok in a second floor apartment where his family lived and operated an adjacent internet cafe business. The studio was a 12’ x 12’ cubicle with a large window, one bed for lotus seating of Thinlay, and one bed for lotus seating of a guest, student or client. Between the two beds was a small table that held some paint brushes and multiple glass cups of different colors of paint. On one side of the room were a bookshelf and a door; and on the other side of the room were a few thang-kas, in various stage of completion, hanging from the ceiling. The room was quite cozy; conducive to silence, solitude and contemplation; and was an inspiring place to learn and practice the art and science of thang-ka painting. When commissioned to paint, Thinlay’s thang-kas would sell for as much as $15,000 U.S. dollars.
A very first lesson that Thinlay shared was that he had studied thang-ka painting in a Buddhist monastery for 11 plus years; and that an essential element of learning to unleash the artist we all have is to experience the desired image within before attempting to create and share the experience of an image. During my six weeks studying with Thinlay, my first assignment was to create a big toe on paper. I was never able to get it right because my effort was to draw a toe, as opposed to experiencing and creating the toe on paper from an inner image. His lesson lives with me today on the golf course when commencing to visualize a desired shot: unless the visualized shot comes from within, the artist is not able to freely create and unleash an optimum shot.
A recognition is that unleashing our artist on the golf course is not an easy task and it demands on-going practice and evolutionary development, as with any desired skill. As discussed in Golfer’s Palette: Preparing for Peak Performance, unleashing the artist within suggests skillful grooving and integration of five pillars…philosophy, the game, practice and learning, body-mind mastery and technical skills. Creative visualization is merely a body-mind mastery skill that demands evolutionary learning, practice and trust for optimum use on the golf course.