“Stop thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling, jittering or distracting... Great performances come when the mind is still as a glass lake.” The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
I read this last Saturday night and stopped to think, “Those words describe my entire trail ride this morning.”
What do tennis and horseback riding possibly have in common? I happen to enjoy both, but the person who recommended I read “The Inner Game of Tennis” said it was not just about tennis or even athletic performance in general. The benefit of reading it was to help me get out of my own way in every aspect of my life. I reflected on how Gallwey’s list of verbs that I identified with was not conducive in any way to a pleasant autumn ride, and definitely not used in any riding lessons I have taken. All that my mental activity accomplished was undermining my self-confidence.
Then why do it? It’s natural to want to assess what we are doing right so we can do more of that and discover what we are doing wrong so we can stop doing that. It’s also natural to progress from observation into judgment. As a result, our mind is anything but still and the body is tight with trying, interfering with our fluidity.
I liked that Gallwey compared the more desired state of a still mind to a glass lake because when I see my horse’s eye I am always reminded of a smooth, bottomless lake.
If horses are anything close to the mind and body readers I believe them to be, I must have been driving poor Peachie Girl nuts that morning. I thought she was in a hurry to get back to the stables because she was tired; now I think she was probably just tired of my chaotic mind and resulting rigid body.
Gallwey goes on to write we get our best results when we are “non-striving, non-needing, non-wishing.” Those are the words that will hopefully describe my next ride.