In my younger years, I owned a Honda Shadow motorcycle. It was a great starter cruiser that I took all over Eastern Georgia. My favorite time was when I was so in tuned with the road that the engine noise slipped away leaving just the wind in my ears. As soon as I recognized this phenomenon, the engine roared back in my ears. Golf can offer this moment of clarity to those who learn to let go and play with mushin.
The golf swing is a complex combination of movements that form a chain with each link feeding into the other. The truly physical adept can recover from bad habits in mid-swing but we mere mortals need to complete each task in sequence.
Definition of Mushin
I have experienced moments of zen or what can be express as mushin.
Mushin is a mental state into which very highly trained martial artists are said to enter during combat. They also practice this mental state during everyday activities. The term is shortened from mushin no shin, a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness”definitions.net
My mushin golf swing is the antithesis of the classic post golf lesson swing where a complex checklist is recited while I stand over the ball. The empty mind swing sequence is as follows:
- Address ball
- Breath in
- Breath out
- Initiate swing
- Contact ball
- Follow through
The swing is the swing and nothing more. The body moves where the swing dictates not me conscious mind wrestling for control.
Mushin vs. Not Concentrating
There is a difference between mushin swing and “grip it & rip it.” A grip it and rip it swing is beyond the normal parameters of swing consisting of over rotation or club head speed dictating the path. Everything goes wrong because the swing is about speed and power and not flow.
Mushin swings do not happen every time for me. I will achieve a few per round and when I do, I don’t know how I got there. Similar to the riddle of you can’t find somewhere new until you are truly lost.