Mastery

This past Sunday, my husband and I had the chance to fulfill a sporting dream. We attended the final day of play at the Masters tournament at Augusta National in Georgia.

For Sunday, I decided to put recent gender issues aside, and walk the course and take in the heart of the tournament: great golfers playing amazing golf on a truly one-of-a-kind course.

I expected to be wowed - by the beauty of the Georgia trees, the well-manicured greens, the austerity of a hallowed institution of golf.

I was blown away. Yes, it was beautiful. It was the most amazing course that I've walked. And the play was phenomenal. I saw a hole in one happen just yards in front of me.

But there was something far greater that I witnessed.

Mindfulness at the Masters, No Cell Phones


It was an environment that was truly, totally, and completely disconnected. You are not allowed to bring cell phones onto the grounds. This is not a rule they take lightly. It is 100% enforced. Unless you are with a news organization, you are also not allowed to bring a camera. There are no video screens tracking play, no live feeds of the tv broadcast. There is no one picking up a radio feed.

I am sad to admit that more than everal times during the day, I instinctively reached to my pocket to check a score, or an email, or to pass time in a line.  Only to realize my pockets were empty, save my course map.

If you want to know the score, you look at a board that is meticulously updated by hand - individuals changing large signs with names and numbers. If your seat doesn't allow you to see the board, you ask a neighbor, who excitedly tells you who is up or back a stroke from the leader. You bring chairs in, and you leave them unattended and no one touches them. There is no reserved seating in grandstands - everyone gets a turn. It is an unwritten rule - a code of ethics.

(Sandwich: $1.50. Import beer: $3.75)

I just couldn't get over the feeling. My cell phone(s) sat all day almost a mile away with all of my belongings.

No one else was texting or having a conversation that drowned out your thoughts.

Here were thousands of people, living in the moment. A moment they couldn't take with them in picture form. They had to feel it, and remember it. 

My memories are incredibly vivid. I wasn't distracted. I didn't miss moments while setting up photo opportunities.

It was...bliss.

I have gone to spas, to yoga retreats, and on self-professed (but oft broken) digital blackouts - all with less than stellar results in the unplugging category.

Augusta gave me a renewed desire for it.

On Monday and Tuesday, we golfed without our cell phones. No furtive checking while someone was hitting. I am not saying that it made me a better golfer. It did make me pay attention. To the sweet grassy smell of being in the South again, the cry of the pileated woodpecker as it assaulted a tree, the sight of turtle families that lined the water. The whizz of my ball and the plunk as it struck the aforementioned water and scattered the turtles.

Mastering being disconnected.

Now that's something to work toward. I'll put that on my bucket list, too.