The Inside of the Ball

Photo by By Augusto De Luca via Wiki Commons

Get to know the tennis ball; appreciate its qualities. Look at it closely and notice the fine patterns made by the nap. Forget for a moment that it is a tennis ball and look freshly at its shape, its texture, its feel. Consider the inside of the ball and the role played by the empty middle. Allow yourself to know the ball both intellectually and through your senses.” – The Inner Game of Tennis

I love this accidental mindfulness lesson from Timothy Gallwey’s book The Inner Game of Tennis. Unlike zen classic The Zen of Archery, The Inner Game of Tennis book really addresses secular mindfulness practice in sports. As a former competitive runner and boxer I also came across any number of opportunities to practice mindfulness – usually inadvertently – in sports, some of which will be covered in future posts.

But let’s stick to Gallwey and honour that passage. One needn’t do more than ‘consider the inside of the ball’ as an exercise in mindfulness. This goes for any ball: footballs, basketballs, ping pong balls.

The ball – the inside of the ball — can also serve as a focus for meditation. I frequently place a tennis ball on my home shrine where others might place a statue of the Buddha or photo of a beloved teacher. When meditating I’ll roll it away from me and then observe it with a soft focus as I breathe, coming back it, its ‘suchness’ when my mind wanders.  

What should we consider when we contemplate the inside of the ball? Its emptiness? Its form? Its essence? That’s for you to decide.

For more dirty mindfulness exercises, look here.

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