No One Playing
Intention is in tension - learning to take the stress out of performance
This is a story about a strange encounter on the golf course with someone who, on the face of it, knows nothing about golf but who ends up teaching the author about the inner game and questioning his approach to golf and to life itself.
It's not just about golf or sport, nor about improvement or progress or how to do something. If anything, it points to a way of living effortlessly that is free and harmonious, that is, to the essence of mindfulness and non-duality.
Each of the nineteen chapters contains a lesson which the author palpably resists for the first few holes. But, gradually he comes to realise the profound truth in the teachings of the stranger and begins to understand the radical perspective of no one playing.
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We all have our stories, good and bad. Sometimes, we rely too heavily on those stories to tell others and ourselves who we are. No One Playing and Sitting in the Stillness by Martin Wells talks about mindfulness, stillness, and release from those stories. The first uses the game of golf to explore the deepest secrets of life. He tells us to notice and accept what is, and remember that search and restlessness are not stillness. In the second, the author integrates his psychotherapy practice with the principles of mindfulness, stillness and presence. The book has some poignant case studies that point to the stillness of being available in every moment. He encourages readers to encounter this for themselves. Both are very short, but remarkable books. ~ BuNEKE Magazine, Review
....This new book by psychotherapist and low handicap golfer Martin Wells is aptly subtitled ‘the essence of mindfulness in golf and life.’ It consists of a composite round on a links course where the author is accompanied by a gnomic companion, Ram, who offers wry and penetrating observations as the round proceeds with its customary mixture of triumph and disaster. The key, as former US Walker Cup captain Bill Campbell pointed out to me, is your state of mind, and whether your focus is on the needy ego or a wider sense of flow from which good shots can naturally arise. In this respect, the mind or more specifically the left hemisphere can get in the way with its focus on technique, outcomes and results. Sometimes, a thought can even interfere on the downswing, and the shot you feared duly materialises. In this respect, it is fatal to think in terms of control, as the text enjoyably and amusingly illustrates on the way round. Ram recommends that the author should simply notice and accept what is, observing that search and restlessness are not stillness, and that trying to let go is a contradiction in terms. The reader also enjoys a felt sense of the beautifully described undulating landscape next of the sea with stiff breezes affecting the flight of the ball. Golfing readers will resonate with many of the tricky situations described, and they are invited to feel a real sense of interconnectedness with the landscape and the game itself. Our best rounds are those when we are in the flow, and I recall a match on the Old Course where I holed six putts in a row, all between six and twenty feet, including a 20-foot downhill on the 18th to save the match – I won on the 19th with another six-footer. You have to ‘know’ that the putt is going in. The key is a capacity to move from the fragile ego in need of a reward, entering into the flow and rhythm of the environment – easier said than done, as golfers will recognise: ‘no effort is needed to be who we truly are’, so that ‘when the tensions and strivings are dissolved a natural stillness and relaxation are revealed.’ Even if your golf does not improve as a result of reading this book, your appreciation of the game and life most certainly will. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
At its heart a coveted exposition of the layered, deep darks secrets of life that we tend to neither acknowledge or, if we do, push onto the back burner to attend to another time (that just never seems to come), No One Playing: The Essence of Mindfulness in Golf and in Life reveals how we can actually deal with such things; one way or another. A rather mystical journey, if you wish, that brings forth ways and means within wisdom to help us deal with and handle the suffering and/or delights of our world, No One Playing provides us with an attitude to guide ourselves smoothly into and through anything put in front of us. Enjoyable, touching, faithful, openly honest and at all times informative, imaginative and thought provoking, No One Playing has the ability to be widely useful to everyone interested in opening and expanding their horizons. Definitely not a book simply for golfers, absolutely not, ok, sure, No One Playing does obviously angle itself toward those such players and lovers of the sport, but overall its depth encompasses a richness of text that is abundantly digestible to one and all. FULL REVIEW: https://annecarlini.com/ex_books.php?id=268 ~ Exclusive Magazine, Review
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Martin Wells has provided us with a wonderful book whose setting takes place through a round of golf. We are all shown the beauty that golf allows us if we allow ourselves stop and smell the proverbial roses. Having just read a how-to book on the super mechanical side of golf it is nice to follow up with a relaxing read that helps see the harm stress and tension do to the mechanics of the game. Of course, all of this translates into our day to day life. I found myself smiling thinking back at the feelings I had during stress free rounds while everything went well. I remember things — the beauty of the day, the surroundings, etc. This book make me wonder which was the result of the other. Or does it really matter? A most enjoyable read. Definitely a gift book for my golfer friends. ~ Clifford Jennings (Reviewer), NetGalley
It is difficult to imagine a more concise or accessible exposition of the deepest secrets of life and how to live it - an instant classic ~ Dr Franz Schembri Wismayer, Psychiatrist (NHS retired)
No One Playing is a mystical journey with lessons for us all about the magic of attitude, which can lead us either to suffering or delight, and an abiding stillness that reveals our world’s extraordinary beauty. ~ Michael Murphy, Author of Golf in the Kingdom and The Kingdom of Shivas Irons
“This is a wonderful book. Wisdom often arrives disguised as a story. It sneaks past the watchful guard of the intellect and gets right to where it is needed most. Your enjoyment of golf and life cannot help but be enhanced by reading these words. Highly recommended.” ~ Sam Jarman , PGA Golf Professional and Author.
"No one playing is both a profound piece of work and a thoroughly enjoyable read. It's touching and truthful, skips along at a lovely pace, and is certainly not just for golfers too. It may just change the way you view the world and your 'self'." ~ Simon Mundie, Broadcaster, Event Speaker and Presenter of the BBC's 'Don't tell me the Score'
It takes a certain type of golf book to get me interested and to the end! When you've played the game for a living for so long I tend to steer away from golf books and texts. I really enjoyed this book. It’s a great read and I think will be a real eye opener for a lot of golfers of all levels 'No one Playing' has got a really good insight into the golfers mind and what we go through out there. Anyone who has played the game for a number of years will certainly resonate with a lot of the 'stuff' that is in this book as it describes the golfer going through hole by hole. It reminded me of a couple of other golf books I really enjoyed, Golf In The Kingdom by Michael Murphy and Extraordinary Golf By Fred Shoemaker. I am really happy to endorse this book. I know quite a few professional sports people are starting to explore and see the benefits of mindfulness and 'No one Playing' explains the process clearly and still keeps it relevant to golf. I'm sure it will be a success. ~ Neil Rowlands, Tournament professional golfer
'I loved this short story I read a hole each day as I enjoyed digesting the message or feel of the hole and then thinking about it'. ~ Peter Evans, Golfer, entrepreneur and doctor of philosophy
Wonderful...this is lovely writing and story telling! ~ Dr Mark Davis, Psychiatrist, psychotherapist, golfer and long term meditator
This is a great story filled with wisdom not only for the golfer but for anyone who plays sport, music or who is simply wanting to live life more effortlessly. ~ Vaughn Malcolm, Retired lecturer, linguist, and musician