After I bumped into John at our condo gym in late September, the gym was suddenly closed down without forewarning. I couldn’t help but wondered about the timing of our meeting, which was closely followed by the sudden and indefinite closure. However, along another line of thinking, I have been missing the meditative and psychologically therapeutic effects of billiards, and have recently discovered a substitute to billiards!
First, let me introduce the psychological training aspect of billiards.
Billiards is a primarily mental sport requiring a lot of mental focus. But in addition to focus, it first and foremost requires an entry into our psychological space where we first envision the trajectory of the shot that we would like to deliver. When we envision it, feel it. If we feel comfortable, at ease, or confident, then that usually means we have the established synapses in our neurological network to direct our muscles to execute the shot. Else, it means the energy flow isn’t there, or is weak, or is conflicted with or blocked by something else at any of these levels: mental space, nervous system, or muscular system.
My pool practice had been to illuminate, to examine, to unblock, and to re-establish flow at these levels. My focus was primarily internal, reading and perceiving what was inside me; as opposed to external focus—aiming to sink the ball into the hole.
The first step would be to ensure that the internal space, our internal environment, has the clearing to deliver the shots successfully. In other words, if the road is not there, then you can shoot in theory, by careful calculation and by technique, and expect to score, which can still happen, but I find that my chances of success is much lower when I score by fluke than by confidence. But that isn’t the point of me not preferring that method of play.
I see billiards as having the potential to help me more than just be good at that particular sport. I see it as having the potential to shape and design my internal world, and I want to capitalize on that opportunity.
By properly landscaping my internal world with the capacity to play billiards well, I am also setting myself up for success in other physical activities that may share the same internal highways as what billiards require. I am not sure about learning to play billiards by being externally oriented—focusing on techniques, theories, calculations, textbooks, etc., without conscious awareness and perception of the internal activities on the different levels inside our body. I think the energy flow that is being established by being externally focused sits on a more superficial layer, not so in-depth than directly diving one’s awareness into the internal world. Because in the past when I was externally focused, there wasn’t much therapeutic effect on my efforts, and hence not much transformative or growth benefits.
Moving on to calligraphy, something I returned to just a few days ago, I immediately discovered, to my delight, some similar psychological effects with billiards!
First, I wasn’t able to command the paintbrush. Same problem when I was playing billiards—sometimes my cue stick would “fly” up, or wouldn’t flow through all the way. Then I worked on my grounding, an exercise that a soul reader prescribed to me repeatedly, saying that it was something that my soul wanted me to do. After doing it (halfway) the first night, the second day I had better grasp of the paintbrush; it wasn’t as recalcitrant as before.
Then I discovered other aspects of calligraphy. It required me to dive into my psychological space to envision the shape of the characters that I wished to write. I would say that that inner vision is one of the most crucial ingredients in bringing anything to the external world, in manifesting any goal, in aligning our internal world with our external world.
The other similar aspect of the two is physical execution. If I can feel a sense of ease or confidence in delivering the design that I want by commanding my paintbrush, then usually it would come out pretty close to what I have in mind. In the past I had questioned what confidence was and what was the source of our confidence. There were various answers, but after practicing pool, I discovered my own definition of this concept—an established path that facilitates the free flow of our energy to impress our inner world upon our outer world.
Both activities require diving into the psychological plane more deeply and staying there more firmly if you want a more precise alignment between inner vision and outer outcome. They both have an element of finesse.
Due to the decision from our condo board, my shift from billiards to calligraphy is a welcomed change as the latter offers a very wide range of possibilities. For example, I can downgrade the level of difficulty, by using a pencil instead of a paintbrush, to direct my attention to the part I need the most training—to building the bridge to flow my energy between my essence and my outcome. Assertion and expression of self.
Every activity and every hobby presents an opportunity to heal and grow certain aspects of ourselves, as they all require us to eventually connect to ourselves, our deepest self, our core essence, and from that point we assert our true colors, and if these qualities find their ways into our final product, then we have fulfilled our potentials. Self actualization and fulfillment.