Yogi Berra (b. May 12, 1925) turned 87 this week. The Yankee Hall-of-Famer is known for his supposed malapropisms such as “90 percent of the game is half mental;” “How can you hit and think at the same time?;” “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is;” and “You can observe a lot by just watching.” But Yogi always knew exactly what he was saying. Students of meditation could find many a lesser guru.
1) “90 percent of the game is half mental”
Yogi’s right. 90 percent of the game is half mental. And 90 percent of the game is half physical. And the remaining 10 percent is pure luck (you can’t control everything). Train your body to be still; train your mind to attend to whatever is arising; but don’t expect perfection; do your best; and then let go.
2) “How can you hit and think at the same time?”
Coaches call it “analysis paralysis” and it can ruin your game. When a ball is coming at you 90 miles an hour the best thing to do is release your thoughts and trust your muscle memory. Your body knows what to do - if your mind will only get out of the way. Allow your mind to come to rest.
3) “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”
There’s no reason that thinking through a play, and walking through a play should be any different. But they are, of course. Thinking about your meditation practice is not practice. Only practice is practice.
4) “You can observe a lot by just watching”
In meditation, you really don’t need to know a lot going in; just a willingness to be open, curious, and attentive. There are many wonderful meditation books out there. You’ll never read them all. Nor need you. Just find a quiet place to sit for a while. Become your own teacher. What is my body experiencing? What is my mind experiencing? Sit for a while and simply notice. You can observe a lot just by watching!
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Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Joyful Judaism: Pleasantville Community Synagogue an inclusive, progressive synagogue—with members from 20 towns, villages and cities all across Westchester and “A Hebrew School Your Kids Can Love.” Read The New York Times article. Follow Rabbi Mark on Twitter. Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. is open to the public; everyone—without exception—is welcome and warmly invited. OUR MEMBERSHIP DRIVE IS ON. See “Top Ten Reasons to Join PCS” at www.ShalomPCS.com.