Hi, My name is Phillip and this is a short essay about the pleasure of hitting a squash ball. What’s the first thing you think of when you imagine meditation? Probably somebody sitting crossed-legged with their eyes closed, right?
Solo hitting is almost as relaxing as running through the wilderness, at least for me.
Now, what’s the first image that pops into your head when you imagine running? Maybe somebody running for the bus. I see the sole runner, alone with their thoughts. Just like in the header image. The rhythmic, repetitive, almost hypnotic motion. The rhythm, the timing of the breathing and steps.
I used to run, but now I can’t. What I miss most is not the physical exertion because I can get that with a lot of sports, but the mental freedom and relaxation. Of course, running is not the only activity that offers this sort of physical mediation. I imagine that skiing, rowing, swimming and cycling may offer the same benefits. Those activities have the advantage of being performed outdoors and maybe even surrounded by beautiful scenery. But they are bonuses, NOT the essential aspect.
Doing some form of repetitive activity allows the mind to either concentrate totally on the movement itself OR flow in any direction it wants. But, if we were to think of squash, what comes to mind? Almost certainly NOT something relaxing. The drama. The competitiveness. The Winning and the losing. The blood, sweat and tears. And yet. Squash offers something that mosts interactive sports don’t: the ability to do it alone.
At its heart, squash is about hitting a ball against a wall. If you don’t actually enjoy that raw aspect of it, you probably won’t play for long. For some of us, swinging and hitting the ball is enjoyable in its own right. Nobody else needed! Yes, playing against an opponent, moving, thinking, scoring are all important, but they are built from foundation of hitting.
To walk onto a court and begin hitting the ball is mediation for me. I can either let my body do the work and allow the rhythm to free my mind. Or I can be completely mindful of my swing and the moment of contact, and revel in the pleasure of a beautifully struck ball.
Don’t see “hitting the ball” as a means to an end. See it as squash in its purest form.
Watch the video version of this essay below.
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