Mantra Motivation #10: "Slow Down."

By: Danielle Striker, Chief Guru of Poker Samadhi

“The most effective way to accomplish a lot is to do one thing at a time and do it well.” - Eknath Easwaran, Author of Take Your Time: The Wisdom of Slowing Down

Driving. Why is it so hard to just do one thing? Simply drive and not do a multitude of other things at the same time?  

I do everything I can to be a safe driver. I even have a check list before I leave my house.

  • Seatbelt on? Check. 
  • iPhone in holder? Check. 
  • Gas tank full? Check. 
  • Purse on the back seat? Check. 
  • Glasses on? Check. 

So, you would think I could be fully present and just drive, but apparently not…

  • Mind present? 
  • Brain present? 
  • Prefrontal Cortex engaged?

Earth to Danielle’s brain? 







My mind is nowhere to be found, because my head is already in the game at the non-existent poker table of the future. 

You are driving somewhere, and you look up and you have arrived at your destination, yet you have no idea how you got there. Don’t tell me this hasn’t happened to you. You were not present on the highway driving; you were thinking about other things, but somehow you arrived successfully to where you were going. Amazing right? You were on autopilot, and everything went fine. You were lucky, really.

I was not so lucky a few weeks ago. First, some context. Usually, when I am driving to the poker room I am preparing for the night’s play. I am contemplating what I need to do to play my best. I am thinking about the game stakes, game theory, calculating pot equity, reviewing past hands, visualizing potential board textures and preparing to win.

Then, this happened. I am stuck at a red light right in front of the Casino, and I decide to write something down to jolt my memory for later, when I get to the table. Then BAM! I took my foot off the brake and put it on the gas instead and ran smack into the car in front of me. I have a big truck and the driver in front of me had a little Chevy Cruz made from papier-mâché, so I dented her bumper-- dented it good. 

None of this would have happened if I would have simply slowed down and did one thing--drive! So now I am going to be late because we had to exchange numbers and drivers’ licenses and do the insurance card dance. And on top of that, I am rattled, but still need to play sound poker! Plus, I am mad as hell (on life tilt) because I know my annual insurance premium will go up. The whole incident cost me time and money.

So, in case you don’t know, I wrote an entire book on the very subject of slowing down. My personal mantra is Slow Down and apparently life keeps teaching me this lesson over and over again. This got me thinking…

Poker is a lot like driving. To be a winner you must be 100% present to the hand you are playing in now. Not the hand you will play in the future (where you are going) or the last hand that you played (where you’ve been)--but where you are right now! 

In driving, you absolutely must have your hands on the wheel to get to the destination you desire. In poker, you need to be fully present and slow down to assess all your options to win. It really doesn’t matter if you are driving or playing poker. If your mind is racing and you are doing 10 things at once, you are destined to lose.

Eknath Easwaran, an Indian Guru’s key message is expressed simply, yet memorably: "A mind that is fast is sick. A mind that is slow is sound. A mind that is still is divine."

I am not sure I will ever get to that ultimate divine state, but I do know I need to slow down! 


Play your best life.

- Danielle Striker, Chief Guru of Poker Samadhi

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