[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]T[/su_dropcap]he National Basketball Association is home to the world’s most talented athletes. As part of the NBA, these competitors are subject to intensive exercise routines and frequent practice. Although it does not offer same physical benefit like lifting, running, and weight training, meditation is a new practice being incorporated into an athlete’s routine schedule.
Although the physical aspects of training are important to the game, meditation also adds physical and mental benefits by helping players to become centered and focused. Only a select few NBA teams have emphasized this technique so far, but for the few who have, have experienced immense success. Specifically, the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers have had their players guided by a famous meditation expert, George Mumford, through mindful meditation.
Mindful meditation emphasizes concentrated breathing. With eyes closed, mindful meditation is practiced either sitting or laying down with the back straight in either position. Awareness is drawn to how the body moves with each breath, instead of outside stress or anxiety. When mindful meditation is guided, the mentor will often remind the meditator to breathe in and out, so the meditator avoids wandering thoughts.
Mumford is a renowned meditation coach whose techniques and passion for basketball have allowed him to work with the famous coach, Phil Jackson aka the Zen Master. Holding 11 NBA titles, Jackson is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches to ever coach in the NBA. Jackson is also a major proponent of meditation. As a coach, he emphasized its importance to his team by hiring Mumford to guide mindful meditation. Mumford taught mindful meditation to Jackson’s players on the Chicago Bulls in ’95, ’96, and ’97, which were coincidently their championship seasons. Mumford continued to work with Jackson when he began coaching the LA Lakers a few years later. With Jackson as their coach and Mumford as their spiritual leader, the Lakers won three NBA titles.
Today, Mumford is no longer working with Jackson. Instead, he works with such NBA players as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and college athletes. According to the Huffington Post, Bryant had nothing but positive remarks about Mumford and his meditation techniques. “George helped me understand the art of mindfulness. To be neither distracted or focused, rigid or flexible, passive or aggressive. I learned just to be.”