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Mumford s deeply moving personal story is unforgettable. A basketball player at the University of Massachusetts (where he roomed with Dr. J, Julius Erving), injuries forced Mumford out of the game he loved. The meds that relieved the pain of his injuries also numbed him to the emptiness he felt without the game and eventually led him to heroin. After years as a functioning addict, Mumford enrolled in Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, and made meditation, on and off the cushion, the center of his life. He kicked drugs, earned a master s degree in counseling psychology and began teaching meditation to inmates and others.
When Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls to play baseball in 1993, the team was in crisis. Coach Phil Jackson, a long-time mindfulness practitioner, contacted Dr. Kabat-Zinn to find someone who could teach mindfulness techniques to the struggling team someone who would have credibility and could speak the language of his players. Kabat-Zinn led Jackson to Mumford and their partnership began. Mumford has worked with Jackson and each of the eleven teams he coached to become NBA champions. His roster of champion clients has since blossomed way beyond basketball to include corporate executives, Olympians, and athletes in many different sports.
With a charismatic teaching style that combines techniques of engaged mindfulness with lessons from popular culture icons such as Yoda, Indiana Jones, and Bruce Lee, Mumford tells illuminating stories about his larger than life clients. His writing is down-to-earth and easy to understand and apply. "The Mindful Athlete" is an engrossing story and an invaluable resource for anyone looking to elevate their game, no matter what the pursuit, and includes a foreword by Phil Jackson.
"Self-consciousness is when you re focused on how you re doing instead of what you re doing. We have to learn how to push and challenge ourselves, but not in an insensitive way. Honing your performance really comes down to being comfortable with being uncomfortable." George Mumford"
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Debut author Mumford teaches mindfulness techniques to champion athletes, including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. But the advice he packs into this book isn't just for athletes: his tips will come in handy for anyone's performance. After an opening testimonial from Phil Jackson, Mumford lays out his five "superpowers": mindfulness, concentration, insight, right effort, and trust. "These spiritual superpowers are interconnected and they work together," he counsels. In fact, he points out, the first three are grouped together in Buddhism as "the threefold training." Mumford soon delves into specifics, explaining, for instance, that mindfulness promotes concentration and insight, right effort helps create a positive mindset, and trust makes the other powers possible. Mumford emphasizes the importance of stepping out of one's comfort zone, but in a slow and steady way to avoid burnout. It's understandable to be afraid of taking a leap of faith, he writes, but the alternative can be unhappiness and spiritual demise. Mumford outlines how he's lived all these principles and applied them to the teams with which he's worked. He doesn't shrink from the grittier parts of his own story, including a serious heroin habit that these principles helped him overcome. This straight-talking, practical guide will earn a keeper spot on many bookshelves. (May)