Zen Master Moves East

March 15, 2014

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Phil Jackson is a remarkable man. His insight links the past to the present, from tapping into Native American and Asian wisdom to motivating professional athletes. Jackson’s quest for personal discovery began with himself, which he openly shares in his bestseller, Sacred Hoops, and extends to his teams.

When I began my career as a performance coach, I had not encountered many people open to mindfulness in sport or business. Having spent time on an Oglala  Sioux reservation years ago and currently researching mindfulness in sport at Harvard University, I can relate to his quest for spiritual knowledge… as well as sporting success. Zen master Jackson continues to inspire me in “walking the talk” as well as sharing his knowledge with other open minds.

Having coached the Lakers to 5 titles, left and returned to the franchise, he now switches coasts and teams to help lead the Knicks to renewed success. The move east stirs many waters and adds an intriguing touch to the season’s final months. Being a loyal Celtics fan, I have never cared to follow the Knicks too closely, but I just may now.

Mindfulness in the Age of Complexity

February 23, 2014

Given that we all face challenges and demands in our increasingly complicated world, I encourage readers to take a few mindful moments to follow this link:

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http://hbr.org/2014/03/mindfulness-in-the-age-of-complexity/ar/1

Imagery in the Olympics

February 23, 2014

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How cool that the New York Times has “imagery’ as its feature article in the Sunday sports section today! Mental conditioning–imagery and other skills–is becoming more mainstream here in the U.S. (has a long history in Canada and Europe). We hear and literally see (Mikaela Shiffrin shown practicing her routine slopeside on TV) athletes succeed based on these skills. When it comes to hundredths of seconds and other slight differentiators between a gold medal or sliver/bronze/no medal, and Olympic athletes pretty much in the same physical shape, it usually comes down to the mental edge as to who will walk away with the gold.

For anyone who in interested in peak performance, I highly recommend you read this apropos article, Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/sports/olympics/olympians-use-imagery-as-mental-training.html?hpw&rref=sports

The Power of Mindfulness

May 31, 2013

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I had the pleasure of attending a seminar with Jon Kabat-Zinn this week. Having read several of his books and listened to his mindful meditation cd’s, I was intrigued to hear him present live. The theme of his presentation focused on the power of mindfulness in relation to trauma. As Kabat-Zinn, eloquently phrased it, “Transformation and Healing at the Confluence of Science and Dharma.” What Tibetan monks, Indian yogis, and other enlightened people have known intuitively through personal experience, can now be scientifically tracked through recent advances in neurobiology. Our brains literally change—for the better—through consistent mindful meditation.

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, a time when people continue to feel uneasy and stressed, mindful meditation is an especially valuable antidote. Not only does it lower anxiety and stress hormones for oneself, it also benefits those around you. In my work, I find that an all-too-common common hurdle for people is carving out time—even 5 minutes—for themselves to mindfully breathe. Whether you prefer quiet solitude, a peaceful walk, or recorded imagery on a portable device, consistent mindfulness meditation is a practice that provides a priceless benefit…both in the moment and beyond.

Surreal Days

April 18, 2013

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Cheers to the heroes these past—and ongoing—72 hours. Your kindness, care and effort to help those in need is incredibly uplifting and comforting. This horrific series of events initiated by two has triggered a heartwarming reaction by innumerable. From first responders—who in the moment epitomized peak performance—to One Fund donors (and everyone else between), thank you to all who have played a part, large and small, in helping the victims and our city!

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Another Reason I Like Sports

November 6, 2012

On this election morning, I can’t help but think of performance as it relates to our political leaders and the direction of our country. The media has been infused these past months with men and women at all levels of government and public service proclaiming their superior performance record while degrading their opponent’s. The amount of money spent throughout these races astounds me, especially considering our country’s financial situation.

To me, actions speak louder than words. Rather than spend hundreds of millions of dollars and take so much incredible time (theirs and ours), why can’t these contenders step into an “arena” and emerge with a victor and a loser? Much as Mitt Romney and President Obama may have felt at times they would like to go head-to-head (like professional football players), there could be other ways the two men could try to highlight their performance: Basketball shoot off? Round of golf? Running race? Tennis match? Swim meet? Well, ok, I guess those aren’t necessarily their areas of performance (at least why we are electing them). But, perhaps our country could create a clearly designated and delineated time when politicians could present their ideas in a controlled and substantive manner—about 3 of the most pressing current challenges (up to 7 more other items could be identified/briefly addressed on single overhead slides) the next President of the United States will face. Each person could highlight his/her presentation with visuals incorporated into their proposals, including their role as leader. The American public could then have 24 hours, from the close of the presentation, to vote. For instance, the Presidential contenders could prepare as much as they want and in the way they want in advance and we would focus on their actual performances, much as we do when we watch Sunday football. Those, and all other athletes, prepare for years in advance much as politicians do. Yet, we as fans primarily focus on their performance game day.

Ok, back to reality and election day. Go vote!

THE Jump

October 14, 2012

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What an amazing feat! This certainly makes skydiving and bungee jumping—even tightrope walking in NYC–look passé. With the demise of the space shuttle, it is incredibly inspiring to see an individual take such initiative. As one media source aptly remarked, it was a “collective moment.” I certainly enjoyed a momentary diversion from my day-to-day routine, omnipresent national election coverage, and challenging world news to imagine what he experienced.

“When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data,” Baumgartner said after the jump.

Hitting—and enduring—Mach 1.24 (833.9 mph) is truly impressive.

As for having to dig deep and draw on mental reserves, he obviously had exceptional fortitude. In regard to his horrifying uncontrollable spin Baumgartner commented, “In that situation, when you spin around, it’s like hell and you don’t know if you can get out of that spin or not. Of course, it was terrifying. I was fighting all the way down because I knew that there must be a moment where I can handle it.”

“Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are,” an exuberant Baumgartner told reporters outside mission control after the jump.

Simply amazing…

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James Bond…at the Olympics

July 23, 2012

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For those curious about the latest in “peak performance” surreptitious technology, I recommend reading today’s article in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/sports/olympics/countries-try-anything-for-olympic-edge-including-spying.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120723

Highlighted here is how preparing for the Olympics is no longer limited to physical and mental training. Of course, surreptitious tactics are well documented with chemical enhancement, most notably in cycling and baseball, though most likely in many other sports as well. Athletes are now even willing to allow “doctors” to insert chemically altered genes into their bodies with the hope of improving their performance.

Deceptive strategies aside, I still espouse the talented, hard-working and “pure” athletes who are willing to line up against the best in the world without chemical additives, medical enhancements or James Bond tactics.

“We’re going to re-set your baseline today.”

April 26, 2012

You may be wrapped up watching NHL and NBA playoffs, but there are plenty of elite athletes in other sports who are gearing up and counting down for London 2012. Follow this link (after the 24 second tedious advertisement) to gain a deeper understanding on what world class athletes subject themselves to in their effort to win gold: http://bcove.me/2snn42tp

Bruins Bling

April 14, 2012

Bruins Bling

You have to love this bling! I am not a bling aficionado, but I do appreciate this necklace! Andrew Ference, a solid leader on the Bruins, has put a great deal of—amusing—thought into providing a—humorous– team focus for the Stanley Cup run. Ference recently shared, “Try not to be that weak link, and it’s one of those things that you pass out after a game. It’s one of those things that’s all in good fun. It just started for the playoffs.” Ference created the Bling by purchasing 20 heavy metal links to represent each member of the team. He then purchased an engraver to personalize the Boston logo as well as to mark notches for each of the 16 victories the Bruins hope to achieve in the playoffs. Bling creator Ference explains, “It has a little bit more meaning than the jacket as far as more thought going into it. The jacket was just kind of silly and you know we wanted to have something fun after the games…we had a bunch of meetings at the beginning of the year and one of the things that came out of those meetings that I think really helped us, we didn’t want to have anybody be the weak link.”

Go Bruins!