The Mindful Athlete

Secrets to Pure Performance
by George Mumford | Parallax Books © 2015 · 234 pages

Who does Zen master Phil Jackson go to when he wants to get his players' minds right? George Mumford. Mumford has coached everyone from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant and gives us a great introduction to mindfulness way beyond sports. Big Ideas we explore include Kobe's 1,300 3-pointers (PER DAY), romancing your discomfort zone, stepping in btwn stimulus and response, and REALLY listening to yourself.

I also came to realize that you couldn’t solve problems with the same consciousness that created them. It’s only in changing your consciousness that you can solve problems and transform your game, whatever it is and wherever you’re playing it.
George Mumford

“When Michelangelo was asked how he created his masterpieces, he replied that all he did was chip away to get to the masterpiece that was already inside. I believe we’re all chipping away to get to that masterpiece, even those of us who grew up in the ghetto, on the wrong side of the tracks. We all have a divine spark within us, but we’ve either crushed it, created an ingenious system for hiding out, or devised ways of being that make us feel separate. I now regard each person I meet as a caterpillar in a chrysalis. In order to become butterflies, we have to break our way into freedom and transformation. Mindfulness is a tool we can use to do this in the most skillful way. …

What I offer in this book is a synthesis of mindfulness principles that fall under the aegis of what I call the Five Superpowers. These Superpowers are my personal spin on the Buddha’s Eightfold Path and on his teaching of the Five Spiritual Faculties: faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration, and insight.”

~ George Mumford from The Mindful Athlete

We all know Phil Jackson as the Zen master coach.

But do you know who HE turns to to get his players in the right mindful state?

George Mumford.

A former collegiate basketball player (Dr. J’s roommate at U Mass), George shares his personal struggles with drugs in his younger days and the inspiring story about how mindfulness helped him bounce back from rock bottom—leading him to work with Jon Kabat-Zinn and other leading mindfulness teachers decades ago, which led to him coaching everyone from Michael Jordan (and his championship-winning Bulls) to Kobe Bryant (and his championship-winning Lakers) and countless other athletes.

This book is about WAY more than just athletics. It’s one of the best introductions to mindfulness I’ve ever read and it’s ESPECIALLY great if you have a sports-loving husband at home who otherwise wouldn’t be so interested in the subject. (Or, if you happen to be in the same boat. :)

Connecting everyone from the Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön, Rollo May, and Wayne Dyer to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Pete Carroll, Tim Gallwey and Bruce Lee, George does an extraordinary job at inspiring us to cultivate our Five Superpowers: faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

Most of my book is underlined and marked up. It’s packed with Big Ideas. (Get a copy here.)

We’ll barely scratch the surface of all the goodness in the book but I’m excited to take a quick look at some of my favorite Big Ideas so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author


George Mumford

Newton-based mindfulness teacher for athletes