The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance by George Mumford

Summary 

  1. George Mumford had to hit rock bottom before he was willing to gain mindfulness and change his ways. This book can help other athletes, or anybody really, achieve mindfulness and become a more calm and fulfilled person. 

Key Takeaways 

  1. Life is only available in the present moment. This is the central tenet in Buddhism 
  2. The five ancient superpowers are
    1. Faith
    2. Diligence
    3. Mindfulness
    4. Concentration
    5. Insight.
    6. These are the author’s spin on the Noble 8-Fold Path. These five are nonlinear. They are a multiplicative series (not an additive one) and if you take one away the rest fall apart
  3. Mindfulness helps us reach our peak potential and be our best selves
  4. Dr. J (Julius Irving) was a mindful athlete. He was a great team player, always adapted to the context and situation at hand, was kind and helpful, and always supportive of others – making everyone on the team better for his presence
  5. The only way out is always through
  6. George grew up in a really tough neighborhood with an abusive father and it caused him to seek refuge through drugs. It took him until he fell on his face and was desperate to find other means of dealing with his emotional damage
  7. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid and doors and people will open that you could never have imagined
  8. Problems cannot be solved with the same consciousness that caused them. You have to raise it to truly solve it
  9. Between stimulus and response is a space. In that space is where you can choose your reaction and this is where growth comes up. This is where mindfulness training helps as you can go back to your calm, still center rather than simply reacting
  10. Mindfulness training helps you observe yourself, your emotions, your thoughts, your behaviors. Without attachment, you can see things as they truly are and not simply how you see or feel about them
  11. Intention is incredibly important. It gives you the right type of energy and motivation to push through and succeed. Attention always follows intention and you have to put out into the universe what you want to receive. Keep listening to yourself, your body, your thoughts, your emotions, but deeply listening to others is as important of a skill. It helps in finding your intention and in helping others
  12. Deliberate practice is important to master anything and mindfulness helps you observe the frustrations and deal with the setbacks that come along in any journey
  13. Mindfulness helps you step up and thrive and enjoy the pressure rather than succumbing to it
  14. Insight and mindfulness are the best stress relievers in that it helps you get to the root cause of the stress rather than treating surface issues
  15. You are not your mistakes and when you gain mindfulness, you can gain that separation much more easily. Then you can use failure as a great way to learn and improve rather than using it to talk yourself down and de-motivate yourself
  16. Some sort of suffering is necessary to achieving maximum personal growth
  17. Masters are able to attain and keep a sense of wonder and curiosity even in the most pressure filled moments. This gives them freedom, energy, and flow to perform at their highest level
  18. Force and brute effort is very rarely the answer. In fact, it can hinder your progress and skill. Imagine Bruce Lee’s spiritual warrior where you flow like water rather than tensing up and simply trying harder. You must recognize, do away with, and avoid unwholesome qualities and cultivate and sustain wholesome qualities such as peace, loving kindness, empathy, and compassion. That is right effort
  19. Every aspect of our lives is deeply intertwined and feeds upon every other area of your life. You cannot be seeking mastery in one area and be a deviant in others and expect to transcend. Knowing this and honoring this in every thought, action, and arena of your life is what leads to an awakened existence
  20. The best teams are inwardly focused in the sense that they are optimizing for flow and optimal cooperation rather than simply beating the other team. It is a “we” mindset rather than a “me” mindset and one that is focused on growth rather than outcome. Right effort heightens energy rather than detracts from it – it allows you to be present and to become one with those who are working with you on the task at hand
  21. Flow or being in the zone can be summarized as being intensely focused while slightly not caring
  22. Filling yourself with love and awareness removes space for distractions, negativity, and noise. This is the space you want to get into to be mindful athlete

What I got out of it

  1. Great real world applications centered on athletes and athletics but these are lessons anyone can employ. Be in the moment, playful, don’t put too much stress on yourself to perform, enjoy the process rather than just the outcome