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3 Questions for…George Mumford

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— November 15, 2017

3 Questions for…George Mumford

  • When it comes to dropping NBA names, George Mumford can hang with the best of them.
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3 Questions for George Mumford

Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal: When it comes to dropping NBA names, George Mumford can hang with the best of them. Mumford has taught mindfulness—learning to stay in the present moment instead of the been-there past or the endless-worries future—to countless ballers, as he relates in The Mindful Athlete (Parallax Press: parallax.org, @parallaxpress)

Q. Do you see an increase in interest in mindfulness among athletes?
I think enough elite athletes have come out and talked about how mindfulness has helped them. I think there’s a lot of suffering and a lot of pain. Everything is so competitive; if you look at the NBA draft, a lot of good players aren’t getting drafted. That’s my speculation. There’s a hunger for peace of mind, there’s a hunger for ways to deal with a stressful way of life.

Q. How much pain do you think the average professional athlete is in every day, especially during the season?
Everybody gets nicked up by the end of the season; I don’t care what the sport is. Then there’s the mental anguish and anxiety that a lot of these athletes live in. They may be paid a lot of money but they have short careers—if you get 20 years you’re doing really well. You wake up one day and there’s a new kid on the block, and now you’re a role player instead of king of the hill. There’s no being stationary; you have to keep growing. Mindfulness is helpful: You need to know your body. You have to have a tolerance for pain but you have to let your body speak to you.

Q. How difficult is it for athletes to stay in the zone or in the flow?
There’s a tension between skill level and challenges: You can have high skills but if you don’t challenge yourself you’re going to be in relaxed mode. In order to be in flow, you have to be in a high level of arousal—the idea is to always set goals that are pushing you out of your comfort zone. It’s challenging to win championships in consecutive years; the motivation can’t stay at that peak level unless you figure out a process for doing so. Mindfulness helps the athlete to be flow-ready.

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