George Mumford has trained superstar athletes, including basketball greats Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, in how mental focus can enhance athletic performance. In this conversation for Humankind, he describes the experience of being in “the zone,” a state of relaxed receptivity. Mumford also discusses how paying conscious attention can help us overcome the tendency to “overreact” to conditions and instead to insert a “space between stimulus and response.” And he relates how he has taught these principles to prison inmates, who —while incarcerated—have an opportunity to work on their inner life, and try to accept and be the best person they could be, given their circumstances. Mumford is author of “The Mindful Athlete”.
There are going to be times when we’re triggered to do something that we might regret later. So if we know that the mind is capable of doing those things, we have to have a game plan that allows us to think before we leap, look before you leap to really understand, ‘Okay, under these circumstances I’m not to do this because it’s harmful.’ Now I may not understand it, but if I get in the habit of not doing those things, then at some point the thinking will catch up, and say, ‘Okay, yeah, I can see where that would be harmful, and I’m glad I’m not—I’m not doing that.’ We have the power to choose. But we have to have core values ahead of time, ‘Okay, who do I want to be? How do I want to behave?'”