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The Mindful Athlete

Secrets to Pure Performance

By George Mumford
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The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford

The Mindful Athlete (2015) explains how to unlock your hidden “superpowers” by practicing mindfulness. When you learn how to channel your own inner divinity, you’ll reach your peak performance – in sports or in any other field.

Key idea 1 of 7

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can discover your superpowers.

People find enlightenment in different ways. Some travel to India; others do yoga. For George Mumford, the author, it was the pain of hitting rock bottom that drove him to discover mindfulness and, as a result, his own superpowers. Here’s his story:

In middle school, Mumford was a talented basketball player. He seemed poised for a professional career. And then he got injured while training. Instead of letting his body recover, however, he kept playing; this wore down his body, and ruined his shot at a career in professional sports.

So instead of playing for the NBA, he abandoned his dream and went to the University of Massachusetts, where he studied finance. Since childhood, he’d known only one way to deal with pain, whether emotional or physical: drown it in alcohol. To fight the chronic pain caused by his injuries, as well as the emotional pain caused by his compromised dreams, he began self-medicating. And his medicine of choice was Seagram’s Seven whiskey.

Mumford didn’t smoke cigarettes or pot because he was concerned about how they would affect his physical growth, so when he started taking drugs, he went straight for heroin instead.

In 1984, he got a severe staph infection. Mumford calls this his Ass On Fire situation, or AOF. His AOF pushed him to finally make a change, so he joined his first twelve-step program: Alcoholics Anonymous.

His AA program was where he was first introduced to mindfulness, which, in the ‘80s, was called “stress management.” Through yoga and meditation, he learned to listen to his body instead of dulling his pain with drugs.

For years, Mumford continued practicing mindfulness at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and eventually left his job as a financial analyst to devote himself to teaching mindfulness to others.

That’s how Mumford came to develop the concept of the five superpowers: mindfulness, concentration, insight, right effort and trust. In the following blinks, we’ll look at each one.

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