Winning and Mindfulness
(P.S. It’s Thursday morning. The Red Sox have won with great aplomb. They did a fantastic job. So I may need to temper my request to get the team over to the Benson-Henry Institute. From the words of Big Papi, David Ortiz, the message was clear: Over this past season, the Red Sox cultivated what is most important in practicing mindfulness – compassion. Compassion for each other. Compassion for the victims and families who suffered through the Boston Marathon bombing. It was powerful to hear Ortiz and to see the tears in the eyes of his team members. Wow once again. This time for a great winning team.)
As I sit here watching Game 6 of the World Series, I find my thoughts turning to what role, if any, mindfulness has to winning in baseball or other team sports. Being a Red Sox fan, I need a distraction as the tension mounts and I fear a possible loss. You’re probably asking, “Where’s your faith?” Hey, it’s been 95 years since the Sox won in their home field. But, I will confess I always prepare myself for the worst.
Unlike what I should do as a mindfulness practitioner (aka try some meditation), I’ve followed my habitual tendency to google whatever I’m thinking. I type in “mindfulness and winning.” Much to my surprise, I end up at the Bless Your Hearts. blog about Phil Jackson.
Asking my sports-driven hubby about Phil Jackson, he immediately responded that Phil was the known as the Zen Master. Perhaps that can account for this quote from Mr. Jackson.
Winning with Mindfulness
Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing. Phil Jackson (gratefulness.org)
Wow. I must hand it to Phil Jackson. This is what we all aspire to. Who would have known this would come from a basketball coach. Could I find a baseball coach or player who had the same fervor for meditation and mindfulness?
I thought back to the horrible 2012 Red Sox debacle. Back then, I kept wondering why the Red Sox were not lined up at the MGH Benson-Henry Institute for meditation and mindfulness training with Dr. Benson. How could namesake John Henry not have his team involved in such a renowned institute? Had I found myself at some ritzy party with John Henry, I would have attacked him with my belief that mindfulness could turn the team around.
Back to googling to see what connection I could find with baseball. Up comes a website entitled MindBodyGreen (love the title) where I found an inspiring article about Shawn Green. Sports-driven husband did not have the most complimentary comments about Green but conceded that he was a decent hitter. In 2011, Shawn Green published The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95MPH, where he talks extensively about how meditation played a role in his success.
Shawn Green hit 328 home runs when he played major league baseball in the 1990s and 2000s. During this era many of the league’s power-hitters used steroids, but Green says he used meditation to hit home runs.
According to the book reviewer, Shawn Green talks about the power of “stillness” which he elaborates on in his book.
“The way I’m using it is more like quieting the mind. The way I did that was through my tee work, where I would concentrate on the action — really listen to the sound of the bat hitting the ball, the sound of the ball hitting the back of the net, the breathing, and really getting into that moment and action of hitting. Earlier in my career, I got to the point where there was a lot of noise. There is a lot of thinking, and you see people at the plate paralyzed. … The less you can think, the more successful you’re going to be because your body naturally takes over and does thing the right way.”
Needless to say I’m impressed by both Phil Jackson and Shawn Green. In fact, they have become heroes as I think about analogies for mindfulness in corporate environments. Hopefully these analogies will help my cause with my mindfulness skeptics (aka sports-driven hubby). In the meantime, of course I hope the Red Sox win the World Series (preferably tonight so my mindfulness program at Simmons College is not interrupted tomorrow night).
So dear Red Sox and Mr. Henry, I’d love to have the Red Sox be the icon winners who also practice mindfulness. Go Sox!!!