Like sports, athletes, and… tao?

Mindfulness seems like a pop phrase these days. Yet, it is great when you hear bits of the Buddha coming from the world of sports. I am anxious to hear what Kobe has to say tonight on Showtime for this documentary airing. Does anyone know if Phil Jackson has rubbed off on him?

Zenster coach,  Phil Jackson proved that  breath practice & athletes work. Jackson has more rings that anyone I hear. Speaking of coaches, I found myself quoting John Wooden, coach for UCLA B-ball, with students of mine who are sports fans. Practicing an eastern concept using the example of  Wooden’s approach, is kind of mind-blowing at times. I like his (forgive me if this is not word-for-word) “… to address the whole person and not just the athlete”. That sort of reminds me of the Carl Jung- collective consciousness, in a way.

There is also another coach who sounds like he is bringing a little eastern philosophy to competitive sports – Red Wings coach, Mike Babcock. Babcock is teaching his players to approach each play as a moment- ‘THE’ moment. Then when the next moment arrives, take on just THAT moment, and so on. Until every moment is seamlessly strung together without having the mind dip into the future along with it. Prescence. Focus. Mindfulness. Being In the now (Ram Dass- you know I have to throw him in there too).

Im under no illusion that competitive sports would or should adopt the teaching…”he who see’s inaction as action, and action in inaction” (ch.4, Bhagavad Gita-Hindu scripture). Plus, most who love, and play sports, might say that takes the ‘G’ from game adding an ‘L’ for Lame if translated to mean no competition. Perhaps. I sure don’t claim to know.

What I am saying is that yogic principals are not as far out as some may think, and I am happy to see the integration by coaches. Below you can check out a few lines from a translation of the Chinese teachings ‘tao te ching’, that mention athletes particularly. For us to start, its not so much about thinking ‘I’ll be in the now’ – as much as it is practicing arriving in the moment with any current action we take in a day. Once you get out there (life, court, field, rink)… try out what Babock said above. Meet every moment, then meet the next as it arrives.

Love to hear any thoughts from those who watch the Kobe Doc tonight!

-tao the ching ….A good athlete can enter a state of body awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of the conscious will. This is a paradigm for non-action: the purest and most effective form of action. The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dancer from the dance.

“Less and less do you need to force things,

until finally you arrive at non-action.

When nothing is done,

nothing is left un-done.” -Tao Te Ching, Lao tzu (551-479 B.C.E.)

Nothing is done because the doer has wholeheartedly vanished into the deed; the fuel has been completely transformed into the flame. This “nothing” is, in fact, everything. In the same way that an athlete or a dancer trusts the superior intelligence of the body…”

– Translation by Stephen Mitchell

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