George Mumford: How to Attain Awareness, Flow & Enlightenment
George Mumford dropped by the 10% Happier Podcast with Dan Harris where he proceeded to plant wisdom seeds into the ears and minds of listeners, each for our own benefit.
Who is George Mumford, you ask?
- He lived in a meditation center for six+ years (University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness).
- Taught meditation in prisons, boardrooms, classrooms, and locker rooms.
- Met Phil Jackson who hired him into his support staff for the Bulls & Lakers.
- Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant attribute much of their success to Mumford’s teachings.
- Wrote a book called The Mindful Athlete.
His interview is filled to the brim with insights on life, mindfulness, meditation and flow. Enjoy some of his quotes!
“It’s all about gaining awareness. If someone asks us, ‘how was your day,’ and we respond by saying how it was full of pain, then that’s all we’re going to get. When we start focusing on the good things that are happening and realize that the bad things come and go, but they’re impermanent and always changing, then we can begin to understand at a high-level that so much good is happening.”
“Meditation is not trying to go anywhere or be anywhere or do anything. It’s just seeing what’s there and letting it speak to you, not shutting off your mind but just being present with your mind, taking the step back and looking at it and observing it and realizing you are not those thoughts, you are not those perceptions, you are not the sensations or anything else outside yourself.”
“Meditation is what’s on your mind. That’s why we call it right-thinking. Dr. Dre had his own definition of meditation: ‘I got my mind on my money money on my mind.’ That’s his meditation.”
“Stop identifying with what is happening to you. Those things are not you. They’re just thoughts, sensations, and feelings. Don’t identify. They’re all things outside of who we are.”
“Michelangelo was asked how he creates such masterpieces out of blocks of stone and marble. He responded by saying that he simply taps away to reveal the masterpiece it’s already within the marble. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
“You can’t enter into flow by wanting to get in flow. You have to just be and accept what’s coming up. But there are laws to flow: 1) challenges have to be high and 2) skill level has to be high. You have to be pushed to your limit of skill to experience flow.”
“It’s not just having flow in sport. It’s about being flow ready at all times. One must first create the conditions to then transition into flow. It’s continuity of flow, continuity of moment to moment awareness.”
“We’re all just humans; we want to be loved we want to feel success. But when we don’t know how to do that we play the blame game when we don’t get what we want. It’s just ignorance and what we don’t realize is that the outside world is just reflection of the inside world, when in actuality you were making choices, and when we can understand the choices we’re making, we can control them.”
“90% of happiness is based on how the mind interprets our experience.”
FIXING THE FOUNDATION (Mumford speaking about the Knick’s organization, whom he now works with under Phil Jackson.)
“It’s like bought a new house. You walk in one room and see cracks in the ceiling and then you say ‘okay, let’s check out the basement,’ and then you notice the foundation is off. When you know the foundation is off you’ve got to work on it and so it takes longer, and it takes as much time as it’s going to take, and it’s just constant persistence and continuity of practice.”
“You shouldn’t complain about being a fan of the team when they’re doing bad. Why don’t you just be a fan and focus on what that means to be a good fan? You see in sports and in life we have this thing called conditional love. And we only root for them when they do well. But what if we stood by their side during tough times during all the times and really just supported them who knows what would happen.”
“Awakening or enlightenment is simply the acceptance of what is, not trying to change anything, but to just see the world as it is and have compassion. If I see suffering but also know that the world is suffering but just to love it to be present of mind at all times and just be, not worry about having to do anything or achieve.”
“Reaching enlightenment isn’t about the person (Jesus, Buddha, etc.), or knowing people that are enlightened. It’s just the qualities and attempting to mimic and live a life based on those values and the qualities that they exhibit in their everyday lives on a moment to moment basis.”
“If we want something, then we’re not ready for it. As soon as I stopped trying to write a book, it started to write itself. We need to let go of what we want and just keep a little bit of intention.”
“Attention follows intention.”
This episode sent me down a unique path, including my discovery and research of psychological Flow, as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (more on that eventually). Cheers to you George!