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Mindful Leaders: What You Can Learn from Basketball (and Phil Jackson)!

In this inspiring Super Soul conversation with Oprah, Phil Jackson, called the Zen Master and greatest basketball coach of all time, shares his journey as a seeker and how he used his background in Christian mysticism, Native American Rituals, and Zen Meditation as guiding principles for his work as a coach.

What resonated!

  • Spirituality means trusting in one’s own intuition and having the courage to lead from a place of authenticity. That is, leading from the inside out versus following someone else’s leadership rules.
  • Spirituality is also about esprit de corps, the spirit among a connected group of people, the idea that we’re in this together.
  • While it takes the right mix of talent, creativity, intelligence, toughness, and luck to win a championship, LOVE is the most essential. He talks about the circle of love – that everyone needs to sacrifice and give a little more of themselves in the process of bonding and becoming a unit.
  • Leadership is about making everyone else a little better, but a leader has to create the space for others to step in and be bigger than themselves (case in point, Michael Jordan’s acceptance of this role).
  • His admiration of Pema Chödrön’s concept: “What you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, gentleness, honestly, and clear seeing toward yourself, will effect how you see the world” and use of it as a key building block in his work as a coach.
  • In addition to building physical strength, he stressed the importance of building mental strength through mindfulness and meditation –one breath, one mind.
  • How morning meditation allows him to start the day at peace and with a quiet mind – and that he is always capable of coming back to that during the day.
  • His philosophy of giving up control to get control, trusting in the moment, and living in compassion.

Don’t miss out – check out Phil Jackson’s SuperSoul podcast with Oprah or his book: Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success on Amazon!

Altered Traits! An Inspiring Read for Mindful Leaders!

I highly recommend Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Much Meditation Changes your Mind, Brain, and Body written by two leading PhD scientists Richard Davidson and Daniel Goleman.

Davidson and Goleman discuss their own experiences as lifelong meditators, their travels to ashrams and retreats all over the globe, and their meetings with yogis and monks – including the Dalai Lama. A must read for anyone interested in learning how meditation affects the body physically, mentally, and spiritually.

In addition to talking about how meditation leads to altered traits (what’s an altered trait? read on!), they review scientific studies done on meditation over the last fifty years, ancient practices of meditation, how the West tried to replicate them, the beginning steps to becoming an advanced meditator, and what deep meditation is.

Highlights:

  • Meditation leads to altered traits
  • Altered traits are traits that remain after meditation sessions have ended and endure for the long term versus short-term, Another way of saying this is, beyond the pleasant states meditation can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting personality traits that can result.
  • 8 minutes is enough to reap short term changes to the brain
  • After two weeks of meditation practice, participants began to see changes: less reaction to stress, better focus, less mind wandering, improved memory, more compassion, and less bodily inflammation.
  • Long-term meditators (those with 1,000 hours of meditation) benefited from the following altered traits: significant prefrontal cortex development; significantly less stressful cortisol resulting in less inflammation and decreased reaction to stress; greater sustained and selective attention; and slower breath and metabolic rates

Enjoy and happy meditating!

Mindful Leaders: Why You Need to Cultivate Quiet and Stillness

CLICK HERE to read this short article by physicist Alan Lightman and learn more about why we owe it to ourselves (and children!) to spend quiet time alone each day. Lightman explains how we need slow down, build in time for reflection, privacy, silence, and work on our ability to sit quietly without external stimulation in order to cultivate our creative capabilities and healthy habits of mind. A short and inspiring read!

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