The joy that Stephen Curry plays basketball with is the kind of joy you feel when practicing meditation.
In his book, Mindfulness For The Ultimate Athlete: Mastering the Balance Between Power and Peace, former NFL running back Prince Daniels Jr. writes,
“The zone you reach in advanced meditation is no different from the zone you aspire to as an athlete. The experience is essentially the same.”
Not only did this make perfect sense to me recently reading it about a year into my meditation practice, but I can confirm the statement based on my experiences meditating and playing basketball.
The energy of basketball can be a lot to handle as a player. So many things can cross your mind throughout the course of one game, and the game itself can translate to specific circumstances in life.
Whether we know it or not, most if not all players experience those microscopic moments where the game literally feels slowed down. They can be hard to identify but even harder to ignore. It could be when you’re anticipating a steal, or the space between the ball leaving your hand for a shot and it going in, knowing full well that it’s going in.
These sensations don’t exclusively happen in basketball or in sports. We also experience them in life. Those heightened senses of pure knowing and happiness. When everything seems as close to perfect as you could imagine.
Meditation brings me back to that feeling to actually spend time with it. To understand how to harness and summon it again when I’ll need it.
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I don’t think any sport creates more of a pressure to perform than basketball. You’re out in the open. There are no helmets or face coverings. You play offense and defense. It’s hard to hide. Every possession has the potential to be its own epic success (you score on someone) or traumatic failure (someone scores on you).
This makes moments very critical in basketball. Whether you’re playing 1-on-1 with a friend, a game at the park, or playing with your AAU team at a weekend tournament.
Basketball players at all levels experience unique personal stressors on and off the court. Those exact stressors can consume and convince you into believing you’re not capable in those moments.
Meditation can help, and we are uniquely equipped to use it as a resource.