How one athlete is changing the conversation around mental health.
I only ever wanted to be a Division I basketball player. I was driven by a deep love for the sport and a purpose to play at a high level. I accepted an offer to play for Princeton. Graduating four years later, I had fulfilled the only goal I had ever set out for myself. So, now what?
I did a lot of the things we’re “supposed” to do: take a cushy job at a successful start-up, work my way up the chain in a big company, look for “the one” who I could eventually propose to, and travel to gain experiences and perspective.
I turned 26 and realized I was still lacking the vision I had while striving to become a college basketball player. I decided that I needed a new vision, but this time it could have no possible end date. The vision was simple: “always have energy.” I wanted words like “tired,” “bored,” “fatigued,” and “exhausted” to not only disappear from my day-to-day language, but to no longer exists as concepts in my reality.
I started searching for the ultimate ways to build, maintain, and utilize the energy I knew I was already capable of creating. I quit my cushy job and started over. I fell in love with basketball again, but this time it was teaching the game that inspired me. Now, I’m head coach of a high school varsity basketball team, and I own a business coaching and mentoring basketball players of all ages.
But there were still times when I could feel my energy depleting. It was then I thought to myself, “What if my mind and its relentless, compulsory thinking is sucking energy out of me? Could being more mindful lead to feeling more energetic?” I shared these questions with my business partner and he recommended using Headspace.
I was no stranger to meditation—my dad meditated for 40 years, and I was familiar with its benefits of increasing awareness, empathy, and reducing stress. The question was: would practicing stillness help me feel more energetic? So, I began my daily Headspace practice with the intention of doing it every day for a year.
Within the first month of meditating, I could already feel a difference when I played basketball. Not only did I feel like I had more energy, but my mind was peaceful and quiet while I played. I was able to maintain a state of presence and flow much easier, and not overreact to things that didn’t go my way during the game. After a few more months, I was able to feel that calm flow state more consistently no matter where I was going. My overall energy was higher and I started recommending Headspace to anyone that would listen.
Now before every practice and game, I have my varsity basketball team meditate with Headspace. Most of the players look forward to the meditation more than the practices, and they have all said it helps them tremendously when getting ready for competition.
After 230 consecutive days of meditating, the biggest takeaway is this: there is no such thing as “peace of mind”. My mind’s natural state is restlessness. But I have the ability to not associate or attach myself to that restlessness. I can observe it, appreciate its value and in doing that see that my thoughts are not me. The ability to recognize this has enabled me to have a more connected and expansive view of the world around me. In a way, this introspective and internal practice has put me in a state where I am more open to accept and connect to the energy around me, and thus feel more energetic.
The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was not paid for their writing.