How Jamal Murray is making March go Mad

Jamal Murray

If you have not heard of the future face of Canada Basketball, you will soon enough once he transitions to the NBA.

I have been closely following Jamal Murray’s progress since word began to spread of a prospect with not only the physical gifts and basketball skills to be a future NBA star, but also the intangibles. Every time I have had the opportunity to watch him compete, I am always blown away by not only his advanced skills and sneaky athleticism but also his poise and composure under the brightest of lights.

There was a wonderful article written on Bleacher Report (read more: Zen and the Art of the Perfect Player) a while ago that made me absolutely certain that Jamal Murray would excel for the Kentucky Wildcats. Surprisingly, he has even exceeded my wildest expectations with his record breaking play. He has broken the University of Kentucky’s freshmen school records for:

  1. Points in a season
  2. Number of consecutive games with a three
  3. The only player in school history to hit a three in his first 25 collegiate games
  4. The highest freshman scoring average

I am certain that many more records will fall down in the coming weeks.

I was inspired to write this post by a sensational piece published in the Toronto Sun (read more: Kentucy’s Jamal Murray finds calm before the storm) yesterday by Chris O’Leary. I absolutely love when journalists critically examine world class performance in a field and attempt to deconstruct it. One of the most pernicious lies sold to us by mainstream media is the myth of greatness: that greatness is some innate ability within a select few. That is absolutely false. There is no doubt that we all have predispositions to excel in certain fields vs. others. However, that belittles the decades of hard work that goes on behind that scenes that allows for the greatness to occur so seemingly effortlessly. 

Jamal Murray is no exception. He is not only an exceptional player but plays best when it matters most. Is he blessed with the gift to excel under high pressure situations like he Pan American Games last year where he, and 18-year old, led Team Canada to victory against the U.S.A.  It may seem like a gift, but this is absolutely false as I have mentioned in a previous post (read more: How to evolve your nervous system).

So if it is not a gift, how did he evolve his nervous system? Through the use of meditation and kung fu. This is a very similar message that Phil Jackson has been preaching for the last 10-15 years that not only allowed him to improve his own life but help him to lead Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to Championships.

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Phil Jackson may have unorthodox methods but the results speak for themselves.

So the next time you come up short in a high stakes environment do NOT lament that you do not have the chops to excel under pressure. You need to train your nervous system! I have posted a lot of content on this blog about how meditation and martial arts has allowed me to not only be a better athlete but more importantly, a better person. However, I could definitely provide a more detailed and easy to follow plan to enable you to integrate it into your daily life and become a clutch performer. Stay tuned for future posts and resources to further help support you.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

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Sensory Deprivation (Isolation) Tanks: My Experience

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What is a sensory deprivation or isolation tank?

A sensory deprivation tank uses ~ 900lbs of Epsom salt that allows you to float. The temperature of the water is set to your skin temperature ~ 93.5 °F. The result is that you lose awareness of your body.

This novel sensation accompanied with no light or auditory stimulus is extremely beneficial for your body. It helps to reduce the overactive stress response, induce a relaxation response, and decrease chronic pain. Also, the Epsom salt is therapeutic because your body is able to soak up the magnesium. A mineral, which is essential for your well being, but which the majority of the population is deficient in. For a more detailed description about the purported health benefits of isolation tanks, check out this great article from Men’s Journal.

I first heard about sensory deprivation through a mutual friend. However at first, I thought it was a load of B.S. But once I begin exploring it, I became fascinated. Then I was watching the Joe Rogan video below, and I knew I had to try it out ASAP.

My experience

My first experience with the tranquility pod was at West Coast Float . As soon as I entered the building, I knew this would be a wonderful experience. It was so calm and soothing. I was then ushered into my own personal room, where everything was laid out for me. We were then instructed how the tranquility pod worked, and to shower, dry off and enter pod.

I then entered the pod. I put my foot in, and it seemed to be exactly like regular water. I wondered if I had made a mistake Then I placed my entire body in and then by some “magic” I was floating! It was as if my body had disappeared. I still knew intellectually that I had a body, but unless I drifted against the sides of the pods I could not sense my body.

In the pods I had the option to close the door or not, and keep the lights on or not. I decided to fully immerse myself in the experience by closing the door and keeping the lights off.

It is remarkable the myriad of things that we are completely oblivious to because we get so caught up in the external world. As soon as I started floating, I noticed a lot of tension all over my body. I was shocked about how much unnecessary tension I was holding in my muscles. I pride myself on my body awareness, since I have been consistently practicing tai chi, qi gong, and yoga for a while. However, I clearly have a long ways to go.

It is not just in science fiction or the movies where one can enter a tranquility pond. You can try one out right now!

It is not just in science fiction or the movies where one can enter a tranquility pond. You can try one out right now!

I did not only learn more about my physical state, but also some hidden emotions. A few times, it seemed randomly, I would get a burst of fear where my heart would race, and I felt I needed to open the pod ASAP! At first I thought maybe the air was not circulating well enough. Upon reflection, I realized that this “fear” is an undercurrent in my daily life that manifests itself in subtle ways during the day that prevents me from being the best that I can be. When I was completely derived from external stimuli, there was no external circumstance my brain could use to rationalize this fear. Therefore it came out full throttle. But this was very therapeutic because I realized that the fear was unfounded, and just an outgrowth of my overactive mind.

Despite some minor unpleasant sensations, it was a wonderful experience. After the first 5-15 minutes the vast majority of my negative emotions subsided and I felt a peace and bliss I have never experienced before. This is something I would recommend everyone try at least once in their life. Also for those who are a tad narcissistic, my skin was glowing when I left and my hair looked so much healthier.

Could sensory deprivation or isolation tanks be used to improve athletic performance?

Yes! It is already used by NFL, NHL, NBA, and Olympic athletes to improve their mental concentration, induce a state of deep relaxation,and provide them a distraction free environment to visualize.

As one moves up the ranks in athletics, the physical aspect becomes less and less important because the talent discrepancy becomes smaller and smaller. Once at the world class stage, such as the Olympics, physically the athletes are almost identical. What separates them is their mental fortitude and belief in their ability that allows them to perform under pressure.

Pressure can cripple even the most physically perfect athlete because if they begin to think while they are competing they are bound to lose. For example in Tennis if you watch the pros warm-up, they are hitting perfect serves easily and effortlessly. Then how come during the match, they are many times in which they do no execute on their serves? They lose their concentration on the task at hand because of the pressure and distractions. The use of a tranquility pod is a wonderful way to develop your concentration, and learn to relax. This will carry itself over while you are playing your sport, which will allow you to express all of your potential.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

What Kobe Bryant knows about the relationship between confidence and championship performance

Conflicts of Interests: I am a huge Kobe Bryant and La Lakers fan. 

Recently, Lebron James has surpassed Kobe Bryant right now in terms of who is currently the best basketball player in the world in the eyes of the vast majority of basketball fans. However, there is still some lively debate on who has had the better career up until this point and who will end up having the better career when it is all said and done.

When I think of Lebron vs. Kobe I instantly think about what their most special and unique talents is. Lebron is the perfect physical specimen. If you could engineer a physically perfect basketball player you would end up with Lebron. While Kobe possess the mind of a champion. His unmatched competitive fire and his unwavering self-belief is what truly separates him from Lebron.

Kobe does and will always have more championships then Lebron James because he is embodies what being a champion is. Lebron James is physically far superior and most likely more fun to play with, but he is a front runner. That was on full display during the 2011 Finals, in which the Mavericks beat the Heat. When things are going well Lebron is at full strength; however, he has a strong tendency once adversity strikes to shy away from the moment and exhibit poor body language and communicates very negatively with teammates and coaches. (Don’t get me wrong this doesn’t happen all the time, but happens too much for my liking).

The moment in which this difference really became crystal clear for me was earlier during the 2011 playoffs. The Lakers had just lost their third straight game to the Mavericks and were now down 3-0. No NBA team has ever come back from such a deficit in a series.

The Lakers must have been absolutely deflated, as the game was not even close. How would they be able to bounce back. I was anxious to hear what Kobe would say in the press conference. I was absolutely shocked by what I heard:

“I don’t know, I might be sick in the head or crazy or thrown off or something like that because I still think we’re going to win this series,” Bryant said after totaling 17 points and six assists in Game 3. “I might be nuts. … Let’s win on Sunday, go back home and see if they can win in L.A.”

Any knowledgeable fans would immediately call for Kobe to be put in a mental asylum! This is just absurd, but it is this unwavering self belief that allows him to be a champion over and over again.

How can you develop such an strong belief in yourself? Why is it so important? We are all naturally confident, but usually we are only confident when we are comfortable and free of mind. This is the exact state of mind you need to be in to perform at your best during competition and this can’t be done when you are having vacillating or fearful thoughts because two diametrically opposed states can’t exist in the body at the same time.

It is said that over 90% of communication is non-verbal, while that exact percentage may be dubious the general conclusion that non-verbal cues is vital in communication CAN NOT be overlooked! Your body can’t lie! If you have a fearful or anxious mental state your body will reflect those thoughts.

However, this brings us to a chicken/egg conundrum. Are we timid and anxious because of bad body language or because of a bad mental state. The answer doesn’t matter because by changing one (either body or mind) we can impact the other. You are most likely an accomplished athlete or someone who is very aware of their own body. So it will be easiest for you to effect change in our body which would enable you to be more confident throughout your life and in any situation or competition no matter the stakes

How can this be accomplished?

It can’t be done overnight but a great prescription to get started is the following exercise (which I stole from the Art of Charm Podcast, I highly recommend you check it out). Every time you walk through a door-way use it as a cue to remind yourself to have confident body language. The two most important cues for confident posture is too visualize a string lifting your head towards the sky, and that you have a light on your chest and you are trying to shine it on everyone. I implore you to stop right now and chance your posture using the aforementioned cues. You will instantly notice a difference in your mental state.

You do everything like you do anything, therefore it is vital that you consistently practice to make confidence a habit and with due time you will begin to program the unwavering self-belief that is present in all champions such as Kobe Bryant.

Nobody performs up to their level of expectations but defaults to their level of training.” 

Summary 

– Confidence is key for athletic succes

– Body and Mind aren’t separate, changing one effects the other

-Use entering a doorway as a cue to change posture so that you change your state. This will allow you to develop the mental habit of being confident.