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.

54d5afe948006_-_phil-jackson-0208-de

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

The absolute importance of making incremental improvements

I just got home from coaching my Steve Nash Youth Basketball team’s weekly game. It was a blast! To top it off we were able to get the win! However, what made today so enjoyable was not that we won, but the dramatic improvement the players made.

After a big win athletes and coaches are undoubtedly happy. However, I posit that the joy from winning stems from the athletes and coaches having the battle of competition forcing them to grow and make progress.

After a big win both athletes and coaches are undoubtedly happy. However, I posit that the joy from winning stems from having the battle of competition force them to grow and make progress.

They were moving without the ball, instead of ball watching, which resulted in many easy lay-ups. They were boxing out and going up to get rebounds to successfully end defensive possessions. Despite our opponent being one of the supposedly strongest teams in the league, we beat them quite easily. Do not get me wrong, I am no way taking credit for this improvement. The kids came to practice listened intently and worked hard. But it reminded me about a key lesson I learned during a recent basketball coaching clinic.

This clinic was lead by highly accomplished coaches Mike and Allison McNeill, who took the Canadian Women’s National program to great heights before focusing on coaching youth basketball. They mentioned that the biggest problem right now in youth sports is that too many children are quitting much too early. They had mentioned that the two main reasons that children drop out of youth sport are: They do not play and They do not get better.

Children want to have fun. They are not having fun siting on the bench! They want to get out and play! 90% of kids would rather play and be on a losing team than be on a winning team and never play.

Children want to have fun. They are not having fun siting on the bench! They want to get out and play! 90% of children would rather play and be on a losing team than be on a winning team and never play.

It may seem obvious that we should let our kids play and foster an environment in which they can improve in. But how many youth coaches truly emphasize equal playing time and improvement over wins? Obviously, it is hard to do, especially if you are coaching your own kid. But when one takes the responsibility to coach youth sports, it is their duty to do their best to have their actions fueled by what is best for all the kids.

Though it is important to have fun and not become overly focused on the end results (winning and scoring), that does not mean as coaches we should stop holding the kids accountable and pushing them. If they do not get better, they will cease to have fun. It is a basic human drive to want to be better. The children are not solely motivated by winning every game. They want to constantly get better, and hopefully see that improvement lead to well deserved victories.

While I was driving home after the game, I was reflecting on this lesson that crystallized right before my eyes in today’s game. I started looking back over my basketball journey and life in general. I was most happiest not when I had achieved what I aimed for, but during the process of working towards my goals and seeing those incremental improvements. Interestingly enough as well, when I was happiest I tended to perform my best. Unfortunately, throughout the majority of my basketball career I was so fixated on achieving my goal of playing at the NCAA division 1 level that I never truly enjoyed the journey. As a result I did not come close to performing at my best when it really mattered.

That is why my motto is be happy and chase your dreams. It is not “achieve your dreams and then be happy”. If you are not happy now, no achievement, no matter how remarkable, will bring you lasting happiness. Being happy not only makes the journey more enjoyable but it is also vital to allow you to maximize the success (in whatever way you define that) you achieve.

I challenge you to reflect on your life right now and gauge your general level of happiness. If you are not feeling happy, and generally optimistic about right now, and the future, I am going to challenge you to change your focus to what you could be happy about right now if you let yourself be and on what you can do starting today to make incremental improvement towards what is most important to you.

If you are an aspiring basketball player the two main areas I see that almost every young athlete is deficient in are: strength and ball handling.  A simple and free way to dramatically improve your strength is to do anywhere from 20-50 (or as many as you can) push-ups every day. To improve you ball handling, aim to spend at least 5 minutes every day working on your dribbling. They are so many drills online that it would take a lifetime to master them all. It does not matter what drill you do, but that you focus on keeping your head up and being aware of the feel of the ball.

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

August 25th 2015: Thought of the Day

This is an unconventional thought of the day, but after I saw this video I had to share it. I have realized that the information and messages I feed my brain, is what my subconscious believes and embodies. So every morning after I do my morning ritual, and my workout, I make sure to watch an uplifting video or two. This one showed up on my recommended list on YouTube.

This video resonated with me so much because it had reinforced so much of what I have been sharing previously. Everyone can live the life of their dreams. You may be thinking, but wouldn’t all the good things run out if everyone lived their dream life? Doesn’t there have to be someone on the bottom and someone on the top? Absolutely NOT. We are all unique, and have different passions and inclinations. Therefore we want different things. As Denzel emphasized in the video if we have a desire to achieve something that will improve this world, then we already have the power to achieve it.

Yet it is NOT guaranteed to occur and requires an intense amount of hard work. Discipline and consistency are the keys to turn your dreams into reality. There is nothing that can not be conquered by daily right actions. However, what or how much you achieve personally is not what truly matters. Anything external is fleeting. What matters is how you affect other people. Did you make this world a better place?

So how do you develop the virtues of discipline and consistency? As I mentioned in yesterday’s thought of the day (Read More: Aug 24th: 2015 Thought of the Day) choose one positive thing you will add to your daily regiment and complete it without fail. I always recommend that you first introduce the habit of walking everyday because it has a plethora of benefits.

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

August 23rd 2015: Thought of the Day

inspirational-quote-follow-your-heart

This pearl of wisdom above perfectly complements a recent thought of the day (Read More: Aug 21st: 2015 Thought of the Day). It is essential to pursue mastery of a task and attain excellence. Yet this journey must be traveled with the appropriate perspective.

We are all going to die. Our bodies will turn to  dust. Even the most venerable and accomplished humans will be forgotten. Therefore nothing in this world has absolute importance, just relative importance. 

This may seem like a depressing realization. On the contrary I would posit it is extremely liberating and energizing. Their is nothing that you can lose because the only things you have are: control of are your thoughts and actions. No one can take these from you. 

However, do not get me wrong this does not mean that you reject the world. You can still enjoy earthly pleasures. The key is to not get attached or personally identified with anything external. What matters is your character and actions. The ironic thing is the less you are personally identified with the results the better you do.

When have you performed your best in your sport?  I remember discussing this with my college coach, Robyne Johnson, and we both found it surprising that our best performances occurred when it felt like we were not trying. The jumps in which we “tried” really hard and thought were great ended up being mediocre. To perform your best you need to cultivate a detachment from the results, and intense focus on the present moment.

How do you cultivate this? Leverage the power of simplicity. For the vast majority people, they live in excess. Eat too much, sleep too much, and watch too much TV. The cravings for stimulation in excess of what our body truly needs is caused by our egos need to build itself up. The reason pain is associated with living the virtue of austerity is that people have become personally identified with all the material objects they posses.

Does you closet look this? How much of your clothes have you not worn in eons? Would you really miss them if they were gone?

Does you closet look this? How much of your clothes have you not worn in eons? Would you really miss them if they were gone?

Challenge yourself on a daily basis to strip away the unnecessary things you own. A great way to get started is to look in your closet.  How much of your closet contains clothes you have not worn in months or even years?

I came to this realization when I moved back home from Boston after finishing my undergrad. I did NOT realize how many clothes I had! I knew that I needed to donate a significant portion of my clothes.

While I was putting clothes away in the garbage bags to donate, I felt a tinge of pain. It felt as if I was losing a part of me. But then I allowed the pain to be there and became present. I realized the “pain” was an outgrowth of my ego that is always wanting more. They are plenty of people that are in dire need of clothes. I had plenty of clothes that were just collecting dust. It would be much better if someone else was able to wear them.

Once I was able to detach my sense of self from the clothes I owned, I felt absolutely liberated and thrilled. I was starting to break away the chains of slavery laid on me by  materialism and allow others to enjoy what I had no need for If you begin to make a conscious effort to simplify your life,  you will live a joy-filled life.

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

How Contrast Therapy can keep you injury free and boost your health

This is how many elite athletes feel. I know I did while competing for BU. But are we really helping ourselves out following the maxim no pain no game. Absolutely not. A paradigm shift is needed in strength and conditioning.

This is how many elite athletes feel. I know I did while competing for BU. But are we really helping ourselves out by following the maxim no pain no gain. Absolutely not! A paradigm shift is needed in strength and conditioning.

Who are the only two people who are undefeated and will remain that way for the rest of eternity in sports? Father Time and Injuries. There is not much that we can do about Father Time. We are all getting older. However, we have much more control over injuries than we realize. No doubt collision injuries are impossible to avoid. However, non-contact injuries, like Derick Rose’s knee injury, should not occur when we have such supposedly “advanced” sports training. Derick Rose was all by himself and no one hit him or threw him off balance. I completely blame the stupidity of Tom Thibodeau and the Bull Training Staff for ruining his career.

There is no excuse for why D Rose suffered such a traumatic injury in a game with no contact. The major driving factor was most likely fatigue. The game was over, Tom Thibodeau should have had him out of the game.

There is no excuse for why D Rose suffered such a traumatic injury in a game with no contact. The major driving factor was most likely fatigue. The game was over, Tom Thibodeau should have taken him out of the game.

However, I digress. Unfortunately the vast majority of injuries that still occur today are 100% preventable. They are a plethora of aspects of sports training that go on today that are wrong and I will discuss them in future posts. However, the number one factor from my personal experience and experience from coaching many athletes that leads to preventable injury is fatigue. You might think we just need to reduce the workload placed on the athletes. In an ideal world this would work. However, sometimes it just can not be done.

The problem is under recovery.  As I mentioned in a previous post (Read More: Where do you get better at your sport?) you do NOT get better during your training but while you recover. Too many athletes think that once they leave the court pitch or gym that all their work is done. Their work is just beginning. Being the best athlete requires a 24/7 commitment to being the best that you can be because all facets of your life can dramatically effect your performance.

Who says that recovery can not be awe-inspiring and intensely pleasurable. My time at the Scandinave Spa was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life.

Who says that recovery can not be awe-inspiring and intensely pleasurable. My time at the Scandinave Spa was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life.

So what is a modality that you can use to drastically boost your recovery in a short time period? Contrast Therapy. It is used by many NBA, NHL, NFL, and Olympic athletes. It is quite simple. You alternate between bouts of hot and cold temperatures. This causes a drastic increase in circulation, which helps flush out toxins from your body, and reinvigorates the soul.

I was reminded of the power of contrast therapy last weekend. While on a family trip to Whistler, I got the wonderful opportunity to visit the Scandinave Spa. During my time at the spa I learned of an important  aspect I was neglecting from my contrast therapy routine. I was not having a relaxation period in between the bouts of hot and cold so my body could reach a state of homeostasis. The protocol they recommended was:

  1. 10-15 minutes to heat up your body (Jacuzzi, Hot Salt Bath, Sauna, or Steam Room)
  2. 30 seconds to 2 minutes of cold (Very Cold Shower or Ice Bath)
  3. 10-15 minutes of relaxation at room temperature to allow your body to reach homeostasis.
Not having access to a

Not having access to a “spa facilities” is no reason to not incorporate contrast therapy into your daily regiment.

But what if you do not have access to “fancy” spa facilities like a sauna or jacuzzi (although I would argue these are much more common now than people realize)? You can use a shower and get almost all the benefits. However, when in the shower the protocol changes slightly as you are unable to take a 10-15 minute break between bouts of hot and cold to reach homeostasis. What I recommend is:

  1. Spend 2 minutes in as hot as water as you can handle. If you have a stationary shower head, try to move around so that the water reaches all parts of your body. If you have a “moveable” head, you can direct the water to the areas that are in most need of repair.
  2. Then as quickly as possible switch to as cold as you can handle. Remain under the cold water for at least one minute, and repeat as many times as desired. I recommend you repeat this sequence at least twice and no more than five times.

Contrast therapy will make you feel instantly better after a grueling workout. However, its not only enhances recovery but also your health as well. Its great for the circulatory system, and flushing out toxins from your lymph system. On top of that it invigorates the soul, as the shock of switching between temperatures makes you feel alive and will make you feel joyous.

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

Sensory Deprivation (Isolation) Tanks: My Experience

o

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

May 30th 2015: Thought of the Day

So I am always interested in studying and analyzing what makes people great and supposedly Kobe Bryant is as well! I was reading this amazing article in the Boston Globe about an interview with Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant. It is filled with gems so if you have time I would definitely go check it out. However, the line below really resonated with me as I have been a tad nervous this morning as I have a track meet later today.

Interviewer: So being great in the clutch means knowing there’s a moment after the clutch?

Kobe Bryant: There’s an infinite groove. Whether you make the shot or miss it is inconsequential.

It may seem strange for Kobe and Arianna Huffington to be having lunch together, but as Kobe says:

It may seem strange for Kobe and Arianna Huffington to be having lunch together, but as Kobe says: “No matter what industry you look at, people who do phenomenal things, there’s a common thread to them. I’ve always been curious about that, as a way to become a better basketball player.”

Wow! I would have never expected the Black Mamba to say whether you miss a shot or not is inconsequential. However, that is exactly the reason he is able to play with such fearless abandon.

He obviously has a huge desire to win, but he has NOT become personally attached or identified with his on-court performance. He understands the super important lesson that what he does is NOT who he is.

Until you are able to do so you will never reach your full potential because your distorted sense of the true importance of any one particular event will cause you to hesitate or have fears and anxieties fester which will strip you of your focus.

It is obviously easier said than done to not personally identify with what you do, but it is something that must be cultivated. This again is a soft skill that can not be easily acquired. However, some specific ways I like to strengthen this skill are:

  1. Change the language you use to describe what you do –The phrase, “I am an athlete” implicitly mistakes what you do for who you are. A better way is to say, “I compete in athletics.” It is something you do but NOT something you are.
  2. Reflect on your past – It is always easy to lose perspective in the heat of the moment. A great way to combat this is to think of something that you thought may have had a huge impact on your life in the distant past, and realize how inconsequential the result of that event was. For example, in the moment when I gut cut from BU’s basketball team I felt like the world was crumbling. However, it is something that in the big picture has been inconsequential.
  3. Cultivate an enjoyment of the process – Do NOT measure your progress based on the results but whether or not you are taking action that is moving you towards your dream.
  4. Meditate – This is something I have been harping on over and over again, but there is such an overwhelming amount of evidence and it is a constant theme behind excellence performance that you can NOT afford to not meditate.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

————————–

PS Here are a few 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