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From ABC, this is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. Today, we have a masterclass in resilience. My guest is George Mumford, who has overcome some towering difficulties in his own life, including an addiction to drugs. He went on to become a legendary meditation teacher who's worked with athletes such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. In this episode, we talk about how we can all develop the skill of resilience through meditation, just like the Buddha did.
George loves to teach using lists. You'll hear him discuss the three C's, the four A's and the five powers. You'll also hear him talk about how he has had to apply these skills afresh in the past few months in his own life during which he's experienced death in his family as well as the death of his friend Kobe Bryant.
As you may have heard me mention in Monday's episode, we're dedicating this whole week to the interrelated themes of resilience and grit. If you missed it, go check out Monday's episode with psychologist Angela Duckworth, who wrote a whole book on grit. One last note before we dive in here. George has a fantastic course on the 10 percent happier app, all about learning how to face high pressure situations such as the one we are in right now. So we'll include a link to that in the show notes.
In the meantime, here we go with my friend George Munford. George, it's nice to see you. Good to see you, too.
We were just chatting at the last time we saw each other was over Indian food and right before the world fell apart in the winter. So I'm curious I want to ask you a question.
I've been asking a lot of people recently, but I don't mean it in a perfunctory way. I mean it in a real way. I want to hear the answer, which is how are you? So much has happened since I last saw you, including the pandemic and of course, the all of the tumult following the killing of George Floyds. So I just want to check in and get a sense of how you are.
I'm really good, actually, I'm I'm feeling great. And I say that in spite of everything that's going on, I feel really, really, really great. And I am able, as I like to say, hold the hurt and generate the hope, so I'm able to feel things. So few things have happened since the last time I saw you. I think it was after Kobe Bryant had died. So I had that was, like I say, the last Sunday in January.
And then the next week, one of my high school friends passed away. Then a week after that, my sister passed away. So I've been dealing with a lot of that even before the covid thing hit. But one of the things that I noticed and I was very. Hesitant to share with people was that even though those things happened, there was I was experiencing peace, really didn't get touched by those things. Nancy and I and I had done I mean, just a little self disclosure, I knew when my mother passed away it would be very challenging because when I was living at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center in eighty nine, I lived there for six years.
It was November twenty second, nineteen eighty nine. I started dealing with what they call a death awareness meditation practice. When you start to reflect on the fact that we're all going to die, we don't get beyond death and that sort of thing, because I knew when my mother passed, it was going to be really challenging and she didn't pass into two thousand and one. So I had a little time to work on it like 12 years. And I think that I continue to work on that.
And I think it's manifested in 12 to 20. Where I can see the fruits of the practice, so a lot of times you do these practices, you develop these ways of being, and you're not really sure or I'm not really sure how it's going to hold up when when the crap hits the fan.
So you said a lot there. I. I just want to point one thing out and then then follow up on a couple of things you said. A lot of people were upset when Kobe Bryant. Passed away in a helicopter crash. The vast majority of those people were simply fans, you actually knew him and taught him how to meditate. So it was a different I just want to highlight that that was personal for you, not just something that happened as a fan.
Yes. Yes. It was very personal for me because we were really close. And, you know, I get to work with him and work with the Lakers. But also I've had you know, just when I was writing my book, he had called me and he asked me to come up there to Newport Beach where he lived and hang out for a couple of days because he wanted to start work. And he was still it was in the next to last season in the league, but he wasn't quite ready to retire.
So I got out there and I got the hang out with him a little bit and talk about things. And to be interacting with him in his own space where he didn't have bodyguards and there wasn't a crowd, was just he and I and the people you work with. But on that and on that trip, you still worked with the Lakers. So he asked me. So I actually got in the helicopter with him and took the helicopter to L.A. because he had a game.
So we were really close. And when he when I heard about his death, I was actually at the University of Richmond watching a women's basketball game when I got the text. And I just felt like, oh, this is a bad joke. Know this ain't right. And. And so that's how I found out about it. And it was it was pretty devastating. And at the same time, I feel like I could continue to do what I needed to do and create space for that hurt.
And generate the hope, and I first thing I said was, I hope his family's not with them. And then I found out his daughter and seven other souls were in a helicopter. You've now used this phrase a couple of times, and it was on my mind to kind of. Dig in with you on it, hurt and hope, because just to what I asked you how you were, you said you were doing great, notwithstanding a litany of unfortunate events, including Kobe, your sister, covid.
All the racial unrest in the country, we could go on. So in describing how you managed to feel great in the face of all this, you talked about holding hurt and cultivating hope, I believe was the phrase. Yeah. So can you say generating hope?
Can you say a lot more about that?
Yes. So when I think about. So how are you related to Kobe's death was obviously there was devastation, so sad and everything. And then when I started. I get to interpret what it means, right, I get interpreted so I choose to interpret things in a way that empower me, that inspire me. And so when I look at the fact that. You know, knowing him, if he was on the helicopter and his daughter died and he didn't, he'd be devastated.
And if he died and he didn't, they'd be devastated. They went together and they went with the friends people they were close to. And I find that in his death, he's having such a tremendous positive impact on the world that I'm not so sure. If he lived a hundred years, he would be able to have the same impact. So I tend to look at things from that perspective. And, of course, his wife and his family and all of us, I'm going to miss him.
I mean, one of the things that I was planning on doing and then and it's like when you wait too long and I had talked to Ashley and the year before, during the all star break, I got interviewed for my college roommate, Dr. Drew, serving. And I was talking to him and I said, you know, I have this idea that I like that to have a conversation with you, Kobe and M.J.. Before was just sitting down and having a conversation and he said, well, let's do it.
He was ready to do it on all star weekend, but it wasn't appropriate because I hadn't really talked to anybody and I wasn't prepared for it. But that was one of the things that I was looking forward to. And, of course, if we're able to do that, Kobe won't be able to be there. So that kind of reminds me of the the idea that there's no guarantee. We just have today. We just have this moment. And the impermanent I feel like the cold and all of these things are amplifying or putting everything on steroids, but people are dying all the time.
Racial injustice has been going on forever. I mean, I was not new to me. I've had this experience all my life. So and it doesn't mean that I get hardened to it and I don't get upset about it. It just means that things are impermanent. You know, we have this illusion of separateness which prevents us from seeing the humanity, the soul of the other person, and that suffering happens. You know, you get old, you die, you get sick.
I mean, it happens. It's just what life is. And and the challenge is how can we say yes to that and at the same time generate the hope to go on and to be as present, be as loving, be as a compassionate as I can to myself and others. So for me, it's like this is an opportunity to really express that kindness, that compassion, that love of life and getting beyond the illusion of separateness when we're able to see that eye.
Another one. Right on the simplest, simplest possible level. It's a profound making of lemonade out of lemons, yes. And in making it, you know, this is this book that I love to read. I read it over and over. It's called The Way of Men by Martin Buber. And in that book, he talks about the idea that that we can do what no angel can do. And what that is, is we can have things that we can make things wholly.
So it doesn't matter what we do is the intention is to how much I love, how much holiness, how much compassion and love we can bring to it. That can be transformative for ourselves and for others, so it doesn't matter what the situation is, can we show up? And be loving, be compassionate, be kind to joyful. And be and miss it, in other words, just all experiences are of equal value. Can we show up for everything good, the bad, the ugly, or what's pleasant, what's unpleasant, what's boring?
Can we just bring that zest for life, that joy for being alive to everything? You talked about illusion of separateness, and this is one of these this idea of interconnectedness or being one with the universe, it very quickly devolves into cliche here. But there's a reason cliches become cliches because they're true.
I have wrestled with this one, not the clichéd aspect of it.
I've wrestled with it from like actually understanding the illusion of separateness on a molecular level myself.
But the way you phrased it.
I had a minute there of actually getting it, you weren't saying that I magically. You know, sub atomically, although I probably am connected to you or anybody else. But you were saying there is if we look at what I heard, at least you'll tell me if I was wrong.
If we look at our own inner mess, our own, I often use the phrase sort of dumpster fire of sadness, hurt, greed, whatever patterns we have. And we get comfortable and cool enough with that. Then we inexorably start to see that everybody else has got their own dumpster fire. And that's one way, at least again, you'll tell me if I'm saying this correctly, to get over this illusion that we are these atomized, separate egos looking out at the world behind fretful eye sockets.
But in fact, we actually have this massive amount in common.
Yes. And a soul, a soul, if you will. A masterpiece. A masterpiece. When I talk about just like me, everybody wants to be happy. I don't think people do things to hurt themselves. I think because of ignorance, because the craving, we know what the causes of suffering are. But every once in a while, we get beyond that illusion of separateness. So you're in New York. So 9/11, you have people running into a building, people you see it every once in a while.
We get beyond the illusion of separateness. We're not going in there saying, oh, that's a Democrat, that's a Republican, that's a Buddhist, that's a Jewish person. That's a male. That's a female. They live in my hood. They don't live in my hood. Is none of that is just the movement of the heart that just wants to get beyond the illusion of separateness. And we know that I and the other one, if they suffer, I suffer.
And you can see it in the and the demonstrations, you see people stepping up with a George Floyd and realizing that that's just not a black man. That's me. That's all of us. And so we get beyond that here and where I live and in Massachusetts, you saw it during the marathon bombing where you had people actually running towards the explosion, not away from it. And you've seen it in the hurricanes and the fires where people risked their life to help other people and first responders do that every day.
Whether it's a hospital workers or police officers or firemen, I mean, I have family members that are nurses, police officers, friends of the firemen, the family and nurses, doctors, all of those. First responders and then even people to just serving in their quiet way, whether they're working in the stores or or nursing homes or whatever, that every once in a while we get beyond that illusion of separateness. Like I only have enough to take care of me.
I'm not my brother's keeper. Like in the Bible says you are your brother's keeper is like, you know, it's a community. And we know this, that people who achieve greatness before at a high level, they have this ability to. Be an optimism and hope, see things as challenges, but they also have a social support system where they have a support system, where they have people to help them, like we think about when we go to the grocery store and we get something.
We don't think about the farmers. We don't think about all of the people that drove it there, people who put it on a plane or train or truck. All of that is interconnected into being is into are sitting at home talking about that. We all need each other and we show up. But there's other people behind the scenes that's making it possible. Even on this call, these people beyond this call that we may not be seeing or all of the work that went into it before we even got here.
So every day there's an interconnectivity that we just conveniently drop off and say, OK, is the big guy, me or mine or, you know, as a community, we say, oh, is the quarterback or the pitcher. But we're not talking about all the other folks that are involved that make it possible for that one person. So we celebrate the unity or the oneness of one person. Instead of realizing that that one person we may designate is a person who is the focal point or the leader, but without a supporting staff and supporting cast, it wouldn't be possible.
You make such a good and down to earth case for connection, lack of separation on a fundamental, important levels. I want to ask you a question. I'm a little nervous to ask you because I don't want it to either seem to be or to actually be insensitive. But I picked up on the detail that you have family members who are part of the police force. And I.
I just wonder, can you. Generate a sense of connection with or compassion for the officers who were involved in killing George Floyd. Yes, I can, and at the same time, it's it's when you.
See other as other as a thing, not a whole person. That you're able to do that when you see the whole person like yourself, then you're not able to do that, but when you're ignorant and when you're coming from a belief system. But I even get more radical than that. What need is someone to treat someone like that or to shoot people? And there's got to be a belief system or paradigm that they're operating from that says that that's OK and that, you know, what's the difference between I think it was Robert Lifton wrote a book about it called A Doubling during the the Germans when they were dealing with concentration camp inmates and they could take a baby and slam it up against a wall and kill it.
And then they go home and play with their little kid. There's a certain level of being able to cut off parts of myself or just not see the other person as just like me, this person's a human being. And so when we to see that we're not able to do those atrocities when we get a conscience. And of course, the gentleman that wrote Amazing Grace. You know, had slave ships at some point he found. He found the real deal or he woke up.
And so who's to say that those cars that did those atrocious acts wouldn't wake up some time before now? And so there's a human being there now and they have their way of being is not conducive and in should I am I angry at them and my frustrated am I hoping that they, you know, that they get taken care of? Yes, but it's not like. They're separate from me because the reality is I have those saying I call it the fair Wolfen and the love work, if I'm feeding a fair wolf that I'm capable of doing the same thing.
I'm capable of doing the same thing if I'm in that mindset, if I'm feeding that wall of fear, insecurity or self or other, because it's coming out of fear that they're doing that is not love, not compassion. But until we can get beyond this illusion of separateness, that's possible. It's possible that we could do heinous things to each other. So we we all have those seeds. So to say that they have and we don't, that's not entirely true, but it depends on how we direct that tension, how we train our mind and our heart.
And if we're focusing on love and the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. And I would say that's the problem because we don't love ourself. We definitely don't love our neighbors. And so it comes back to the inner game of if I love myself and if I can see myself in others. Then maybe I'll have more compassion and maybe there's a way where even though it's required for me to act a certain way or behave a certain way, I can say no.
And the space between stimulus and response, my value is to value life human beings, you know, to be kind, generous. And I don't mean like to be in a wimpy way, because I think when I started doing this practice and I was more reserved, people would take that as a weakness rather than realize you. No, I can exert myself, but I'm going the way of peace. I can get violent if I had to, but that's not my preferred choice for a choice is to love, can't hate, not to hate.
Yeah, I believe the Buddha had some things to say about that. Yeah, Christ had things to say about that. And I think just about all the other wisdom literature talks about love versus, you know, to overcome hate. You have days during all of this where. Maybe he didn't feel that great where you struggled with it. No, I don't, because when I came from hell man know, it's like being addicted to heroin and other drugs and having to get high three, four times a day meant everything now is like coming up on thirty six years clean in a week.
Come on man. I came from hell. So everything is good. So it's like it's manageable and I have faith, but it's not so much like I'm believing, it's like from my experience. So when you talked about the self-centered fear and all of that, that's what I call you got to forget yourself to find yourself. What does that mean? That means if I go and serve others, I'll forget about me. This is where I learned 12 step recovery with another person and get out your stuff and help somebody else, and then you'll find yourself because the other person is in you.
So whatever I give it comes back to me, so if I'm giving grief of all, I'm going to get back. If I'm given love. That's what I'm going to get back.
And I'm not doing it for it, but it's just natural to be and it takes less energy to be kind and the to be a pain in the butt or to be hostile. And then we go back and we're not quiet and there's a part of us that feels uncomfortable with that because we know that was wrong, wasn't wait. But if we drawn out that still small voice, we won't hear it. Much more of my conversation with George right after this.
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So you talked about death contemplation, which I think is a supremely counterintuitive resiliency practice, at least superficially or to the uninitiated.
So can you describe what that practice is and why it's been so helpful to you?
Yes. So. Because we have this this idea that when people die, we act like it's not supposed to happen. He will get sick, we act like he's not supposed to happen, we get old and we can tell that because we lose out here and look at the body, doesn't it? It used to do you have to go to bathroom or at night or whatever it is suffering is acting like what's happening shouldn't be happening, but the conditions are ripe for everything to happen.
People do not go before. And I know some people will challenge this, but you don't go before your time, these things that happen. And so understanding the impermanence that things are changing. And like Carlos Castañeda talked about and the teachings of Don Juan, he talked about having death be on your left shoulder. So reminder because like this, take the situation with Kobe. I said, oh, Kobe is going to be around. I could do that some other time.
They not around. So you got to tell people you love them now and you've got to do what you really want to do with people now so that if you're fully present and fully engaged. And when you accept death, you accept accepted life. The other side of the coin, so when you make peace with death, then you're fully alive because this could be your only day you have it could be the only time you have to interact with someone.
So assuming that's true. How do you want to leave that? And then I would take it another step, so I'd be watching while I don't have direct TV now, when I had direct TV, especially when I watch old classics like Christmas Carol, and I go and I look at the people and when they were born and I say, dead, dead, dead, everybody. Now with a look out how they look or you see somebody back then and say, OK, that was dead.
Now look at them now. Oh, they get know the went beyond aging. No one beyond getting ill. And then you have some people like James Dean that by early Jimmy Hendrix, Bruce Lee. Just to name a few. Janis Joplin. I mean, I could name tons of them, Princess Diana, a lot of people. That, you know, they're going to die. And so that awareness was just making clear, prepare me that everything now, even a flower, it could be great today, but it's going to well.
That's just the nature. And so is the idea of freedom or being at ease as realizing that whatever's happening down is because the conditions are right for it to be happening. And so if I have this attitude of being with what is. And making peace with that, even though I don't like it and I could suffer over it and I will suffer over it, but then at some point it's like, OK, this happened and I'll share something with you.
And then it's like when election night I was actually teaching a sandwich retreat and we had to have some extra sessions because a lot of people I work with were traumatized when Trump became president. And I remember feeling. This anxiety and just like really awful. And then once I accepted the fact that he was the president. There's nothing I can do about it then then I have peace. Then it was like, what are you going to do? So there's something about awareness, I call it the raise, the awareness, the acceptance, and that's the challenging part.
Then once we have acceptance, then the third way is action, compassionate action and then assessment. What's the lesson to learn here and what worked, what didn't work? And then what do I need to learn and practice so that I'm able to. Have a better can be more compassionate or have the appropriate response to that, we're creating peace and alleviating suffering. Or lessening, suffering or even eliminating suffering. Can you say some words about what this I think it's called Mirana Sarti or that's the the technical term for death awareness meditation.
What do you do in your mind when you're doing that practice?
Well, you go through and you you know, the five reflections on, you know, I'm not beyond old age illness and death or just realizing everybody who's alive now is going to be dead. I'm going to die. I'm going to die. I'm not beyond death. And just looking at it and seeing that death is a natural part of life. When you see funeral, you see people. Passing away and then my older sister passed away in eighty six and we were really close.
And I could have some peace around her death, and that was before I started doing this, because I could honestly say I spent as much time and I was fully present with her as much as I could be. I guess I could say the same thing about Kobe so I could feel like I could let go. I don't have any regrets. Or if I have regrets, I'm going to forgive myself for it, because when you know better, you do better.
That's what Dr. Maya Angelou said. So there's going to be times when I didn't get to say something. When my older brother died two years ago, he passed away before I could get to the hospital. You know what's challenging, you know, he's a military vet, you know, he had a military funeral, two tours in Vietnam. He said quite a life. But I happened to have a lot of relatives who passed away, but I have my Uncle Joe is one hundred and I think he's going to be a hundred and seven in November.
And so some people live long. Some people don't. All of his cousins, they died in their 60s. Here he is living 40 plus years beyond them. That takes a kind of resiliency, for sure, yeah. Yes, it's just exciting, accepting things as they are and and making peace with it doesn't mean I like it. It just means that that's the way it is. And. And if I resist it and I don't accept it, if I suffer.
And I can say that with everything, because when we we're going through kind of a grieving process, we got to die of old the way things used to be and and new things had to be reborn. So we look at clinging to the past that pass it never coming back. So we can claim to it and say, I miss this or we can say, OK, let's create something great now. Let's make things even better. Because when one door closes, another one opens, something ends.
It's a new beginning. So I was just thinking about it and reflecting on impermanence mostly is just understand things. Impermanent things are rising, passing away all the time.
And when we see that then the tendency is not to cling or attached to it so much.
On this subject of resiliency, there's another you like to come up with things like the four A's and there's another one of these new monarchs that you have the the the three C's that really go right to this subject of resiliency.
Can you talk a little bit about the three?
Yes. Yes. So when I got in recovery nineteen eighty four and I stopped using drugs and alcohol, especially pain meds, which got me started in the first place, I had chronic pain, migraine headaches and chronic back pain. I've been going to chiropractic since nineteen seventy five. So was that forty five years. So I've had a lot of pain and so I was, I was a member of that HMO, Harvard Pilgrim. Health Care I guess originally started it.
And so they had this program called Stress Management because I was going to therapy when I got clean, went into detox and he recommended that I do this experimental program where you would, you know, spit and pee and before and after they did testing. And the person running the program was Dr. John Boehner. Sinco, who at that time there was only three, what they call psycho neuro immunologist, and she was one. And she was working with Dr.
Perper and out of Beth Israel. And so I learned about the three C's, their. To see Frances challenges. I can choose my response. I had control. Over my reaction on my response and the commitment piece committed to my growth and development and seeing it as a learning experience, commitment to myself, to my growth, and so that's what I did and that's what I've been doing for the last 30 years or so, is understanding that no matter what happens, I get to choose my response.
If I can create space between the in response and then align my choice with my core values or having to be like love and compassion. Truth. No truth and then made peace with it. So just to go over the three seas, a commitment to your own growth and development control over how you respond to stressors. Yeah, the final C is viewing every crisis as a challenge. Yeah.
So we know from I think it's Bandura that talks about. Resilience. It's the interesting thing is all you need is one little modicum of control. So no matter what happens and Victor Frankl talked about the space between stimulus and responses is where we have freedom and power to choose. And the thing is, no matter what happens to me, I get to choose my reaction or my response to it. So Victor Frankl talks about honor. When you have unavoidable suffering, you can choose to respond to it in a way with dignity and compassion, with love that we always have a choice.
And so the control part of it is, if I can control a little bit of it, then having that modicum of control gives me more confidence that I have even more control. So it's a whole other psychology is like interpretive stuff. So if I interpret things as a blessing or a curse and both they're both right. I see, so people say to me, oh, you're we cut you a drug addict, you will put that in the book.
And why would you talk about that? Why would you say you don't understand? If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be here. So I interpret it not that I was this low life for this awful person, like, OK, that was a blessing. They had to go through that, it's like you can look at this pandemic. It's awful. A lot of people would die and then lots happening. And yet we can make it make it work.
We can make it better, make things better, not the same, but different and better. And it's like, OK, so that's not working. So now we don't have the illusion that some of this stuff working so now lets us get busy. So something happens to us and then we get to interpret what it means. And I say I'm going to interpret it in a way that empowers me, inspires me and gives me power. They call that interpretive styles, but all of these attitudes and have to do with how much faith and how much confidence you have and to the degree.
That you can connect to higher power, and that's why in my book, The Five The Mind for Athletes performance, I talk about the five superpowers or what we call the five powers, which are Faith Diligenta effort. Mindfulness, concentration and wisdom to me, they're like my powerhouse, they're like my power plant that if I mindfulness cultivate those qualities and balances them and I have access to more power. I have access to be able to be more present, to be more persistent, to be more focused.
To cultivate more wisdom. And that power plant, it's fueled in the furnace, it seems like, if I'm hearing you correctly, of your meditation practice where you're building these capacities.
Yes, and it's interesting because some people have a limited view of meditation practice, which means when I'm sitting in silence, my view of meditation practices is something you can do from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. So even then, that's what we call the domain of practice, that you can still always ask yourself, you know, what am I doing? How's my mind and my hair or my focus on somewhere else? And so for the moment, the moment you're practicing, when you do something, if you are using force, energy or force effort, it's not going to be you're not going to get the result you want.
If you're have a lack of effort, you're not going to have the result. It has to be a balanced effort and has to be and you've got to have a little bit of enthusiasm to get beyond lethargy or low energy. So I talk about the process of right after it has to do with an enthusiastic, steady, continuous balance application energy. So I don't care what you're doing. You got to have a right effort after the did you got that mindfulness and wisdom and wisdom in this case could be information, intellect or intuitive knowing.
But you've got to understand, what am I doing? What are the principles here? So I got to know gravity. Is in play, so even if I don't believe in gravity, if I jump up, I'm coming down. I believe in it, but I got to know if I know gravity is there, how do I use gravity to my advantage or understanding that? So there has to be an understanding of who I am. I especially for myself.
I have a masterpiece. I'm wired for success and wired for altruism. I'm wired for freedom of choice. I'm wired for compassion, love, I'm also wired for what we talk about, the fear, the insecurity, the hostility, the hate, all of that stuff, that's the that's the fear, Wolf. Let me just go back to the the the sea of challenge, reviewing every crisis as a challenge. I'm channeling perhaps skeptical voices of listeners saying.
Easier said than done. Yes, and but here's an interesting thing. Is when you get in the habit of seeing things as a challenge, it gets easier. David. So from my experience, the dolphin come on now. I think that's a hell of a challenge. Most people don't get that right. Alcoholism, they don't get that right. But if I see it as a challenge and say, OK, this bottle of water is half empty, half full, both of right.
So if you come from half empty, you're in the survival mode and you're coming from scarcity, coming from fear, if you see it as half full, it coming from abundance. And so we know this because the guy in the wrote a book called The Biology of Belief. He said that on a cellular level, a cell is either in survival mode, a growth mode. You can't be in both. So what we're really talking about here is if you're in survival mode, you're right, you ain't going to get there.
So you got to get out of so I won't get in growth mode and get you in growth mode, seeing what you can do, seeing the light. Not seeing the dark and seeing the yes, I care, is that a trainable habit of mind? Yes. Like every habit of mine is train, it's a habit. It's what it is. But here's what we're saying. You have to have some kind of spiritual practice or some kind of self introspection that allows you to.
Observe, evaluate your habit patterns. And to be able to say, OK, this one's working, this one's not, how do I change it? How do I let it go? So I would say the practice of mindfulness has to do with transforming the mind, making the mind more your friend, making the mind more susceptible to being in the present and focusing on things that are about alleviating suffering or being here now and being being loved and being present being.
Whatever it is, I'd say love really just being open to what is and then whatever comes up relating to it in a way where you feel like you're going to express your love, your compassion, your being on an adventure, your. Joy for life and so, yeah, everything I mean, that's the thing. Attention, we are we're paying attention all the time. So what we're really talking about is paying attention to what you pay attention to.
And so that's what mindfulness is about, as appropriate attention is attention that brings you in the moment and is focused on what you're doing in this moment and whether what you're doing is go for unskillful. So all of these qualities of mind, the insight, the effort, the faith or the trust, the concentration of poise, all of those qualities always operating those five spiritual powers, they support each other and mindfulness helps to balance them. So if I have too much faith and not enough insight or verified faith, then I'm going to be Pollyanna ish.
If I have a lot of insight and not enough trust or faith, I'm going to be skeptical. So we do this all day, so all day you're going to be cynical about something. OK, so mindfulness helps you bring more faith to trust or to have the willing suspension of disbelief to say, I don't know, let me see what's possible. So the investigation experts see what's true. George says that this is what it is. OK, let me go see if I can have a direct experience of that.
And so you have we all do this. We try too hard and we don't try hard enough. So if we have too much effort and not enough poise or steadiness of mind, then it's going to be I can be helpful if we have too much poise to study this or mind, we're going to be and not enough effort. We're going to be sluggish and whatever. So we need to bring that effort up. So we need to understand that we can do that from moment to moment.
We have to cultivate these possibilities. Sitting in silence is very helpful. Having a practice of compassion and loving kindness, appreciative joy, they're very helpful. But in the immediacy of experience when we're operating, we have to adapt to. But that's what life is, adaptation. What am I getting and what do I need to change so that I get back on track or that I'm able to perform the way I want to? That has to be that immediate feedback.
And you have to have a mechanism of being self observe it from this relaxed receptivity where we are observing experience in a way where we're not moving towards pleasure or away from our version, whether it's pleasant, unpleasant, a neutral, a nervous system is going to move towards what's pleasant and move away from what's unpleasant and spaced out on what's neutral unless its neutrality like equanimity. Where we have a purpose, we're not indifferent. We have an understanding of what's happening.
So from moment to moment, those qualities of mind are operating. Whether we know it or not. We have these habit patterns. We have these things that we habitually do. Some of them are helpful, but the unexamined life is not worth living. So an examined life is most definitely worth living. So we examine how am I being how my one of my thoughts, my words and my behavior and my expressing who I say I am and when I'm not, how do I change that?
But everything begins with the mind, if the mind is right, everything else is going to be right. Continuing on this, on the subject of resilience, you gave a talk online and I'll put a link to it in the show notes on YouTube. It's called Learning from Adversity. And there are many things you discuss in that talk.
We've already talked about here. But one thing, there are a few things actually that might be worth exploring that we haven't talked about here, at least that not that I can see.
The notion of dealing with adversity, being a team effort. What do you mean by that? So when we're dealing with adversity, so whether we're with a team, with individual. So striking a chord talked about three things that you can predict somebody's success in in a in a vocation or a job or whatever one is what he called positive genius or being the hope and optimism. Second one is social support. And the third one is seeing stress as a challenge, not as a curse.
And so in that social component of it, as we learn and we have a network of relationships that help us to be who we say we need to be so we don't have to do it alone. In the Buddhist context, they talk about the Buddha, the Dharma Nsenga or the community of people. So we have relationships, we have a community, so we don't do it alone. So even though I might be acting alone, I have people who whether we're talking about Joseph, whether I'm talking about my friendship with you or other people, I'm I'm not alone.
And I'm having conversations with those folks and some of them, I'm having conversations with people that ain't even a lot of what I would say is a one sided conversation. But I'm a study the Buddha. I'm studying Jesus. I'm studying Victor Franco, Dr. David Hawkins. It could be my angel or her teachings. It could be a lot of people, Martin Luther King, a lot of people that. Drawing from their experiences, I'm standing on the shoulders of giants, if you will.
And so I'm not being alone. It's like I can I got my iPhone, I can do audible, I can Google has access or I can call someone and say, hey, this is what's going on. What do you think? And it's really more about me going inside and be still and knowing and asking my inner self or just reflecting on what is this, what do I really want? So getting clarity about who I am and how I want to express myself.
And I'm committed to the alleviation, elimination of suffering. So it has to do with that. So I don't want to suffer. I don't want other people to suffer. So what can I do that enhances creates more harmony, creates more interconnectedness with myself? First, because it's part of myself I can I can dissociate from and then connecting with other people. And so when I do it, I'm giving people the permission to do it as well. And so it works better together.
So we get together and it's what we call good friends and suitable conversation. That's what we're having now, conversations about his teachings, how do we apply them and our life or how do we investigate to see if we can have a direct experience of it. So it goes from faith to conviction. The more deliberate I get about. Cultivating relationships on an ongoing basis, the happier I am and the better I am at overcoming whatever challenges and challenges are inevitable, whatever challenges come my way.
Yes, and people are complicated. That's my friend John Covisint as one of the most remarkable things when I was working with him at the Center for Mindfulness back in the 90s. And he said, you know, people are complicated.
And because it's true, it's really true. Close me. I'm complicated. But complexity is a beautiful thing, can be. Yeah, and the cooler I get with my own complexity, the cooler I get with other people's complexity. We talked about this earlier and then. Then you have your team, you know that then your team is stronger. Yes. I really appreciate. The way you're able to draw this stuff out of me, it's not that hard.
It's not that hard. I have to I can throw out some half baked questions and just let you go. It's a pleasure.
I have a lot of love for you. So it's easy for me to be myself. It's mutual, so, you know, a lot of love on this end of the conversation as well. And, you know, I suspect people listening to this are going to want to get more from you.
So, you know, just before I let you go, can we have this kind of semi facetious segment we do at the end of every episode called The Plug Zone? Yes. And can I get you to plug everything? The book is The Mindful Athlete. And I understand you're also doing a course related to the mindful athlete.
Yes, we're doing the mind for athlete online course. We've launched it about a year ago, but we're relaunching it tomorrow and people will be able to sign up. But this is going to be different because. There's videos that can go in and watch, but we're going to have a six week study group, so I'm going to be on the call once a week or every week. And we're going to have we're going to do this together. We're going to create this community kind of process.
Where are we going to go through each one of the spiritual paths? Like we might go through mindfulness one week, then we'll have suggested home practice. And then I don't know if it's a Thursday or whatever day. I think right now, this Thursday, 8:00 Eastern time. But I notice we got people from all over the world trying to join in. So we have like an hour session that people will be able to get on the call, ask questions, and then maybe I'll give a little teaching around that.
So I'm excited about it because I'm trying something. So I want more engagement, but I want this virtual community to really be engaged in doing these practices because they're fundamental and you master the fundamentals. So, for instance, so I read my book forty one times totally. And I'm reading the chapter on mindfulness for 40 second time. I'm half way through as you're reading your own book over and over.
Just like that. Just like the module. It's a meditation. You go through it, you get more out of it. But these are basic fundamentals, so you have to master those. And so I keep learning from them and of course, when I wrote them. Or just like when I talk, I'm not really it is just flowing through me, and so I have the experience. A lot of times I listen to myself or I read what I wrote and I said, that's pretty good.
Where'd that come from?
So there's something about being and when you just being spontaneous, being in flow and it's just come in and you don't have time to really contemplated because that breaks the flow. You just got to let it speak for itself. And then afterwards I can reflect on it and contemplate, OK, that word that didn't work. How do I how do I do that? So of course, there's my website, George Munford dot com and but the course and there's other offerings.
I also have a YouTube channel. So every Thursday I do a post around covid. It's called Being at Home with George. And I've been doing that since the beginning of the covid, and then there's other things coming up, but for the most part, this is getting the online course going because I want people to be able to have access to these teachings. And most of them really can't afford to pay me at the level that I'm accustomed to being paid.
I pay that when I'm working with elite clients, but I work with people on all levels. So it's just really about making the teachings available. And then also helps me because the feedback I get from people engaging and interacting with us help us be able to fine tune and make those adjustments, those adaptations. That's going to be more helpful. Everybody should go check out all of those resources, links to every single one of them will be in the show notes, so it'll be accessible to everybody.
George, is there anything I should ask you but failed to ask?
You know, everything is no, I think everything is I mean, we said we needed to say. I just want to say that I hope people will, like I said, hope to be able to acknowledge the hurt, but also generate the hope and really bring this sense of adventure or let's create something that's better than what we had before, even if that's just the relationship we have with ourselves and others, so that we could be more compassionate, more kind, more loving, and at the same time, you know, alleviate suffering and or eliminate it.
But also, let's just have more fun. Let's be more together, more interconnected, live in more joy, because my motto is Joy now and never.
I just you know, I just want to the final thing I want to say, just to tie a ribbon around what you just said is there's a way in which, hey, let's make the best of this situation can come off as sort of an empty bromide. But you are listening to the voice, not mine. George's voice of somebody who has done that, who has, as he said, gone to hell. The depths of addiction. Never mind.
We went through growing up, which we haven't even talked about the depths of addiction and turned it around, became, as you can hear from all of his references to all the people he studied from, whether they're alive or dead, and turned it through a process of inner alchemy into like a just a bottomless well of wisdom and has walked this walk of turning crappy circumstances into something positive over and over and over again. So we're all stuck in covid world, and many of us are on the receiving end of a lot of injustice when it comes to the racism that is threaded through many aspects of our society.
And it is not to take anything away from the objective horror of all of that, to say what George has said, which is you can turn it into something great on the other end and you're hearing it from somebody who's done it. So thank you, George. Thank you. Appreciate it. Big thanks again to George as a reminder, George has that fantastic course on the 10 percent happier all about learning how to face high pressure situations will include a link to the show notes, along with the links to George's mindful athlete course and ways you can access his other offerings.
Before I depart here, I want to pass along my gratitude to the podcast team. Samuel Johns is our senior producer. Marisa Schneiderman is our producer. Our sound designers are Matt Boyd. And on shashlik of ultraviolet audio, Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We got a ton of guidance and wisdom from our colleagues such as Ben Rubin, Jen Point, Nate Toby, Liz Levin, and, of course, a salute to my guys at ABC, Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohan.
We'll see you on Friday with a bonus meditation from seven SLAC on resilience.