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Mindful : April 2013
now Watch the trailer at mindful.org/freethemind WATCH A POT BOIL Boiling some water for pasta or tea? Watch it. It can be relaxing. Find more on Twitter @mindinterrupter OVERHEARD “Too much of the education system orients students toward becoming better thinkers, but there is almost no focus on our capacity to pay attention and cultivate awareness. We can learn to bring together the body’s va rious systems to fine tune the body and mind, so we can navigate life’s ups and downs in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes well-being.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, in conversation with Stephan Rechtschaffen, cofounder of the Omega Institute Brain Wave A child begs to take the stairs because he’s terrified of elevators. A soldier tries to reintegrate at home after a tour of duty in Iraq. They have one thing in common: both of their brains have been affected by trauma. But as neuroscientist Richie Davidson points out in the film Free the Mind, to be released in the U.S . this spring, “We can shape our brains in ways that increase happiness and well-being and also promote pro-social behavior. The brain is built to change in response to experience. It’s transformable.” Named by Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, Davidson founded the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wis- consin–Madison in 2008 to unite rigorous neuroscience research and applications of that research in real-world settings. Free the Mind, directed by Phie Ambo and produced by Danish Documentary Productions, charts one of Davidson’s studies: the effect that learning medita- tion and yoga has on the lives of veterans and children with ADHD. ● “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” Those words from Vince Lombardi, legendar y coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, have been repeated by coaches to thousands of players ever since, from Pee Wee football and Little League to the NFL and Major League Baseball. It’s a credo not only for the field but also for life. Jason Dorland, author of Chariots and Horses: Life Lessons from an Olympic Rower, was raised on that kind of thinking. He lived by it. He thought of it as the only path to excellence. He passed it on to others. But when he reached the pinnacle of his spor ting career—in a race where seconds and nanoseconds make the difference between victor y and also-ran—he came to see that philosophy as an obsession that hur t him mentally and physically. An Olympic rower, Dorland was a member of the 1988 Canadian eights crew heav- ily favored to take gold in Seoul. On race day, the team faltered and fell out of medal contention. Dorland went into a tailspin. “It defined me,” he says. “Ever y time I walked into a room I assumed ever ybody thought, ‘There’s the guy who came sixth at the Olympics.’ When the race goes sideways and the outcome isn’t what you anticipated, and you don’t have the tools to deal with it, you fall down pret ty hard.” As Dorland gained perspec- tive over time, he didn’t like what his winning-at-all-costs at titude had turned him into— someone addicted to anger as the path to excellence. When he star ted coaching he decided to take a different tack. Dorland coached the Shawnigan Lake School senior boys’ rowing crew in British Columbia to four national championships, but he taught his athletes that the excess stress that comes from obsessing about winning can actually decrease perfor- mance—not to mention create pressure to use per formance- enhancing drugs. Today Dorland counsels his athletes to find satisfaction within, to strive for excellence that isn’t based on comparison. “You could not create a more destructive and constricting message than telling kids that only winners are wor thy of celebration,” he says. And Lombardi would likely agree. As he looked back on his legacy, the iconic coach said of his most famous dictum, “I wished I’d never said the thing. I meant the effor t. I meant hav- ing a goal. I sure didn’t mean for people to crush human values and morality.” ● A Winning Strategy PHOTOGRAPHS(TOP)BYMITCHELLMEDIA,(BOTTOM)COURTESYOFCENTERFORINVESTIGATINGHEALTHYMINDS 12 mindful April 2013