Game Change Nation

Zen Baseball with Shawn Green

Shawn Green stepped into the batter box at Dodger Stadium as an avalanche of insults and boos rained down upon him from the home fans. He had signed a huge contract for $84 million when arriving at the club in 2000 and expectations were high. However, Green was hitting just .231 in the first 42 games of the 2002 season and Los Angeles fans loudly expressed their disapproval.   

Green joined GameChange co-founders Paul McDonald and Jack Baric on their podcast, “Thru the Tunnel,” and spoke about how the stress of getting booed at home games affected him, even to the point of noticing the subtle change in his mindset when pulling on the home white uniform versus the away game grays. “When I was getting booted at home, at times, wearing the white uniform felt different than wearing the gray uniform.”

One of the things that Green relied on to keep a strong mindset was mediation. Green recalled how he first started to apply Eastern philosophies to his life and sport. “In high school, a buddy of mine and I both read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” He added,And I started working one off season with a Qigong guy who had me doing some different things, and one of them was meditation.

Although Green did practice traditional meditation, he preferred active mediation. This involves meditating while in motion and often includes focusing on a task that relaxes your mind. For Green that task was hitting off a baseball tee. He explained, “I would put the ball on the tee the same way with the seams facing the same way. Take a breath and then hit it — just really feel the motion and listen to the sound of the ball hitting the back of the net. It kind of sounds like a swish in basketball. So, you get all this physical feedback, both with the motion of the swing, but the sounds, and the smells. All these things I think contributed to creating something where you’re in the moment and not thinking as much.”

Green advocates meditation for all people, not just athletes. “Our life is so crazy, especially with social media now. And we have our phones attached and we’re always somewhere else. So, the goal is to have more moments of separating and just being present. And meditators are going to have a lot more than non-meditators. I think it’s crucial for just happiness, wellbeing, and creativity.”

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