I’m a big basketball fan. And of course I love to rep some Zen/Dharma, so I’ve always loved NBA legend Phil Jackson or as he is known, the Zen Master. He always had the best players as a coach and many say that is the reason he won so many Championships (11 as a coach). But with great players comes great ego’s. His gift was his ability to manage and connect all those egos into a winning team. He was able to get his players to rise above talent alone.
I was flipping through one of his books recently called “Eleven Rings” and pulled out this gem about advice Thelonious Monk gave his band members. I used this as an intention for yoga class earlier this week. The context of him sharing this was in relationship to his Triangle Offense. It is widely known as pretty complicated, but it’s created a lot of success. He writes:
“Steve Lacy, who played with Thelonious Monk, set down a list of Monk’s advice for the members of his combo. Here’s a selection:
- Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.
- Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!
- Make the drummer sound good.
- Don’t play the piano part, I’m playing that.
- Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by . . . What you don’t play can be more important than what you do.
- When you’re swinging, swing some more.
- Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
- You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
Man the Monk hit those keys hard, and this advice is tight. You dig?
On The Mat
For class we kept weaving back to this section:
“Don’t play everything (or overtime); let some things go by…what you don’t play can be more important then what you do."
In the hot room as we practice, this is sage advice especially when we get caught up in our habit energy. Sometimes what we don’t do can have a bigger impact in our practice. In Modo Flow, sometimes people try to keep up with the person next to them or around them and get out of their own bodies. What we don’t do: don’t keep up with anyone, return to your breath and allow it to lead the movement. It may tell you to take a little break, or it may invite you to go beyond what you thought was capable.
In the hot room when the heat is going deep and the heart rate gets up our mind can go to story telling mode. What we don’t do can often have more impact. Don’t let your thoughts lead your practice. Come back to that breath and let it lead the movement.
Off The Mat
These vibes for his combo can be great for life as well. I love the advice, "Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along and do it.” He’s reminding his band to think positive of think of what can be. Every day we have to opportunity to step into possibility. But based on what others say or think we side step and believe that maybe it’s not possible. But someone always comes along and does.
Today is a great day to come back to an idea or passion you have step into it. Swing at it and then swing some more.
Question: Of his list of advice, which one do you vibe with the most?
Here is little Monk for the ears:
Check out the book if you can. Hit the image below for the iBook Store