Meditate like a pro: 3 Inner Work® lessons from Pau Gasol

February 18, 2022 - 6 min read

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3 Inner Work® lessons from a pro athlete

Create micro-moments of mindfulness

The science behind Inner Work® teaches us that it can help heal trauma. Inner Work® can increase resiliency, create blitzes of gratitude, and help transform our outer world for the better.

Athletes — whether in the Olympics, in the pros, or in the college gym — have a unique perspective on what it's like to perform publicly, to compete, to suffer setbacks and come up short, and to return again for another day. 

As part of BetterUp's Inner Work® Day, Chad Thomas, regional vice president, Sales, BetterUp, turned to a pro to learn what practicing Inner Work® looks like in action. 

Six-time NBA All-Star, a two-time NBA champion, three-time Olympic medalist — and BetterUp Advisor — Pau Gasol knows a thing (or two) about the power of Inner Work® for transforming and sustaining ourselves through the ups and downs of a career and a life.

In this session, Pau shares why Inner Work® has helped him both on and off the court.

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What lessons can we take from Pau to create our own practice? 

3 Inner Work® lessons from a pro athlete 

No matter what profession, we can take some Inner Work® lessons from Pau and put them into practice. We’ve rounded a few key takeaways from the session that you can start building today. 

1. Put in some “mental practice” to strengthen your mind

“It’s important to work on your mind and your emotions.”

Pau Gasol, six-time NBA All-Star, a two-time NBA champion, and three-time Olympic medalist

Just like you would exercise your body, you need to exercise your mind. And like any habit, this requires practice and intentionality. Consider ways you can build a “workout” routine for your mind like you would for your body. You can stack habits on top of each other to help build consistency. But the key here: it takes practice. 

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“Little by little, you’ll see results. It's important to be mentally and emotionally aware of what's going on with you and your life.” 

Pau Gasol 

2. You can experience physical relief and relaxation from Inner Work®

“Those moments of really coming together to focus on clocking out the noise. They were very powerful.” 

 Pau Gasol 

Emotionally and physically, Inner Work® can lift a weight from your shoulders. Even something as simple as just breathing can help alleviate tension. Being in the present isn’t easy.

But the next time you pause to take a break, try noticing how you feel before. Are your shoulders tense? Do you feel a crane in your neck? How does your body feel? 

After breathing and meditating for just two minutes, how do you feel? Where do you feel a release? How has your body responded to that dose of Inner Work®? 

3. Showing vulnerability is a strength 

“Athletes are viewed as superhumans… but we’re human beings. We have emotions, we have things that go on in our life… It’s hard to open up to share those struggles but I’m glad to see that a lot of progress has been made. And I’d like to continue to see it grow.” 

Pau Gasol 

Sometimes, Inner Work® requires a level of vulnerability — especially if you’re doing Inner Work with others. And high-performers — like pro athletes — aren’t meant to show weakness.  

But here’s what we need to debunk: vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. And in many cases, vulnerability can help amplify the benefits we get from Inner Work®

Showing vulnerability allows for the wound to heal. It opens up that sore that might need the extra love, attention, and Inner Work® to become stronger and healthier. And that’s opening up requires more courage and bravery. But in the end, it can aid in your own healing journey. 

Create micro-moments of mindfulness and meditation 

“Just notice and feel the air going into your body, into your lungs. Be present and acknowledge where you are and who you are. Be thankful for being here in this moment, for being alive.”

Pau Gasol

It can take as little as 30 seconds. The next big meeting or presentation. A nerve-wracking doctor’s appointment. An interview, meeting another person for the first time. Take that deep breath and focus on the present moment.

Inner Work® doesn’t have to be an arduous commitment. What is important is getting started. As you continue to build a practice of Inner Work®, think about ways can continue to invest in your mental fitness.


Published February 18, 2022

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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