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Jeff Coby: Meditation & Mindfulness—OFF THE CUFF

08/13/2020
By TDrew

This week we go Off the Cuff with pro basketball player Jeff Coby. Jeff reveals how embracing meditation and mindfulness have helped him to stay focused and reach out for his goals.

Watch The Full Interview on YouTube

Jeff Coby Interview Key Points

 In this interview, Jeff discusses the following topics:

  • What mindfulness and meditation mean to him.
  • How he was introduced to mindfulness and how it helped him through a dark time in his career.
  • How meditation helped him connect with himself.
  • The choice of being a victim or a victor.
  • How mindfulness allowed him to center himself and connect with his dreams.
  • His plans to release a book in the near future

About Jeff Coby

Jeff Coby was born on February 4th, 1994 in Virginia and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida. His family is of Haitian origin. He played high school basketball for Sagemont School in Florida, being named their MVP of 2011. That year he was one of 20 student-athletes from his school to visit Russia on a student exchange program.

In 2013, Jeff started at Columbia University. In his freshman season, he averaged 2.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. During his senior year in 2017, he averaged 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and was named Columbia’s defensive player of the year. He graduated from Columbia with a degree in art history and sociology.

Grayscale image of Pro basketball player Jeff Coby.
Jeff Coby is a Haitian-American professional basketball player born in Reston, Virginia

Jeff’s professional basketball career began in August 2017, when he signed with the Spanish team, CB Prat in the second division of the Spanish basketball league. The following year he signed with 3rd division club, Xuventude Baloncesto. In October of 2018, he signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Nicks and was added to the Westchester Knicks training camp roster.

In February 2019, Jeff signed with the Austin Spurs in the NBA G League. Then, in March of that year, he signed with Racing Luxembourg. Jeff has also played in the Haitian national basketball team.

Find Jeff Coby online:

Watch The Full Interview on YouTube

  • So, what up, man? Jeff Coby, this is “Off the Cuff”-
  • Yes, sir.
  • With 1AND1 Life, where we go off-the-cuff with some of our favorite entrepreneurs, athletes, influential people, and we cover the whole gamut of wellness. And this is unscripted, this is real. This is raw. Obviously we have a sort of format that we’re gonna cover, but it’s off-the-cuff. So, this is as real as it gets. So, I’m happy to have a very special guest here. His name is Jeff Coby. I’ll let Jeff tell a little bit about himself before we jump into our topic today, which is mindfulness and meditation. But Jeff, why don’t you tell our viewers a little bit about yourself?
  • Hello everyone, my name’s Jeff Coby. I’m from South Florida, born in Virginia. My family is from Haiti, and you know, I’m a professional athlete who’s definitely been through the ranks of life. You know, trials and tribulations definitely make champions, and I’ve kind of seen a lot of that through my experiences of being a student and also being an athlete. And I’m just a person here to make a difference.
  • Amazing. Jeff is being a little humble. I’ll give you guys a little bit more of a background. He’s a Columbia University graduate, Ivy league guy, played basketball for Columbia. He was an amazing player. He was on the Haiti national team. He’s one of the most, how would I say, polished 26-year-olds that I’ve ever met? I’m very excited to jump into this with Jeff because Jeff personally has gotten me much more involved and interested and appreciative of meditation and mindfulness. As you can see the background, Jeff had a stint with the New York Knicks. He also had a little stint with the D-League for the San Antonio Spurs. So, Jeff is an all-around guy. So, I’m really excited to jump into this with Jeff. To start, Jeff, why don’t you give us just a little, like a brief synopsis of mindfulness and meditation, kind of what that means to you and how those two things intersect.
  • You know, mindfulness is just understanding more about yourself, understanding more about your intuition, understanding more about your passion and just trying to cultivate that idea of gratitude and also just being okay with yourself. To be honest, becoming mindful is more of a skill, And I was introduced to it at, you know, a pretty dark time in my professional experience. When I was in Spain, I was playing in the second league of Spain in Barcelona, and things started off extremely well. We won a championship in preseason, having double-doubles. You know, we’re having so much fun. It’s amazing, I was working hard. I worked my ass off that whole summer before, and out of nowhere, the coach just benched me and then literally just had it out for me. It was literally out of my control. I tried so hard. I would come before practice. I would be the last one to leave the gym, and it wasn’t really amounting to anything, because he was just like, “You’re not focused.” And I was like, I’m not focused? What? What do you mean? I’m over here working my, like we’re having shooting competitions, and I’m not even missing, T, versus the person who I’m trying to play over. It just didn’t add up. And it didn’t make sense. And, you know, from that point on meditation and mindfulness really made me connect with myself because the circumstance was completely out of my control, and in my eyes, it wasn’t fair. And from that point, it was like, what am I gonna do? You know, am I gonna make an excuse? Am I gonna be a victim? Or maybe there’s stuff that I need to work on that I can’t see right now. I went online. I was looking around and I stumbled upon this article on “Harvard Business Review.” It was about meditation and successful business owners and how meditation, it goes hand-in-hand with leadership. So, my curiosity just got sparked. And from there I just started meditating and realizing, like, I used to have dreams of playing in the NBA, and it was just like always a dream of me growing up. And sometimes like, you know, when you’re in a world that moves so fast, it’s hard to really center yourself and realize like, what is my intuition saying? What does my gut say? And I was able to connect with those dreams. And from that point through meditation, it clicked in my mind. I was just like, I’m selling myself short on my potential. I should get to the highest level. I’ve never been someone who was like, I’m going to settle for, you know, the second league, the third league. So, from there, I was just like, okay, just keep that thought. Just keep cultivating it every day. Just keep meditating on it, because it was beautiful. It made me feel whole. At that point, in the second league of Spain, I was like, the only way that I could find peace in that dark moment of just sitting on the bench with a sad face… I wanted to cheer my teammates on, but like my ego wouldn’t let me, because the coach was just taking my confidence and literally crushing it. And from there I used practice as, man, like, I’m training for the NBA. What I’m doing right now is a stepping stone. I don’t care about my circumstance anymore. It’s all about what’s in my mind. And in my mind, I was like, I’m an NBA player. I would tell myself that every day. I was just like, I need to get there. And from that point on, I got such a better connection with myself that I just started feeling happy. Everyone was looking at me like, how are you so happy? You’re not even playing anymore. And I’m just like, it doesn’t matter. Time didn’t even feel real anymore. It was just like I was in a state of flow where it was just only a matter of time until I got that opportunity to at least try out. Because all you can ask for is an opportunity. You know, and success is where preparation meets the opportunity. You know, if you could get there, you have the opportunity to make something of it. And then, you know, from there, it all just started to gel. I started to feel better. I started to feel more confident. I started helping other people. I became a better person. I just have so much gratitude and appreciation for just the art of mindfulness and meditation as a whole.
  • That’s incredible. I think what’s really important about that, I think it’s two more things that I would be interested in having you expand on. I think one of them is, so it’s this thing that is I think really indicative to me of just being able to control what you can control. And I think even with me and what you’ve done to help me with mindfulness and meditation, it’s like, there’s so many things when you’re an athlete, when you’re an entrepreneur. You have to deal with injuries. You have to deal with coaching. You have to deal with, you know, things in business, things will happen that you just can’t control. You have a whole plan that is moving forward, and a wheel falls off the bus. And by COVID, for example, like in so many businesses, you know, COVID is something that you can’t forecast happening and it happens and you have to adapt. So, I’ll be interested for you to kind of expand on how meditation and being mindful has allowed you to control what you can control better and how that kind of allows you to flourish within yourself. And then the other thing I think, which is important, and again, which is something that you helped me to do is to build good habits. So, I think the easiest way for one to explore and to become, you know, well-versed in mindfulness and meditation is to create good habits. And currently you have me in this amazing group that is a 21-day abundance challenge, and it’s like a meditation and mindfulness group, which has whether I end up meditating in the morning or at midday or at night, it’s creating that habit within me say, TDrew, just take, you know, five to 10 minutes to just give to yourself, to give back to yourself, to help center yourself. So, one, I will be interested in just hearing a little bit more about how that has allowed you to control what you can control. And also, I think it will be valuable for your audience and our audience for you to go a little bit deeper in how to build those good habits with, you know, starting on being more mindful and starting to meditate.
  • All right, well, you know, initially when you think about, you know, building habits, and my thing is, what is going to be important? What’s going to make me more efficient? Because, you know, as you can see, the world is centered around people who can establish some sort of consistency, some sort of efficiency. You know, the efficient shooter is gonna be taken over the person who is inconsistent. You know, it’s just how things work nowadays. People want to be around people who have good energy as opposed to people have bad energy. And that’s something that I’d obviously want to expand on, too. But in terms of like building the habits, it’s everyone’s birthright to be happy and fulfilled, but not everybody understands how to do it. And I think the best way of doing that is connecting with yourself, because if you don’t understand what you want, then you’re just gonna have this lust for more or lust for something that you don’t even know. You’re letting someone else control your narrative, when in reality it should be you. It’s all on you. Understanding that I am able to create value to whichever environment that I’m in, and, you know, I want people to understand that they could do the same thing, too. But when you really take a look into meditation and mindfulness, you get a better understanding of yourself and what is valuable, because everybody has skills. Everybody has gifts. It’s just about which ones are you willing to hone in on? Which ones are you willing to tap into in order to vibrate at a higher level, vibrate at a better frequency with better energy? And, you know, from that point, I understood that I like to create, I like to nourish a very good environment, like when I’m on the court, like if you make a good shot, I’m like, let’s go, let’s go. Like, I get hype for you, you know what I mean? Like, even the little things, because the little things matter. You know, and that’s something I learned, you know, winning a state championship in high school, winning a championship in college, winning a championship at the pro level, like being a leader demands so much more of just yourself. You know, you have to be able to look at the bigger picture. And that is in and of itself is just amazing because you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You know, when you get these stamps of, you know, success, they’re there forever. Like, I can go back to my high school and see the banner with my name up there. And it makes me feel a certain way, you know? And I think that that means a lot to me, you know? Because through meditation and mindfulness, I was able to really think like, all right, if I want to lead, I definitely need to lead by example, one, and two, I need to demand more from other people because sometimes people sell themselves short, and I’m guilty of it. We’re all guilty of it at some point in life. But, you know, as a leader, it’s on you and your intuition to see these things. If I see, you know, TDrew, I’m like, yo, you got 50 shots up after practice. Why not get 500? You know, why not? You know, it can only help you. It can only make you better, but you know, sometimes you need that extra. You need that person to remind you of that. And you know, through mindfulness and meditation, I was able to tap into, you know, who was someone who made me feel uncomfortable in terms of pushing myself. You know, I had an AAU coach who just had the craziest expectations, literally nuts, but after all, it paid off, because I’m able to still tap into that and realize, okay, I’m selling myself short. Work harder, work harder, work harder, you know, because that’s infectious, you know? When you’re somebody who has a high ceiling, you want to work to get there, you know? You want to do what you can. You want to do everything. And that all comes down to being focused. What do you want to focus on to get to where you need to get to? Like, how are you going to tap into, okay, if I want to get here, then why don’t I just go one, two, three, four, you know, I might, something might be out of my control, knock me off, but if you understand hard work pays off, you can be back here. Then you get back here and then boom, boom, boom, you get back to it. You can’t take things personal that’s out of your control, because you know, there’s so many wildcards in life and there’s stuff that you can’t control, but what you can control is your energy and your effort and your attitude. If you’re able to control those, that’ll take you, you know, miles, miles on your journey.
  • Right. I want to get into the 21 Days of Abundance Challenge that you’re actually doing with people. And you now have not only experience and meditation and being mindful of what that can do for you, but now you’re also leading other people down that journey, a group of people, and that’s not easy. So, what made you want to start that as far as being a leader in getting other people to meditate and be mindful and leading a group to do that? And how has that experience been for you so far?
  • So, a friend reached out to me and, you know, talked to me about it. And, you know, I’m a little iffy on challenges, but she said, you know, this would probably benefit you. This is something you’re pretty passionate about. I think you should do it. And, you know, my grandma was a teacher and she was somebody who just always had good energy and was very, like, communal. Like, she loves community. And I think I get it from her. So, basically I wanted to honor her and channel that energy through the group space because you know, a lot of times people look to me for answers, and you know, whether I could make a difference, I try my best. Always, I always give it my best shot. And, you know, leading this group has been, it’s been amazing because just seeing people transform, you know, and just connect with themselves, instantly, there they’re a lot happier, you know? They feel a lot better. Some of the messages that I’ve been getting have been phenomenal and I’m so grateful for it, but it’s also great to know that you have a community there to hold you accountable because you owe it to yourself to, you know, work on yourself. You owe it to yourself to be confident and you owe it to yourself to become happy. You owe it to yourself to realize what goals you have for yourself and attack them full-force. And, you know, the group was a great way to, you know, put a good, like, a well-rounded, diverse group of people together and just build on themselves, just build upon, you know, your foundation, because you can always be better. You can always keep working. You can always continue to learn, you know. Education doesn’t stop at the college level. It’s life. Life is your real school. You’re here to learn and grow, adapt, and, you know, live and also teach. And, you know, I felt like this was a great way to connect with, you know, my community. We have 40 people in the group, and sorry to those who, I just, I didn’t have the manpower to do it with everybody else, but this, you know, this was special. This was so special, like, it literally warms my heart that everyone was so attentative, so engaging. Like, it meant so much to me knowing that I made a difference, you know?
  • Yeah, man. I mean, it’s incredible, man. So, someone, so those that are watching, you know, at this point they may be feeling like, okay, this conversation has inspired me to explore trying to be more mindful, to start to meditate. So, for those people who would like to start, what would be some advice from Jeff Coby to how do I start? Like, how do I get into this? What are some first steps that I can take?
  • I would definitely say before getting into the guided meditations or anything like that, spend time with yourself where you take your phone, leave it at home, and just go for a walk or at least sit somewhere for just 10 minutes. 10, 15 minutes. You can even set a timer on your watch or something like that. And just breathe, breathe, calm yourself down. Don’t think about stuff that’s making you anxious. Don’t think about what you have to do, this and that. Just breathe. Just be calm, be still, and then just be you. And then after some time, then you could get into more of the guided meditation stuff. But I think just sitting in just peace, stillness, and just connecting, connecting with your higher self, connecting with the person you are going to be down the line and also checking in with your body. Like as an athlete, you know, you train hours on end, and sometimes I just need to breathe. And see, like, all right, are my legs sore? Is my back aching? How do I feel? And just be grateful. And also just keep a clear, level mind, because when you’re able to just check in, it’s huge because your thoughts can easily influence your emotions. So, when you’re able to just observe those emotions and thoughts, just with a clear, smooth gaze, just relax for 10, 15 minutes, set a timer. You owe it to yourself to cultivate your best self, and yeah.
  • That’s a line. You owe it to yourself to cultivate your best self.
  • I’mma have to use that.
  • You might, you might.
  • A little wrist work? Okay.
  • You might add it to your mat, man. This has been great, man. It’s so amazing to hear from someone that I feel like has a perspective that a lot of people could really relate to, especially right now, you know. There hasn’t been a time Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen Z, whatever, at least in my and your lifetime, I don’t think there’s been a time where people are more stressed-out, you know, maybe uncertain or whatever. And as you know, and I know looking at statistics and things of that nature, you know, people that are experiencing anxiety and depression and all these things, these numbers continue to go up. So, things like this and this conversation, and, you know, your passion for mental health, and my passion for mental health, I think stuff like this is extremely important. And you know, at this point, like if there’s anything else that you want to mention or anything else that you want to bring to the conversation before we begin to wrap up a little bit, I’d love to hear it, man. I think you’ve covered some amazing stuff.
  • Thank you, man. Thank you. Just that in terms of mindfulness and meditation, anybody could do it. It’s literally for everybody. You owe it to yourself. We’re working on creating a community for this mindfulness and meditation. So, everybody definitely be on the lookout for that. Trying to bring this to the digital space so we can help people deal with their anxiety and the depression, because these, I’ve been through it. We’ve all been through it. But when you learn about the experience and learn how to propel yourself from those dark times, you want to share that. You want to bring that gift to light. You know, I’m not a selfish person. I’m very giving. So, I believe, you know, people can really relate and also people can really heal themselves from, you know, trauma, pain, despair, the whole nine. So, we’re definitely working on creating that environment. And, you know, I’m super grateful for you, super grateful for the group. This has been lit, bro. We’ve been out here, man. We’ve been feeling good, you know what I mean? Like, this is great. Health is wealth, man. Like real talk, real talk.
  • It is man. Now, you’ve made a tremendous difference in my life positively and the whole nine, man. So, hopefully I’ve been able to do at least a little bit of that for you, and that’s what it’s all about.
  • Greatest mentor.
  • In the future, and as we grow and evolve, it’s only gonna get better and better and better and better, and I continue to learn from you, man, so thank you or being on “Off the Cuff” with me and with us. Thank you for taking the time out of your day. If anyone would like to get in contact with you, how should they do that? His Instagram is @JeffCoby. Obviously. If anybody would like to get in contact with you post this conversation, whether it’s around meditation or mindfulness or whatever it may be, how would you prefer people to get in contact with you?
  • You could definitely go to my website, jeffcoby.com, but I’m pretty active on social media. So, hit me up on Insta at @JeffCoby.
  • Awesome. A little little birdie in my ear also told me, I think you have a book coming out. I don’t know if you want to mention that. I don’t know-
  • Yeah, I mean, it’s in the works. It’s definitely in the works, you know? We’re working with an old professor from Columbia. Now stay tuned, because I think it’s gonna be great. I think people will definitely be able to benefit from just reading something that’s worthwhile and definitely something that’s meaningful.
  • Awesome. Awesome, man. Well, Jeff Coby, Columbia grad, professional athlete, incredible African-American human being. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us in one of the earlier episodes of “Off the Cuff.” You know, I’m really excited for what this will be able to bring to people, and, you know, coming from a place of gratitude and respect, man, thank you for, for being one of the first people to jump on this platform and have a conversation with us man. I really appreciate it.
  • For sure. All love, man. All love. This has been great, bro.
  • Awesome, awesome. All right brother.
  • Peace.
  • Peace.
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