Coach Dave Trachtenberg
David Trachtenberg is the Founder of Mind-Body Basketball, the Program Director of MINDS (Mindfulness in Washington DC-area Schools), and a Meditation Teacher and Wellness Coach with over fifteen years of experience in mind-body practices. His study of Mindfulness, Guided Imagery, Yogic Meditation, Hypnosis & NLP, and the internal Chinese martial arts of Tai Chi, Qigong & Baguazhang provide a comprehensive set of tools to teach clients and students to live with greater peace, confidence, and well-being.
Dave currently teaches mindfulness with MINDS to school administrators, educators and parents, and in the past has taught meditation in colleges, yoga studios, and work-wellness programs in various organizations. He runs a private practice guiding adults and teenagers as a Meditation Coach, helping clients transform stress, anger and low self-esteem into calm, confidence, and compassion. Dave is known for his warm, passionate and engaging teaching style, and for his strong emphasis on “off the mat” practice, encouraging students to use meditation in every day, fast-paced environments as well as the solitude of formal practice.
Dave works with clients in Washington DC, Maryland, and the Northern Virginia area, and has completed the following certifications, trainings and studies in mind-body practices, in four different modalities:
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) - Jon Kabat Zinn, Saki Santorelli
Engaged Mindfulness Institute - Certified Mindfulness Facilitator (In-Progress)
Mindful Schools - Year-Long Certification (M. Cowen, C. McKenna, V. Ferarro)
Bhavana Society - Concentration (Jhana) Meditation - Bhante Gunaratana
Insight Meditation Center of Washington - Tara Brach, Jonathan Foust, Hugh Byrne
The Lineage Project - Mindfulness and Yoga for At-Risk Youth (Leslie Booker)
Heart-Mind Education - Mindfulness Curriculum Training for K-12 youth
Mindfulness in Schools Project - .b Curriculum Training (Chris Cullen, J. Webb)
Guided Imagery, Hypnosis, NLP:
Academy of Guided Imagery - Year-Long Certification (Interactive Guided Imagery)
National Guild of Hypnotists - Certified Hypnosis Instructor (Patricia MacIsaac)
National Federation of Neuro-Linguistic Programming - Certified NLP Instructor
Academy of Professional Hypnosis Training - Certified Guided Imagery Specialist
Tai Chi, Qigong, Baguazhang:
Sifu Fran Farrell - Tai Chi, Qigong, Daoist meditation, Kenpo Karate, 1986-1994
Michael Ward - Cloud Hands Tai Chi: Cheng Man-Ching form, 2008-2010
Master Xiaoling Liu - Wudang Longmen: Baguazhang, 2015
Other meditation experience:
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati - Yogic Meditation and Compassion Practices
Reb Zalman Schachtor-Shalomi - Kabbalah and Jewish Meditation
The Mind-Body Basketball program is built from bringing together two of my life's great passions: basketball and meditation.
Basketball - I fell in love with the sport for the same reasons many do: its creativity, competitiveness, and unique balance of team and individual play. When I was a teenager, I eat, lived, and breathed basketball, studied the craft of the game, obsessively followed the NBA, and became the definitive gym-rat. I would sneak into closed gyms late at night just to get in extra shots; during summers I played pick-up games for hours in the sweltering heat of Philly and Washington DC. While rarely the most talented player on the court, I was fiery and passionate, had high BBall IQ, and knew how to galvanize a team together, excelling as a glue-guy with strong defense, rebounding, passing, and post-play.
Basketball is a safe-haven when life gets difficult. As many players have experienced, life starts making more sense on the court, then off it, when we experience pain or overwhelm. I've always found a deep peace when putting up shots alone in a gym, and discovered how naturally athletes can drop into a calm flow-state when practicing the simple act of "get ball through net". Problems start letting go when the familiar sounds of balls bouncing, shoes squeaking, and swishes through the net begin to wash over you; we are left feeling more connected and whole. It's my belief that the way basketball is practiced can be an act of healing and personal growth for all players.
Meditation - For the past 18 years I’ve had the honor of studying and practicing various traditions of meditation from around the world. Experiencing the way different cultures have learned to focus and still the mind, and opening to new depths of internal and external awareness, has been a life-changing experience that continues to teach me every day.
I am passionate about meditation for a simple reason: it changed my life. During my teen years, I suffered greatly from depression, crippling levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, a continual sense of loneliness, and a deep-seeded anger that was bottled up and simmering beneath the surface.
Meditation allowed me to tap into extra layers of confidence and resilience I never knew existed, where before there was only fear and self-doubt. I began to trust myself more, turning inward to feel more whole, rather than to unhealthy addictions to fill the emptiness I once felt. I started accepting who I was, and gained insight to better understand the difficult emotions I was grappling with. I found a deeper sense of compassion for myself, and felt more connected to my peers. Having spent the majority of my teen years in a dark cloud of pain, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the depth of joy and empowerment that I now feel at age 35 from my meditation practice.
Basketball and Anger Explosions - The two strongest and most difficult emotions I had to confront was my anger, and lack of self-esteem; I constantly compared myself to others, and in turn felt little self-worth. Rage boiled within me, but was rarely expressed as I had taught myself to bottle up and stuff down my feelings. One of the few places I allowed these emotions to come out was when playing basketball. Sometimes I channeled them into hustle and energy during games, but often my anger hit unhealthy levels of expression.
If I missed an easy shot or layup, turned the ball over, or blew a defensive assignment, all the bottled up sadness and rage from my regular life would spill out and explode. I'd find myself screaming with frustration, cursing myself out, pummeling myself emotionally, and sometimes would even walk off the court mid-game, wanting to punch a wall, unable to handle such strong emotions. It was like having a mirror held up to reveal how raw, pissed off, and insecure I felt at that stage of my life.
Meditation and Basketball - It wasn't until I began applying meditation to these most volatile emotions that I began to find a greater sense of balance and inner-strength. The method was simple, but difficult to put into practice: each time I played, when noticing feelings of anger, or the urge to use damaging negative self-talk at myself, I began practicing meditation during the actual game. Sometimes I'd do so during game-play, other times I'd meditate within brief windows of time-outs, foul calls or other breaks in play. I began meditating before games to mentally prep and feel centered. I began meditating after games to regulate my mind and body after the emotional and physical toll sports can take after so much exertion.
What I discovered was profound - I had the ability to access awareness, perspective, and an incredible sense of inner-calm and empowerment during peak moments of physical rigor, exhaustion, and emotional firestorms. It no longer mattered what was happening in the game to trigger me, or how strong the thoughts and feelings were that arose in my mind; I learned how to face them, embrace them, and respond to them in a way that was healthy.
Practicing formal meditation off the court helped develop my mind to be strong, focused, and mentally tough. Not only did this allow me to cultivate a well of resilience to draw from, it also allowed me to channel difficult emotions into powerful bursts of confidence. Meditation slowed the game down, so I could play more naturally, make better decisions, and take my natural competitive juices and allow it to unite the teams I played on.
At Mind Body Basketball, my goal is to teach others the same skill set of learning different types of meditation and focusing that can be applied during basketball games, practices and training workouts. My deepest wish is that others can find the same sense of peace and resilience that I was able to during the most challenging times of my own life, and that this same type of growth and transformation can happen for others by fusing meditation with the sport of basketball.