Trevor May has a big right arm, which is the main reason the Twins traded outfielder Ben Revere for him. He was a prospect then; now he’s in the Twins rotation and is slated to pitch Sunday’s series finale in Cleveland. For May, learning to harness his athletic gift has meant learning how his mind and body are connected. He chatted recently with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand about meditation and other philosophies that help him on and off the mound:
Q I was struck by one of your recent tweets, where you said, “Consistently being mindful and present is the most underrated skill a person could have.” I’m interested in that idea and what that means to you.
A To me it’s the importance of not thinking about what could happen or what already happened — focusing on what I need to be doing in the given moment. The most important time is when I’m on the mound. Once you have the clarity in what you want to do, the best way to execute it is to be aware of what needs to happen at any moment. … When I go out on the mound, it’s the idea that I’m going to know what I want to do each pitch. I think as an overlying concept in all areas of life, it’s really important to know how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling a certain way.
Q Where does meditation fit in?
A It’s the actual act of doing it. People talk about meditation — you should mediate, you should meditate. But nobody ever teaches you how. … Meditation is the act of sitting quietly and thinking about what’s happening right now. It’s the process, on purpose, of thinking about things you can notice — how your body feels, sounds around you, people moving or talking, and then focusing on that and bringing it back inside your body and how you feel. I imagine a spotlight going on different areas of the body as a focus exercise, but then you let it go again.
Q Does it come from you, from family — where does this process originate?
A Me. It’s just how I am. But my dad got me going on goals. We used to go throw bullpens together after school and on weekends, and he’d give me incentives to get candy afterward. I was a kid, and I had my mom write me math problems on road trips. And she was like, ‘I don’t want to write you any more math problems,’ so she got a book and I would just sit in the back doing math problems. It’s just how I am. It’s how my brain works. I like to be the best at things. My dad started giving me incentives for school for getting A’s. … I got straight A’s, and that got me going. That’s all I wanted.
Q There’s a sports notion, maybe even a cliché, about overthinking leading to struggle. Is that what you’re getting at?
A This is my strategy to beat that. I’m an overthinker. I’m a thinker. If you don’t have a system or a clear train to follow, there are extra things in there that don’t need to be in there. … It’s much easier to move forward and not blow up things when you can identify things and move on.
Q Where does DJ-ing fit into all of this?
A Ah, that’s just fun. I really enjoy it. But it’s weird, I’ve applied these processes into trying to make music and the biggest things are workflow and style. Be clear what you’re trying to make and don’t give up.