This episode of the podcast features retired Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine. Mark has developed two powerful integrative training systems that have served thousands of warriors, athletes and professionals from different walks of life. SEALFIT develops a heart-centered approach to leading, mental toughness and resiliency through rugged functional training. Unbeatable Mind is an integral warrior development system that develops from the inside out along what he calls the 5 Mountain path of physical, mental, emotional, intuitive and “kokoro spirit.” These programs have brought elite level training and practices to ordinary folks. His newest program is Kokoro Yoga, an integrative personal practice for evolving the highest states of mental development.
3:27 What is Kokoro?
7:12 Sheepdog Warrior Mentality
12:40 The 5 Mountains of the Human Being
22:25 SEAL Nickname: Cyborg
25:26 How to thrive during suffering
31:30 Preparing warriors to be resilient after combat
44:10 4 Key Skills for SEAL candidates; Breath Control
44:49 Positivity & the Witness Interdiction Process
45:51 Imagination & Visualization
50:09 MMA vs traditional martial arts
56:25 Developing mental toughness + self-defense skills
1:00:17 On access to weapons without training
1:04:57 What does it mean to be a World-Centric Warrior?
1:09:29 Inner warrior training in the face of existential threat
1:17:27 Kokoro Yoga
1:25:03 Box Breathing
Mark Divine’s Programs
Books by Mark Divine
Daniel: Welcome to the Neurohacker Collective podcast. My name is Daniel. I’m with research and development here at the Collective. We are honored and excited to have Mark Divine with us today.
[00:00:30] Everyone that we’ve had on the show is a world-class incredible individual. Mark is as unique a person as, I think, exists in terms of his extremely diverse eclectic background. Mark was a Navy seal and then became a trainer and commander for the SEALs. Then after retiring from the SEALs, continued to train and to this day, trains elite forces in both [00:01:00] physical training and mental, emotional resiliency and toughness training. He started his career as a SEAL after having an MBA in finance and a degree in economics and working in high finance. He’s got multiple black belts in different traditional martial arts, other advanced training, and other martial arts as well as hand-to-hand combat. The beautiful part of the traditional martial arts, it was stripped kind of stripped away, and combat mixed martial arts had a lot to do with the spiritual [00:01:30] traditions. He was training in the meditative and spiritual traditions all along the way.
Studied integral philosophy and actually created the world-centric warrior and world-centric leader program, and then has taken this kind of leadership training and elite performance training to all different kinds of leaders in the world, as well as having been entrepreneurial [inaudible 00:01:56] to take these kind of best of performance to the world. [00:02:00] I think Mark is in a category by himself of someone that has this degree of actual military elite forces training and an actual embodied philosophic work and had put that together to what really strikes me as like the closest thing to, at least, the way I romanticize what the samurai were in terms of a real immune system to the world. When we think about [00:02:30] issues of police brutality unlike [inaudible 00:02:33] at today compared to what they need to be, Mark possibly offers something so unique and for so many different reasons. Mark, thank you for being here with us.
Mark Divine: Daniel, thank you very much and thanks for that intro. That was really nice.
Daniel: I want to just start with I know you developed a whole system of yoga that is working with mental and emotional and mindfulness training [00:03:00] that’s very unique. You’ve got physical training that is developing mental toughness through the body and lots of things. I’d like to know in all of your decades of training across all of the different things you’ve done, what is most meaningful and foundational that you would like to see more people learning about and getting engaged with?
Mark Divine: Yes, a powerful question. I think that we’re at a point [00:03:30] in our development as a humanity or as a race where I would like to see a lot more people step into their fullness as human beings and to operate out of what I call Kokoro. Kokoro is the name that we use both for our most extreme training in SEALFIT which is modeled after the Navy SEALs’ Hell Week which is 58 plus hours long as well as our yoga program.
Kokoro comes from the Japanese martial tradition, and it means [00:04:00] heart-mind or merging the heart and mind into action or the divine heart of the warrior. How nice, a little bit of tap there with the Divine name. This idea of cultivating the divine heart of the warrior requires true integration. This is one of the reasons you mentioned I studied integral theory. I was so drawn into Ken Wilber’s work because I have been [00:04:30] working on a process and a practice of integration since I was 19 years old. I began studying Zen with the martial arts which is an integrated program drawn from that Japanese warrior tradition that had a close ties to the samurai and the budo [world 00:04:46] did not know it at the time.
For me, I was just practicing Zen and practicing my physical training. Certainly, in retrospect, what I realized that I mentioned laughingly earlier that our Grandmaster, [00:05:00] Mr. Nakamura, was a Zen master masquerading as a karate teacher. He was a really unique being in our culture to have that ability to transmit that integration of character that accrues through practicing both the inner and the outer in a very sensible way that is appropriate for someone’s stage or age of development.
Back to your original question, I think that everyone would benefit by [00:05:30] beginning or enhancing their lives through a daily personal practice of integration which is what we attempt to achieve with our Kokoro yoga training. Integrating body, mind, and spirit; integrating ego itself with your higher self; integrating East and West; integrating physical, mental, emotional, intuitional, and spiritual aspects or domains of one’s being. The outcome of that [00:06:00] is that you really step into your fullness and you accelerate your development as a human being and quickly achieve a sense of world centrism where all sentient beings are respected and loved.
The world is something that’s a sacred place and deserves our attention to protect and to nurture. Not unlike the native warrior traditions had a lot [00:06:30] of, at their highest level even though culturally they weren’t as involved, they had this great respect for the culture. They had great respect for their enemies. They had great respect for each other. In a way, the Kokoro hear breeds respect. I think respect is something that has been lost in our society, and there is a way to train it and develop it. With skillful means, we can teach people to become their own gurus and to develop their own selves to [00:07:00] the highest level so that we can engage into society more meaningfully and more powerfully and with more respect. That was a long-winded answer to your fairly simple question.
Daniel: No, it’s beautiful. When you look at the current state of affairs in the world and you look at the extreme and [inaudible 00:07:19] and divide and the US between left and right politically and the alt-right and white nationalism, the kind of extremism of controlled left that is partially driving [00:07:30] alt-right, and you look at the increased [distributed 00:07:34] military capacity on all sides of non-state actors. Then you look at these dynamics globally and you’re talking about respect for one’s enemies and respect for all sentient life. The problems we currently face at a societal level seen close to insurmountable. What would you say might be offerable to those kinds of issues from [00:08:00] the point of view of the kind of training and values that you’re speaking of?
Mark Divine: What we’re seeing here, the law of polarities in an accelerating world which is creating great breakdowns in the old institutions of the industrial age, we’re truly are entering the age of the warlords because they’re stepping up to fill that gap because [00:08:30] there’s really no other warriors who are competent or confident enough to step in who have that world-centric humanities in their Kokoro hearts so to speak. We’re going through a period of time, and I don’t know how long it will last, it might be 20 years, where the gap is being filled by very bad actors whether those would be state actors or individual actors.
Great example of this, my brother-in-law just basically moved back [00:09:00] from Cabo San Lucas and he went back there. He moved back last year and everything was fine, and he just went back down there to sell his property and whatnot. He said the entire place has been overrun by the cartels now, and there are literally murders happening every day. The cartel has taken over businesses at gunpoint. I mean this is Cabo San Lucas which was a major destination, worldwide destination and it’s gone. That’s [00:09:30] the age of the warlords and how quickly it can happen.
At any rate, I love Gandhi as an example, early example, of these world-centric warrior ideas that he said, “We got to be the change you want to see in the world.” You can either have a victim mentality. The victim mentally is basically saying we can’t do anything about this. These bad people are taking over and we’ll wait around for the government to step in and help us or you can have [00:10:00] a sheepdog mentality and that’s where the individual says, “You know what? There’s only one person that can really take care what I need in my life and that’s me, but I need to develop some awareness. I need to develop the self-control to be able to step into dangerous and crisis situations. I need some skillful means.”
A lot of the clients who are coming to Unbeatable Mind and SEALFIT and our Kokoro are looking for skillful means to develop in [00:10:30] themselves and then in their families and their local tribes the capacity step into that sheepdog warrior mentality to be able to step up and take responsibility for solving some of these problems. It’s a critical mass thing when more people who step up to be warriors and step into their fullness and demand respect and demand that our elected leaders and our bureaucrats lead by example in the same way [00:11:00] then the more will push back against the tide and eventually turn it.
Not unlike what you talk about with your content and what you dived about this, we need to upgrade the human self, the sense of self, and consciousness. We can do that through tools like [inaudible 00:11:22], we could do that through training and methodologies that have existed for thousands and thousands of years but have been somewhat dampened down or [00:11:30] deluded or didn’t even make it over to this culture because we’ve been so focused on the external and the material. By embarking on a practice like a Kokoro yoga and engaging in breathe awareness and mindfulness and visualization in doing so in a context of developing the self so that you could serve others, then I think that we could really begin to affect culture through [00:12:00] individual action.
It’s a different approach in saying like activism. I think activism is good but, Daniel, to me, there’s a lot of people out there involved in activism who don’t have their shit together. The energy comes off as negative or wrong or violent. I think that truly we should be activist from the world-centric level there’s a win-win solution for everybody regardless of their stage of development and even if they’re your enemy.
Daniel: Trained activism means having enough people [00:12:30] who can actually assess the situation, regulate themselves, and have the skillful means to actually improve things rather than get triggered and then cascade the issues.
Mark Divine: Exactly.
Daniel: Talk to us about skillful means development and training. You said something interesting which was what you want people doing every day is integrating the various parts of themselves. I think most people have a sense of what physical training means. Obviously, there’s a lot of types of physical training for different types of physical capacities, but at least, [00:13:00] there’s some reference. Mental training and emotional training and spiritual training get fuzzier for a large percentage of the population and how to actually do that, how to know if it’s working, what the most effective technologies are, but then what is integration across all of those trainings mean other than just doing all of them?
Mark Divine: We have to do all of them in order to integrate them, but in the process of doing all of them, they are integrated. Let me [00:13:30] see if I can say it this way. Let’s look at what I call the five mounds of human beings. The five mountains or the five domains are the physical, so your physical structure, you’re physiology. In that category, we can put training of the body, fueling the body through proper nutritious concepts and practices, hydration, and also a physiological control through being able [00:14:00] to manage the stress response and bleed off stress. Taking care of the body through skillful means is along those lines. SEALFIT really is about that.
We teach people how to really get into optimal functional, physical condition as age-appropriate and body type-appropriate so that you feel confident and courageous and to fuel properly and to hydrate and sleep and all that kind of stuff. Of [00:14:30] course, because we don’t operate in a vacuum in the world as much islands in a week, we need to do this in a team environment. We want the whole team to be strong because one bad apple spoil bunch; one weak link will break the chain. We want to train and teach people that training together as a team is really powerful.
Right there, now we’re already, just by addressing the physical training through a daily practice of physical development that’s going to develop [00:15:00] you in a way that makes you stronger and more durable and more functionally fit and more confident and able to move your body. We know that having a very positive neuroplastic effect on the brain now through our research. The training itself requires great focus and concentration, so we’re now getting where the physical training is starting to develop the mind.
Anyone who has been into athletics and endurance training knows that the practice of … I was a competitive swimmer and no question that being a competitive swimmer developed my mind in a very [00:15:30] powerful way and had a great effect on my ability to manage stress because swimming requires breath control and breast awareness. Those are classic Eastern practices that just happened to kind of be a spillover effect for the swimmer as an endurance athlete. Through my swimming training, I learned breath control and I learned concentration. Those are two core practices of yoga actually.
Anyways, the physical mountain then prepares the mind [00:16:00] through physiological adaptation to stress as well as development of concentration for us to then take the mind into deeper territory through awareness, self-awareness, developing some of the meditative practices that we find in Eastern traditions but were completely lost here in the State in the West, and visualization and what not.
Now, by training with the team, we’re exposed [00:16:30] to emotional weaknesses or what I call blind spots or BOO, background of obviousness spots where you have emotional shadow or baggage that is obvious to others because you’re dropping little hand grenades around, but you’re completely blind to it because it’s your pattern that just keeps repeating. This one way that we’ve used the body and training of the body to expose emotional patterns and challenges that then become [00:17:00] a subject of study through your self-awareness practices which is part of your mental training.
Now, you can see how body and mind are bringing us into the emotional mountain to become more aware of the emotional body or aspect of yourself so that you can then, with skillful means, which are some of the tools that we give you or with an emotional coach, a.k.a. therapist, begin to develop that emotional side of you.
Now, as we go through the physical and refine the physical and then the mind gets [00:17:30] more … You have the ability to concentrate and tap into other areas of your mind, that whole mind concept that the Kokoro theme speaks to, and you’re emotionally in control and able to assess and not be drawn into the story of your emotions, then you begin to be able to peek even deeper into the human aspect of yourself which is where the intuitive language which, I believe, is like the interpretive language of your soul is [00:18:00] intuition. It’s the feeling states of the body, its imagery, its insights, it’s the ability into it and connect energetically with another human being. Those are not the line … It’s not coming from your rational mind. It’s coming from the nonrational, nonlinear heart-mind, belly-mind, nervous system as a mind, consciousness as a mind.
As you start to penetrate those deeper layers because you’re through the physical and the mental and emotional and they’re not blocking you anymore, [00:18:30] you’re able to be exposed to that super mind or higher mind or your spiritual self, [inaudible 00:18:37]. That aspect then is able to shine through a more clear lens and that’s why you experience a flowering of your intuitive being, I guess, you’d say, your intuitive intelligence. This is my theory and it’s what I’ve experienced myself and through our athletes and warrior who we’ve trained. You got to go through the physical and the [00:19:00] mental and the emotional to be able to get to the intuitive and the spiritual.
If you go straight to the spiritual, you block yourself off and the experience can be limited because your body-mind emotional system is going to still be coagulated. It’s not unlike what I listened when Ken recently said, “You wake up to your potential as a human being and then you begin a process of growing up.” We’ve largely described the process of growing up, but then you’re going to get stuck or you’re going to have that shadow [00:19:30] self come back to bite you in the ass. You also have to clear up your past, clean up the past as the emotional life, and then you can, in my lexicon, open up to your intuitive self so that you could show up powerfully in the world.
Daniel: You said something about intuitive intelligence was the term you used that just like someone connects your brain [inaudible 00:19:51] ability by letting critical thinking, studying chronologic, studying math, studying science.
Mark Divine: Correct.
Daniel: You’re saying that someone can actually train the [00:20:00] intuitive intelligence then is maybe where rational thinking is processing in serial [inaudible 00:20:08] intelligence is processing in parallel and that that’s attainable and that’s a part of what you’re doing. I would imagine that for world-centric warrior, you’re in situations where there’s very fast responses that have to happen [inaudible 00:20:22] processes is necessary going to give you, but they also have to be very accurate because consequence is high.
Mark Divine: That’s correct. I started this training [00:20:30] really with special ops candidates back in 2007, 2008, and so he’d to be extremely practical. The practicality of it was, okay, so we’re going to train the body to be durable so you can get through training. Then what we’re gonna train them in the mind so that you can be focused and focus on the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. Ultimately, our goal here is you’re going to go out and serve the country in a sense as an American. As a Navy SEAL, you’re serving the world.
I’m [00:21:00] want to make you survivable. Essentially, resiliency to me was to inoculate you against death by bullets and also to inoculate you against the extreme stresses of combat. Not only do I want to make you physically stronger and mentally more alert and aware so you’re making better linear decisions, like you said, but also so you have that [00:21:30] fast twitch spontaneity that you would expect of a world-class elite warrior both to say, “Hey, stop because I detect the presence, I feel the presence of a roadside bomb there or my Spidey sense is telling me there’s someone on the other side of his door,” but then the ability to immediately respond with a clear head and clear heart so you that your actions are what the samurai called Shibumi, effortless perfection, [00:22:00] and that’s training.
Now, the SEALs train it just through mastery, mastery of these basic skills of combat. What I’m suggesting is that we can also train it through mastering the skills of the inner warrior, breath control, the sacred silence practices of concentration, visualization, meditation, and what the yogis called samadhi which is connecting to source energy, source intelligence.
Daniel: Let’s talk about this. I saw in some research about you that you [00:22:30] were called Cyborg during your SEAL training so talk to me about that.
Mark Divine: Yes, that is the nickname given to me by my first platoon at SEAL team three. A lot of people think that training BUD. BUD stands for basic underwater demolition SEAL training. That’s the preparatory training for the SEAL. It’s six months long. Now it’s considered nine months long, but we had the [00:23:00] extra few months and our day was done at the team level.
Anyway, so 9 months before or 10 months before you’re consider a SEAL, and it’s arduous, considered the most demanding training in the world. What people don’t realize is that once you get into a platoon, the cadre of the training environment aren’t there to protect you, and the platoon is just doing training. Pretty much, either alone or with a small cadre from the SEAL team [00:23:30] or from the advance training command that’s going to be directing their efforts, and then we get out into an operational environment when you’re deployed, you still continue to train but you really have no protective cover except for your own wits. Also, now we’re training as the real world, it’s the real deal. Some of the work we do, both training and operationally, is just extraordinarily challenging and much, much harder than BUD’s.
At any rate, [00:24:00] I developed a reputation because I would enter this training and I would prepare myself just like I would prepare myself for a black belt test or anything. One of the preparations was using these skills that I’ve been alluding to: breath control, mental management, imagery, visualization. I learned to use them in kind of a real-time manner. There is a before prep and then there is the after which is like the decompression of learning, [00:24:30] the look back. The during, for me, I learned to use these skills to get into a really deep flow state, to get into a place where the pain really was not any anything that was going to disturb me. It wasn’t going to disrupt my focus or concentration, and so I just showed no pain, no emotion, and was able to just go for hours [00:25:00] or days on end.
We had a blistering pace where there was a rock or swim. Whatever we were doing, I’d always maintain a positive friendly attitude and supportive attitude but keep my eyes on my teammates without breaking down or experiencing or any outward displays of frustration or what not. My team thought I was a robot so they started calling me Cyborg.
Daniel: Okay. This is really important because [00:25:30] you’re talking about mental and emotional training that you had previously done. They increase capacity to actually do the physical demands, that you’re obviously training the same as everyone else [crosstalk 00:25:42]. You said some interesting things, not just not showing pain which is kind of a stoic thing that … I mean I think we haven’t been [inaudible 00:25:51] stoic people that cannot show pain but not [crosstalk 00:25:53] being friendly. It’s different because to be friendly means you aren’t just completely shut off in [inaudible 00:25:59]. You’re actually [inaudible 00:26:00] [00:26:00] other humans and you can show positive affect and emotion which is a different degree of mastery, not just shutting down.
Mark Divine: I agree 100%. Like we say, the sets are 50 hours SEALFIT training. We’re looking for you not just go silent and gut through it because then, you’re really not very useful to the team; that’s not the point. If we see someone heading down that path, we’ll figure out a way to have them either expose failure [00:26:30] with that technique. They’re essentially going to end up leaving the training because the effect we’re trying to accomplish is that the mental management isn’t to just suffer and deal with the suffering, but to thrive in that suffering and to develop a real positive relationship to that.
We have this saying that there’s integrating pain and disintegrating pain. Integrating pain is any [00:27:00] pain that is making you stronger or that is necessary get through to a mission accomplishment. As long as it’s not debilitating you like literally breaking your leg on a run or doing something stupid and getting physically injured. When you develop the mental relationship with fear and pain that becomes one of the courage and persistence, [00:27:30] persistent focus, determination, then you open up a lot of space to be able to bring that same level of discipline and energy to your team because now you’re in control emotionally, physically; you’d expect it. You expect that it’s going to suck, but you also know that it could always be worse. Your relationship to that suck is one of humor and lightness of being positive dialogue inside. You’re seeing the other side clearly, you know what that mission is, [00:28:00] and you know that this too will end.
In that space that you’ve opened up there then, you’re desirous of helping your teammates through the same challenge. Then when together everyone starts to resonate at that level, that morphogeny feel that’s created, all of a sudden whatever suffering you’re going through is irrelevant. We’re back and mission-focused and thriving as a team. That’s a hard hing to really convey [00:28:30] in words. It really has to be experienced.
People who come to our Kokoro training experience that. Again, it’s difficult for me to really convey it in words because it’s not really conveyable. It’s like the unknown and unknowable. [Donald Russell 00:28:46] said, “Prepare for the known, the unknown, and the unknowable.” This is the unknowable until you experience it.
Daniel: What you’re saying I appreciate so much as it is those attributes that are the foundation of trustworthiness.
Mark Divine: Yes.
Daniel: [00:29:00] One of the things that I share with people often is that I modulate my [inaudible 00:29:05] based on the worst that they ever show up under the most stress.
Mark Divine: I like that.
Daniel: I don’t want to expect of them a better behavior than they are going to do sometimes. You want to be someone under extreme duress and see how they show up. What you’re looking at is how can you actually inoculate people to stress and do shitty behavior.
Mark Divine: That’s right.
Daniel: So that they actually can operate [00:29:30] from their values and then actually move their values to higher levels, world-centric value, and that they’re always available.
Mark Divine: That’s correct. To be fair, we have to expect breakdowns and things not to work because the tools that we’ve had in the past aren’t going to serve us in the future. We can’t expect the same strategies to get us to this place that we’re talking about. I like to say that the universe appreciates [00:30:00] when you bring yourself to the challenge because it frees itself up to take care of other people. You know what I mean. If you take yourself to the challenge, you challenge yourself in sucky ways so that you’ve exposed your own weaknesses, identify the gap and then fill that gap through developing the skill for means.
For some people listening, it might be, “Oh, my gosh, I really need to develop some skills in the art of fighting.” Okay, then great. Now, you go join in martial arts; it’s not scary. It’s really enjoyable. Do some [inaudible 00:30:30] [00:30:30] or do something that’s going to develop some skills and means around awareness and self-defense and taking care of your tribe. Everybody should do that. It should not be just for those other people out because it’s an important skill for our time and age developing resiliency mental toughness through like our Unbeatable Mind program. You dive into that; it’s hard. It takes discipline, but you find very quickly that discipline is actually [00:31:00] leads you to freedom. It’s the only way to freedom. That inoculation can be self-inoculation, but it’s a spiraling process. It’s that transcend and include, transcendent and include. right you every time you done, you open up a weakness or a gap in your skills whether they’re horizontal or vertical, you endeavor to fill that gap and that takes great courage and greater self-awareness.
Daniel: [00:31:30] I have a question. My grandfather was Green Beret Special Forces in World War II in Korea.
Mark Divine: Cool. Good for him.
Daniel: He went suicide later as so many of the early Green Beret did because I think the training program for Special Forces at that time was, in nature, it was such that they did very well in war, and they didn’t do that well afterwards. I imagine that’s evolved a lot, but we still see a lot of homeless people who are veterans [00:32:00] and a lot of addiction, mental illness, et cetera, from PTSD, from TBI, from whatever. There’s this interesting question about what prepares one for war and the battlefield and what prepares one for raising children and being in a peaceful situation. There are some crossover strategies but they are also very contextually different. I’m curious about training people in a way that they can deal with intense [00:32:30] situations when they arise, but they can also be very adaptive to actually be functional and healthy, psychologically healthy and relationally healthy, in non-combative environments.
Mark Divine: That’s such a good question. The way that your … you said your grandfather. The way your grandfather trained was not too dissimilar in a way that SEALs are trained to this day. I must admit it is changing fairly rapidly in that it’s largely focused on skills, [00:33:00] combat skills, and the special operatives train thousands of hours shooting, jumping, diving, small unit tactics, demolition. They develop a high degree of competency in that and that they develop a high degree of effectiveness and comfort in operating in extreme environments in foreign countries and murky situations in that [vuca 00:33:25] world.
Those are all powerful skills to have, [00:33:30] but they weren’t taught the skills of stress management. They weren’t taught the skills that we’ve been talking about, deep reflection and contemplation and meditation and what not. Some of the better ones did or if you had come from Eastern Marshall training, some of them did it, but that wasn’t very common certainly in your father’s day and age and still not that common today.
What you end up doing is you get a very effective one-dimensional [00:34:00] warrior that that can go out and just wreak havoc and survive but then lacks the means to contextualize that and to re-enter and have a normal functional life after that to bleed off the stress, to find a new purpose to really re-engage with society in a way that’s going to be powerful so a lot of them you can’t drop out of or end up committing suicide and it’s a huge problem today in our system both [00:34:30] the military as well as the VA. The medical system is really ill-equipped to deal them because they’re just throwing drugs at them that are on messing them up further. I think that an insane number of vets is committing suicide every day; that’s like 21 or something like that. It’s really sad.
My view on this and my experience is that the same tools that I’m using to prepare a warrior to be resilient in combat [00:35:00] will, number one, make them more resilient so that some of the effect of combat-related stress bounces off of them we would say or they’re able to deal with in the moment. I’m not going to be so bold as to say that they won’t accrue a significant amount of stress, but the same tools then can be used both after a combat mission or when they’re back home to really re-orient to bleed off that stress and to [00:35:30] get back into a normal state of being, a balanced state of being.
Ultimately, we really are talking about balance, we’re talking about homeostatic balance, mental balance, nervous system balance, and the practices of breath control and concentration and meditation and mindful movement will all have an extraordinary effect on balance. Then the practice of self-study, as the way we teach it, self-study in developing [00:36:00] and refining one’s personal ethos which includes a strong sense of purpose and why you’re on this planet is the context part. They go hand in glove so that we prepare our body, mind, and nervous system to be in balance and to be receptive to the vision of the new person that you’re creating in your mind and through your discovery process of developing a personal ethos that’s going to serve you for [00:36:30] the future after the military without saying.
The skills are used in a little bit different way, but they’re the same skills. It just seems so obvious to me that that’s the path to go down, our world is really weird. They won’t do anything unless there’s some sort of study. As you know, it’s very difficult to study the subjective self with a Western-style scientific study. It’s very difficult. [00:37:00] I don’t have that limitation. I can say if you trust me, I will tell you that these tools and practices will transform you whether you’re a CEO or an athlete or a warrior, and they’ll make you more resilient and more focused and able to handle your job better and you will also be followed. Then once you trust me enough to say, “Okay, I’m going to engage with you and begin the training,” then the experience takes [00:37:30] over. I don’t have to say anything anymore because they experienced the dramatic effect and the transformation that the tools have.
Warriors especially special operators tend to be the types of people that don’t wait around for authority to tell them do this or do that, but they’re really experimenters that’s why Navy SEALs have been early adopters of things that you’ve been working on and a lot of the things that we’re collaborating around [00:38:00] as well as these tools. I’ve been teaching Unbeatable Mind and yoga to SEAL training since 2007. I’ve taken all the fu out of the kung fu. I don’t use Sanskrit terms; there’s Hindi. It’s basically an American yoga system, Kokoro yoga. It’s an American system. It’s broken down with nuts and bolts, but with a very clear appreciation for what impact we’re looking for from the different skills and tools, and it has been very effective.
The SEAL trainees that I’ve worked with, [00:38:30] the ones who had gone deep with me, 90% of them get through SEAL training, and the 10% down is usually an injury that was unforeseen or some dysfunctional movement pattern or even just an accident. The 90% are getting SEAL training and they’re off doing incredible work. That’s why the SEALs, structurally the SEAL proper have taken notice of what we’re doing and are finally interested in this type of work. The Navy, at large is studying intuition [00:39:00] because of all the feedback they’re getting from SEALs and EOD in the field about young precognition and intuitive experiences and stuff that all of us as SEALs and special operatives have experienced at some level.
Daniel: You said 90% success rate. I know that’s significantly higher. What is the normal SEAL success rate?
Mark Divine: It’s somewhere between … depending upon where you start counting, but most people will count [00:39:30] an average SEAL training class will come in with a couple of hundred and graduate somewhere between 20 and 30. We’re talking about 10% to 15%, sometimes 20% graduation rate. That means 85% fail at some place during the training; most of them in the first in the first six to eight weeks which culminates in that Hell Week experience.
The other way to look at it is [00:40:00] there’s a couple of thousand people, men and now they allow women to apply, a couple thousand who show up at the recruiter’s office who want to be SEALs every year. They don’t even make it BUDs. Statistically speaking, that’s really more like 1% when you include that whole category.
Daniel: I was just with our mutual friend, [Jamie Wheel 00:40:20], at [inaudible 00:40:22].
Mark Divine: I heard about that. I’m sorry. I can make that sound fun.
Daniel: Yes. He was talking about this because he works with the SEALs [00:40:30] and training as well, and what the cost is for each actual SEAL that is trained factoring the total training for them and the attrition of all the people start the training and don’t make it through. He shared and interesting fact because of the people that fail basic training and come back. The ones who come back to try again never make it.
Mark Divine: That’s not exactly true. There are quite a few who have and who do.
Daniel: Okay. Maybe he was saying the percentage was very small.
Mark Divine: Percentage is pretty [00:41:00] small.
Daniel: If you say 90% of the people you’re working with, either you’re working within a very preselected audience. It’s a statistically not relevant dataset or you’re doing something radically different. Let’s just look at the radically different part. What are you doing that would increase the chance of success that much? Because obviously it’s the guys with the same genetics, right? The same …
Mark Divine: Pretty much.
Daniel: Initial motivation [inaudible 00:41:24].
Mark Divine: Yes, we’re working with Martians. Their genetic is slightly [00:41:30] different. I think what you said first is there is an element of these are highly motivated people who are actually willing to spend money and to spend a significant number of years preparing for the SEALs. I worked with one guy. He’s been literally following my work since he was 12 years old and ended up literally interning with us for a year. This guy was on [inaudible 00:41:56] of his class. He’s destroyed it and then there’s every different [00:42:00] type of scenario in between, so what am I doing? It’s a lot less. It’s probably going to be hard to parse in just like a few principles, but I would try to do that.
One is the training that we’re giving them is demonstrably different than the training that the Navy says you need to do to prepare. That is the Navy says, “Okay. The minimum standards are bodyweight standards.” When I mean body, what I mean [00:42:30] pulls-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, run, swim. If you can do a certain number of those exercises in two minutes, and you can run in a certain period of time and swim in a certain period of time, then you’re considered a qualified candidate, then you compete based upon your aggregate score to get a slot to go to boot camp or to [inaudible 00:42:51] school. We have our trainees do that as a bare minimum. We want them to obviously dominate that screening test, but that [00:43:00] is supplemental training.
The core physical training that we give them is twofold. One, and I alluded to some of this before that it develops like extreme durability. It’s still training and any Special Forces training is anywhere from six months to nine months long and it’s a freaking grind. You’re going for 12 to 15 hours a day, sometimes around the clock, and body just gets worn down to a shred of its former [00:43:30] self. If you don’t have the durability in your joints and your spine and in the connective tissue and also in your mind, you don’t have strong intense stamina, you ain’t going to make it. We develop intense stamina which is beyond endurance whereas the military says, “Go do run, swim, and do this push-ups and sit-ups and pull-ups and make sure you beat the score,” and they’ll be good to go, and that’s not accurate. We developed the physical structure for durability and stamina, so that’s got [00:44:00] a longevity to make it through the arduous training.
The second thing is we place an equal emphasis on training the mind. We’ve talked about that. For us, the mind training, we focus on four key skills for the SEAL candidates. One is controlling the breath which we will control the physiology so you can always stay in balance. We teach them the box breathing which is we kind of pioneered box breathing since 2007 and have taught it to thousands of people non-warriors and warriors alike. It has a profound [00:44:30] effect. If that’s the single practice you do, you learn to control the breath and to be able to breathe through your nostrils, and in that pattern, it will have a profound effect on your health and your mental focusing abilities. We teach them that and we have them practice it every day as part of their physical training before they train also in the morning and in the evening.
The second is I call it positivity. It’s the ability to open up some space [00:45:00] in your mind to be able to observe the dialogue and the stories and the patterns. It’s not unlike a beginning concentration practice where you begin to separate from the story and run a simultaneous mind. You have the story mind and then you have the mind that’s watching the stories and then curating those stories. We call the witness [inaudible 00:45:24] process. We teach this as a form of developing mental [00:45:30] dialogues and mental processing. It’s very powerful and it eradicates negativity, eradicates doubt, eradicates any kind of negative mental emotional patterns that will trip you up, can because failure. That in it of itself is a pretty sweet tool for them.
Then the third is how to effectively use an imagery both imagination as well as visualization [00:46:00] and to use that in both the past, present, and a future state. That’s a really powerful skill for a warrior and a trainee to be able to see the outcome but let go of it but to have that outcome still guide them because it’s very clear about what that victory looks like. We call that winning in your mind before you step foot in the battlefield as well as to be able to use the mind and imagery in a past [inaudible 00:46:24] really quickly learn from your mistakes and you can clear up the past. Then [00:46:30] to have a strong image of what you’re goal is like in the present moment, what victory looks like so that’s the third.
The fourth is task orientation. This is basically the ability to radically focus on the smallest task that’s going to lead you to success in this moment and link to the next task which they’re going to link to the next task. This radical focus task orientation allows you to stay very present and on a micro goal oriented [00:47:00] without losing sight of the big picture because that’s part of your image itself.
I teach these skills to these SEAL candidates, and I have them not just teach them conceptually. I have them practice and train it and drill it for however the duration of time they are with me whether that’s a three-day or I used to these 30 days. You alluded to the bushido samurai tradition. We used to do 30-day live and immersive trainings that I considered like I called them warrior monk academies. [00:47:30] We were trained from six in the morning until seven or eight at night and sometimes around the clock, because I knew that’s what they were and going to experience in BUDs. We’re training the body-mind to prepare for them.
Then I think the third element is, and I’ve talked about this earlier, is that we train as a team. I teach them that they are not alone. If they go to SEAL training and think that they’re alone and it’s about them, that’s a big fail because the instructors are there looking for their next set of teammates. One of the [00:48:00] top criterions they’re looking for is that ability, “Is this person trustworthy? Does he care about his teammates?” You might have a total stud MMA fighter, wrestler, high school football jock, quarterback of a football team. If these people were self-oriented and had not learned to take their eyes off themselves and put them on their team and to really support a teammate or support a team, they will fail, and oftentimes are the first to quit because the instructors [00:48:30] are like a bunch of vultures when they see that because they know that’s not what the SEAL teams are all about.
Earlier, that’s why the training so valuable for societies today because we grew up in this individual Western culture, individualistic; that’s was the way to go. Everyone wants to know make their mark and do it alone, “I don’t need anyone else,” and that’s a recipe for dissatisfaction, unwholesomeness, and ultimately fragmentation, and separation, and those are [00:49:00] problems. Those are problems and that’s a lot of what led us to some of the problems we see in the world because everyone is acting for their own interests to the detriment of others or the environment or society or culture at large.
Daniel: Okay. You said a lot of very interesting things. Now, I’m going to respond to a couple of them. It seems like what you’re doing with the [inaudible 00:49:23] is with the current training, it’s almost just selecting for who naturally has some of those things.
Mark Divine: Yes, well said.
Daniel: [crosstalk 00:49:30] [00:49:30] lots of people but they’re not pre-training how to have that for whatever reason. Maybe they didn’t figure it out or wasn’t cost effective. You actually figured out how to actually train people who didn’t have those qualities physically, spiritually, and emotionally, and team-wise to have those which is fascinating, because that means it’s not just [inaudible 00:49:48] you have it or not. It is a developable set of capacities. That means not just in warriors but in everyone because those are obviously very relevant [inaudible 00:49:57], those are developable [00:50:00] capacities.
This is beautiful. There’s a couple of things you said that are very interesting. There is an ethos that I have heard many people will speak to you since MMA became such a big thing which is that the traditional martial arts are kind of a joke. A traditional martial artist will get their ass beat in the octagon compared to an MMA fighter and [00:50:30] there’s a lot cultural fluff around, and now, we got this scientific fighting technique. You’re saying to me it feels like a very nuanced position which is there were things that the traditional martial arts had. They were not just training physical fighting but were training mental, emotional capacities that actually matter, that translate into real increase capacity, but it was also some cultural fluff or even if it’s culturally relevant, it’s not relevant to the current cultural context. [00:51:00] You’re doing something which is how do we separate off the ancient limitations of knowledge and the cultural context that isn’t relevant while actually keeping the internal training that is relevant to the external capacity you.
Mark Divine: Yes, I think that’s … Let me talk about a couple of things you said. One is martial arts … It’s tricky because [00:51:30] the way it was taught in the East was a lifetime of practice. The skills were doled out incrementally as the student was ready and you even see this in movies like Karate Kid where you go wax on, wax off on the fence for a year, and then I’ll tell you when you’re ready. That was just to get him to settle his mind. Let’s not be impatient with this.
[00:52:00] The black belt was considered, okay, now you’re ready to learn. All the workup into the black belt was just to learn some fundamental skills in punching and kicking. There is no way in God’s given earth that anyone up to the first degree black belt is ever going to win in the ring against a competent MMA fighter. They just haven’t even begun to learn how to street fight like them.
Now, [00:52:30] you train for another 20 years as a martial artist and you’re going to be able to do things that the MMA fighter doesn’t even understand. I’ve seen advanced martial artists including my own sensei or [Kaiju Nakamura 00:52:45] do things that just don’t seem humanly possible. His teacher was a guy named [Masuyama 00:52:53] who cut the horn off of a charging bull with his hand. [00:53:00] I witnessed Mr. Nakamura split six blocks of ice, each block of ice was at least 6 to 8 inches thick, stacked on top of each other with his head, his forehead. He was using energy that was non-physical. It was kinetic. It was chi force, psychological. It was mastery at that level.
I’ve seen an aikido master [00:53:30] drop someone who just put his hand on his shoulder, and the next moment, the guy was on the floor, just through directing energy into that point of application and some twitch or something that he did. That’s where the ancient martial arts and the Chinese and Japanese and even the Korean martial arts, that was meant to be mastered over a long period time, and through that mastery, you learned how to fight.
Now, there are very few martial [00:54:00] arts that have the patience for that or the skill to teach that in the West. There are a couple models of what people would call a martial art which really aren’t that teach extraordinarily effective fighting skills. One of them is taught to the SEALs. Now, it wasn’t taught as martial artist. It was called self-defense, special combat aggressive reactionary system. That was extraordinarily effective, but [00:54:30] it wasn’t meant to be used in sport fighting because there was no sport to it. If you weren’t grievously injuring your opponent, then you shouldn’t even be moving your body. You should be still in a conversation with the other person trying to talk him out of what’s about to happen. It took an extraordinarily high level of control to be able to even learn these arts. They stopped doing over SEALs because [00:55:00] some of the SEALs don’t even have the control to be able to restrain themselves when they went out in town. Someone come up and slap them on the back. The next thing you know this other person is on the ground incapacitated.
That foundation of that art is called sensu kung fu. Sensu was developed by the Chinese Mafia from advanced martial artist named [Jimmy Choo 00:55:25] I think his name was. He used to say he stripped the fu out of [00:55:30] kung fu and just went straight for what’s the most effective street fight.
Anyways, you take an advanced sensu guy, put him in the ring with an MMA guy, and it’s game over, in my opinion, because there is no sport there. The sensu guy cannot withhold a punch if the fight is on. It’s like delivering a nuclear weapon and bones would be broken and eyeballs removed from socket that type of thing. That is why it’s never displayed in public; [00:56:00] it’s not a sport. There’s a big difference between the sport of fighting, mastering a martial art over 34 years where he can control the energy like I was talking about with Nakamura or somebody’s arts were you practice the science of devastation essentially, the science of injury. There are three different things really.
Daniel: Three different creatures.
Mark Divine: Yes, they’re three different creatures. Now, I’m somewhere between the second [00:56:30] and the third where I believe everyone should practice these skills over a lifetime, and one of those skills should be the art of self-defense so that you can take care of yourself and not rely on the 911 call, because that’s not going to lead to good results if someone breaks into your home or tries to come and steal your purse. You don’t have 30 years to train to defend yourself in that scenario, so we have [00:57:00] some collaborators with us who teach that scientific street fighting mode. We like to make sure that the people who engage in that training have the right mindset for it in the mental and emotional control. We say, “Okay, prerequisite to that is …” the other training of SEALs [inaudible 00:57:19]. When you combine them, you end up with this really powerful combination of the ability to develop yourself to the ways that we’ve been talking about with this kind of [00:57:30] kick-ass, very confident attitude that knows that I can handle myself in any situation and my team so that you don’t have to fight.
Ever since I learned SCARS in the SEALs, I’m never even been close to a fight just like it just stays away from me. I hope, by saying those words, someone doesn’t like, “Now, I’m going to show him and teach him a lesson.” It’s really an energetic thing. It’s almost like the matrix get to change and you are [00:58:00] now acknowledged as someone who’s competent, and the dangerous people avoid you because you stepped into the sheepdog. When the wolves are stalking the sheep, they avoid the sheepdog. They make sure he’s on the other side of the flock when they go after their prey. The sheepdog will take them down. That’s the attitude that we try to develop in people, and it’s is completely trainable like you said. It’s not a sport though. This is [00:58:30] life; this is about life.
On the one hand, we want to develop the peaceful warrior inside of us, but that doesn’t mean that you allow yourself to get shit on in life. The warrior is the last one to pick up the lance or to aim the weapon, the last one to cause harm. When a violent offender or a terrorist comes along, he’s the first one to take action, but he has the ability to discern appropriately.
[00:59:00] Now, a great example of the guys on the train in France a couple of years ago who noticed something odd going on and they’re like, “This is not going to happen while we’re on this train.” They just got up and stood by the bathroom. Sure enough, [inaudible 00:59:12] came out with a weapon and they just took him down. We talked about this just recently like imagine if people are trained when these mass shooting incidences come. If you and I and five other guys are standing around, all of a sudden, the shooting has come. If we all, [00:59:30] instead of running and hiding the other way, if we all take off toward the attacker, you’re going to shock the hell out of him and you’re going to take him down, someone might take a round. Chances are really good that it’s not going to be a death shot because the guy is going to be so shocked, and it’s very hard to shoot straight when you’re shocked or surprised. You’ll end up diffusing a situation that could have killed countless. That’s what I mean by sheepdog mentality. It takes great emotional control to do that.
When it [01:00:00] becomes an imperative which is part of the warrior ethos, then action is the only way to eliminate doubt in a situation like that.
Daniel: Now, I want to just clear [inaudible 01:00:10] really important that is neither of the common vernaculars on how to deal with this. You’ve got the people that say, “Let’s just [inaudible 01:00:17] all the weapons because you know we shouldn’t have any one of those capacities, but then, of course, that means they just get on the black market for me. The second [inaudible 01:00:25] everybody should have done so you can deal with it. Mostly the [inaudible 01:00:28] Second Amendment, people are saying everyone should have guns are not [01:00:30] saying that they should actually train their non-reactivity and their clarity and their skills and the way that you are so then you just have a lot of poorly trained people with guns.
Mark Divine: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I’m really glad you said that so I will say one thing here. I had a recent podcast regarding Tim Larkin. He was one of my instructors in SCARS at SEAL team, at BUDs and SEAL team three. He made an attempt at going through SEAL training. He got injured. I think a pulmonary something. He ended [01:01:00] up having to drop out of SEAL training, and then he went to work for Jerry Peterson who was the founder SCARS. He was a [inaudible 01:01:05] master. Anyways, Tim later left to create his own training company called Target Focus Training. It’s very effective. It’s basically what I’m talking about. It’s not a martial art. It’s not MMA. It’s not a sport. It’s teaching you how to deal with life.
I was at a podcast with Tim, and we’re talking about guns. Both of us said something to the effect of it doesn’t make any sense that you can buy a gun without some sort of training and [01:01:30] how to use the weapon safely, how to keep it out of the hands of people who could hurt themselves, really basic fundamental stuff. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to require some training and so the wrong people don’t get injured with the gun. If you do have to use it, you have to actually have some skills. A lot of people naturally understand that and want to get a weapon, immediately go to the range, hire [01:02:00] a SEAL to teach them how to use it but you’re right. The Second Amendment [inaudible 01:02:03] are like that’s [inaudible 01:02:05] to them.
I had someone email me and say, “I was going to come to your SEAL for training, but now I’m not because of divine stance on guns.” I’m like … I don’t know. I didn’t really realize I had a stance on guns. I have a stance on rationality and sanity but necessarily on guns. One of them is if you’re going to buy a weapon, you should learn how to use it. You don’t buy a car and you just start driving. When you get a license, you have to learn how to drive a car. [01:02:30] The car is a weapon too. Anyways, I went off on a little [inaudible 01:02:34].
Daniel: Your point of view has some nuance in it with most people are not trained at how to do nuance at all is that increased capacity to affect things should require increased capacity to make good decisions at how to affect things.
Mark Divine: Absolutely.
Daniel: I would say from my point of view in our work in existential risk in the world, one of the [01:03:00] key issues is that increased technological capacity has meant we have exponentially increasing ability to affect the world without exponentially better decision-making as well as towards increased existential and catastrophic risk for everyone.
Mark Divine: Yes, for sure.
Daniel: [inaudible 01:03:14] 15 has a lot more capacity than a handgun, has a lot more passive than a knife. There should be progressive levels of both training in how to use that and training in how to not use it which means right decisions and not escalate to violence prematurely.
Mark Divine: You’re right. Most of the training [01:03:30] when it comes to offensive fighting and weaponry is how and when not to use the weapon. Again, the authentic warrior is the last to pick up the weapon. We exhaust all other options. Anyone who’s been to war would agree with me. War is anathema; it’s painful; it’s violent. There’s nothing glamorous about it. It is unbelievably atrocious and should be avoided at all cost. The delivery of any weapon that’s going to cause a type of [01:04:00] harm should be avoided at all costs. We should be having major international conversations all levels about eliminating nuclear weapons, not accelerating nuclear weapons.
It’s just unreal to me that at this stage of development that human beings we’re still rattling nuclear war [inaudible 01:04:23]. It’s hard to believe but I know there’s no easy solution through this. We could look at it through interval [01:04:30] lens and realize that no matter how evolved you may think you are, there’s going to be people at all levels of development and societies at all level of development. They’re going to use whatever tools that technology mix [inaudible 01:04:43] time. Like you said, you’re going to have a very low-stage development country or culture like North Korea with the highest power weapons available.
Daniel: They used [inaudible 01:04:58], I guess, a core of what you’re talking [01:05:00] about that I don’t know if anyone has ever really spoke about clearly which is what does it mean to be a world-centric warrior because warriors are, by definition, they have always been part of who is doing war on one side or the other, a war which is they are tribal warriors or they are national warriors. Now, a world-centric warrior that has respect for all sentient life and their goal is the least amount of violence possible. They will only inflict violence if there is no other non-violent way of doing it and doing so prevents, [01:05:30] otherwise, an inexorable violence that would have occurred, right?
Mark Divine: Right.
Daniel: That really means a protector of the whole, protector of the commons and everything. How do you visualize like what would you imagine an ideal scenario what the future of this looks like? Because you’re saying war sucks; we don’t ever want war, of course, and we want warriors. Warriors have traditionally been thought of as the practitioners of war, but could also be the protectors against it happening.
Mark Divine: Correct.
Daniel: [inaudible 01:06:01]
Mark Divine: [01:06:00] First of all, I think the world-centric warrior is not just a military practitioner. It’s not just a job. World-centric warrior would exist as the CEO who has a warrior archetype, and the warrior is someone who is willing to do what’s right in spite of the consequences to him or herself or even into her company.
Since you’ve posed the question the context of the military man or woman [01:06:30] because we’re on the pointed end to this spear, we have great responsibility both to project power and to prevent conflict. I think the SEALs are a great example of that. We have the ability to do great like to just wreak havoc, and we have the ability to talk to around a situation and to deal with it culturally in a sensitive manner and to diffuse [01:07:00] potentially violent situation. The SEALs are only 2000 people and not all SEALs have this capacity.
If you imagine and this is where my mind goes that we begin to implement this type of training in our military and even at an earlier stage in different domains, so we’re it’s business leadership training or even civic affairs and bureaucrats and civic leaders, then you’re [01:07:30] going to have from many different walks of life who end up in leadership roles who are thinking in a way that is connective and integrative as opposed to separative and individualistic. Their first response isn’t going to be self-preservation. Pulling the weapon out, it’s going to be, “Hey, let’s solve this. Let’s seek first to understand what’s going here. Let’s find a win-win solution.” [01:08:00] We try to understand what’s happening in the minds of these other people who are also want to do harm. It’s like the Buddhist three breath rule. Everyone can take a few breaths and just start to embody the experience and to fill in to, “Hey, what’s going on here? How can we dissolve this? How can we move to the other side of conflict in a more graceful way without a lot of people dying?”
Creating a world-centric [01:08:30] force of military operatives, of first responders, police, all sorts of alphabet soup agency out there; it’s unreal how many freaking deputized people we have in our government and every single agency. We’ll start doing the training with them so they can make these good decisions, and then also bringing into the school system. It’s like this is going to be a multi-faceted approach, and there will be different forms of training, just mindfulness [01:09:00] is one way to do it. I’m not suggesting it needs to be my training. Any type of training that’s going to get the Western culture focused on inner development and integrative wholeness, whole health, heart-mind training is going to do the trick in my opinion, at least, beginning to activate the process at a cultural level.
We’re starting to see this here. You and I live in Encinitas, California. It’s all around us. We have [01:09:30] yoga in our school systems here but the same time, there’s equal and opposite force against [inaudible 01:09:37]. He’s got to keep pushing against the tide and starting to educate people on the power of this inner warrior development, this inner training, and getting more and more people, I think, especially business leaders, entire corporations to start to adopt this training because here is the nice benefit. It’s that every skill that we’ve talked [01:10:00] about that I teach the SEALs is extremely useful for performance and goal achievement. It’s part and parcel of learning how to think well and tap into more of your mental powers. You can use it for self-defense or you can use it to achieve financial success and well-being and to achieve any goal in life. Let’s use it for both but ensure they we’re doing that in a way that’s beneficial for the [01:10:30] global commons and not just your individual [inaudible 01:10:32].
Daniel: To widen that, the step from SEALs to athletes and CEOs is kind of like there’s a clear step in terms of their traditionally male, aggressive, competitive things, but increased emotional resilience, increased emotional intelligence, increased intuitive capacity, increased physical resilience like a mom who wants to not get frustrated with her kids and actually be able to really [01:11:00] sense what’s going on with them and what would be the best strategy for them and navigate all the shit she has to without being overwhelmed and can stay focused on the [inaudible 01:11:07] time. It sounds as critically relevant to any goal.
Mark Divine: Absolutely. A lot of that the relevance is starting to be felt because of the world situation that we found ourselves in. The acceleration of technology, artificial intelligence, the merging of all these new technologies to create almost a threatening … [01:11:30] another existential crisis with AI. I noted that a few hundred tech leaders wrote an open letter to the United Nations and the world saying, “Hey, let’s not weaponize AI. That’s a really bad idea.” I completely concur.
Everyone’s stepping up and looking at the world saying, “Holy shit, we need some new tools. We need to do things a little bit differently.” I think it’s a great opportunity for this conversation to start to be heard a little [01:12:00] bit more. I’ve seen that over the last few years where things that I’ve been talking and teaching since the mid-2000’s are now I’m hearing other people say. It’s like, okay, whew. The message is getting out.
Daniel: [crosstalk 01:12:15]. I think the presence of existential threat from North Korea, from climate change, from AI like everyone feels it even if they’re not actively following it. The increasing economic inequality and like there’s just the [01:12:30] chaos of the world creates its own stress on everyone. There’s just a cumulated trauma that pretty much all parties have. When you look at the left and you look at Black Lives Matter Movement saying, “Hey, we never really dealt with the issue that slavery sucked.” What does slavery really mean? Like generations of torture and servitude and then it got left in no reparations for that? The Native Americans are like, “Fuck. That’s real.” Women saying, [01:13:00] “Hey, we never really dealt with the fact that inequality across gender has been a structural thing.” Then on the White Nationalist Movement being like, “We’re a bunch of white males in the middle of the country that are fucking poor as can be.” They also feel like we can’t get jobs because of affirmative action. There’s like authentic trauma everywhere.
Mark Divine: For sure.
Mark Divine: Then people’s trauma bodies respond and so they do dumb strategies like march on places with torches or shut freeways down. They just increase the militarization [01:13:30] of the other side and really affect these strategies to deal with everyone’s trauma, de-escalate and realize we can’t take anybody off the planet effectively is a different thing. It used to be that we could just kill other groups and like we don’t want to deal with them, but now all sides have enough military capacity that will never work again. Because if we escalate to enough power, they escalate too enough, we destroy the playing field and it’s and how many lose that game. We actually have to all figure [01:14:00] it out.
I’m extremely heartened by thinking about the training you’re having of if you could work with activists and Black Lives Matter Movement and the people of prior movement and all of those and in the white supremacist and right movements and with the police officers, I think it actually work with them to where they weren’t responding from their own trauma and [inaudible 01:14:24] and their own ethnocentric point of view. What could actually be possible and how [01:14:30] they would advance that which they have stepped up to protect without being a cause of harm in the process. Is this something that you are interested in seeing how to scale for those kinds of purposes?
Mark Divine: Yes, I am. I’m also a little bit uncertain as to how to open up the space for the acceptance of the training. To date, I have trained people who have actively sought out the [01:15:00] training which means they have to wake up moment. Now, seeking to grow up and clear up and open up so they can show up more powerfully. We have a saying with our training that you can’t be volatile to do it. It’s just not going to land. I know there’s a way. The tools themselves that I alluded to earlier, the magic is in the tools.
I’ve donated thousands of books of my Unbeatable Mind book to the prison population [01:15:30] through the prison fellowship. We partnered with them to get them in there. I’ve had a lot of letters come from prisoners saying, “Man, I read your book; I love it and I started box breathing. Wow. I’m all of a sudden way more calm and able to control my emotions and blah, blah, blah.” I think with these populations the sensible approach is to be not go in there with guns blazing that we’re going to change their world and make them [01:16:00] more world-centric and blah, blah, blah, because they’re all going to be defensive and in the defensive mindset, and what you’re doing is just another one of them, just another attempt to sway me, control me.
What if we could get everyone to sit down and do some box breathing together and to do a guided visualization and even just to start a practice of that, then that would crack them wide open and allow for the rest to happen.
Daniel: When you’re taking people who are scared and pissed off and you’re actually training them in increased tools or power, [01:16:30] they’re already incentivized to that and if in the process, they’re learning how to be better stewards of power, that’s just … I could see that being approachable effective.
Mark Divine: For sure. I think it’s this necessary. I’ve been looking at this as a long game. If I could influence a million people and train a million people, then they influence 10 people each and then pay it forward, pretty soon we’re … [01:17:00] 20 years, we’re at a billion people or whatever. I think a more direct approach might be also necessary because of the complexity of the problems that we’re facing.
Daniel: Anyone that is involved in those movements who runs the Gates Foundation wants to actually do meaningful [inaudible 01:17:18] interest hoping to scale that kind of training feels like it could be relevant for so many things.
Mark Divine: Right, agree.
Daniel: Last two questions. When we’re talking earlier, [01:17:30] you said it’s really about the tools and you have a number of different trainings for different kinds of tools. You’ve got your kind of simulation of Hell Week for civilians, for people who want to have that experience, and the physical SEALFIT training. You said what you are actually most excited about, what you would you like most people to train in is the Kokoro yoga.
Mark Divine: Right.
Daniel: Can you speak a little bit about … You’re you talking about effective tools for inner development. What Kokoro yoga is is kind of all the most effective tools that [01:18:00] you have found that ties into one integrative training?
Mark Divine: That’s correct. Unbeatable Mind grew out as SEALFIT because I had this imperative to learn how to [inaudible 01:18:10] through my own self-study and working with the SEALs to learn how to train the mind, emotions, minds and emotion mostly.
Then because I’m a lifetime martial artist and been practitioner and teacher of yoga for the last 15 years or so, I’ve been really kind of [01:18:30] digging into that side of the warrior arts. What I’ve noticed, people have this massive misunderstanding of what yoga is. In its original form, yoga was meant to be a personal practice for self-evolution, for self-development. It’s the oldest personal development system on the planet, thousands and thousands of years old. The term yoga means integration; look at that. We’re talking about a practice of integration, of evolution to the high states [01:19:00] of mental development.
Patanjali is the guy who codified yoga for us around the turn of the century, around the turn of the zero century so we think. We don’t really know how old the sutras are. He was the first one to write down the philosophy. He starts right out in the second sutra that he says basically yoga is about controlling and training your thoughts, your mind. It’s the science of mental development [01:19:30] whereas in the West, most people have conflated yoga to group exercise. There’s group movement class movement.
While movement was just one aspect, it was the movement of yoga was essentially to prepare the body and the nervous system so that you could sit and go deeper into the inner domain. You had to go from the outer to the inner. Yogis understood this, just like we learned that through SEALFIT. We had to move our body in order to get into the mental, to develop the mind in order to then sit in silence so that we could our breath training [01:20:00] and our mindfulness, and our visualization. I validated these principles, and I was thinking deeply about this. More people need Kokoro yoga or the yoga that I’m teaching these SEALs because it’s so powerful as a personal practice.
That’s the other thing. I said yoga has been conflated to group exercise, completely misunderstood or people think you have to like take down a Hindu deity or something like that; not sure. Yoga is a gift to humankind. It is world-centric in this approach. [01:20:30] It can be stripped of any cultural nuance or context and delivered in a way that is appropriate for anyone of any stage of development in in the West in any country. I developed this program and wrote a book called Kokoro Yoga. My stepdaughter, Catherine, who is a longtime yoga instructor has partnered with me to help teach it. We just led our second teacher training which is a 200-hour teaching training.
Some of the uniqueness of Kokoro [01:21:00] yoga is that, like I said, it’s a personal practice of, Daniel, you can do your practice at home or in the woods or at the gym. You don’t need a yoga studio. What we do is we teach you how to combine some of the tools of movement with breath, with concentration, with meditation, visualization in a meaningful way that’s going to achieve is a specific result that you desire. If it’s to manage your stress, that’s one coupling or grouping or sequencing of the tools. [01:21:30] If it’s to develop power like a warrior to be able to project power, it’s going to be a different sequencing of tools. If it’s to prepare for battle or a workout, it’s a different sequencing of tools. If it’s strictly for spiritual development, it’s going to be different select tools. This is going to be different if you’re 20 years old versus 60 years old. It really is meant to be a personally designed personal practice that’s done on your own time. That practice could be five minutes [01:22:00] long or it could be an hour and a half. I developed this when I was in combat actually. It had an extraordinary effect on me. That’s why I wanted to teach this to the SEALs. That’s Kokoro yoga.
Now, the movement practice of Kokoro yoga includes functional fitness and it includes self-defense and it includes traditional asana which is the traditional poses that people think about yoga. It’s got very much for a warrior element to it in that we’re talking about developing the heart and mind of the warrior [01:22:30] through this personal practice. The outcomes are greater courage and confidence and a feeling of being in control, the ability to manage your mind-body system much more effectively, all of the benefits that we talked about earlier without having to get your ass kicked in Navy SEAL style of training or to be confused about how do I practice it if you’re [inaudible 01:22:55] because that’s mostly philosophy. It’s supposed to be philosophy, some executive tools. [01:23:00] Kokoro yoga really is profound and I think the world is was ready for it. That’s why I’m excited about it.
Daniel: I would love to everyone that [inaudible 01:23:12] who’s on this podcast who’s interested in neurohacking and [inaudible 01:23:16] optimization and [inaudible 01:23:18] themselves [inaudible 01:23:19] come, find out about your stuff, do the training. A tool like the tools that we make Neuohacker quality, those are really designed to [01:23:30] increase capacity mostly to actually do the practices that can increase deeper capacities. It’s not, on its own, going to replace at all actual authentic training of body and mind so [inaudible 01:23:47] people learn more if someone was like having to come and do Kokoro training or Unbeatable Mind training.
Mark Divine: Sure. I have two business websites. I don’t have a personal website because I really want the [01:24:00] tools to speak for themselves. SEALFIT.com; it’s all one word S-E-A-L-F-I-T.com is where you’re going to learn about the physical mental training of SEALFIT. We have our events listed there and our online training. Then unbeatablemind.com, all one word, unbeatablemind.com is the second website which presents the Unbeatable Mind training for coaching and executives as well as the Kokoro yoga online training.
My [01:24:30] books are also a good place to start. The Unbeatable Mind book is a great enough starter kit to go into the whole philosophy. Then I have a book on yoga training called Kokoro Yoga. Then The Way of The SEAL is really about the leadership application of the principles, and then those are all available on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com.
Daniel: Awesome. These are great resources and I’ll put the links in the show notes. You mentioned box breathing a couple [01:25:00] of times. To leave people with something practical, can you tell people in brief how they can do some kind of box breathing?
Mark Divine: Sure thing. First, it’s important for people to appreciate that this is just breathing but it’s taking deliberate control over our breathings for the purpose of refining our nervous system, our automatic nervous system, so that we can trigger the person of that nervous system and bleed off excess stress [01:25:30] and maintain control. Secondarily, it’s learning how to or training the musculature of the breathing mechanism, so your chest muscles, your intercostal, diaphragm in particular, and your belly. The practice essentially is going to train your musculature and open up your musculature so you can get a full long of oxygen and really has a great effect on your overall health [01:26:00] and your performance if you’re an athlete because you’re breathing more fully and completely and exhaling toxins more completely.
Then third, the breath is the bridge between the body and the mind, and the bridge between them or the link between the mind and the soul, so that you’re taking in life force. Pranayama is what the yoga would call box breathing. It is essentially controlling life force. It’s a very powerful practice because, beyond all those benefits that I [01:26:30] just alluded to, we are literally learning how to bring in more life force, more energy. That’s going to have an extraordinary effect on your peace of mind and you’re ability to focus, of the stimulating your mind from your plastic reasons, and to prepare it for deeper stages of meditation, and for longevity. It’s a powerful practice, and it’s super simple. This one practice is very safe. If it’s the only practice you do in the realm of breath practices, [01:27:00] it’s money.
For beginners, I’d like to say we’re going to focus on a four count and the breathing pattern will be in the form of a square or a box. That’s why I called it box breathing. It’s very simple to remember. You’re just going to inhale for four count, then you’re going to hold your breath for count, exhale for four count, then you’re going to hold your breath for four count.
The inhale fills up the four count meaning it’s not like (inhales) and then it’s two, three, four. It’s slow and you’re breathing through your nostrils which helps delve the air to slow it [01:27:30] down. It’s a slow inhale (inhales), full lung capacity. Now, that [inaudible 01:27:36] with the back of your larynx is how you close off the air to prevent food from going down into your lungs so we close that off. Instead of clamping down creating back pressure like this, we just close it but create kind of a lifting sensation as if we are continuing the breath in on the whole but we’re not. It’s inhale four and then hold for four, [01:28:00] and then exhale release through the nostrils for four counts. Then pressing your belly in, you puff all the air out and hold the breath with that empty long state for a count of four and then you release the belly and let that activate the inhale again.
Let’s do a couple of rounds. Start on an exhale … inhale, two, [01:28:30] three, four. Hold the breath, keep that lifting sensation, two, three, four. Exhale, gently you feel a sinking and a grounding effect, hold, two, three, four. Release the belly, inhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, [01:29:00] four. Hold, two, three, four. You can keep doing that or just release the holds and keep going in that four count. Now, as you get a little bit better, you can increase to a five or six-count. This is not Navy SEAL breath hold training where you’re trying to expand your breath and hold it for two minutes at a time. It’s really about the practice.
Now, one other tip, how to stack practice. Stacking practices is where you really make some progress and [01:29:30] some money. The first you experience this physiologically and then you’re going to experience this notion that, okay, while you’re doing that your mind is still active. We begin a concentration practice using, let’s say, power affirmation or a mantra. You could do some like inhale to a five count and then hold. During the hold, you activate your mantra. My mantra when I was in SEAL training, by the way, was, “Feeling good, looking good, ought to be in Hollywood.” I said it thousands of times a day. [01:30:00] When you combine a mantra on the holds with the box patterns, it’s very, very powerful. Thanks for letting me share that.
Daniel: Thank you for sharing it. If people are going to practice this at home, what would you say is minimum effective dose to actually get some meaningful development?
Mark Divine: A minimum effective dose would be five minutes a day, best time when you wake up in the morning or before you head out into the business because it’s more likely that you’ll forget or get distracted. Minimum of five minutes up to 20 minutes and you don’t need to [01:30:30] do any more than 20 minutes.
Now, the key here is daily practice. I would much rather see you do five minutes in the morning every day than to say, “Okay, I’m just going to get my box breathing in on Saturday, and I’m going to do an hour and a half of it.” That’s not what it’s about. It’s the daily consistent practice that is rewiring your nervous system, rewiring how you breathe, just slowing down …
I do teach literally three or four-hour long classes on this. Effectively, you’re slowing your breathing pattern [01:31:00] down from … An average person breathes 14 to 16 times a minute. You’re slowing it down to between six and eight times a minute which has an unbelievable effect on just your ability to maintain calm, clear focus. This pattern, there’s other patterns of breath that we teach, but this particular pattern of one, one, one, one box life four count or five count is the very balancing neutral pattern. It’s not going to stimulate your nervous system too much, and it’s [01:31:30] not going to calm me down too much to put you to sleep.
It’s great to do before. I do this before every speech that I give. Anything performance-related, I do this as a spot drill, but then there’s the morning practice 20 minutes every morning, and then I’ll stack other drills into it in halfway through or toward the end of the box breathing, and I begin the mantra practice and visualization and end up in a deep state of meditation.
Daniel: People are going to take on even, say, the five minutes a day. Do you have a suggestion on open eyes or closed [01:32:00] eyes?
Mark Divine: Closed eyes is always preferential because you’re going to be with less stimulation. Senses are what really trigger and stimulate your mind, and so if you can close your eyes and be in a really quiet space, create what we call sacred space for your training not unlike a sit spot for meditation so you do it there. Generally speaking, you just don’t want any distractions because that’s going to … You don’t want to be thinking while you’re doing this. You want to be really concentrating [01:32:30] on the breath and/or this power of affirmation.
If someone is concerned with eyes closed then eyes opened, soft eyelids and soft gaze is appropriate which means that you’re using your eyes in a peripheral vision fashion which is almost like turning them around so letting energy flow as opposed to looking out and having energy flow out. A soft gaze is appropriate as well.
Daniel: [01:33:00] If someone is interested in additional elements of mantra and visualization, there’s the book, Kokoro Yoga. Share more about this.
Mark Divine: Yes. We got a ton of practices, breathing, and meditation, visualization, all the different … We go through the movements of the basic fundamental [inaudible 01:33:16] and functional fitness in asana or yoga poses, go through the whole philosophy and ethos development. We also offer some core sequences for different applications like suffering from PTSD [01:33:30] or preparing for a workout or developing a Zen-like state or learning how to fight like a Navy SEAL. It’s all on that. It’s a great book to start with.
Daniel: Mark, thank you so much for sharing everything that you do and for all this work that you’re developing. It feels extremely important and underrepresented anywhere else.
Mark Divine: Thank you very much, Daniel. It’s been an honor. Hooyah.
Daniel: Thank you. Hooyah.