Awareness and Intuition development encompass the 4th Mountain of the SEALFIT Unbeatable Mind training. This element can be broken down into five areas of focus.
The first is Attention Control and concerns maintaining awareness of your thoughts. What this means is simply that – learn to become aware of your thoughts and determine whether they are positive or negative thoughts. Negative thoughts will sap your physical energy and therefore need to be stopped. Positive thoughts, on the other hand, need to be focused.
It sounds easy, but, is not easy to do. You might say to yourself, ‘Of course I know what I’m thinking – I’m the one thinking it!’, but, you would be astounded at the number of thoughts that occur in your mind that you are NOT aware of. Thoughts that barely pass below our conscious radar yet considerably affect our mood, drive and overall energy.
Think of those times during a training event or race when you get to a point you feel you can’t continue – stop and listen to those thoughts and you will notice you are psyching yourself out. Your body will become weaker with every thought, and where your mind goes, your body will follow.
Next is Body Control, where you can learn to control your body response through breathing and concentration. Think of when you’re watching a scary movie and the combination of the visual and sound cues physically alter your body’s response. You may begin to shake and feel cold at the extremities as your blood rushes to your core in a fight or flight response. This is your mind controlling your body, though not through your conscious direction.
Our goal is to apply this principle but through our conscious direction. Yogis and martial artists are good examples of those who practice body control through mental concentration. For example, you can warm yourself up through breathing and visualization. Breathing as an exercise coupled with visualization can have outstanding results.
Third and closely associated with body control is Breath Control. Breath control is about placing conscious thought on that which is life force and is an extremely valuable training tool. An example of practicing breath control is the Box Breathing exercise, where you inhale a breath for five seconds, hold the breath for five seconds, exhale for five seconds and finally hold the exhale for five seconds. Not only will this increase lung capacity but more importantly, it calms the mind. When your mind is calm, you are more receptive to learning and open to intuitive information exchange. This expands our field of awareness.
I personally applied this technique during BUD/S, specifically during the 14-mile runs. The beginning and the end of these runs where often the most challenging, while the middle portion flew by because I focused on my breath by slowing it down and holding it for 2 counts on the inhale. I was calmer and able to let my body do what it had to do without having to battle the weakness of my mind.
Fourth is Concentration, also closely related to breathing control but unique in its emphasis, as it is solely about focusing on THIS MOMENT – RIGHT NOW. If you allow yourself to worry about the future – what’s next – you can easily become overwhelmed. Take a race, a training event or any personal challenge one step at a time and you’ll find it is much more manageable. Also, breath control helps us with concentration which helps us with attention control – working on one aspect of the Awareness and Intuition element will have an effect on another.
Finally, our last area of focus is Meditation. This means developing the discipline to listen deeply absent of active thought. Listen to your environment, to your body and to those around you. In other words, meditation is about learning to keep our mouths shut, minds open, and to listen with our whole being. Sounds simple, but like much of what we practice, it is not easy.
You can’t help your teammates if you can’t listen, and when you become adept at attention control, you will find that what comes out of your mouth will make more sense. At SEALFIT, we believe that the best way to begin to gain control of the mind is to be silent.
Train hard and stay safe!
– Coach Mark Divine