Hello tribe! Commander Mark Divine is taking a much-needed vacation to relax, recharge and re-align his mind, body, and spirit. He didn’t want to leave his readers without a blog post though. Since Kokoro Yoga will be a part of Mark’s daily vacation ritual, we here at the Unbeatable Mind Academy thought we’d share an excerpt from Mark’s latest book, Kokoro Yoga. It’s a great stoy from Mark (but aren’t they all?)
Excerpt from Kokoro Yoga
The C-130 was scheduled to depart at 0500 hours. As I waited for the analyst to share a ride to the airfield, he approached me and said, “Mark, I won’t be going. I have a bad feeling about this.” Great, I thought,… Wonder if he knows something I don’t!
Well, I was going anyhow. I couldn’t lose face with my teammates and I was a tough SEAL officer, right? Climbing aboard the turboprop transport workhorse, the C-130, which the U.S. military uses to transport troops and equipment, I was never more nervous in my life. Keenly aware that anything could happen I felt on high alert. As the windowless C-130 roared into the air, I considered how things were stacking up. My civilian counterpart may have been spooked by another story in the press of how an Australian soldier had caught a bullet through his ass while on an aircraft leaving Baghdad. It was just someone shooting from the ground. A bullet had ripped through the fuselage and killed him. The ominous signs were getting the best of me.
Sitting across from me was a one-star Marine general working feverishly on a presentation with an aide. It was a 2-hour flight. After we lifted off, I couldn’t bear sitting so I looked around the plane and spotted an open space by some cargo netting in the ramp area. My thoughts were set to full speed and I needed to do something to calm down. Remembering how calm I felt after my yoga lessons back home, I went to the open space near a stack of pallets and started doing a deep-breathing exercise and a few forward folds and backbends. This led to a full-blown yoga session in the middle of the bumpy ride I the C-130. (Late in my reserve career, I made it a point to practice yoga on military transports whenever I could. Often I had other members of my SEAL team or other military passengers join me, but I am pretty sure this was a first in military history!) The one-star Marine general must have been thinking: That SEAL officer is obviously green to combat and scared shitless. I didn’t care. The yoga began to calm my mind and helped me regain control of my emotions. I felt much better as we turned our nose toward the Iraqi desert.
By the time we landed in Baghdad, I wasn’t in a perfect Zen state by any means- we were in a combat zone after all-but I was far more calm present and centered and ready for what came next.
That was a good thing. I hadn’t been on the ground more than 15 minutes when I heard someone shout, “Incoming!”, followed by the unmistakable whistle of a mortar flying toward us. I had only heard mortars while in training, not combat, and in training, they are whistling away from you. Trust me when I say it sounds very different when it is coming full bore at you! It exploded about a quarter mile away. Okay, I said to myself. Welcome to combat.
Later, a couple of SEAL team guys drove up to retrieve me- loaded for bear for the 45-minute ride through bad-guy land- they gave me a sign to lock and load my M4 (I didn’t have the guts to tell them I hadn’t even sighted in yet) ad off we went to the SEAL compound at one of Saddam Hussein’s former palace grounds.
That yoga session on the C-130 was my first official session of what I called Warrior Yoga (I later changed the name to Kokoro Yoga to avoid a trademark infringement). I realized in that moment that yoga presented a powerful toolkit for my own warrior development.
We hope you enjoyed that excerpt from Mark and Catherine Divine’s book, Kokoro Yoga. If you’re interested in enhancing your yoga experience, visit the Unbeatable Mind site and check out our upcoming Kokoro Yoga Teacher Taining, Kokoro Yoga Workshop and our Mexico Retreat!
The Unbeatable Mind Team