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Big 4 of Mental Toughness. The Big 4 of Mental Toughness are taught to U.S. Navy SEALS, and at a greater level of detail to SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind trainees from U.S. Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine (retired). I learned these tools from Mark Divine, and have coached and taught them since 2017. The Big 4 include: Breath Control, Positivity, Visualization, and Goals / Micro goals. As proof of their effects, I used these skills to graduate from Kokoro 47, SEALFIT’s 50 hour Navy SEAL Hell Week simulation (the only other people who graduated are now both active duty Navy SEALS), to summit Mt. Rainier with no prior mountaineering experience, and all of Team Courage (two other men and three women) to set a Guinness World Record for burpees in 24 hours (35,393 set on November 11, 2018). Bottom line, these skills work!
Box Breathing. Box breathing consists of nasal breathing with equally timed inhales, holds, exhales, and holds. A typical ratio is 5 seconds inhalation, 5 seconds hold, 5 seconds exhalation, and 5 seconds hold, for an overall 3 breath per minute pace. I learned this practice from Mark Divine.
Breathwork. I first learned breathwork from Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher with whom I worked and trained from 1992 - 1994. Gurucharan is co-author with Yogi Bhajan of the book Breathwalk, a series of practices integrating breath, walking, a mantra, and the use of mudras. I am certified as a teacher of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation from Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, PhD.
I also got to train a bit with Dan Brule, author of Just Breathe, the world’s foremost expert and renowned pioneer in the field of breathwork.
Distancing. Part of the Mind Gym Bro training involves placing your visualizations in different places (Day 10 Perfect Vision, Day 11 Expand and Contract, Where should I put this? Parts 1 and 2, Your Future Self). Dr. Emily Balcetis and colleagues have studied how where you place your visualization determines your temptation levels for food while dieting (Cole et al., 2021), that seeing desirable objects as closer than undesirable ones stimulates action (Balcetis & Dunning, 2010). This is one of the tools you will practice in the Advanced Training on Weight Loss.
Focus. Much of the Mind Gym Bro training allows you to focus your mind. In their article, A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind, which sampled roughly 5,000 people across 88 countries, ranging in age from 18 to 88, and collectively representing all the 86 major occupational categories, Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert concluded three things: 1) Peoples’ minds wander, a lot. Roughly half the time. 2) A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. 3) The ability to focus one’s mind is a better predictor of happiness than what one is doing. In other words, the ability to focus your mind is a better predictor of happiness than what you are actually doing at generally any given moment.
Frankl, Viktor E. Day 19 quotes Victor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl was an Austrian Psychiatrist who created Logotherapy, which viewed the central driving force for humans is to discover the meaning in their lives. He is author of Man’s Search for Meaning.
Hypnotherapy. Elements of hypnosis are used in many of the training sessions. Hypnosis is a natural state of focus. You have no doubt experienced “road hypnosis”, whereby you have traveled safely for a period of time but consciously have no recall of paying attention to the road. By way of training, I have studied and trained in the work of Milton H. Erickson, M.D., a psychiatrist and the father of medical hypnosis. I am also Certified Hypnotherapist by the International Association for Counselors and Therapists.
Internal Family Systems Model. Day 37’s training is entitled Best Person. I was inspired by the work of Richard Schwartz, PhD, who wrote No Bad Parts (2021).
Interoception - “Interoception is the perception of sensations from inside the body and includes the perception of physical sensations related to internal organ function such as heart beat, respiration, satiety, as well as the autonomic nervous system activity related to emotions.” (Price & Hooven, 2018, p. 2).
MABT - Mindful awareness in body oriented therapy. There is strong evidence of links between poor recognition of sensory information, called interoception, and problems with regulating emotions. Awareness of interoceptive capabilities improves physical, mental, and emotional awareness, improves emotional regulation, and reduces feelings of distress (Price & Hoover, 2018).
Qigong. Qigong is the practice of managing and moving energy or cultivating life. These practices include movement, breathwork, acupuncture, massage, the intake of foods and liquids, and the use of your mind. In Day 12 there is a 4 Part Qigong video. I learned the first three movements from Sifu Francis Fong, the subject of the book The Path of Mastery. The fourth part of that movement is called Bringing Down the Heavens, and I learned that from Will Potter in the online training Kokoro Yoga.
Rohn, Jim. Emanuel James Rohn, professionally known as Jim Rohn, was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. In the Advanced training called Success and Failure - You Choose, I quote Jim Rohn: “Failure is not a single cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day”, and “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.”
Solutions Focused Brief Therapy. In the advanced training section there is a training session called A Perfect 5. It introduces the concept of Scaling, which is a tool used in Solutions Focused Brief Therapy, created by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg.
Sleep. There are a number of the Advanced Training sessions devoted to sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to changes in executive functioning and impulse control, blood glucose sensitivity, lowered cognitive and physical performance, lowered productivity, increases in motor vehicle and industrial accidents, lowered ability to engage socially, and a higher likelihood to react to neutral stimuli with negative emotions (O’Callaghan et al., 2018). These training sessions are best paired with sleep expert’s recommendations for falling and staying asleep:
Synthetic Happiness. Natural happiness is what we experience when something happens that makes us feel, well, happy. Synthetic happiness, a term created by Harvard Psychologist Daniel Gilbert, refers to happiness created by thinking about or imagining happy thoughts. You can train this concept in many of the Mind Gym Bro Training sessions, including Day 6 Turn That Dial, Day 22 Make that Change!, Day 35 Focus Your Mind, and Day 38 The Equalizer.
Weight loss. Globally, obesity has doubled since 1980, and it is estimated that nearly 40% of the population is either overweight or obese, with a worldwide percentage of 57% by 2030 if current trends continue (Chooi et al., 2019). Obesity leads to a bevy of health related issues, including diabetes, multiple types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, poor mental health, and musculoskeletal disorders. The section on weight loss will help you eat more mindfully, create a more positive body image, replace emotional eating with a healthier means of comfort and self soothing, reduce portion sizes, and reprogram you to crave healthy foods.
Steenhuis & Poelman (2017) found that portion sizes have increased significantly over the past 30, continuing a trend over the last 100 in some countries. Portion size seems to be responsible for some of the increase in people being overweight and obese. The authors posit a number of reasons for increases in portion sizes, including value for money, previous experiences and expectations, visual cues, and a bias to eat an entire serving at once. They also noted that mindless eating played a role, and bite size increases when portion size increases.