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The Way of the SEAL: “Build Your Intuition”

By April 25, 2018 May 6th, 2018 5 Comments

“Our brains are primed to see certain things. To think a certain way. And when you begin to break those patterns then you’re training your brain.”
— Mark Divine

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In this solo episode, Mark gives us more insights on the 5th anniversary edition of his book “The Way of the SEAL.” Today he talks extensively about the importance of building your intuition. It is largely a process of developing your perception so that you can observe more information and details about any scene or situation.

Hear how:

  • Intuition comes largely by thinking with your gut and your heart instead of just your head.
  • Spec Ops training includes a focus on opening up your perception so that you are able to “see” more.
  • you need to work on clearing out your Background of Obviousness (BOO) to clear away old stories and perceptions

Learn how to enhance your perception and intuition so that you are able to “see” with more than just your eyes.

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Hey folks, this is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Welcome back. I hope you’re doing well. This week I have a solocast for you continuing the series on The Way of the SEAL. Today we’ll dig into principle number 7. “Build your Intuition.”

Before I get started let me address the Burpees for Vets challenge that we’re working on. I’ve pledged a team… or I’ve challenged, I should say, as team to do 22 million burpees together with me. Each of us will do our part.

I’ve committed to 100,000. I’m donating 10 cents a burpee. You can choose whatever number of burpees that you think you can accomplish. Or you’d like to contribute. And whatever donation amount.

Or go out and get some pledges. All of the information can be found at and of course we’re doing this to support veterans who are suffering with Post-traumatic Stress. So we’re going to suffer a little for them, for their service and their suffering. Intending to raise a minimum of $250,000.

More importantly, raise awareness and help vets directly through an immersion program I will teach them how to get control back of their nervous system, through breath control and movement with breath. Developing a new ethos and vision for the future with a team. And then follow on support with a Courage Foundation coach, who is certified in the principles.

So all of that is under development. You can find out more at or which is the Courage Foundation.

Super-stoked about that. We’re already about 7 million burpees committed and we’ve raised over $125,000 for this initiative.

This has no end, we’re not going to stop it until we hit our 22 million burpees. If we blow past that, maybe we’ll make it 100 million burpees. This is a big enough cause. It’s audacious, but 22 vets a day are committing suicide. That is unsat. We gotta do our part. Thanks for your support with that.

Also one of the reasons I kicked off this solocast series on The Way of the SEAL is that I have the privilege of updating the book and releasing a 5th anniversary edition that comes out on Memorial Day. You can learn more about that at And pre-order it and get some cool bonuses. Like a workbook in PDF form and whatnot. And we’ll have a… releasing some tools that will be available at the URL. That’s not live yet but it will be soon.

And I’ve added two new chapters, one on leading in VUCA, and one on building elite teams. Both of those I’ve read for this solocast in the past, so you can search for those. And in the future. The next solocast I do I’ll actually be doing a riff on the elite teams, which is the last chapter of the book.

Principle 7


Okay, so without much further ado, let’s dig into principle number 7
. Build Your Intuition.

You know, so far, with this book, we’ve covered a lot of territory. This is getting toward the end. We started The Way of the SEAL by talking about your set-point. Developing a stand. Knowing where you’re going in your life with your purpose.

And then developing radical front-sight focus. Preparing your mind to win in your mind, simplifying the battlefield and knowing your mission.

And then like the SEALs, bullet-proof that mission by only selecting the highest value targets. Exploring all options for how you’re going to dominate those targets. Communicating the mission up, down and sideways and all around visually and emotionally and dirt-diving the mission before you go execute.

Think about all these tools which are critical for warriors to get their job done. How important they are for leaders of all stripes, at all levels, to operate in today’s business world.

That’s leading in that Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous environments that we find ourselves today.

And then in principle 4, I talked about doing today what others won’t so you can do tomorrow what others can’t. That’s finding your 20X factor and learning to embrace the suck with a smile. Now that is a skill. So you’re always going to have challenges in your life. You’re always going to have shitty and sucky things. How do you build resiliency so you actually look forward to them? Because you know that they’re going to make you stronger. Wiser.

And through that you’re going to build what we call the 3 Ds. Discipline, Drive and Determination.

Then in principle 5, the meaty chapter on forging mental toughness. And this is all about arousal control… controlling that response. Attention control… controlling where you put your attention. And developing sustained concentration. Emotional resiliency and how to effectively set a goal and visualize it. Super important.

And then principle 6–getting closer to where we are today–is breaking things. Now we’re talking about getting out in the field and operating. Everything up to this point has been about internal skills. The vertical development of the leader. Becoming more effective, more authentic, more able to win in your mind before you step foot on the battlefield.

Now with principle 6, 7 and 8, we’re getting into execution, execution, execution. But doing it in The Way of the SEAL. So principle 6, Break Things–is how do you apply total, total commitment. Burn your boats type of commitment. The type of commitment that leads to great courage and ultimately the competence and confidence to get things done and get it done at a high level.

So we fail forward fast. We don’t care about those obstacles. We just go right over them, around them. We have contingency plans. We move forward. We know that failure’s not an option.

And we learn to innovate and adapt quickly. Awesome.

So now as you execute and you’re learning to break things and be just different and uncommon with your execution skills, we want you to learn to be more intuitive. And so intuition is a skill I believe that can be developed. Every one of us has it in some degree, but a lot of times we ignore it or we deny it.

So what I’m saying here now in this principle is it’s time for us to pay attention to our intuition. Spec ops guys, SEALs, Rangers, Marsoc, PJs, Green Berets. And other foreign services. Warriors of all stripes over the years have really relied on intuition and awareness development and sensory development to tap into a more expansive field of wisdom.

And we need to do that now as leaders in the business world. And it can be trained. So we’re going to dig into that.

And then I’m going to talk in this podcast about principle 8 also, which is get offensive mindset. Developing unwavering confidence so that you can move with velocity, agility and show up in unexpected ways. But always be scanning for threats and for opportunities.

All right, and when we’re done, the final podcast of this series, we’ll talk about training The Way of the SEAL. And building elite teams.

Now I mentioned, military, Spec Ops and even the intelligence communities have been interested in intuition for a long time. It’s gone in and out of favor at a strategic level, but there was a while where we had a program called “Trojan horse” going on. The Trojan Horse program brought SEALs and Green Berets together and they studied Aikido alongside their military skills and… So Aikido included meditation and then of course mindful movement with that martial art. Which is more of a defensive art.

So it was kind of an experiment and they were able to demonstrate after 6 months of training that the warriors had developed an uncanny level of intuition around their environment. They were able to make more… better, I should say, quick decisions. So their biases were penetrated you could say. They were more confident. There was a lot of subjective measures that they tested that just showed that that type of training… the training we do with Unbeatable Mind really, really works.

And of course they killed that program, because it wasn’t really scalable. But it was a really interesting harbinger of what was to come… of how we’re training now.



And then there was this program called “Stargate.” This is really fascinating. Stargate was all about remote viewing which is a particular skill that you could throw into this category of deeper intuition, or trans-rational skills.

So remote viewing, I guess the modern term for that or the New Age term for that would be astral travel–which I think is kind of a silly term. So we’ll just set that aside.

But I think if you come from that tradition, or you understand that term, it’s very similar. So what we’re saying is that the operators… so a bunch of SEALs and other CIA agents. But also some major universities.

They would have the intuitive warrior visualize a geo-location–a grid location. They’d give him a grid.

This operator never been to this place. It’s in a foreign country, so they were actually targeting Soviet installations and submarine pens and stuff like that. But they would give them this grid and basically they would have the operator meditate and visualize that location.

Literally at a quantum level they’d put their consciousness at that location. Again, no pictures, never been there before. Simply a consciousness exercise. And what would happen is imagery would start to appear to the operators. And the imagery sometimes was very precise, where they could draw specific images. Like, in one case they drew the submarine pen and were able to describe some of the technology that was being developed.

Of course, the agency, at the time–they had none of this information and they doubted it. They said, “This can’t be true. This is fantasy. You’re making this shit up. The Soviet’s do not have this level of anti-cavitation, quiet submarine technology.”

And sure enough, 5 years later, satellite imagery picks up a submarine being rolled out of that pen that had exactly that technology.

So this stuff works. It’s fascinating. The operators would pick up images that are specific. Sometimes they would pick up images of things that hadn’t happened yet. And also things that had happened in the past.

One really interesting study done by a major university had operators visualize a geo-location in the United States. And they got three different responses. One of them… Two responses, sorry.

One of them saw like a run-down gas station and just desert. And that turned out to be what was at this location when they did the test.

And then another group actually saw Army barracks and equipment and stuff, and that was because that location was used as a World War One training base. Fascinating, huh?

So what that tells us is that your intuition is non-local and non-linear. How cool. Non-local, non-linear. And that’s supported by quantum physics and quark theory and string theory and all this stuff that we’re learning.

Doctor Hawkins who just recently passed away–Doctor Hawkins was a big advocate of quantum physics and multiverse theory. That said things… There’s things that we just can’t see in our 3 dimensional world. 4 dimensional if you include time.

So there’s more than 1 dimension, and your intuition can cross those boundaries. Because it’s happening at… your consciousness is energy and energy is non-linear, non-local.

And so I wanted to kind of start with that because I’ve had experience with this too. As you know, I was in the SEALs for 20 years. And I had really interesting experiences around intuition. And so do a lot of my teammates.

And so you’ve read some of their books, and they talk about it. So my friend wrote a book called “The Intuitive Warrior.” And in this book he describes being in Iraq and visualizing…well… picking up intuitive insights about bombs that were being placed. Kind of in the route of where he was going.

So Mike Jaco was his name… so Mike took this seriously. He is a lifetime martial artist. He led my training… my 300 hour training with Jerry Peterson in SCARS where we literally fought for 10 hours a day for 30 days straight. And there were about 20 of us in that program. And by the end of that program we were just operating at an instinctual, intuitive level in these fights. And we were getting into hundreds of fights a day and winning at least half of them. It had this profound effect to kind of open our intuitive skills.

So he’s trained that way for many years. And he would pick up these signals and said, “Okay. There’s this bomb being placed on the road ahead of us. I just feel it… I know it.”

And so he would tell his crew and they would take a different route. And later on they would go check and ask someone to go look at the area or whatever. And sure enough, there was either a bomb that had gone off, or they were able to find it.

And so he started to really trust his intuition. Now he even went further and said he used to visualize and send light energy toward the insurgent operatives who were planting those bombs. And he thinks that had an effect.

Now, that’s maybe a little bit beyond what I think is possible. At least in this temporal realm. But that was his experience. So I’m just relaying it here.

So that’ fascinating. There’s one example… The Navy started a study a few years ago on intuition because they were getting so many reports from EOD and Spec Ops guys about just getting that Spidey sense about some danger ahead. And they would stop.

And I remember my Vietnam vet SEAL chief–Mike Martin–telling us the same basic story about the Vietnam War. Where they were so intently in tune with their environment and they were operating in such high-risk and with such a heightened state of awareness. Where the stakes are so high. And all their operations were at night and totally silent. That they would literally just pick up this information.

And booby traps were the big thing in Vietnam. Mike would be the point man. And the point man would be like, walking along and he would just sense that there’s something there. And he’d put his hand up and he’d kneel down, and sure enough, there was this little tiny filament running across the trail that you can’t see with the naked eye, but he could feel it.

That’s amazing. That’s information. Imagine if you were a business leader or corporate CEO or entrepreneur and you had that level of intuition about the market place and about what your competitors were up to. And about your own decision making. It’s really valuable.



I did some training once with Tom Brown who was inspired and trained by an Apache scout and he had us do this really cool meditation and visualization exercise. And we practiced this for several days. And this one particular version of it–we meditated and then visualized…

First… back up, I’m sorry. First we went out into the wilderness. This was out in the Santa Cruz Mountains. And we went out into the wilderness and we found a trail–like a deer trail. And we were instructed not to go up it.

Everyone was on their own, so I wasn’t with a bunch of other people. I was on my own, even though there were a lot of other people in this training, but I went off on my own. I found the deer trail that kind of went up a hill and around a corner.

But I didn’t walk up it. That was our instruction. Don’t walk up it, just see the beginning of it and then come back to the training hall. And then when we came back to the training hall we went through this meditation and then we visualized ourselves walking up this trail.

Which is very similar to remote viewing, where the remote viewer would visualize themselves at a grid point they’d never been at.

Now I only had imagery for the first 20 feet of this trail. And then after that it was just pure–you could call it imagination, but… so I imagined myself walking up this trail and around the bend. And I was getting some imagery from it. And then I wasn’t thinking too much of it and all of a sudden I saw this beautiful glowing kind of golden–looked like a cathedral in the middle of the woods. I was like, “What the heck?”

And then everything went black. And I kind of jolted out of the meditation. I was like, “Holy Cow.” I thought I’d kind of screwed up. There’s no way there’s a cathedral in those woods. “What is that all about?”

And then we were instructed to go back out into the woods and walk up that trail and to see what you saw. And to see if there was any relationship to the imagery.

And so I walked up the trail, and round the bend–looking for anything that could connect to the imagery. And I walked around another bend and suddenly I stopped in my tracks.

And in front of me was this massive oak tree that was clearly alive until recently and it must have been struck by lightning, which had stripped it of its bark.

And the afternoon sun was coming through the trees, and alighting upon this massive tree

And making it glow. And it looked like–right when I saw it in that moment–like this natural cathedral in the woods.

On the other side of that tree was a drop-off. So the trail ended. And so, ironically, or maybe not ironically but intuitively, I saw what was there, but imagery doesn’t pick up the identical image often.

Like in the remote viewing that some people were actually able to see and describe submarines. But sometimes they picked up imagery that was metaphorical or cartoon-like. And they had to translate.

So that’s what happened in this case. It was a metaphor. My mind couldn’t imagine a tree like this, so it translated it into something that was relatable to me. And that was church/temple.

But then because the trail that I was supposed to walk off ended and there was this drop-off, that’s why I came out of the visualization so suddenly. Because I literally… My consciousness would have fallen off the trail.

Fascinating stuff. And it gave me a lot of confidence that this type of training is really important.



One of the experiences I had in the SEALs was powerful too. I’ve had so many, but this one was really interesting. And I describe it in the book here.

Basically everything I’m talking about by the way, is described in the book. “The Way of the SEAL.” Or not everything, but a lot of it. And I’m just going into a lot more detail here.

So one cold morning I was at Camp Pendleton with my platoon. And we were doing some shooting training. And we always, with the SEALS, start out with the basics. So crawl, walk, run. And with shooting it’s no different.

And so we started out with a 25 yard pistol shoot, and then we were gonna take it up to 100 yards. And then start with moving targets. With running and gunning and that kind of thing. Kill house and all that.

So this was just the very beginning. It was a bitterly cold morning. And I’d just woken up. And I had a cup of coffee. And I was going to be the first one on the range, you know?

And when the SEALs do their shoot training with a platoon–it’s intense but casual. Meaning it’s not like you’d imagine. There’s not a lot of military protocol… guys screaming at you. It’s nothing like that.

It’s like we walk to the range, but we gotta have the range-master clear it hot, and everyone’s very, very aware of safety. And we’re all highly trained.

So I’m casually walking to the range. I’m about ready to go up there with a few of the guys who were going to kick this thing off.

And all of a sudden, I felt as if someone put a hand on my shoulder and whispered loudly into my ear, “Stop!” And because I had learned to pay attention to this stuff through my meditation practices earlier before I got in the SEALs. And then through my SEAL training, I did just that. I literally stopped in my tracks. I’m like, “Hmm? What the heck?”

And as soon as I did that, I heard a 9mm weapon, a Sig-Sauer light off behind me. 50 to 100 yards behind me. And the bullet came literally a fraction of an inch from hitting me in the back of the head.

I could feel the wind as it whipped by my right ear. And it was right in the path of that next step. So if I’d taken that next step, that bullet would have gone right in the back of my head. And I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Holy Crap.” And I turned around and I saw my friend, Chris, holding the weapon.

Now he had an accidental discharge. He wasn’t deliberately trying to kill me. I don’t think so at least. But… Cause his eyes were wide and he’s like, “Oh man. I’m sorry, Cy.” That was my nickname in the SEALs. And I’m like, “Wow.” Thank goodness for intuition.

So how do we train… how do we expand our awareness so that we can pick up this energy?

And I wanna talk a little bit about that because I think, like I said, it can be trained. So in the SEALs we talk about situational awareness. And situational awareness has 2 elements to it.

The one that the SEALs really focused on was the external. So we would do some drills to expand our awareness, and what we’re really saying is how do we take in more information, or how do we, at least, understand and make sense of all the information that we take in?

I mean, there’s literally enormous, enormous amount of information that’s flooding into your body. And you’re feeling it. You’re feeling it at a heart level. You’re feeling it at a nervous system level. You’re feeling it with your skin, your hands, your feet. But we mostly pay attention to what we see and hear. And so the SEALs would focus on that. And so we’d pay great attention and do skills like the “KIM Game.”

Now the KIM Game is “Keep in Memory” Game. And at first you think that this is way to enhance your memory of what you see. And that is true. But through the training of that, you’re expanding your capacity to notice things. To see patterns. To notice details. And so we always do this training to pay attention to details, because as you know, Devils in the details. Or the opportunity… the solution is in the details. If you don’t pay attention to those details, and get those right, then it doesn’t matter. You’re going to miss the forest for the trees.

So the KIM Game had us… the instructors would take or gather 20 or 30 items. And they’re just random items. It could be a compass and a watch and a pen, water bottle. But small stuff that you could fit onto… put on the ground and you can put a blanket or a tarp over.

And they’d do that, and then they’d say, “Okay. One at a time, or in pairs they’d bring you over. And then they would take the cover off, and you had 60 seconds to memorize everything. So the individual skill was to figure out how do you memorize everything on this?

And so there’s some tactics for that, right? You can chunk it down into quarters. You have the top, left quadrant has these four items. And the top, right has these four. And the bottom, right has these.

If you’re with a team or a swim buddy, your strategy is to say, “Okay, you take the top half. I’ll take the bottom half.” You know what I mean? You just break it up. Well that’s tactics and nothing wrong with that. That’s smart. That’s like taking a search grid and breaking up that grid into chunks so you can share the wealth, so to speak.

Well what happens is the first time you do this you maybe get like 60% or so. And then you do it again. And all of a sudden you’re getting like, 80 or 90%. And maybe you do it a 3rd time, and you can remember everything.

And then they’ll have you do it again, and you do this multiple times during a training trip. And you realize that not only are you remembering all the items, but now you’re remembering the nuances for each of those items. The details.

So instead of just seeing a watch, now you realize, “Oh wow. That’s a Timex and the time is 3:15 on the watch. And it’s got a leather band. A brown, leather band. And the compass is pointing at 320 degrees, and etc., etc.”

So what you’ve done now is trained your mind to take in more information, or to perceive more information that it’s been taking in. And to recognize patterns. And to recognize details.

And another drill would be… this would be for the intelligence gathering… is you drive a route and come back and write a report on what you saw. And then get pointed out… or you basically are told that you missed 90% of what was important.

So then you go back out and you do it again. And again, and again. And pretty soon you’re just seeing all this detail that you never saw before.

Cause we’re primed… our brains are primed to see certain things. To think a certain way. And when you begin to break those patterns and to look for deeper things, then you’re training your brain. So you’re training your brain in a way that’s able to see different patterns in more detail.

Which then creates the experience of new insights, new pattern connecting. Which is one of the forms of intuition.

I break intuition into 3 major buckets. One is cognitive intuition–which is pattern intuition. This is a type of intuition that also occurs when you practice something for many, many years. And then all of a sudden it’s just there for you. You don’t have to think about it. The outfielder running to catch the ball…

I don’t even know if you can mathematically, algorithmically solve that equation of a fly ball flying through the air and a runner running along the ground. And then the two intersecting with the ball hitting the glove. What? It’s almost not even a solvable problem. Some of you might know if it is or it isn’t. I don’t know. But it doesn’t seem like it would be. There’s just far too many variables.

And yet the baseball player does it intuitively. And that’s because he’s practiced for thousands and thousands and thousands of hours. Gladwell says 10,000 hours to mastery. I mean, it can be quicker in my opinion. If you have the immersion and the intensity. And the risk there.

But it doesn’t matter. My point here, is that that’s cognitive intuition. Whole body intuition kind of, but it’s coming from practice of a skill. Deep immersion of a skill.

The second form of intuition is the heart level intuition. And so I call the top level–the head level–insight. I call the heart level actually intuitive. Because you’re intuiting things. But it’s empathic, it’s energetic. There’s enormous amount of information. Several hundred thousand magnitudes more of information is transferred via the heart and the external world than is via the mind. Think about that.

So the mind has this big, hulking cranium that basically blocks any information from getting in except through the eyeballs and through the ears and through the mouth and the nose. And your brainwaves don’t extend very far beyond your skull.

But the heart, not only is it really powerful, and have neurological processing capacity, but the energy field can extend far, far into the room. And it takes in an enormous amount of information. So that feeling in your heart that someone’s not doing well… or you can feel that around cultures, environments even. You can feel it in countries, when you’re really in tune with your heart’s rhythms and the information. So that’s the second.

And then The third, I call instinct. And that’s your gut. Your biome. All the little biome bugs in there cause you to have gut feelings around things. At a most basic level those things are around survival and food and sleep. You know… basic needs.

And so… but there’s a lot of information in there. So if you’re cruising along on a trail and all of a sudden you’re gut or your biome picks up that there’s a threat, it’s basically going to tell you with an instinctual urge. And I think that’s what happened when I felt the word “Stop!” My biome doesn’t want to die. My body doesn’t want to die.

And it notices something or it picks up some information that is non-linear, non-local and then it tells me. And so I had the great fortune of being able to hear that.

And I didn’t hear the word “Stop!” I felt it. The language of the intuition… the language of the belly is in instinctual urges and tugs and contractions of your belly and gut feelings. And the language of your heart is very similar. It’s like a contraction of the heart, or an expansiveness of the heart. Or that feeling of connection and love and openness. Or contraction, and closing in. Or dark energy that you feel from other people.

Like, “Eww,” you know? You don’t want to go anywhere near that. That’s the language of that.

And sometimes this shows up in our mind as an image, because your mind’s going to try to translate that. Your mind will translate emotional energy of the heart and it’ll translate the instinctual energy of the belly, and come up with imagery. And so you get this insight where, you see something within your mind that you didn’t necessarily know before. And we call that direct perception.

Where you’re perceiving something directly and so also it can be kind of a felt sense of knowingness, but you hear that internally as like your internal voice or where they say to listen to that quiet voice within. It’s kind of like hearing something internally. The whispering of your soul or your intuitive self.

It’s powerful. And all this happens in the non-rational part of your mind. It’s not your frontal cortex. It’s not your left-brain, rational governor-slash-executive functioning mind. Which is thinking and analyzing and planning and judging.

This is happening more in either your right-brain, mid-brain visual cortex. Even your limbic system. It’s just a massive part of your brain that we’ve ignored. Because it just operates kind of automatically, and we think in the West that the thinking mind is it. And that’s not true. And that’s a big part of the whole The Way of the SEAL and my Unbeatable Mind training. Is that that’s not true.

so we wanna train to open up the whole mind, which then is going to be able to translate these intuitive signals and the instinctual signals and the insight into information that then you can use. So that data gets actually translated to information. And information becomes meaningful to us. And then we pull it into our analytical mind and we try to make sense of it and make a decision with that.

But like I said, if you sit there and try to analyze that signal that tells you to stop dead in your tracks, then guess what? You’re dead. Because you’re going to take that next step while you puzzle over it.

So this information is meant to be acted upon spontaneously. The Japanese term Shibumi comes to mind, which is effortless perfection. And you just act. And the action is the right action. Super-cool. But it does take effort. So training yourself to pay attention to details. Take in more information. This is part of it takes time and effort but it can be trained.

You begin to recognize concentric circles of patterns around you that… you see things that other people don’t see. And if you’ve ever been around a master, you know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s a master martial artist, or craftsman. Or body worker. Or musician. They see and hear things that the average person don’t because they’ve tapped into this deep, intuitive skill.

Sensory Perception


Next, I wanna talk about sensory perception. So we can develop greater sensory perception in two ways, by closing off all of our senses. Like in a sensory deprivation tank. What happens is because you’ve closed them off, you go deep within. You start to hear things and see things within. So this is where you develop greater self-awareness.

Very similar to meditation, but in meditation, you haven’t necessarily closed all of your senses except for your eyes.

But when you go in sensory deprivation like with a float-tank or you literally put ear-plugs in, close your eyes, and go into a dark room. Or into nature and super-quiet setting where everything is shut off. Then that helps you develop greater sensory awareness.

Also, you can pay attention to the senses. So this is similar, but different concept. The way this would work is in a meditative process… let’s say you sit down and do some Box Breathing for 5 minutes. Now, just pay attention to what you hear. And what happens is–when I talked about concentric rings a second ago–first you hear things that are close in. You might hear the birds chirping, and the car outside or whatever. So you listen to that, and go “Oh, that’s interesting.”

And the next thing you know, you hear something that’s a little bit further out. Maybe the plane flying by or construction in the distance.

And then you hear something that’s further out. And further out even again.

And so your capacity to hear begins to expand. So you’re honing the senses.

You can do the same thing with smell and taste. Mindful eating is another great way. So just chewing your food really slowly. Seeing if you can taste… all the skills. Like a wine taster, tastes all these unique skills. But when you take a sip as an untrained individual, you don’t really taste much except for the grapes and the alcohol.

Background of Obviousness


And next in this chapter I talk about uncovering your Background of Obviousness. So this is really fascinating. I have a whole lesson on emotional development in Unbeatable Mind where we talk about this Background of Obviousness or BOO. Background of obviousness is that field within you that says things are a certain way. It’s partly your beliefs, but also your biases. All the cognitive biases that Charlie Munger and others have talked about. And now have been written about quite a bit recently.

I introduce certain biases in this book. In the next chapter–so I’m not going to go into them in this chapter–but the Background of obviousness includes those biases but also the emotional patterns that have dominated in your life.

So these are patterns that develop pretty much in early childhood. They might even have some sort of karmic, epigenetic energy to them, if you believe that. I certainly do. That we come into this life with certain energy based upon our last go around.

Or epigenetics say that the energy passed down through our genes. And if you activate those genes, or if they’re activated by our environment, then that shows up in some of our behavior and our choices in life.

So understanding your BOO is really starting to understand how all of this is affecting your thinking and your decision making.

Another real simple example of cultural BOO is the language you speak. So I speak English, so I think in English, and there’s other… The Japanese and the Chinese language have really, really different structures. Much longer time-frames. Not as linear. One word can mean 5 different things.

And they have words for experiences that you literally need a paragraph to describe in English. A great example of that is Kokoro. I use the word “Kokoro” for Kokoro camp and for our yoga training, because it means heart/mind, whole mind. Merging your heart and mind in action. Warrior spirit. It means all of those things together. And how do you…? They got one word for that. Kokoro

Super cool.

And so because of that this language… the language that you grew up with obviously it’s also very powerful, but it has incredible limitations. It limits the way your mind thinks. Westerners think differently than Chinese. And we assume that they think the same as us and they don’t. You have to understand that.

And as a Way of the SEAL leader, you have to appreciate that that’s not happening. You have limitations because of your language. You have limitations and BOO because of the family you were brought up with. The language that was used in the family. The words, the energy of those words. One of my BOO items was I grew up in a somewhat chaotic family and there was a lot of anger and explosiveness and stuff.

And my dad and mom were doing the best they could. They’re awesome people. But that was the fact. That was the way things were.

And so I had to overcome my BOO of that energy. Of kind of sarcasm, and negative dialogue and stuff like that.

Anyways, so this is something that takes a lot of work. I talk about how you can use your mind gym to begin to analyze your BOO. As well as emotional development and therapy and EMDR these are all the tools that you can use to discuss or get at your Background of obviousness. So you can first identify what patterns are guiding your behavior and your life. And making good decisions and bad decisions.

Then you can compare those to the common biases that have been studied and brought out like confirmation bias, and negativity bias. And groupthink bias. And all that kind of stuff.

And say, “Okay, yeah. I kind of fall prey to these.” Or maybe some of your upbringing–your BOO–makes you immune to some of those. At any rate, if you don’t analyze it then you’re going to fall pretty to it. And so you wanna uncover that Background of obviousness to open up to your inner wisdom.

All right, folks. At the end of the chapter I have some great exercises on clearing BOO and awakening that intuition. And that’s that for principle 7. We’re going to move on to principle 8, and since I took a long time with this, I’m thinking this’ll probably be broken out into a separate podcast.

But at any rate, if we don’t do that, then we’re going to get into chapter 8. “Think Offense all the time.”


Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Max Heter says:

    is this similar to siddhi development in yoga?

  • John Miller says:

    Mark, will the new release of Way of the Seal be available as an audiobook? Thanks

  • Ed Durham says:

    I like the baseball analogy. You could make t even better by using a baseball player patting. The standard instruction is “keep your eye on the ball” but in reality a major league fastball pict comes at 80-100 mph; a speed quite literally too fast for the human eye to track. the Batter is going completely off instinct to av\ctually hit a ball.

  • […] and former trainer of the Navy SEALs. His story of life-saving intuition is recounted in his Unbeatable Mind podcast. I was surprised to hear Mark’s sharing of the role intuitive and extrasensory training […]

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