The (Coolest) Thing About the Navy SEALs
When all is said and done, they use simple tools that are available to everyone
If you haven’t already noticed, the Navy SEALs are kind of cool. Some even call and say they’re badasses.
That’s because, among many other things, they say things like this:
- “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”
- “Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds”
- “You’ve only got three choices in life: Give up, give in, or give it all you’ve got”
- “Cowards never start. The weak never finish. Winners never quit”
- “When you’re under pressure you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”
- “Lions mustn’t concern themselves with the opinion of lambs”
- “Get comfortable being uncomfortable”
- “There are only two ways to do something … the right way, and again”
- “If you’re gonna be stupid, you better be hard”
And possibly my favourite:
“The 40% rule is simple: When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done.
The human mind is an amazing thing. It both propels us forward and holds us back.”
Now, to the coolest thing about the Navy SEALs
The coolest thing about the Navy SEALs (at least to me, anyway) is that when all is said and done, they use simple tools that are available to everyone.
In the intensity of combat, they can’t rely on fancy machinery or special equipment to help them, they have to use tools that are a lot closer than that.
The tools they like to use are breathing exercises, “soft” eyes, visualization techniques, and positive affirmations like those I mentioned above.
They rely on the body’s wisdom and the strength of the mind to keep them calm, relaxed, and composed when most would crumble.
Being a NAVY Seal has to be one of the most hardcore jobs there is. It’s hard to even imagine what they have to do, see, and process on a daily basis. If they didn’t have ways to self-regulate, stay calm, and keep focused right there at the moment when they needed it most, they’d be screwed.
What they repeatedly think and say to themselves and to each other on a daily basis (and on a moment-to-moment basis!) is of utmost importance. It can literally save their lives.
But however impressive their level of training, commitment, and dedication is, when everything gets stripped away, they use the same evolutionary tools we were all given at birth when we stepped into a human body. The only difference is that the Navy SEALs have refined them and enhanced them to supernatural capacities.
That’s why when these tools are tested in the heat of combat, they use, trust, and rely on them to save their lives and the lives of others.
So, let’s look at two of those techniques a little more closely now to see what’s going on. And to show how everyone can try them in their own lives.
1. Box breathing
This technique is great for building emotional resilience, relieving stress, and creating a calm inner state. It’s also a powerful technique for relieving anxiety.
Don’t be fooled: Its simplicity is its power. And the Navy SEALs know it.
How to practice it:
- Inhale through your nose for 4–6 seconds
- Hold your breath in for 4–6 seconds
- Exhale through your nose for 4–6 seconds
- Hold your breath out for 4–6 seconds
- Repeat for 5–10 minutes
Discover another one of my favourite breathwork techniques here
2. Create “soft eyes”
Our eyes, like the breath, can reflect how we’re feeling.
Sharp, focused eyes can often reflect high concentration or alertness, for example, while soft, relaxed eyes can often reflect a calm, open mind.
When we’re on high alert our pupils dilate and we narrow in on a specific object. This has evolved over millions of years to keep us alive. It works by blocking out anything that’s not urgent from the surrounding environment.
Wild animals do this all the time, especially those being hunted. The Navy SEALs also do it in combat.
But here’s the thing…
Humans nowadays do it more from high levels of stress, overwhelming workloads, toxic environments, and anxiety without discharging the build-up of energy. That’s how stress, tension, adrenaline, and cortisol can cause inflammation, chronic pain, and even heart problems after a short while of living like this.
The good news is that a great way to restore balance is to oscillate from these highly focused eye movements to more open, relaxed ones. Much like how a buck returns to grazing right after being hunted by a lion.
How to practice “soft” eyes:
- Sit comfortably and allow your breath to soften
- Look straight
- Expand your awareness to see what’s in your peripheral vision. Open up to the spaces that are up and down whilst continuing to look ahead
- Allow your focus to take in ‘all things as your eyes begin to ‘soften’
- Stay connected to your breath
- Stay here for as long as comfortable
Combining these two practices together is a powerful way to relax, center, and calm the nervous system. And as they’re both completely free, available to all, and can be taken anywhere in the world, they are extremely effective tools that can be trusted and relied upon.
Then if you want to add some positive affirmations and visualisations into the mix for good luck, you’ve got one helluva spicy cocktail that can make life even more beautiful.
We all have the tools available to us at every moment. So, as much as the Navy SEALs are highly skilled, incredibly athletic, and ridiculously resilient, their most relied upon tools —the breath, positive, determined mind, visualizations, and “soft” eyes — are completely free.
And as they are completely free and we all have them, they can be done anywhere, anytime, in any situation, by everyone. So, although we may never become a Navy SEAL or anything close to one, for that matter, we can all use the tools they use to support a better life.