(Anything in Red not stated)
4 x Presentations to
173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) in Italy
(Monday 28 July 2014, Tuesday 29 July and Wednesday 30 July at the Military base at Del Din, Vicenza, Italy and on Sunday 3 Aug at the training camp in Poland – 15 hours drive from Vicenza through Austria and Germany)
(2 hours with audio/visual equipment from laptop to screen with sound)
I have chosen this subject because your Army has an emphasis on the “Ready and Resilient Campaign” and your Commander Colonel Foster has as a training priority on Resiliency with Total Soldier Fitness being Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual. I will focus on Mental – in fact Mental Toughness.
Acknowledgement and Thank you
Before I launch myself into my presentation I would like to than your Commander and particularly Major Aaron Cox. I met Major Cox in Australia when he was the Exchange Officer on a posting to 3 Combat Engineer Regiment in Townsville. At the time I presented my experiences in Vietnam in 1965 when my sub unit 3 Field Troop, which was part of 1 Battalion Group, which in turn was the 3rd Infantry Battalion of 173 Airborne Brigade.
I plucked from your History –
“In 1965, the Brigade became the first major unit of the United States Army to serve in Vietnam. They conducted the only combat parachute jump of the war in February 1967. During more than six years of continuous combat, the brigade earned 14 campaign streamers and four unit citations. Sky Soldiers serving in Vietnam earned 13 Medals of Honor.”
So here I am again – in the company of 173rd 49 years later – it is quite a thrill I assure you.
Now that I have introduced Vietnam I can’t leave you totally up in the air by not sharing some of my experiences there so here is what I intend to present:
1. 3 Fd Tps tasks in Vietnam
2. Documentary about searching the Tunnels of Cu Chi (1988 doco)
3. Sapper Barnett
BREAK – 10 mins
4. Mental Toughness or Resilience
5. Exercise on Mental Toughness experience
6. My Story
7. Q and A and Concluding Remarks
We’ll start off with some of:
3 Fd Tps tasks in Vietnam
Expand all the following points:
Showing some photos from the book – No Need For Heroes which included History of Tunnel Warfare in South Vietnam commencing with going down the tunnels then the finding of the main VC HQ in the Iron Triangle on the CRIMP Operation Jan 1966. Relevant Comments for all photos.
To-days tasks are remarkably similar.
IEDs – found mainly by Infantry Search Platoons with Sappers called in to neutralize.
How we developed splinter and mini teams as a result – and still used today.
Casualties from M16 Jumping Jack Mines taken from the Minefield and used against us
Tunnels Cu CHI – Doco 22 minutes
3 Field Troop were the first down Tunnels in Vietnam.
Story about Sapper Barnett and when arrested for brawling with US MPs used his ID card having S P R Barnett claiming Special Privileged Rank whereupon the MPs let him go. Ref No Need For Heroes Page 83 or Tunnel Rats Page 62
10 Minute Break
Mental Toughness or Resilience
Mental Toughness can be developed and used deliberately – It is synonymous to Resilience or Inner Strength.
So what are we talking about here? From the US www.army.mil website it says that “Individual resilience can be built, maintained, and strengthened when viewed as an enduring concept and acquired through regular training” and it says that resilience is
“The mental, physical, emotional, and behavioural ability to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, recover, learn and grow from setbacks.”
From now on I will refer to Mental Toughness. I wish to open you to the idea that it is possible to use mental toughness (yet another name is inner strength) in a conscious, self-directed and deliberate way.
Here are some examples:
Viktor Frankl, in his book Man's Search for Meaning described the process of inner strength. Many holocaust victims were shot, gassed, and otherwise murdered violently. For these people any will to survive was transcended by the physical violence of their deaths. It is also true that many of those who died in the holocaust, died of sickness, deprivation and exposure. Of the people who were not actually murdered, the ones who had goals, who had a family they knew they had to survive for and those who had a great purpose, tended to be the ones who withstood enormous difficulties and survived.
Those who were not obeying some great purpose, those who were not gripped by the need to achieve an important goal, soon found no meaning in the daily struggle for life, gave up psychologically, and eventually died.
Be aware of some keywords here – great purpose, important goal, and meaning for living.
Another person you will all know is Nelson Mandela.
He was born in a small South African village and received a western education as a lawyer. Mandela became a key figure of the African National Congress, a political party that sought to unite all Africans and regain their rights and freedom. He participated in boycotts, organized protests, mobilized his people and in turn was labeled an enemy of the state: accused of treason, banned from political involvement, disbarred, and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela's incarceration was for 27 years and he was released (aged 72) because of the world outcry. He only had words of forgiveness for his former enemies.
As President of South Africa he established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid.
The words from Marianne Williamson poem were immortalised when used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inauguration Speech.
Our deepest fear
is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
that most frightens us.
AND OF COURSE THERE IS MORE – I RECOMMEND YOU GOOGLE IT
Closer to Military here is a story about one of my soldiers in 3 Field Troop Engineers Vietnam 1965-66.
Doug Sanderson was a Lance Corporal and his No2 (we always worked in pairs when supporting the Infantry on Operations) was evacuated back to base camp – so Doug was on his own. Doug suffered from claustrophobia. In the operation an armed wounded enemy was seen disappearing down a tunnel entrance. Doug was called upon to get him out – it was his job. Doug went down the tunnel alone, located the enemy (who had a rifle), donned his tear gas mask and then threw a tear gas grenade. The enemy was neutralised and coughing, spluttering and with blinding tears emerged to the surface. It was not until November 2009 that I asked Doug how he did it. Doug said “I told myself that I had to do it – it was my job. I then pictured, imagined and told myself that I was crawling on the surface of the earth with plenty of air to breathe (when I was down in the tunnel).” What a wonderful example of mental toughness achieved through focussed concentration and visualisation. I recommended Doug for a bravery award however it didn’t happen.
This concept of inner strength is not new. Paul G Thomas, in his book Psycho Feedback spoke about a Founding Father – Coué.
“Emile Coué was a French pharmacist who in 1870 became fascinated by the power of the mind and its relation-ship to health. Around 1880 he opened a free clinic at Nancy and effected many miraculous cures. He was an international celebrity in the 1920s but unfortunately far ahead of his time in USA. We now know that the significance of Emile Coué's work comes across the span of years like a clarion call.
“Coué's greatest insight formalised in his book Self Mastery Through Conscious Auto-suggestion was:
When the imagination and will power are in conflict, are antagonistic, it is always the imagination which wins. This law is as immutable as the law of gravity.
“And the corollary:
When the imagination and will power are harmoniously pulling in the same direction, an irresistible force is the result.”
This corollary is so important and it is the subject of what I teach.
That’s right you can learn to use mental toughness deliberately.
My definition is this: “Inner Strength (Mental Toughness) is that deep quality of our mind and spirit that enables us to create opportunities in life or rise above adversity. I'm saying you don't have to go through it to rise above it – you can just tap it. It is an inherent part of our creation (or existence) as beings and it allows us to rise above adversity if and when it strikes.”
Exercise on Mental Toughness experience
So here’s an exercise for you. Form groups of 4 (If you are in group it is more effective, however one can do this individually). Share and talk about a recent situation or say on an exercise where you had to draw on extra reserves of toughness and reflect on how you did that.
Let’s have a few groups (or individuals) to share.
So here’s my experience as to how I proved that you can develop “resilience” deliberately.
Notes: The following may be expanded upon …
What do you think when I say to you “Don’t think of a rainbow”? Of course – a rainbow.
“Don’t Worry” to the subconscious mind means …. Worry.
Don’t forget means --- forget.
So now I’ve introduced you to the subconscious mind.
I want to tell you a quick version of my story about how I found out about the subconscious mind. As you all know I’m a very left-brained, analytical, prove-it-to-me Engineer. My son Andrew had asthma since he was two years old. He had done everything the doctors had told him to do. He was already on puffers and cortisone tablets. When he was 17 years old he collapsed in a coma and woke up in a hospital with a cortisone drip in his arm. He knew that he didn’t want to be on the cortisone drip so he yanked it out of his arm, got dressed and walked out of the hospital. Collapsed again. Another hospital, another cortisone drip. I said to him – Let’s go and see a different sort of doctor. I took him to see Khali Anasundram – an Indian doctor who was a chest specialist. He taught Andrew about the subconscious mind, telling him that he could learn to relax between each bout of asthma and then he would be able to get through the attack. Within a couple of weeks Andrew was not using his puffer and he was off cortisone tablets. He could handle asthmatic attacks bus using the relaxation method that was taught to him. Andrew then was on a motorbike – an argument with a bus and smashed his left leg. Into hospital. The professor at the hospital said he would have to amputate the leg. Good Lord – why Professor? Because he had to be on cortisone to keep down the infection and cortisone impedes the growth of bone marrow which would stop the leg from healing. Hold on a minute Professor – and I got back Khali Anasundrum. He said that yes of course he could help Andrew to use his subconscious mind to keep down the infection and help to heal his leg. He said he would talk to the professor and see if he would do the necessary operation by reducing the amount of cortisone. Today Andrew has his leg – miracle number 2. I had to take notice. I asked Andrew to teach me what he had learned and I then applied it to weight release. I am big now, but I was huge then. I took of 49 pounds over 6 months. And then I was able to bring down my blood pressure by 20 points and reduce my pulse strength so that even the doctor couldn’t feel it – all in 30 seconds. I studied this area, read every book and went to every seminar, as long as they mentioned the subconscious mind. Then a tragedy occurred in my life. My 3 daughters – Jenny and Kirsty at 19 and Lexie – turning 16 the very next day, were murdered. I went through all the normal process of grief – hatred, anger and revenge. Thank goodness I could meditate. In the middle of meditation a thought came to me which was: If you persist in being hateful, angry and vengeful, you will end up like that. You see, I already knew that we speak to ourselves 50,000 times a day and if we speak to ourselves negatively then that will effect us negatively. I did not want to be a hateful, angry, vengeful person. And I knew by now that anger, hatred and revenge had now become habits within me. I got some help and worked with meditation, changing those negative thoughts into acceptance, unconditional love and forgiveness. Just a quick word on Forgiveness …. Who do you do forgiveness for? Think about it. If you’re meditating and you’re doing the forgiveness process – who is it for? Yes – that’s right, it’s for yourself. You are not condoning the act in any way, shape or form and nor are you giving permission to the person to go and do it again. You are doing it so that you can get on with your life. After I recovered from this I realised that I knew so much about the subconscious mind and what you can do about it, that I started to teach about it. This was now some 25 years ago.
So here is some of the science about the subconscious mind which I believe is advantageous to know about.
1. Subconscious Mind does not know the difference between imagination and reality. Have you ever had a Falling Dream … falling … falling … falling. Heart beating faster, adrenaline running, hot sweats. But it’s not real is it? However the subconscious mind thinks that it was real. So what can we get out of this?
2. Pretend. When you’re working with the SCM you can pretend – it does not know the difference between imagination and reality.
3. So how do we work with the SCM? With visualisation. And you know when we visualise we visualise in 7 ways: Imagination and talking to yourself which everyone can do, and the five senses – see, hear, feel, taste, touch. And at the same time …
4. You use positive Self Talk. It was Professor Roger Sperry who got the Nobel Prize for dividing the Left Brain and the Right Brain and he proved in 1981 that negative thoughts attract negative thoughts which leads to negative action and negative reaction. The corollary is that Positive Thoughts attract positive thoughts. And remember that we talk to ourselves 50,000 times a day – so talk to yourself positively.
5. What is the job of the SCM? It is to keep you where you are now. You see, in the SCM is all our memory, habits, personality and self image. Your SCM wants the habits that it already has – either good or bad, and it will keep you there by sabotaging you. The job of the conscious mind is to put in the new habits you want into the SCM.
6. This has all been proven. In fact, a good reference is Dr Joe Dispenza who wrote “Evolve Your Brain” – I highly recommend this book to you. Science has shown new habits being formed by photographing neural pathways. It has also shown that the old habits will drop away. You will always remember that you had it, but the neural pathway will have dropped away.
7. The SCM is used in sport. Nearly all of our sports institutes teach about using mind power – that is the SCM.
8. The SCM can be used to help in healing, pain release, creativity, acceptance, love and forgiveness and so many more things. This is what I now teach about.
Q and A
I had discussions and received questions about PTSD. My advice was:
1. Talk about the incidents that you think contributed to the PTSD.
2. Have a drink with a few mates and share with each other.
Visit the country or the location of the cause of the
PTSD – be with a
To help you manage and deal with PTSD:
1. Understand about the Power of the Subconscious Mind
2. Use only Positive Self Talk
3. Learn to meditate and meditate for at least 30 minutes per day
4. Take good nutritionals – Anti-oxidants, multi minerals and oils each
5. Exercise for at least 30 minutes day.
A free download of my e-book titled Addressing Trauma, Grief and Loss - A Personal Journey is available and has more thoughts on addressing this issue.
To ensure success in your endeavours, you must all aspire to be strong, resilient and positive and you can use the SCM to assist.
So to the paratroopers/leaders of the 173rd know that you can develop Resilience and use it deliberately. Good luck in all your endeavours IT HAS BEEN MY PRIVILEGE TO ADDRESS YOU.