SEALgrinderPT Interviews Michael Ostrolenk (aka MO) who went through SEALFit Kokoro this past summer 2010. Mo is an incredibly hard worker and perservered despite the tortuous conditions of Kokoro. SGPT catches up with Mo as he shares his thoughts and ideas on what it takes to make it through Kokoro.
SGPT: Tell us a little about yourself and your background coming into Kokoro?
MO: I am married and live in Washington DC. I spend my days and some nights working as a public policy consultant mostly working on national security and health issues. I did the SEALFIT Academy and Kokoro Camp as a celebration of my 40th birthday. It was an opportunity to both celebrate and challenge myself to see what kind of man I really am.
SGPT: did you have an athletic background growing up?
MO: In my youth and adulthood, I studied the martial arts including Tae Kwow Do, Hapkido, Haganah and Krav Maga. I also played soccer as a kid but besides that not much else in terms of athletics.
SGPT: What was the hardest part of Kokoro for you?
MO: I would have to say a few things were more difficult than others. That would include some aspects of Log PT. We had a great boat crew but it took some time for us to act as a team, which meant we were in ‘learning’ position (squat) a lot of the time. That was a bitch but a very good reminder to us all to listen very very closely and work together. I also found some of the longer runs a bit difficult but that was mainly due to a high ankle sprain. A one point, staying awake also proved very problematic. Over all though, due to my training including mental and spiritual training during SEALFIT Academy prior to Kokoro, the difficulties were mostly over-come.
SGPT: How did you prepare for Kokoro and how long?
MO: I did three things in preparation for Kokoro Camp. Starting about 6-month prior, I started the SEALFIT coaching program (an online coaching program) and had an excellent coach in coach C. I also worked with my Krav Maga instructor Otis Berry in the DC area who is former Army Special Forces. We did a lot of hiking and martial art drills. Probable the best preparation though was by attending the 3-week SEALFIT Academy prior to Kokoro
SGPT: What is one tip you would give a candidate for Kokoro?
MO: There is no “i” in team and in reality there is no “i” anyways only a witness to the body/mind process.
SGPT: What do you mean by the mind and body process?
MO: Western psychology and culture ( act as a reinforcing loop) perpetuating the idea that we as individuals are our thoughts, feelings and sensations. They are WHO we are i.e. I think x, I feel y, etc. In the meditative tradition of the East ( also esoteric traditions of the West), the experiences of thoughts, feelings and sensations are not concretized as objects of self but as processes that flow through one’s awareness. Thoughts, feelings and sensations come and go and its a mistake to say that they are ME when in fact they are transient. The East and West offer very different perspectives on the ‘self’ and ultimately, I think they need to be integrated.
SGPT: How does it feel to be done and what have you learned?
MO: It was an incredible feeling to have finished the three-week SEALFIT Academy and Kokoro camp. It was a lifelong dream to be involved in such an integrated training program followed by a test of one’s body, heart and soul. There was also the feeling of emptiness as well having gone from being around ‘warriors’ and training for hours upon hours and then having to go home to ‘work’. The lessons from Kokoro continue to be unpacked in my psyche. The two most clearly articulated lessons for me so far are the limitlessness of my soul and the connection to my team (community). My body ‘gave out’, my mind ‘played games’ but my soul remained un-phased as I moved from one evolution to another. I learned from that that my body or the silly chatter of my mind does not really limit me. I can accomplish anything that sets my soul on fire. In terms of the team, that was another huge lesson. The team is what gets you through it. Part of that is also learning not to focus on oneself but the team and your mates. I learned to be a leader, a follower and a better team-mate.
SGPT: Thanks for the interview, and I look forward to seeing you at SEALFit soon.
If you are interested in going to SEALFit Kokoro and knowing more about what it takes to make it through – email [email protected] for more info. SEALgrinderPT offers specialized coaching for athletes going to Kokoro and will provide you with detailed workouts and reading assignments to get you ready for Kokoro and to graduate and make it through.