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The BlackBelt Mind is about choosing standards of life that inspire excellence in every part of your life. You learn to respond instead of reacting, and you regain the power over the actions and choices that you take. Your path, like your life, is something that you're in charge of: but we're here to help you walk it.
Working with Dana and Colleen means expanding and deepening the practitioner/client relationship into one of "sensei training". While you will experience many teachers in your life, a sensei is more than that. Simply put, they are people who have walked the road before you and can help you as you walk. But the journey is yours, and the goal is for you to evolve into being your own sensei.
Dana: At the real heart of it all, I want people to understand that what we’re calling a Black Belt Mind isn’t an anomaly, it isn’t something that’s rare and difficult for people to attain – it’s what we start with. The process of naming it and referring to it is meant to help people return to a place where their mind is functioning at a really high level of proficiency. I want to dispel this idea that mastery is a foreign state for a human being. I think that mastery is a natural state and that everything else we go through in the world tricks us into thinking that mastery is unattainable except for a very few. That it’s almost impossible to get there and by only a very few attain it and there’s no way to codify it. I think that’s totally incorrect – we start with mastery, it’s our birthright. For me the Black Belt Mind is a framework for helping return people to their natural state of mastery
Colleen: It gives people a conscious mind framework to assess where they are and where they want to live from, and this is invaluable when you are committed to healing and growth.
Dana: Really, because we believe everyone has a BlackBelt Mind and just doesn’t know it. We believe that this level of life mastery is available to everyone, and this framework allows people to gain clarity and move forward at their own pace.
Dana: It's like a mirror or a litmus test for your mind. A stable point of reflection for your own self determined growth. It is very inviting and accessible vs exclusionary. To put it simply it's a way to know yourself, and of course there is so much that we could say about the value of that.
Colleen: It’s like a guide or a compass... it’s a codified way of accessing what’s in your head that tells you when you’re doing something that you can be proud of or not, that you can get behind or not, or that you can believe in or not. And then if what you're doing isn't in line with where you want to be, it’s a compass that gives you a direction to help you get to the place you want to go.
Dana: It’s not a forced methodology of thinking, not a rigid right/wrong way of judging yourself, not a religion. It's experiential and if it’s not true to you then it’s not true – so it encourages the personal experience of the truth for each person. It is not something where another person will tell you what to do and you need to blindly follow it. It is a very self-determined experience based on foundational ideas and principles.
Dana: It's for everyone who wants to choose this, anyone who wants to reach for this. This is accessible to everyone. A lot of things connected to martial arts are extremely exclusionary but this mindset is extremely inviting. The BlackBelt Mind is for anyone that’s excited and inspired by the idea of self-growth and self-knowledge, the old school idea of Know Thyself, and for anyone who believes this is important and wants to endevour to live this way. It's for people who want to have a vision of themselves at their most excellent, and is a code of living in the pursuit of excellence.
Colleen: It's not for you if you are looking for a guru. It’s something that you can use in every aspect of your life, so it's not just a quick fix about how you make money, or about relationships, or health... It’s about being able to look at yourself in the mirror and be satisfied that you are doing things in the way you want to show up in the world.
Dana: It's not for you if you want things the quick, easy, magic pill way. This is a way of being rather than a specific short term technique.
Dana: No. The BlackBelt Mind is not bound by the idea of perfection. What we’re striving for is greater and greater proficiency. And that makes all the difference.
Dana: It was created because I needed to find a name for all of this knowledge that I was accruing over years and years of martial arts training. I noticed how these things I was learning were drastically changing how I viewed the reason I started with martial arts, and they were starting to show up in other places in my life that I wasn’t even intending to put them. It was happening with such consistency that I wanted to develop a short hand language to describe some of that experience because it was occurring in so many places in my life outside of the dojo.
Dana: I wanted to find a way to share the powerful ideas and philosophies that I had gained through my intensive martial arts training, with people who have never trained with martial arts and maybe even have no desire to train. Even martial arts for me now is just another path to access myself, and The Black Belt Mind is another way that people might choose to access themselves. People might choose to benefit from the knowledge that I’ve gained by intensively following this path of accessing myself, which involved a very particular way of doing things with other people. It has been and continues to be very powerful in its ability to create reflection. I want to share my experiences from going through this very specific and powerful approach to help others learn and grow.
Colleen: The BlackBelt Mind helps give people feedback and things to hang on to when they are learning and growing. It assists in providing clarity: for example what your strengths are and what you can work on. It helps people understand that you don’t have to be perfect all the time and there’s usually a very good reason for you doing what you’re doing. For example, if you’re in self-judgment about something terrible you’ve done, you might be judging yourself as a terrible person overall. But we can use The BlackBelt Mind framework to find out what might have had you take that action and the underlying reasons or causes and things to work on, which is of course much more useful that just judging yourself with big labels and not knowing where to go from there. We can help clarify the specific thing that you can work on, and you can focus on that. So it is very useful in helping to clarify next steps.
Dana: When I think about how you apply this in life and what’s really at the heart of it... You know the saying, "The way you do one thing is the way you do everything"? We can transcend that statement but take the value of it. People use that statement with varying degrees of effectiveness to encourage and inspire but it can also be used to be critical and judge, etc., basically to make yourself feel bad.
The BlackBelt Mind framework is about giving yourself conscious permission to fail. To give yourself permission consciously and with self-determination to pursue failure and be unintimidated by it. Because at the heart of it all what I've really seen from martial arts in a very literal and visceral way, is that life is passing you by while you are preoccupied with the idea of perfection.
One thing about martial arts that is so powerful is that when you are sparring with someone you can’t be stuck on whether you executed that last move properly. Because if you’re stuck there you are basically missing the present moment when your opponent is still attacking... So if you are stuck there your focus is in the wrong place. This framework is a way to break the freeze that results from being in the paradigm that perfection is the desired state, because perfection is the thing that anchors the fear of failure and the fear of failure is the thing that keeps you from participating. This is certainly true on the mat and absolutely true in life.
People accept failure on different levels and at different times. They accept failure, they tolerate failure, but for many the idea of pursuing failure makes them want to crawl into bed and never leave the house! But the pursuit of failure is actually the pursuit of evidence, the real world feedback that you are gaining proficiency, because you can’t gain proficiency if you never learn to correct and if you never fail then you never have anything to correct. So failure is not only useful to proficiency it’s actually essential to gaining proficiency.
I say this to people at the dojo all the time and I'm also gaining a new understanding of it... The more you survive the more you know you can survive. The more you go through the more you know you can go through. You are gaining proficiency and stepping out with a greater understanding of yourself each time you take yourself to your edge and pursue failure. However most people never put themselves to the test because they are so afraid to fail, and so their proficiency remains the same.
Colleen: if you’re interested, you’re ready!
Dana: You know you’re ready if there is anything you are dissatisfied with in in your life, if there’s anywhere you feel like you don’t show up, or anywhere you want to feel like you are being more of yourself in your life.
Each belt level is about taking another step towards reaching your ideals and self. Each belt level is about us helping you work your way up to being your own mentor, your own teacher, your own sensei. While the journey to your BlackBelt is an extensive one, there are general guidelines to provide a sense of context for each step in the process as designated each individual belt level, with each one having its own focus of experience and exploration. Those can each be characterized by a single concept:
White Belt - Innocence
Yellow Belt - Interest
Orange Belt- Inspiration
Green Belt - Insight
Blue Belt - Initiation
Brown Belt - Intuition
Black Belt - Ideals
If you would like to take one of our Black Belt Mind courses, please click here for a FREE mini-lesson or to sign up. Online classes are instant access and come with 3 months of weekly group Zoom calls to ask Dana and Colleen questions, get their feedback, and get ongoing information about creating your own Black Belt Mind.