The dislocation of your faculty of perception
Wed, Apr 23 2014 02:32 | Embodiment, Liberation, Life Purpose, Strength, Strength To Awaken, Strength Training, Weight Lifting
Lifting weights: To call it lifting weights is to already be distracted. Your mind is already divided and lost.
The real discipline is called strength training. The accessory may indeed be weights. And, the accessory might be your body, bands, water or any other form of resistance. The point is the dislocation of your faculty of perception. Read that a few times. Real strength is the ability to open and broaden the aperture of perception such that perception is not longer exclusively tethered to your body-mind. Until you know this strength, you know next to nothing about strength training. To my point of you being intimate with your weakness and vulnerability. He is steering your minds in an all important direction. Take note, straighten your spine, stop wasting your life and attune to a facility of presence that you MUST become. True strength, the real heart my friends, is powerfully present in the most painful, vulnerable and humble of positions. If you resist this, your faculty of perception will remain firmly encased in a limited vehicle that will by necessity betray the very purpose of our existence.
Harvard University Teaching Fellow, Author & Leadership Coach
The Lie You Believe about Motivation
Most people struggle with motivation in one way or another and when it comes to embodiment, motivation is one of the perennial obstacles.
Most approaches to dealing with the obstacle of motivation, whether it's related to embodiment or something else, lack the architecture to take you from where you are to where you need and want to be. Most approaches are obligatory in nature, coercive by design and pretend that hype or excitement is sufficient. Take a look around and you will see "experts" rousing excitement and energy, manipulating people with the best of intentions (sometimes) and reinforcing obligations.
The problem is 99% of all of these fail and the reason why that 1% does work has little to do with the "expert's" conventions and everything to do with a simple yet profound shift in you. You and I both know this.
What you might not be aware of is this:
Most people are colluding with the fantasy that you do not have enough motivation, and by getting more (somehow), you can actually get to where you want and need to be.
This is largely wrong.
Your motivation, right now, is sufficient to change the world. The power you possess is immense. Quite honestly I don't think any of us truly understand, appreciate nor access the strength, elegance and capacity that resides within the human vehicle… right now.
You likely do not lack motivation. There is often something more complex and underlying at work in the human being, which is why so often mainstream approaches to 'change' fall short of being able to bring us to our larger potential as people. So if the amount of motivation is not the real problem, what is?
Meaning-making is the essential nutrient for the mind. It's like what oxygen is for the body. Furthermore, meaning-making manifests into each of your cells, the expression of your DNA and literally permeates every facet of your being.
You are doing meaning-making all the time and issues around so-called motivation are just about always rooted in the meaning-making system.
One of the fundamental patterns within human meaning-making is the movement toward significance. When I use this word, I am talking about what matters most, what captures your attention and engagement and what ultimately brings structure to how and what you perceive. Significance is ultimately what draws humanity towards greater and greater degrees of 'progress.' Whatever your meaning-making system holds as significant, take note, you will not have a problem with motivation. It's hardwired in you. You will methodically - sometimes obsessively - pursue that which is significant to you, whether conscious or unconscious.
To be clear I am not talking about what you "think" should be significant in your life. That's one step removed from what you at a fundamental level presume to be significant. Instead, I'm asking you to consider deeper levels of how you engage your world, your relationships, your inspirations and intentions.
Consider this: the vast majority of the elements we hold as significant at a fundamental level are not your's. They belong to the fabric of your culture(s) and have more or less chosen you. It's not the other way around.
For those of you who are more developmentally privileged you know that you can "out grow" your unconscious loyalties to your cultural presumptions as to what holds significance and what does not. By doing so, you can actually start to choose, author and create your central significances that will drive your motivation in life.
But this requires a series of major transformations in developmental complexity to get to this "self-authoring" stage. So when struggling with motivation, one of the short hand assumptions to explore that I use with my clients is that in this particular area of their life, they are perhaps functioning out of socially defined loyalties, or earlier more self-centered modes of complexity that are largely unconscious.
Motivation that is tied up in earlier stages of developmental complexity help fuel the feeling of not having enough motivation. You want to do this, but in a series of unconscious moves you are expending your resources towards maintaining habituations in many other areas of your life. How do we uncover whether this is true for us? We must begin to pay attention to our habits, our inner dialogue, our thoughts and particularly what drives 'motivation.'
Which leads me to embodiment and motivation. We in the West, as far as I can tell, are by and large developmentally stunted around embodiment. This is largely a cultural construct that most of us participate in. It isn't that we aren't capable of being more fully embodied human beings, it means we live within systems that fail to support our emergent embodiment as our larger potential. Embodiment is mis-perceived to mean the "body" as we tend to think about it in the Western medical model. The body is then presumed to be "fundamentally" important - not "significantly" important. When this perspective is inhabited, motivation naturally moves towards other objects, investments, and loyalties in your life and embodiment holds a less significant place.
It is here in the inner architecture of meaning-making that we find the root of "motivation" issues around embodiment. Even in the face of death, human beings all too often fail to un-couple their attention, energy and genuine commitment from their habituated ways of living. That's how strong meaning-making is, it can change the world and it can put you 6 feet under.
So what now?
1. Free your unconscious loyalties and habituations from your historical conditioning. This frees up your motivation to be conducted into your larger significance in life.
2. Closely inspect your meaning-making. This is hard to do on your own. Find someone with greater clarity, elegance, more experience and more flexibility than you possess. Get their help. This is very hard to do on your own because it is precisely your own meaning-making that is often holding you back.
3. Discover what has already chosen you, that is also liberated from cultural conventions, and participate with embodying this greatest significance… Right Now!
For those of you wanting an overhaul on your meaning-making system around embodiment, I want to recommend my book Strength to Awaken. It is "psycho-active" meaning that simply reading it rewires and evolves your own complexity around embodiment. Check it out, you are likely to find yourself inhabiting a different landscape when you think of strength training, embodiment and/or any other movement discipline.
Finally, help me kill the presumption that human beings are lacking motivation. Let's stop colluding with the premise that we lack motivation and start participating with the immense power that is the future of our co-creative evolution.
I'm co-evolving embodiment, right now.
What are you participating in that unfolds your greater elegance as a human being?
Fitness, Spirituality & The Quality of Your Life
Spirituality has two basic drives. It's first drive is for you to be not as defined by the the circumstances of your life. We can call this freedom. You need to be less governed by the events, people and contexts that you find yourself in. When you don't have freedom, the quality of your life suffers and you remain entrenched in the limitations of your life as it presently is.
The second drive of spirituality is for you to be more present, connected and engaged with your life. We can call this fullness. While you need to be less governed by the circumstances of your life (freedom) you also need to be more present to what is going on in your life. The quality of your life erodes when you become less connected and engaged with what is happening. Attuning to your relationships, vocation as well as your self that is in the world improves your life and the quality of the lives of those around you.
Fitness used to be optional. Generically speaking we can say that "back in the day" evolutionarily speaking movement and survival were intrinsically connected. You had to move to hunt and gather, often times throughout much of the day light. Today we live in a different world where many of us are what we can call "knowledge" workers. If you are a knowledge worker you gain the means to support yourself by creating, following and managing information flow. If this is you then you can spend large portions of your life without moving much. You can spend the vast majority of your days inside a small circumference facing some piece or pieces of technology and or people. In the meantime, movement spikes while walking to the bath room, someone else's movement circumference (office) or to get into your car to then sit still while technology loco-motes you.
Lifestyles that support sedentary patterns will kill you.
Biologically speaking inactivity sends powerful messages to your body and they sound like this: "you are sick" or "you are dying." Chronic persistent inactivity meant you were sick or dying 10,000 years ago. Today ongoing inactivity sends the same biological messages.
The result, many of us need fitness. Our lives depend upon it in a very direct way. You need an intentional period, each day, to rigorously move your body. Please note, I said "each day" as 3 days a week is not enough. Each day you are not vigorously moving your body you are likely shortening your life. Fail to move and you are actively drawing death just a bit closer to you. So whatever you do, move!
But it is not enough to just move your body every day. Fitness needs spirituality. Movement needs to refine both your ability to be more free from the circumstances of your life as well as your ability to be fully present in the circumstances of your life.
Sadly much of the movement that happens as people move their bodies is an expression of dissociation. Movement that is divorced from attention is a form of dissociation. If your attention is not placed on or into your movement you are likely dissociating from your fitness. I often see people on the stair stepping machines, stationary bicycles, treadmills and the like exercising as they read the latest issues of fitness, fashion and sports magazines. Occasionally I see folded up sections of the today's newspaper in front of glazed over eyes. Or, better yet, they are watching TV as CNN's latest coverage of the political campaign to the White House flickers before their eyes.
Fitness is often riddled with dissociation. Dissociation is a function of not having enough freedom yet simultaneously being unable to be present in life. You dissociate precisely where you are too controlled by the circumstances of life and unable to be present in your life. That's when you "check out" so to speak.
The body is perhaps one of the most challenging dimensions of life. Most adults have tremendous difficulty not being dictated by the embodied circumstances and thus they have immense limitations when it comes to being present to their embodied sensations (this shows up by stunting results yielded in fitness and in every other facet of adult life). Many adults have yet to grow, reinforce and strengthen the neurological wiring and processing power to be genuinely free from their body yet at the same time present in the fullness of their body.
Fitness is an ideal training ground to grow the faculties of spirituality. Next time you train, don't “check out” to what's going on in your body. Check in. Turn your attention into and upon the embodied sensations of movement. You'll find that you will yield much more in return.
The Fitness Revolution
Thu, Nov 8 2012 10:34 | Cycling, Embodiment, Fitness, Liberation, Meditation, Revolution, Strength Training, Yoga
When we think of fitness revolutions our minds habitually go toward some "fad" or some "new" trend that does indeed change the landscape of "fitness" for a short while.
This isn't what I am talking about.
Most fads and "new" trends in fitness adhere to the same socially conditioned aims. As long as a fitness movement does not have a genuinely novel orientation, one that is liberated from the social habituations that we are all scripted in, there is no revolution in sight.
None at all.
Fitness as I am re-framing and re-claiming the term here is not interested in shaping your body in some socially habituated aim.
This isn't to say that through this fitness movement, your body may begin to shape and inhabit joy in ways you never considered and perhaps in the process some of these changes may shape you in ways that society looks at and says "yes, I want that" in a deeply conscious way. But, this is not the point.
Maintain your clarity and do not fall into an unconscious loyalty with your social conditioning.
Fitness actually has little to do with the way you look or appear. Fitness as I invite you to relate to this term and practice is something quite different.
The fitness revolution I invite you into is your capacity, ability and skill to FIT with, merge into and participate as the direct immediacy of this moment. Here it is again…
Fitness is your capacity to FIT with, merge into and participate as the direct immediacy of this, and every, moment.
This is your true "fit-ness" and, as you can see, this does not have much to do with the shape of your body, the measurements and stats your body possess nor the desires and aims you aspire to.
This fitness revolution serves your liberated embodiment.
If you're like most people you require training for the type of fitness I am pointing at requires you decoupling yourself from your unconscious habituations. We are not trying to get your body "more fit" in the conventional sense. We are cultivating your ability to fit your conscious participation into the larger immediacy of your life.
It is "hot!"
Meaning, this is an alive, liberated, joyful and deeply engaged embodiment of the full unmediated immediacy of your life.
The next time you find yourself looking at something that's claiming to be "revolutionary" put it to the fire to see if it's aims are genuinely liberated from social conventions. Likely you will see that it's the same old intention, aim and goal wrapped in a new costume jumping around like a clown saying "get me and you'll be happy!"
I recommend using these as wake up calls.
There are many!
If you're like me, you need MANY!
Say thank you and move on, cut through and deepen the participatory immediacy that is always already holding you, co-merging with and as you.
And if you're like me, you can use a conventional tool - strength training - to yield unconventional aims with unconditioned results.
Explore fitness from this lens. Engage your yoga from here, ride your bike from here, sit on your meditation fusion from here, cook dinner tonight from here, write your e-mail from here, run from here, read this blog from here.
Fitness, the ability to FIT with, merge into and participate as the direct immediacy of this moment.
Enjoy your revolution.
Performance or Preference, Which Do You Serve?
Performance, genuine elegant performance, requires that you step beyond your habituated preferences.
Performing within the sphere of your conditioned preferences is never an expression of your highest levels of elegance and achievement, but instead rote repetition. While repetition is necessary for performance, it is not sufficient.
Habituation serves adequacy. Preferences are most often in slavery to comfort. Performance moves with elegance. There is a mysterious effectiveness and grace that is simple, direct, fluid and refined. Look into your peak gestures of performance, I think you know what I am talking about. Put simply performance celebrates what is beautiful - not our cultures conventions around beauty - I'm talking about the heart and essence of beauty. I'm talking about your complete rapture in and as the simple movement of joy.
When you train today, when you pick up injunctions to engage your full embodied experience, start with the intention to explore your experience outside of the boundaries and limitations of your habituated preferences. If your preference is not to train the larger sphere of the elegance that is your emergent beauty, all the better!
Cut through preferences and I think you'll find something much more precious, or rather something precious will take hold of you.
Aliveness and the Survival Habit
Ask yourself this simple question: Do you want aliveness?
Chances are you answered yes to this inquiry. There is some facet of the human being that desires, yearns and searches for the sensate quality of aliveness. While there may be times where you cannot find this part of yourself, the vast majority of us can access this desire most of the time when asked.
But, What precisely is aliveness?
This is a rich inquiry yet defining it is less rewarding than actually feeling it, which is what interests me and I hope sparks something precious in you. The facet of you that desires aliveness is less concerned with looking at aliveness objectively and more invested in subjectively inhabiting the feeling of being alive.
Aliveness, at least from my present vantage point, has at least one central obstacle: survival. I know at first that sounds absurd, but let me explain.
If you are like most adults, you have two basic ways of engaging each moment. The first constellates around engrained survival strategies and the second organizes around the quality of your life. Survival strategies are perhaps the most habituated ways of functioning available while the inquiry into what births your greatest quality of life is something that requires liberated space to even ponder.
Let's be clear out of the gate here, your survival strategies are rarely organized in such a way that they actually support the ongoing enrichment of the quality of your life. Read that again… It's important. At each moment you have a choice, do I want to "survive" (which often implies feeling less) or do I want to qualitatively improve my life (which often requires feeling more)?
Survival habituations are root organizations in your way of being that protect you from threats. This is great, except something has gone off course when you habitually stop feeling because the sensate experience feels threatening. Perhaps the most basic habituation I am aware of that does this is the shift from feeling consciousness to thinking consciousness.
To be clear here, I am not talking about the full conscious participation with dynamic thought which is inextricably woven to feeling consciousness. I am talking about the habituated movement of consciousness out of feeling and into conditioned scripts that unplug you from your larger complexity.
This larger complexity is what fascinates me because it is only here that any of us can find our emergent elegance that can co-create our greater quality of life. Birthing this is qualitatively distinct from merely surviving.
This brings us to the topic of embodiment. Dis-embodiment is most often our preferred survival strategy. This is a good thing. I can tell you first hand as I faced death face to face some facet of my being pulled the eject handle and with it I was spared the panic, open terror, anxiety and raw pain of suffocating to death from an asthma attack. Yes I mean dead, passed out, not breathing, can't find a pulse, body turned grey dead. My consciousness followed this ride only so far until I found myself "somewhere else."
But if you happen to be like me, your survival strategies also unplug you from the immediacy of your life when experience gets uncomfortable. Chances are you've got some missing discernment in your core survival strategies which do not distinguish from being in actual danger and experience being uncomfortable and no longer fitting habituated preferences.
Survival strategies working for habituated preferences, needless to say this is not a recipe for human elegance that embraces your larger complexity. Find out just what is your actual window of tolerance to experience your full unmediated embodied experience. Where is the actual limit and where is the habituated limitation? These are very different!
I think you will find that your larger complexity is freed up from many of the habituated closures from feeling. If you are like me, you are likely to find that the larger complexity that you are able to participate with is rooted in feeling through the full open immediateness that is right here regardless of preferences.
In this rich texture and tapestry of the open embrace of pain and pleasure I think you will find a wellspring of aliveness that simply does not reveal itself to human beings bound to habituated survival strategies.