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
Caution: Don't Train This Way!
Mon, Jan 7 2013 05:57 | Adult Development, Development, Discipline, Habituation, Motivation, Strength, Strength To Awaken, Strength Training
Last week at the Integral Center I was fortunate enough to sit down with my Strength To Awaken small group plus a handful of people from around the world visiting Boulder for the Whats Next Conference. Again, motivation was a big topic. I think it is the major challenge for most people when it comes to training.
I'm going to share with you part of what we explored together because it is essential. If you don't get this there's a very good chance you are digging yourself into a ditch that quite honestly you probably don't want to dive into.
Whenever I speak about motivation I end up talking about discipline. They are interwoven in complex and important ways. For those of you who are already receiving my free 12 Training Tips, you'll hear more about this topic there and for those of you with my book Strength to Awaken in your hands already please see Chapter Nine for a deeper dive. Right now though, we are going to cut right to the heart of the problem.
Conventional discipline divides your mind.
Conventional approaches to training divide your mind.
The common element I'd like you to que into is the divided mind.
Is your mind divided now?
Chances are it is. This is a problem. It is actually a very big one although it's probably familiar so you likely aren't that concerned. Having a mind that is divided is kind of like having your kitchen roaring in flames. Go on, picture that. You're in the living room going on as usual simply because you're used to that fire.
A divided mind is in many ways similar to your kitchen engulfed in flames because:
- both block you from nourishment you need.
- both keep you out of places in your life you need to go.
The divided mind can be defined as two or more oppositional drives inside of you with divergent agendas. Part of you is going this way and part is headed that way. Most of the time these discordant drives are in a struggle with precisely what is happening in the present moment.
Strength training, or any kind of training, from this divided mind is a tremendous waste of energy. It is inefficient. It wastes time. It steals your enjoyment and pleasure.
The divided mind is what most adults live in. They haven't grown their mind to become strong enough to unify and cohere a drive that brings the mind into a synergy. Don't get all hard on yourself here, research suggests that less than 1% of adults do… this is our potential not where you "should be already."
So, training with divisions in your mind is the common climate of most people in the gym. And it also shows up in bed, in the office and in cars on the drive home. The problem is that training is supposed to be an activity that you do for a short period of time that carries you forward. Do this and it will take you FORWARD. Training a divided mind may give you some relative physical benefit when compared to a sedentary lifestyle; however, it often fails to draw you forward in any legitimate fashion. Instead, conventional training results in more division within yourself. Mentally you are not training, you're simply rehearsing or repeating. You're getting better at something that you already know how to do.
If you're like most adults you are not in any need on developing the ability to waste time and energy, be inefficient and erode your own joy and pleasure in or out of the gym. I think these come built in, they are not our future but our current predicament.
Stop repeating the habit of dividing your mind when you train. See what happens when you draw your mind into a greater coherence. Divide your mind and will likely find yourself saying that you are "struggling with not having enough motivation" as I hear often. Bring your mind into its larger resonance and direct it completely into the activity of your training and you will discover the heart of discipline. Become your mind's larger coherence and you will save time and energy, you will become more efficient and proficient. You will discover more joy and pleasure. And if you do this in your training you'll be shocked at how simply a unified and coherent mind shows up in other facets of your life.
Do You Need More Muscle?
Building muscle should be a priority for everyone especially for adults over the age of 22 to 25. Around this time you started to lose muscle cells. When you lose muscle cells you lose muscle mass. When you lose muscle mass two important measures start to erode: 1. Metabolic Rate and 2. Muscle Strength.
When your metabolism slows down, it becomes much easier to put a layer of fat on your body that you simply don’t need (or want). Worse yet you’re likely lining your organs with fat, which has serious long term health considerations. One thing you might not be aware of is that your body interprets the deposit of fat on your organs as a stressor. This stress in turn sets off a series of biological processes that make you more likely to store more fat (both the fat that you see on your body as well as the fat you don’t see on your organs). So fat triggers a stress response which in turn stimulates more fat storage which, you guessed it, produces more stress (Nice cycle eh?).
Here’s what you probably don’t know.
Chronic stress shrinks your brain (yeah, read that again... your brain gets smaller and likely less integrated). Stress also shrivels the ends of your chromosomes in your cells accelerating cellular aging and predisposes you to anxiety and depression to point a just a few negative effects of stress. The physical stress of fat is obviously just one piece to a larger puzzle but for many this is a serious obstacle. Many live in what is now frequently being called an obesity epidemic, at least that’s what a broad selection of experts on the subject matter tell us.
This lowering of your metabolism is one of the major problems because week to week you are likely to eat about the same amount of food. If you are losing muscle cells week in and week out you don’t need as many calories. Those extra calories, as we all know, end up in places that you don’t want - especially if you’re biologically functioning in chronic stress. Oddly it appears that the larger the belly, the greater the duration of stress and thus the smaller and less integrated the brain becomes. Yes, all this just from losing muscle mass and this is just a sliver of the impact of losing muscle mass.
Take a deep breath and liberate yourself from your habits of mind around what you prefer and how you relate to your lifestyle. You need muscle mass. Muscles are like a sponge soaking up nutrients that you consume. Simultaneously they are like a furnace creating immense amounts of heat burning off stress through movement. Generally speaking the more muscle you have, the greater the effects. As such, your life and the quality of your life is in many ways dependent upon your muscle mass.
Your life and the quality of your life is in many ways dependent upon your muscle mass.
If you’re concerned about getting big and bulky muscles, remember muscles are the engines of what keeps us all lean. Adding 2 lbs of muscle will burn about 10 lbs of fat over the course of the year. That’s losing 8 lbs the healthy sane way. The interesting truth is that if you’re trading in fat for muscle, you get smaller, not bigger. Muscle is immensely dense, fat spreads out and takes up lots of space. Lose fat and gain muscle and you will see your measurements go down. As a long term strategy (I am talking about spread out over 2-10 years you can augment training methodologies that heighten the cultivation of size or avoid size gains. Most elite athletes avoid size gains like the plague, yet they train rigorously. If you don’t want to get bigger over the long run (once you have gotten most of the fat off your body and organs), there are many intelligent approaches to keeping your muscles powerful and efficient without gaining size.
If you are like most adults though, you need more mass right now.
Muscle strength cannot be reduced to a “macho” thing that you may or may not not be attracted to. The larger truth relevant for everyone is this: You need muscle strength, this is a pragmatic fact.
If you don’t believe me go volunteer at a nursing home for a week. It will dramatically change your perception of strength and what happens to your quality of life when you can’t move around freely. Muscle strength determines freedom of movement perhaps more than any other single factor and science tells us that strength is positively correlated with quality of life. When you lose strength you also lose quality of your life. It’s that simple.
One of the questions everyone is wise to address is this: Does your day to day lifestyle increase your capacity to move about freely with greater ease and more flexibility? If you can not say yes to this, consider breaking out of your conditioned lifestyle that presently holds you. If you are not moving towards becoming more, then you’re slowly, or perhaps not so slowly, eroding the quality of your life.
Strength and metabolism do not have to decline with age. In fact, it appears that these decline more in concert with lifestyle than with your chronological age. Strength training is a massively (perhaps the most) powerful way to reverse both of these measures as you grow older.
Strength To Awaken is the most integrated approach to strength training you will find on the planet. Greater integration means greater results. Train smart, learn to engage whole-heartedly into the discipline of strength training as this book does and you will enjoy multifaceted adaptations that will likely serve every facet of your life.