Strength, Your Reservoir for LoveBy Rob McNamara
Did you know that Strength Training has much more to do with the very Heart of your Being than your physical muscles? This might seem like an odd question given our cultures relationship to “lifting weights.” Culturally, we love to compartmentalize and strength training is no exception. People exercise for their bodies, people lift weights for their muscles.People often don’t bring themselves fully into their fitness activities. As a result, they lose the most precious gifts in life. Reducing strength training (or any “fitness” activity) to movement that’s just for the body isn’t just horribly uninformed, it’s a crime committed upon the seat of your soul. To detach that which is the very heart and center of who you are from what you’re doing is to allow something precious to die in each moment this compromise is committed.Strength training impacts your brain plasticity as much as it does your muscles. It strengthens your immune system just as it does your bone density. It increases your cardiovascular fitness just as it releases the impacts of stress. While strength training works wonders on your body’s physiology as it makes you biologically younger with every workout it’s hidden dimensions develops your mind, evolves your soul and walks you toward a liberation and fullness in life never glimpsed without this rich practice.To yield the benefits to your mind, heart and soul requires you to bring yourself fully to this practice. You cannot compartmentalize yourself in this activity. Bringing the fullness of who you are always starts with a clear intention. I suggest three to get you started.My intention is to not re-create past experiences or manufacture future expectations.My intention is to be fully with what’s already here.My intention is to bring the fullness of who I am into each movement.With weights in hand, intentions clear it’s time to explore the some of the depths of strength training. Many people veil themselves from the true vulnerability of this practice by focusing on “getting stronger,’ which is certainly a by-product; however, the very heart of the process of strength training is to explore what it’s like to be weak. It’s through diving deeply into our weakness in which our greatest heartfelt humility is born. So with each set of exercises, push yourself until you’re so weak that you can’t lift the weight even one more time.Dive into each set with an open heart and the clear intention to be with this process fully without an agenda. Allow your conditioning to avoid pain and attach to pleasure to fall aside in the face of your soul’s unconditioned presence to witness the full dance of your life and your heart’s complete engagement with the weights.Strength Training is inherently painful if you’re doing it right. The agenda to avoid pain is however one of the best ways to perpetuate more and more suffering in your life. With each set you have the opportunity to cultivate a new conscious relationship with yourself as each set of weights is lifted. As your mind refines in its ability to focus, each repetition will become more intense. As each set explores more intensity and discomfort, you can turn toward these sensations, face them with a welcoming heart and in the process transform our relationship to how you face suffering.In the process of bringing the fullness of who you are into the simple activity of lifting weights, I guarantee you’ll learn much more about life, love, joy and suffering than the person next to you just “going through the motions”. You’ll grow both your hearts ability to hold both pain and joy in addition to increasing your bone density. You’ll find yourself not only getting stronger muscles, but you’ll also find that the process of being weak awakens your soul’s love and kindness both for yourself and the world.While you’re busy pioneering Christianity, you might as well cut a new groove for your wellness with an integrated approach to strength training. I think you’ll find the intersection quite fruitful. Don’t leave the fullness of your heart at home when you head to the gym to pick up some weights.
Rob McNamara received a Bachelor of Arts from Susquehanna University as well as a Masters in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. Rob applies his training into 3 major areas: Education, Integral Practice and Business.Rob has lectured on Integral Psychology and Human Development at Naropa University in the Transpersonal and Contemplative Psychology programs. His work with Integral Practice has included contributions to the operations, content and seminars for Ken Wilber's think tank, Integral Institute. Rob specializes in Integral Practice and Integral Strength Training.
In the business sector Rob presently leverages integrated business strategies and is developing next-level strength training modalities as the Senior Integral Consultant and Human Performance Specialist for Phillips Performance Nutrition.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Rob McNamara - Strength, Your Reservoir for Love
I found this posted at the Christ Community Church, another great piece by Rob McNamara. In some ways, the Christian community is doing more to explore masculinity than other groups. Of course, not all of it is progressive, but this article certainly is.