“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” (and women.)
John F. Kennedy
This quote is even more relevant now than when it was first uttered nearly fifty years ago. It speaks directly to the current physiological, psychological, cultural, and political pressures across the planet, reminding us of our obligation as integral men and women to fully step up to the challenge of 21st century life—to recommit ourselves to our practice; to cultivate within ourselves the very strength, courage, and purpose that our world so desperately needs; to genuinely be the change that we know is possible and that we all want to see take root in our lifetimes.
It all begins with you. The world needs you—it needs your strength, in all facets of your life. We are all being called to raise the world upon our collective shoulders, to bear the burden of human history, and to resist the temptation to shrug it all away when our knees begin to tremble.
As a way to further our mutual quest to become stronger men and women, we are very happy to introduce you to Rob McNamara, author of Strength to Awaken, whose approach to Integral Life Practice offers one of the best ways we’ve seen to develop and enrich the sorts of strength we vitally need in our lives and in our world.
This discussion of strength training goes way beyond the conventionally-stated benefits of slimmer waistlines, well-toned arms, or being able to bench press your own body weight. In fact, these shouldn’t really be held as goals of a strength training program, but rather as some of the side-effects that accompany a much more satisfying (and much more enduring) transformation.
Your physical health and vitality are absolutely fundamental for a happy and well-lived life. Your body truly is a temple, and you want your temple to be as strong and solid as possible. But a more contemplative approach to strength training (such as the one developed by Rob) not only helps you rebuild your temple from the ground up, but can also have as much of an impact upon the interiors of your temple as it does upon the exteriors.
Strength of Body is just the first (and arguably most important) step, setting the stage for a radical increase of strength, energy, and endurance throughout your entire self-system, including:
Strength of Resolve: By returning to your practice again and again—learning to accept the struggles, loosening your attachment to comfort and habituation, and transcending your avoidance of pain—you develop a much higher capacity for consistency, follow-through, and discipline in every other area of your life.
Strength of Dignity: By deepening your commitment to practice—cultivating the discipline to simply and fully show up for yourself, day after day—you begin to feel a dramatic increase of confidence, dignity, and self-authorship, and an equally dramatic reduction of fear, self-doubt, and the nagging sense that you are not in control of your own life.
Strength of Purpose: As your sense of autonomy and competency continues to grow, your relationship with your own unique “purpose” comes into greater clarity. The question “what is the meaning of life?” gets rephrased as “what is the meaning of my life?“—and the more you begin to realize what you are capable of, the more it hurts when you are not living up to your own greatest potential and highest purpose.
Strength of Engagement: Equipped with immensely greater discipline, greater dignity, and greater purpose, you have much more capacity to actually enact your vision in the world—to directly engage the people and perspectives around you in a much more powerful and meaningful way, and to have the strength, courage, and tenacity to bring your life’s mission into being.
Strength of Letting Go: As your sense of purpose and your ability to manifest that purpose continue to come online, so does the recognition that you need to learn how to get out of your own way—that is, to step beyond the contractions and distractions of the separate body-mind, and learn to allow your purpose to come through you, consciously participatnig with this flow rather than trying to control or “own” it. Whether you are letting go of your weights after your final rep, or letting go of your over-identification with your ego, you eventually begin to learn the value of release, surrender, and submission in your daily life.
Strength of Awakening: Finally, this sort of contemplative approach to strength training leads us to the most important strength of all: the strength to wake up. There is something indestructible at the very center of your being—an unmovable, unshakable mountain that is impossibly massive and ubiquitously present, yet somehow goes almost entirely unnoticed by the vast majority of us. Rob’s approach leads you directly to the summit of this mountain, this timeless Source of immaculate, infinite, unwavering strength.
About Rob McNamara
Rob McNamara is an author, advisor, consultant and leadership coach with an expertise in adult development and human performance. He is a co-founder of the advisory firm Delta Developmental and is the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at the World Communiversity educational initiative.
About Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.