“Be free first so you can become strong”
What kind of image comes to mind when you picture a big, strong tree?
Again, here’s a word with many meanings depending on the context it’s expressed in. This value is one that’s universally accepted as one possessed by warriors. But, just like the words freedom and warrior, a sense of skepticism must be maintained when defining strength.
The word “strength” has taken on many meanings in modern society. In the Strongman community, it can be thought of as the absolute ability to move progressively higher weight. Among acrobats or gymnasts, it’s dynamic and thought of in more relative terms.
In previous posts, I spoke of strength in the context of an old-growth tree.
But, what is strength really?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary has nine definitions for strength! The first three are simple to understand. 1: the quality or state of being strong: capacity for exertion or endurance; or 2: power to resist force; and finally, 3: power of resisting attack.
These definitions hint at strength as it relates to the physical, but all three of these definitions can be applied to the metaphysical aspects of our existence too.
The fourth and seventh definitions almost grasp the concept: 4a) Legal, logical, or moral force; 4b) a strong attribute or inherent asset; and 7) one regarded as embodying force or firmness.
Can you see the pattern?
Each of these definitions relates strength to a force of resistance, either in yourself or against an external force. And it can be applied in almost every area of your existence.
A strong body is important, but having the emotional fortitude to endure the difficult times of your life will be important as well. Just like the dance between your body and mind to be free, the body and mind work together to become strong.
If your body is weak, frail, or unable to weather the diseases, injuries, or toxins that are thrown at it, your mind will become weaker and more prone to maladies as well.
Strength comes through the body and the mind.
This is exactly why a holistic vision of strength must be cultivated if you are to become stronger over the long-term. Your body needs rest, it needs nutrition, it needs movement, and it needs these things consistently over time. Without those things, your body begins to get weaker, and so will your mind.
The ability to handle emotional traumas and be yourself in a storm of lies is a critical factor in attaining lasting strength. It allows you to be free even if the world around you wants to strip you of that freedom. You can be strong even when the whole world tries to make you weak.
As with all the other values, there are four essential dimensions: the body, the soul, the mind, and time.
Bodily strength requires movement, rest, and nutrition.
On the other hand, the soul’s strength only needs to be set free. You must get out of your own way, so to speak. Just by practicing freedom, your soul will reveal its true strength and it will support you on your journey toward becoming your strongest self.
Mental strength comes through your bodily and spiritual strength. By letting go and allowing your emotions to flow through you instead of holding on and bottling them up inside, your ability to participate with these emotions becomes stronger and stronger over time. And your enslavement to them becomes weaker and weaker.
As you practice, you gain the power to take responsibility for your own emotions and resist those of other people. Once you have freedom between your body, mind, and spirit, it’ll be like a cloud has lifted and you’ll see your body as one with your mind.
The strength of one is a part of the strength of the other.
But what does that mean?
This principle has the potential to become pretty woo-woo and la-di-da, just like the rest of the principles in this blog. How do you practice it though?
As I said in previous posts, we humans love diversity. It’s reflected in the number of exercise routines that have been developed over the millennia. Our bodies are extremely adaptable, so they’ll naturally be able to accomplish a variety of movements.
The funny part is, every single one of these routines will work for someone.
But will they work for you?
For many warrior peoples, a warrior’s strength is holistic. True strength is balanced. Even Bruce Lee said, “You must be like water. If you hit it, it moves, if you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot…”
Being a warrior isn’t about one thing or another, it’s a way of being that encompasses tenderness, as well as aggression.
It’s in balancing the false duality present everywhere into a complete expression of who you really are, and then maintaining that throughout your life.
This is being a warrior… the body, soul, mind, and time all must be considered if true strength is to be gained.
Your body and mind’s freedom will unlock your true strength. But, you must be free first so you can become strong.
It’s an integral part of the journey toward clarity.
In this culture, and many others, a boy is constantly told to “be strong”.
In Western cultures, this word has many meanings and many applications, but the core of it is an essential virtue that’s pan-cultural. My journey with strength began when I first realized I could build muscle by lifting weights and lose my belly fat by running ridiculous distances every day (a fallacy I wouldn’t recognize for another 15 years).
I did the traditional mistakes of starting with isolation exercises and running every day. The results I got were not the results I wanted. And not only that, I was actively damaging my entire body by training incorrectly from the start.
I went through many cycles of different kinds of physical and skill training for over 15 years before I started to recognize that my understanding of the principles was lacking a whole lot of depth.
As always, time is important to consider.
In applying the idea of bodily, spiritual, and mental strength you must accept that change can only occur as a function of time. When patience becomes your ally, time will unfold magnificent things before you. Accepting this helps you cultivate patience, and although a lot of strength can be gained in a short period, it takes substantial amounts of time to stimulate substantial amounts strength.
If you go into a gym expecting to be able to lift a lot of weight before you take the time to learn how to lift the bar you’ll eventually hurt yourself or someone around you.
If you unlock the strength of your soul without taking the time necessary to keep it unlocked, expect old limitations to return and your strength to get stifled once again.
If you practice mental strength without patience you will become frustrated, and in this state of anger, the unbalanced ego has more power to dominate your presence.
Time is the most important of all four dimensions simply because it is the universal constant that brings everything together into balance and awareness.
The body, soul, and mind are all transient and ever-changing. Time doesn’t change, only our perception of it does. If you have patience and awareness this constant becomes the truth that it really is… change. All of existence exists in this dimension.
Now that I’ve reviewed how the four dimensions of freedom apply to strength there are four principles that I would like to offer you to begin cultivating your body’s strength. They are a collection of the basic ideas that I’ve pulled from countless trial and error learning sessions, personal trainers, training partners, online enthusiasts, and dozens of books and articles.
By focusing on the most basic principles, you can find the most effective and transferable method that works for your unique circumstance.
This is important because principles are the fundamentals that create the techniques, methods, facts, and information.
Principles create ideas.
The 4 Principles of Bodily Strength
Movement – Rest – Nutrition – Balance
The human body is magnificently adaptable.
You can find the evidence by looking at all of the exercise and training routines that “work”, and also all of the diet and eating programs that “work”.
Just because something works doesn’t mean that it is the most effective or efficient way for you. There must be a level of skepticism for anyone who wishes to train their bodies to be stronger because the amount of information available is staggering.
I’m not saying any of the exercise programs or eating regiments are incorrect, what I want to point out is that our bodies are adaptable, and will compensate for almost any lifestyle we choose to live. Therefore, it is important to understand that this is one of the primary reasons we could inhabit every environment on the planet.
So just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
In my next post, I’ll explore this first principle (movement) in depth.
Until then, Stay Strong Everyone.