Resistance, Stretching and the War of Art 8


Recently I had the honor of meeting Phil Wharton, one of the geniuses in the field of stretching and mobility.

I have been fortunate to study or meet many teachers who are absolute masters in their fields including Steven Covey, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Tony Robbins, Tony Schwartz, Jim Loehr, Eckhart Tolle, Jerry Lynch, Nick Saviano, Ron Rebhuhn, Sean Achor, John Sarno, John Wooden and many others…

Add Phil Wharton to that list.

This guy is it when it comes to state of the art stretching and what it can give you:

Freedom from muscle and joint soreness
Greater range of motion
Release from pain and functional limitations
Improved physical and mental performance
More energy
Better focus
Balanced emotional state
A stronger, more powerful spirit in confronting the day

Before meeting Phil, I’d been disheartened by stretching and had stopped because it wasn’t working.

It isn’t that I wasn’t functioning. I can play singles and doubles for six days in a row in a National tournament. But after playing I spend days sore and stiff.

Don’t tell me to get real. You are 65. What do you expect?
I expect to feel good, that is the bar I set for myself.

Now I get it. Phil Wharton, the genius, has made it clear.

Every time I stretched—the normal way—I was fighting my muscles. I was creating resistance.

For two weeks I have been doing lower body stretches the Phil Wharton way, and the difference is dramatic.

Getting out of bed in the morning feels easy.
The first few steps are relaxed and free.
Bending over the sink to brush my teeth is effortless.
I bounce down the steps.
Never a noise or grunt when I get up off a chair.

Just ten days.

Today I started the neck and back stretches.

At the same time I happened to be reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which is all about resistance. This book also has expert written all over it. A must read for anyone who has tried to do something and crashed into a wall. Dieting, exercise, writing, painting, starting a new business, calling a new contact, trying to make a date.

Resistance is THE force that keeps us from going from the old story to the new story. Resistance keeps us from doing the things we know we need to do to live the life we want to live:

Things like stretching
Taking a deep breath
Reading a story to our children before bedtime
Skipping that piece of bread
Taking the stairs rather than the escalator
Acting on the inner voice message.

Resistance is the possible foe that may be hiding on your path.
Jim Loehr calls resistance the Wild Boars.

Before the War of Art, I thought the opposite of growth was no movement or atrophy. No!

The opposite of growth is resistance.

When resistance is alive, there can be no growth.
When growth is happening, there is no resistance.

That is the battle.

The Wharton method of stretching is about going to your edge and then pulling back, just a little, from that edge. And then gently going a little farther. And then letting go.

Don’t create resistance.
Relax into the resistant spot in your stretch.
Don’t fight it.
Let it go.
If you don’t resist the resistance, there is none. 
Relax into resistance and you will be able to stretch your muscles and yourself.

How can you recognize your own resistance?

It takes the form of:

Procrastination
Doubt of outcome
Loss of faith
Telling others to do what it’s obvious they should do
Rationalization
Excuse-making

What to do when you feel Resistance?

Write your old story, your bad story, the story your are living that is no longer serving you. The story of can’t. The story that’s holding you back. The story of resistance.

And then:

Write your new story. Your new story is where you want to go. The new story is the you you want to be. The new story negates the old story. Just the act of writing the story you want to live can negate resistance.

Old Story. New Story. Change.

What do you have to lose?


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8 thoughts on “Resistance, Stretching and the War of Art

  • Jerry Lynch

    Bob… that was kind of you to include me with such extraordinary folks. I am working close with Bb Hansen these days with him at Middlebury… I visit the team and then we skype. Life is very good. I agree with you on the stretching piece. At 71, I am running like a deer with guys in their 50’s and biking like a fool because I stretch. Of course there are other variables. I have been a complete Vegan for awhile and because of that I notice enormous energy, clarity of mind ( just published my 11th book and have begun my 12th with great clarity), lost 22 pounds eating more food than ever ( but it is clean food and no sugar, wheat, added oils or gluten). So who knows. I KNOW that I haven’t felt so good in years and I refuse to preach because we are all different. Just thought I’d share it with you because you have an open mind and heart as I recall.

    We can’t control how long our lives are BUT we can control how wide… everyday I seek vitality and vibrancy and vigor and vegetables.

    Hope all’s well with you. Check out my site http://www.wayofchampions.com when you are bored… although I doubt that happens often.

    Much love and chi, Jerry

  • Suzanne Kingsbury

    I love this post. This weekend at the writing retreat, we had a massage therapist on staff because as much as resistance tries to move onto the page, it is also creeping into the body. Knowing how to deal with it daily (as Wharton does) without making MORE of it is life-sustaining. Your posts are always so synchronistic!!

  • Ted and Judy Goldsmith

    that blog is speaking to me.unfortunately I am resisting change. My body is feeling old and worn out. I will have to change my story. If you can do it, so can I. but at this point, you have more resolve than I. Thanks, bob. Judy G.

  • Karin Dean

    Hello Bob – First I would like to say that it was a pleasure to meet you at the US Tennis Congress. Your story of recovery is an inspiration to me during my own recovery. I have definitely hit that physical wall and have learned that I can write my own story and give it a happy ending! (I am currently writing the chapter on patience). Between your philosophy and the fantastic stretching methods I learned from Phil, I can battle the physical and mental resistance that threatens to overtake me in my recovery. Thank you both.

  • Mary

    Bob, Thanks for this post… I’ve been resisting some things in both my tennis and personal life. This is a nice push to make me face some things I’ve been resisting! And a great reminder to at last order Phil’s DVDs! Hope to meet you at the next US Tennis Congress.