Monday, July 10, 2017

Change is Good

In a lifetime of any length and quality, change is good and desirable.  Nobody in their right mind, would think that never changing was preferable, since without change, improvement is not possible -- only doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result.  The world doesn't work that way.

The healthiest individuals are those who can deal with the greatest changes -- and effect the greatest responses -- using that challenge as an inspiration and springboard to outcomes not possible previously.  But the dysfunctional, interpret all change -- even if desirable, as a threat to their continued dysfunction -- which they seek to perpetuate above all else.

But even the breakdowns and crises are the catalysts for greater action -- in rising to the challenges.  And there will always be challenges to those who can recognize them -- unlike the many whose typical responses are to go into denial -- that anything out of the ordinary is happening -- until it is too late to do anything about it.  In that way, they never have to change -- but continue blissfully in their delusions of paradise, no matter how high the debris is piling up.  They simply, would rather not know -- or they might have to do something about it.

Meanwhile, those in the vanguard, are inevitably those who realize something extraordinary and unprecedented are happening -- in that, and every moment of their lives.  Those are the lives of great significance -- and not those who waste every moment and opportunity in the stupor of their choice.

That is their escape from reality -- which their lives have become entirely about.  Thus no real problems can ever be solved -- while the imaginary, are executed to perfection -- so there is no improvement needed.  Things are perfect as they are.

It's hard to argue with that -- when no improvement is desired, despite the constant talk that things were other than they are.  That is the life in denial and self-contradiction -- living in another world than is apparent to most other people.  Not that most other people are also not deluded in their own way, to their own degree.

And so the quest for the greater life, is to be free of these delusions -- beginning with one's self.  If that essential work is not done, then nothing else can be known as well -- as it will be just a projection (distortion) of who one is, or wishes to be.  But merely wishing  things were different, does not make it so.

That is the importance of action -- and knowing the difference.  Knowing this difference -- is the meaning of intelligence.  All the knowing, of that which does not result in action,  doesn't make a difference -- and is not worth knowing -- even as much as one places great importance, and spends all their time thinking about it.

All they do in fact, is to retreat and withdraw farther from the world of substance -- in favor of this diversion and entertainment -- of which they increasingly cannot tell the difference.  And if one can no longer tell the difference, what does it matter?  In fact, the culture may encourage one to let them do all their thinking for them -- since they never have to find out the truth of any matter for themselves.  "The authorities" will tell them what to think.  They should no longer be required to think for themselves.

As they are assured, everything will be "taken care of" -- but not necessarily as one hoped they would -- but by those who know better, what is best for them -- and everybody else -- on their say so.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nautilus Revisited

I might have been one of the first persons to embrace the Nautilus Principles after its inventor Arthur Jones described them to me -- as we took smoke breaks together during the congregation of many luminaries of weightlifting and weight-training at the Teenage Nationals and Teen Mr. America at York, Pennsylvania in 1970.  

At least I was the only one who was not hostile to hearing him expound them, and felt I had to have his back when he fearlessly took on a roomful of Mr. Universes and other weight training gurus who countered his observations with threats to knock off his head if he persisted in preaching his heresy against the sacred authority of brute force.

In that arena, Arthur was attempting to inject persuasive scientific plausibilities against the notion that in order to obtain fantastic results, one had to spend all one's time in the gym, lifting as much weight as possible.  The crux of his argument was that in doing so, one was increasingly prone to injury -- because the violent, explosive contractions were capable of tearing the tendon off of their attachments, because the beginning position exposed the structures to unfavorable leverage -- while also noting that the finished position was its position of greatest strength, and so to accommodate those varying differences, the Nautilus cam produced the desirable varying resistance -- over the pulley.


That was the essential problem with the pulley -- increasingly being utilized at the time -- in the Universal machines, which claimed as its major feature, that it was safer than free weights.  The problem with the pulley was its inherent mechanical advantage -- that one had to explode violently to overcome the resistance -- but once it got going, momentum reduced the need for further muscle involvement -- and one could just ride it to the finished position, and then simply resist it going back to the starting position.


The Nautilus cam actually nullified the mechanical advantage (and danger) of the pulley, by providing the appropriate resistance throughout the range of the movement, and in that manner, would work the muscle harder, while also ensuring safety.  But the critical mistake, also became its undoing -- in thinking that the resultant severity of muscle soreness was a positive in the process, rather than the negative that pain indicates.


A few years later, some would profess the new liturgy of training as, "No pain, no gain," which set lifelong exercise back an entire generation -- in the religion that pain and intensity, were the Holy Grail -- and not that that mentality, conditioning and training, would cause premature and unnecessary death and injury to many because of the exorbitant and insatiable demands on an individual's personal resources and reasonable wear and tear.


One would not expect to take one to the edge of their capabilities every day, and not succumb to death or injury -- prematurely.  Nothing else would be possible.  You just can't go there everyday, and not expect to pay the price.  You can't tax the body to the limit, and think that one will always recover stronger for it.  One day, it will kill them.  Long before then, wise men know to draw back from the edge, and save a little more in reserve, for the time they may actually need it.  Doing so will enable them to build up those reserves -- for the later years of life, when most have traditionally reached that age and stage, totally exhausted, and barely hanging on with as little recovery ability as they can still muster -- not knowing how to.


And that is the whole point of one's conditioning -- not to drain all one's energies and resources at every frivolous opportunity, but rather, to conserve and build up one's reserves -- throughout life.  There's no quitting and going home at 5 pm, or at age 65 -- and waiting for one's final demise.  Maybe in an earlier time, that would have been a life expectancy -- but now, who knows what those possibilities are?  That remains to be discovered, and manifested -- in this day and age.


So quite predictably, there is a break from that past -- or better is not possible.  Far more meaningful in this day and age, is the obviousness, of people needing to live better -- longer, and not just win the championship at 25, and then go into irreversible and unrelenting decline thereafter.  Few would call that a life well lived -- for that single moment of fame and glory -- sacrificing it for the greater life of lifelong improvement.  That's a very different story, altogether.  But that is the story being written as we live it -- in this unprecedented time, and not simply a repetition of the past, many are content to defend and perpetuate -- as though nothing else was possible.


The possibilities are being created -- as we speak.  The major defenders and perpetuators of the status quo, are those who fancy themselves as the institutions of their time -- legends of their times, and in their own minds.  They know better than everyone else -- what is best for all, and particularly themselves -- at the top of the socio-political pyramid.  They are the self-appointed, self-designated, self-certified gatekeepers of all that is correct and righteous.  Meanwhile, history, evolution and progress marches on, leaving them to fight the rearguard battles -- until most have passed on to the new era


Traditionally, they have been the old left behind -- too weary to go on, unwilling to embrace the new, even if it is available to all. They've had enough.  "They've seen it all" -- even if they haven't seen anything yet.  Everything they know, they learned in kindergarten -- and then stopped learning anything more -- and could die peacefully and content, knowing they had lived life to its fullest.


That was another age.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Simplicity of Change

People not wanting to change, insist that change is very difficult -- rather than the easiest thing.  Everything in life and living, is change.  The thoughts, memories and illusions, are unchanging -- and that is most people's problems.  If they respond to the present realities, there is never any problem -- but only responding to the exigencies of the moment, as best they can.  It is when instead of responding to the present challenge, that one responds to the past, or the future, that they become detached and lost from the demands of the moment, and out of synch with it.

Then they are solving "problems" that don't exist, while neglecting the simple demands of the present -- that make things better.  So even when people think they are doing everything possible to make things better, if that is not confirmed by their actual results and experience, what they think they are doing, is not making things better, but worse -- and continuing to do so.  That should be obvious.

But only a rare few, will question further -- to all their assumptions, premises and prejudices -- to learn any other than to confirm what they think "right," but obviously isn't working.  This self-righteousness is the same in the most knowledgeable and educated, as it is in the most ignorant, dysfunctional and despairing.  They don't want to know anything but to confirm what they already "know" -- that isn't working.

The fate for those, will undoubtedly be cruel and unrelenting.  They are certain that that is how life must be -- for everyone, and not that a rare few, will find a better way.  That is not the privilege of only a few -- but the quest of any, who choose to live their lives that way.  But it has to be chosen -- and not merely given, and "entitled."  It has to be earned by each -- and there is no other way, although an unscrupulous few, will promise it can be sold to them.

But life is not like that -- only available to the most unwary and gullible -- no matter how much money they have, or can get.  The real value is in the skills learned and mastered -- and not just mimicked, as though one knew -- or claimed to know all there is to know.

Invariably, such masters of the universe, will wake to the realization that what they knew, was not all there was to know, and experience critical failures when the need to know is paramount.  That is glaringly obvious in what we regard as the natural "aging" process -- when everything one thought they knew that worked, suddenly abandons them.  Usually, their response is "too little, too late," and they don't want to have to learn anything new all over again.  They just want to go to their graves knowing everything they already know -- but increasingly, forget.

One quickly forgets, what is no longer useful -- or does not work, because there is no reinforcement of that behavior.  One merely goes through those motions compulsively -- until one even loses that.  But learning something new that really works, is revitalizing and renewing -- and recharges one for the next ten years.

And then something else can be discovered -- giving one another new lease on life.  That means change -- and not just continuing as the same person one has always been.  That is the secret to great vitality -- that one dies to the old, and is reborn in the new.  It is also the great spiritual teaching -- and not just carrying the dust of many generations into the next.

Change is the reason for practice and exercise.  By it, we hope to get better -- and not just stay the same, or get worse a little slower.  Yet that is many people's approach to any practice and exercise -- and not that there can be significant, dramatic and immediate improvement -- as self-evident truth.  Instead, it becomes merely a belief in some distant time in the future -- and even into the life thereafter, if all else fails. 

For the aging bodybuilders, the lesson unheeded over a lifetime is usually lost by then.  That is the grotesque imbalance and priority given to developing the biceps and the "six-pack" abdominals -- to the total neglect of those parts of the human body that becomes glaringly problematical for them as well as for most people with age.  That is their feet, knees, hips and back -- which should be given highest priority, and the way to do that is not by variations of the deep knee-bend -- which is painful for most, but the slight knee bend -- in all its variations, as actually the cure -- from those years of abuse.  That includes even sitting in a chair -- for prolonged periods of time -- or standing with a bone-on-bone lockout.  Either, and both are damaging because it does not engage and lubricate the knee -- preparatory to any movement.  In order for that to happen, the knees have to move forward in front of the toes -- which the self- certified exercise "experts" command must never be done -- thereby ensuring that lifelong problem.

That is the proper positioning of the Horse Stance -- from which every effective movement has to be initiated from -- whether one is aware of it, or not.  That is the slight knee bend -- pulsed for a count of 50 -- as the key movement that must be done to ensure the highest functioning of the supportive structures, as often as one can think to do it.  Then the myriad of other problems don't arise.  That is the simplicity of change.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Just Do the Hard Part -- The Rest is Easy

In most people's exercise, they spend most of their time doing the resting -- while avoiding the hard part -- and so their results "show" it.  Despite all they say they do, it looks like they have not done anything -- or at least nothing productive, for the results they want to achieve.

But with time and persistence, they may get better, and those results will manifest -- unless they continue to have no idea of what they are doing, and hope to achieve.  For unfortunately many, they have no real idea of what they are doing -- except that somebody instructed them to do so, who professed to know better -- but often, that "expert" showed the same lack of desirable results that would inspire confidence in the discerning student.

That is particularly so as people get older -- and show less results for their efforts, until eventually, they stop all efforts and accept the fact that nothing they do anymore, seems to work -- even if it might have when they were younger.  But now, everything they know, has betrayed them -- rather than realizing that what they know, may not have been valid in the first place -- and what seemed to work, was not the reason they thought.

That realization should challenge them to further inquiries -- rather than causing them to abandon any further inquiries and learning.  Learning, they will insist, is what only young people need to do -- and not everyone, every day of their lives.  That's the only thing that makes sense, right?  

Any learning begins with just paying attention -- and seeing what is actually happening, rather than what they would like to think or believe is happening.  There often is a huge difference among people in that -- which largely accounts for their success in dealing with the world, in all its interfaces and interactions.

The large disparities between what one does, and what they believe they are doing, or would like to have everyone else believe, is cognitive dissonance.  The results usually override -- sooner or later.  Nowhere is that more true than in the rapidly declining health and well-being of those who think they are doing everything "right" -- with only disastrous consequences as a result -- producing injuries, worse conditioning and functioning, even death -- despite all the good they think they are doing.

That was notably true of those participating in bodybuilding competitions in the 90s -- when many of their luminaries started dying of various forms of heart failures -- and other critical failures of the human body, because they were exercising them to "failure," in the mistaken belief that what did not kill them, made them stronger.  It caused the thoughtful to begin to back off from that dangerous manner of thinking -- and reflect, that that manner of conditioning did not seem to be working -- especially if longevity and well-being in it, was also a part of the equation.

So now, with definitively established longer life spans, thoughtful individuals want to enjoy those peak years for more than ten before prematurely dying, or being disabled for the rest of life -- especially as a result of their conditioning activities.  Yet people are still allowed to abuse themselves in the many ways -- until the reality hits the fan, and they can no longer physically continue.  Not coincidentally, that's what usually ends most athletic careers -- the injuries, no matter how great they were at one time.

What matters now, is simply doing the best they can -- at living their everyday lives and activities.  Still, that can be done and improved for considerably longer and better than most think is possible, by avoiding the extremes of overexertion (abuse) alternated with extreme inactivity, negligence and indifference.

What is surprising, is how little attention, time and energy is needed to attain those beneficial effects -- when all the beliefs, thoughts and destructive conditioning are abandoned, and proper thought and observation merely introduced.  In most activites, beginning with the basic muscle contraction, most of the time and movement is actually devoted to relaxing and resting the muscle in preparation for its "firing" -- which is very brief, followed by a prolonged relaxation phase -- again.  

But it is the contraction only -- that puts the muscle in the shape and condition one wants it to be (toned), and not the relaxation.  One of the earlier realizations of this, resulted in the promotion of what was called "isometric" exercises -- which was to get into a fully contracted muscular position and then hold it for as long as possible -- which required one to also stop breathing, and produce undesirable internal pressures as a result.

An even earlier version of that training style, was popularized by Charles Atlas as dynamic tension -- which didn't require weights, but pitting one muscle against another -- in a prolonged contraction -- also requiring, that one hold their breath to prevent moving out of that contraction.  There is no reason, or advantage for holding a contraction as long as possible -- as doing so increases the disastrous effects, that multiple, extremely brief discrete pulsing contractions while maintaining that position, does not.

There's no reason or necessity to move a muscle back into the completely relaxed (extended) position -- except to give it more rest, for a next attempt.  One can eliminate that portion of the movement, and simply pulse further contractions -- while maintaining the original contracted position -- forcing muscles not recruited in the original contraction to fire -- until all the muscle fibers are recruited (exhausted) in that way.

The result is that one is immediately toned and conditioned by using the muscles in that way -- to achieve their maximum contracting capability -- and deliberately eliminating the rest that is most of the time one is "exercising."  And so very brief workouts are necessary to achieve maximum results -- immediately, and with frequent practice, one gets better at it -- also very quickly.

This economy and efficiency -- while also eliminating the possibility of joint pain and injury (which is the characteristic pain/danger of contracting from a fully extended position) -- is what anybody can do -- anytime, anywhere, very inconspicuously -- because the entirety of the movement, is confined within the body -- with minimal visibility of external movement (which is not what is producing growth).  And that is what is really important -- not the overt, but the inverted movement of the muscles -- even with minimal visibility, or show, for anybody else's benefit, or approbation.  But that is the way we've been conditioned to exercise -- for the visible benefit of others -- rather than what is going on inside the body.  That -- is presumed, but results in the lack of desirable effects/results -- obviously.

The joints are minimally stressed -- because there is minimal movement at the joints in their strongest positions -- while still activating the muscles -- which is a major disincentive for aging, aching joints -- while providing superior muscle activation and stimulation of the nerve pathways.  That's what one really wants to do -- to attain, retain and enhance the optimal responsiveness of the voluntary muscular system by which we accomplish most things in our daily living.

It undoubtedly is a major shift in thinking (paradigm shift) -- when the well-established ideas no longer work -- especially when it critically must, in the aging.  That is the test of time.  The most obvious and highly visible proof -- are the parodies of the aging bodybuilders, who doing (or trying to do) the same things they did before, no longer get the same results -- and frequently are discouraged from continuing by the innumerable and overwhelming pain caused by those movements (exercises) and misadvised to endure the pain to even greater tolerances -- yet still the gains are not forthcoming. 

Injuries and debilitating pain eventually cause them to quit entirely -- instead of rightfully reflecting and rethinking what they are doing.  Often in primitive conditioning, that is expressly prohibited -- that one should question what one is doing, and merely respond, "How high?" when commanded to jump.

So the question is, what movements can one do -- without the pain, and only the productivity?  One begins by eliminating the extraneous -- even as widely as they are the unquestioned and unchallenged truths (premises) of what one is doing.  Is it necessary to lift a heavy weight -- to produce a muscle contraction, or is it sufficient just to know what position is the contracted position -- and pulse further contractions, while exhibiting very little movement externally?

You're not doing it to impress others -- or even set a Guinness World's Record for the oldest person to finish a marathon -- or climb Mt. Everest, for that matter.  One really hopes to be the oldest person going about their normal daily activities -- without any signs of impairment, pain and disability.  That is the obvious.  Straggling across the finish line looking like one is dying, is totally unnecessary at that point in life.  Many look that way without trying.

Muscle control and responsiveness -- even without the conventional measures of validation -- are impressive in themselves, especially at that point and stage of life.  Not to be moving feebly, or even grossly, is the faculty maintained by a rare few.  Masterly control and movement cannot be faked.  That is the manifestation and appearance of a healthy, well-functioning individual.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lucky Accidents

The greatest discoveries in every life are not those merely confirming what one hopes to know -- but is the unexpected, unanticipated, and unforeseen.  Merely to confirm what one already hopes, is merely to confirm what one already knows -- and the great learning, is discovering worlds and possibilities one had no idea existed before.  

That is the limits of human understanding -- thinking what they know, is all that can be known, and never bothering to find out anything more.  It doesn't matter how much they know -- because what they don't know, is infinitely greater.  It takes a truly intelligent person to realize that -- but that is all they need to know.  When one knows they do not know, then they can easily find out -- because that is the inquiring mind.  The mind too full of its own knowledge -- which is usually not working, simply denies that everything is not as it should be.    

That is the mind in denial of everything as it truly is.  Everything goes wrong despite of everything they do -- and not because of everything they do.  The outcomes are always random -- and they are quite proud of that enlightenment, and resulting self-righteousness.  If only the world knew, everything they knew, all would be right with the world.

And so they develop "ideals" apart from the actualities of their actual experiences -- and think they are quite noble for it, and feel quite justified on imposing that reality on everybody else -- because they know better than all the rest.  Most simply recognize them as delusional people -- whether they are old or not.  That is what we've come to expect of "old" people, and it is quite alright that they continue in that way until the end -- because they are avoidable.  That is the familiar isolation of the old -- that they simply become irrelevant and harmless to nobody but themselves.

That is quite acceptable, and even the "norm."  Young people even hope to have that right when they are "old," and not be forced to conform to any reality anymore.  Whatever they want to believe, is what they are "entitled" to believe -- come what may.  "They've earned it," the sympathetic are heard to say -- as though that was enough to absolve them from any consequences.

But the world doesn't work that way -- no matter how much they wish it could be so.  There are always consequences -- causes and effects.  Even ancient people called it the law of karma.   Later thoughtful people observed that there was a reason for everything -- even while the priests insisted that it happened on their say so, as the favored disciples of the great deity.

More often than not, the great discoveries of the world, was a lucky accident of its time -- that some perceptive person noticed, because they didn't know better.  Those who did know better, were already certain that nothing new could be discovered -- because everything that could be known, was already known, and so there was "nothing to see."

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Knowing All the Wrong Things

Knowing all the wrong things is not the same as knowing only one right thing.  The one right thing enables one to find the other right things, while knowing only the wrong things, provides no such foundation for any other exploration.  One is on constantly shifting sand -- a fantasy island of one's own delusions -- and never questioning the difference.

In any dispute between the two, one will always choose what they wish to believe -- over what the actuality is telling them.  In that manner obviously, things can only get worse -- no matter how much they do.  They even come to believe that nothing matters, and nothing can ever make a difference.  

The less one knows, the more certain they are that they know everything there is to know -- even though using that knowledge, results in catastrophic results.  Such people just plow ahead harder -- never suspecting that the fault might lie in their understanding -- and not the effort.  So they apply even more effort and force -- as surely what can overcome any lack of understanding.

Predictably, as they go through life, they only seem to get worse -- and never any better, and all those they choose to hang around with, confirm similar "results."  In fact, their choice of "associates" and "acquaintances," are chosen mainly on the qualification that those chosen, are even worse off than themselves -- and so can be more easily exploited -- in a very vicious circle and cycle.  That is the dysfunctional society of why some people fail -- in almost every aspect of their lives, and drag everybody else down with them.  Nobody has a clue -- that something terribly wrong is happening.

That is simply how the world is -- and there is no changing that, no matter what, and one should (over)eat, (over)drink, and be (over)merry, while one still can -- before one can't (as a result of that over)indulgence, and never having a clue what one's part in it played.  No matter how "guilty," they will protest their "innocence" -- thinking that is enough to make it so.

In their world, the "facts" are what they can get anybody else to believe.  Of course the most obvious of these, are the pathological criminals -- but less obvious, are those who are better at convincing everybody else otherwise.  In fact, that is their source of pride and joy -- manipulating everybody else's opinion.  But alas, they cannot lie to themselves -- and the truth reveals itself in their daily living.

That is why some people age badly and some don't -- the truth of what they tell themselves.  If it doesn't matter, then that will reveal itself -- in time, when it is least convenient and propitious to do so.  It may seem for a while that one can get away with anything they please, but it catches up to them.  Each is his own worst victim -- or beneficiary, of all they have done -- and nobody gets away with anything.  

That is the most powerful argument for living the best life one can -- not for the sake of anyone else, and the approval of others -- but the quality of life one provides for themselves.  The world is, what one is.  That is the simple truth.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Times Are Changing -- Again

The key to a long and successful life is always changing and adapting -- and not just once and thinking one need never change again.  That is always the fatal formula -- why even the powerful dinosaurs that once ruled the earth, are all extinct.  They couldn't adapt fast enough -- or at all.  They were perfect for a certain time and conditions, and when those changed, they had no skills for changing.

That is the important lesson for any time -- and conditions; one has to be prepared for change, and to change again, and as long as they are, remain viable, fit and able to whatever challenges arise.  The sadness, and the sad lesson, are those reliving their youth, as the only way it can be -- thinking it will always be that way, even if only in their minds, which becomes their self-isolating and self-fulfilling prophecy.

Those are the people who age badly -- while good aging, are people changing with the times -- to be their best at any time.  That formula is just as obvious -- as well as the look of one always changing, adapting, perfecting their responses.  As long as one can change, adapt, improve, they have more than a better chance of being successful -- and surviving.  That's what success is.  There is no other.

It isn't some other static, immutable, unchanging metric for all time and ages.  It is the very ability to re-create oneself -- as needed, and as appropriate -- that is fitness, in a very real world, as the only place that matters.  That is the ultimately and consummately successful individual.  That is the person creating the parameters -- of any given age, time and place.

Those of the old, will insist that one has to repeat the patterns of the past -- as the only way it can ever be -- insisting it is since time immemorial, of which they also claim to be the heirs and caretakers of that legacy and culture.  But time passes them by -- no matter how much of the old they accumulate -- thinking one day, it will all be relevant again.  It never works that way -- no matter how much of the old they accumulate and repeat -- and remember.

All that is gone -- and something new and very different rules the day -- and that is what they now have to learn and master.  Those who won't make it -- will go into denial, refusing to acknowledge the present realities -- increasingly living only in their minds and memories, as though that was enough of a survival response to remain in the game and flow of life -- rather than the certain death it has always been.

Some prefer that certainty to any change -- but it is in embracing change that is the way -- and not simply doing what they have always done before, as though that was enough to ensure their survival or prosperity -- especially if it hasn't worked before!  But by then, they've become these obsessive-compulsive personalities that just go through the motions -- without relevance and acknowledgement of the current realities.  They pine for another time -- of their greatest glory, whether it actually ever was.  Their memories and thoughts are all they think necessary -- to cling to, until they are no more.

At one time, that may have been the predominant mode of thought -- but alas, that too has passed on.