Friday, March 31, 2006

The Heart Does Not Beat Forever

People who study cross species differences, have noticed that all animals pretty much have the same number of ultimate heart beats, and so species with the slowest heart rates -- like the tortoise, have the longest lives, while animals with the fastest heart rates, like shrews, live only about a year.

It’s also noted that within a species, such as man for example, that those whose heart rates are lower tend to live longer than those with faster heart rates. The lower heart rates is indicative of greater cardiovascular efficiency -- requiring the heart to work less hard (fast). The heart cannot work any harder than it already does because its sole movement is full contraction to full relaxation -- it can not decide to give only 5-10% effort, or contraction -- and so the rate of the contractions is a variable that matters.

Great long distance runners are those with the genetic advantage of having slower than normal heart rates, and one will note that at the end of their races, many do not even seem to be breathing hard. Obviously, such people were built for running -- and when reviewing these elite runners coming in at the head of the pack of thousands of daily runners, they seem to be a breed apart, who are not normally seen otherwise along the jogging trails, laboring mightily to take their next breath and step.

Just as obviously, the ideal exercise for such people, is not running, or walking even, if the activity doesn’t seem to be right for them. But rather than that being discouraging, one should find or create the exercise they are suited best for -- just like even elite athletes must also. The champion distance runner is not going to be the champion weightlifter -- no matter how much time, energy and other resources he puts into it.

So the blanket advice that any exercise is better than none at all -- is not sound wisdom and may be the reason for a lot of people’s discouragement. When one embarks on the myriad of activities that human ingenuity has devised, some will be enjoyable and others will not -- but to force everyone to feel the same towards any one, is not any kind of understanding of human behavior, motivation and performance.

One of the great misunderstandings of contemporary science, is that the average does not supersede the range -- but it is the range that is real, and not the average. The “average” may actually be totally nonsensical and meaningless -- like the person standing with one foot in a bucket of scalding hot water and the other in ice water, and the researcher smugly pronouncing that the subject is “on average,” totally comfortable -- denying the actuality of the experience.

Those with greater cardiovascular efficiency will tend to find most cardiovascular challenges to be enjoyable -- while those without that congenital advantage, would find other movements and exercises more suitable as well as enjoyable. All the exercise in the world is not going to transform a cardiovascular disadvantaged, to the cardiovascular gifted.

That’s a misunderstanding of cause and effect, and correlation. People don’t exercise to get into shape; it’s because of their shape that they like to exercise -- but exercise is much broader than simply increasing one’s heart rate. It is the requirement that increasing one’s heart rate that discourages most people’s activity because the increase in the heart rate is an indicator to lower the heart rate, to conserve heart beats as much as possible.

The trick is to develop healthful exercise that costs the body nothing. What that requires is a better understanding of total body functioning -- and not just one organ in isolation to every other. The whole is much more than just the sum of the parts.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Right Understanding

The first widespread observation of causation is the enlightenment of the Buddha into this insight -- that one thing causes another, in a chain reaction of connectedness to every other thing -- and for that reason, awareness is the key to the greater experience of life.

Another anointed a messiah, observes that unless one can die to the old and be born anew, only a certain death awaits him. There is a life of eternal renewal and rebirth that is not simply the continuation of the past -- but something different entirely, but in order to experience that life, requires a leap of faith in dying to the old (known) -- because the unknown, is where that greater life exists.

The old life -- is the conditioning of the past, while the new life, is the conditioning to the present realities that have changed greatly since one was initially indoctrinated into that culture as a child, but which historically and traditionally, one has maintained dogmatically despite the great changes in the world in his lifetime. While always true in every era, that becomes a greater truth with greater change and changes.

The most frightening prospect for people as they live longer now, is not that the body fails physically, but that the connection of the brain to the rest of the body is severed -- as in the case of the dementias, which is not unlike many other dysfunctions of presumably normal lives.

Dementias are different in that there is a sense of irrecoverability from those dysfunctions that normally, we feel to be merely aberrations, preventable and treatable. But once all hope is gone for a recovery, the prognosis is not hopeful -- except for the possibility of some miracle some researcher proposes to find with the generous help of a research grant into the as yet implausible.

Meanwhile, simple observations and insights into human behavior could be the adjustment and refinement that empowers life in the new way not possible before. Chief among those ways is this simple observation of the connectedness of the mind and the body -- that it is not separate and apart, but integral. The ideals of the classic and enduring cultures and civilizations, is the notion of the fully-developed being -- and only recently, have we formalized the fragmentation of individuals into specialties and categories, and within each individual, isolated systems within the organism, that has begun to be reversed with the defining paradigm of these times -- the general purpose computer.

That development has totally reversed the trend toward narrow specialization, with its exclusive jargons and control hierarchies. Does that mean that all chaos and anomie breaks out with this dissolution of the old order? Hardly. What emerges is an even higher level of proficiency and recognition of authenticity, integrity and self-evident truth -- verifiable to anyone willing to participate in the construction of the new understanding. Understanding is not something that is merely passed down from the duly certified authorities in that priesthood -- but is the general council of all the interested and competent participants who exhibit themselves in that credibility.

That is determined in the open forum -- and not limited to a protected, favored few. Those results are completely different than are possible when the participation is selected by only a self-aggrandizing few. Absent in those discussions, has been the voice of the consumer, the non-vested party (the greater good) -- and not only of the self-regulating “professionals,” claiming to know better than everybody else because that is their exclusive turf.

That would be government (society) for the people, of the people, by the people -- as the constitution intended.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Greatest Survival Value of All

Is to be able to change -- and recognize change, which is difference -- which many over the last several decades, have increasingly taught to blur, as though that was mankind‘s greatest evil, rather than saving grace. In that way, can the many self-serving vested interests, establish and maintain that control and co-dependency, of you allowing them to push your buttons -- with their conditioning/education programs. When they say, “Jump,” you jump; when they say hold this sign and walk around in circles, that’s what you do obediently. When they tell you to hate, that’s what one displays on cue.

That was what mass media (and all those institutions that supported that concept of individuals (anonymity) and society) was perfect for -- distributing propaganda on this massive scale with its greatest justification being that that’s also what everybody else believed. The test of its effectiveness was that everybody talked about the same program they saw on television -- or about the same article dictated from the Associated Press. Nothing else was recognized as even existing; if it existed, “they” would let you know about it, and since they didn’t, it DID NOT exist.

"They" were the exclusive keepers of the truth -- and not, as many more are coming to realize, that truth is being discovered from moment to moment -- by everyone, and not just a few self-selected types with lifetime security at Harvard University, or whomever else thinks they ought to own the monopoly on truth. That’s not how democracy, or a free market economy works -- that you have to patronize the company store because it is the only game in town!

Obviously we’re moving away from that kind of a society towards one of expanding greater choices -- and possibilities, and how well one makes those choices, determines the outcome of their lives. So we have to be conditioned to thrive under those conditions -- rather than be conditioned merely to follow the orders and tirelessly operate the treadmill for as long as they tell us to. And there are still those around who will be happy to tell you what to do, how to live your life, what is best for you -- as though they knew better, and weren’t just demanding that you do what is best for them!

And that is why the mass media and all those other institutions that propagate their preeminence in whatever jurisdiction they claim, are increasingly appealing to deaf ears or viewers who have long since switched to another channel -- that which best suits and serves them. Thus, the ability to change and not just be a creature of habit, tradition, knowledge and memory, is displaced by those who can come full stop and say, “What are the new realities and conditions that will determine my best and most appropriate response?” That is the critical skill of just paying attention and finding out what is -- without the preconceived notions of what it is, has been, and always will be, unvaryingly -- because somebody said so a long time ago.

That manner of conditioning is a certain death. Because it is conditioning oneself to be insensitive to reality (new information) -- from one’s own senses and experience -- in deference to what some experts say is what is "actually" happening, and what you should do about it. That of course, is the cult and culture of experts -- that are integral to the concept of mass culture, but in the present state of art, culture and technology, is revealed to be counterproductive, and the problem of most dysfunctional lives.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Health Care and Health, Are Two Totally Different Things

The health care industry would like us to believe that health care comes from the health care system -- rather than that it is integral to life and the fulfillment of it. So any honest practitioner (and they are to be found in every field of endeavor and enterprise), are those one wishes to consult on any matter -- rather than believing they are all alike and the same, because of some less reliable standard of certification. Unfailingly, that is because they are good human beings who transcend whatever label they’ve placed on themselves.

When you have the health care provider providing the information and advice on health, there is an inherent conflict of interest, because while the doctor would like one to be healthy, he doesn’t want him to be so healthy that he no longer requires his services. Healthy people generally don’t see a doctor while the unhealthy, think that is where they obtain health from -- rather than that it is integral to their being.

At the other extreme of this co-dependency are those who have become so reliant on the health care provider that such dependent individuals do nothing for themselves -- and expect the doctor alone to make them well. Meanwhile, they do everything they can to undermine the efforts of the health care providers -- at which point, the health care providers have to give up in despair and say, “There’s nothing wrong with you but your own unwillingness to make yourself healthy and happy,” although there may be actual clinical symptoms. It is hoped at that point, they will consider also finding another health care system to drain.

So a health care vision of a future in which half of the population is employed caring for the other half -- who may or not be pulling for the same result -- is not an attractive and viable vision of future life. Even most “health” professionals don’t want to be trapped and confined entirely to the company/clientele of sick and dysfunctional people -- who rob them of their own will to live and fulfill their own lives. So the leading edge of the profession has deliberately sought out that end of people wanting to use medicine to enhance their lives rather than merely sustain it at the lowest level of functioning, which is also the most costly.

As an acute experience, that is sometimes what one has to overcome, but the life in chronic disability should have a prognosis for recovery and highest actualization despite the handicaps. Life is never so perfect that only then is it possible to do what one really wants to do -- if only one were in perfect health, with all the money one could ever desire, attracting all the best and the brightest to one’s immediate circle, etc. Life just has to go on as best it can -- under whatever circumstances.

Ultimately, health is about accepting conditions as they are and doing the best with them -- regardless of who is to blame, that things are not perfect -- and only then can life begin, because that day never comes. Instead, life is perfecting that possibility, and increasing its probability.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Entertaining Other Possibilities

Many people’s choice of conditioning exercise is walking -- because it is the easiest, cheapest thing they know to do -- and not as some proponents claim, that it is the ideal exercise to do. It’s like pondering the selection of products now available in many prices with different features -- and some bystander will come along and “expertly” pronounce, “Cheapest is best” -- missing the point that the most effective for one’s unique needs is best, and ideally, it would be the most economical as well.

If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how cheap it is -- and often, that it is free. Conversely, if something is a miracle product and drastically changes every aspect of one’s existence, one is a fool not to obtain it however he can -- because that is what life is for, improving the quality of one’s experience and functioning in life, and not how much money is spent or not. That is a better measure of one’s quality of life -- rather than expenditure, income, or wealth -- the more convenient benchmarks of attainment and achievements in life.

It is much more meaningful to ask, what value is one exchanging for greater value -- because all expenditure of time, energy and money is not equal. People living on the same income and the same expenditures, could have widely different quality of lives -- just as people can do different things with just a ball, and even while presumably doing the same thing, one person can soar while the other only fumbles.

So to say that walking is the best exercise, or an ideal exercise, conveys virtually no information at all -- and why it is often the case, that a person in terrible shape and condition will remark, that they walk all day, or substantially -- and thus feel no need to do more, or differently. To such people, a book is a book, a calorie is a calorie, a shirt is a shirt, and every dollar spent/earned, is like every other dollar spent/earned, and so their answer to every question, is only “more” or “less,” thinking that is the only difference in the world, and never that things could be better and entirely different.

It doesn’t matter how much exercise one does that keeps one in poor (sub optimal) shape and condition; the significant question is, what does one do to optimize their shape and condition -- which many do not ask in their lifetime. They think the way things are presently, is the only way they can ever be -- and if one is talking about something else, that is completely impossible. And that is their conditioning -- that anything else but their present reality, as dismal and disempowering as it is -- is all that life can ever be, for themselves surely, but also some will demand, that must also be the reality for everyone too.

Unfortunately, most of the people they will talk to, will have the same kind of conditioning and perspective -- so that the possibilities of an alternate reality, is precluded from their consciousness -- as it is with specialists who have been taught to agree to the same dogma(curriculum). And if they rebel, it is only a rebellion within the prison walls of that accepted deviance -- and not transcending that limited perspective to a much more expansive possibility of existence and functioning. The meaning and purpose of all human activity is to actualize the highest possibility of life for every individual -- and every other discussion is a distraction by people who have no idea what they are talking about -- no matter how brilliant they may think they are.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Ability to Change

The Big Picture reason we condition ourselves, is to improve our ability to change, adapt, respond -- which begins with awareness of the conditions we live in, that change from moment to moment, as well as over time. But if there is no short term adaptability, the chances for longterm change and improvement are not great -- so one has to begin near, to go far.

People who are considered dynamic and vibrant, are distinguished by this ability to respond (appropriately) to conditions (change) as they are happening -- before most others are even aware of them. And as people decline in life, they are distinguished by their decreasing ability to change, responsiveness -- and so there is this perception of the old and decrepit as those not capable of these changes anymore, often insisting that the world change to suit them, which they were probably resistive to even when they are younger but now it becomes more apparent, more critical, more demanding.

So it is important to exercise those faculties that are one’s ability to change -- of which the neuromuscular system is the means by which we can effect immediate and instantaneous change -- because the need for it is now, and not six months from now, and some hope to defer it to never so that one never has to change, to adapt, to respond -- wishing the problems/challenges will just go away, or solve themselves.

But that’s not how good things happen in life -- although that is the obvious reason why things get worse, and then after a while, some people think that things can only get worse -- so unresponsive have they become. Recognizing this, those who wish to remain viable and vibrant in life, program themselves deliberately differently.

Many become so fascinated by their rapid improvement and accomplishments, that those activities become the passion of their lives, the organizing principle of their lives around which everything else revolves and evolves. It is not a sacrifice; that is what they wish to do most in life -- and would willingly sacrifice everything else to do it. Such people have found their calling -- the fulfillment of themselves, that which makes them all they can be. They are a positive life force, affirming meaning and purpose -- and not despairing as many do, and especially those frequently in the newspapers write, that everything has never been worst in the whole history of mankind.

Very obviously, by every measure, the world actually was never better -- which is basically true of every succeeding generation -- but there will always be those working tirelessly to convince us otherwise, even telling us that once we were free, and now we are slaves. Freedom is largely how we think -- rather than that there are masters watching and supervising our every thought, movement and action.

So our restraints are largely what we think they are -- which we learn both overtly and subtly, from watching others -- how they talk about life, their expectations, attitudes, relating to others. Many will enforce their “correctness” on others and even have the official seal of approval to do so -- even when they themselves may be wrong and entirely lacking in any understanding.

So the first thing one considers in contemplating change is, what are ALL the possibilities?