Monday, December 31, 2007

The Most Important Exercise: Understanding Conditioning

It’s twenty years now in which I’ve broken from the traditional thinking on exercise -- incorporating and integrating everything previously done and known, to come to the realization that what was needed, was not more effort in the manner people have been exercising for ages, but with a different understanding that works -- because nothing else is possible!

A rare few come upon that understanding sometimes in their lives -- but most think that a tool is something one beats another thing with, and if the desired result is not forthcoming and self-evident, the only thing required, is to pound harder. But that is not anyway to treat the most precious tool one will ever encounter -- which is the human body itself and all it can do.

We call that ultimate limit, “potential,” which is a small fraction of what ultimately may be possible. In our thinking on the physical functioning of the human body, we usually limit that thinking to running, jumping, and lifting -- rather than that those may be a way of demonstrating prowess in sporting activities, but are not the best models of what the body can be trained and conditioned to do to achieve and maintain its ultimate best functioning -- not just for running, jumping and lifting, but in the best understanding of the workings of the body, and how best to optimize those base functioning.

The two activities that must persist throughout life, are the long recognized functions of circulation and respiration, which are not necessarily optimized automatically, although there is a built-in autonomy, that is not everything. For many years now, medical science, as well as the study of everything else, was divided and fragmented and compartmentalized into many specialized (partial) views, thought to be virtually exclusive of every other thing going on in the universe, or even in one life.

But that led to its ultimate disintegration and destruction of contemporary lives until a few pioneers recognized the need for reintegration and re-creation based upon the dramatic new understandings that had revolutionized virtually every aspect of life we know today -- as opposed to the realities we knew and lived in as recently as twenty years ago. Some people were on the leading edge of that awareness -- but it is now increasingly evident, a generation later, why it is absolutely necessary now.

The gain over these last twenty years has been a whole generation of life that has never been lived before or even thought possible before. But now it is becoming increasingly real for many more known as the Baby Boom generation now moving into this phase of life in which they can reclaim their lives -- to do with as best everything else has prepared them for.

There will be a clear divergence of people still living the traditional lives -- in retirement and decline, while others recreate their lives in wholly new possibilities, many actualizing the possibilities formerly thought only for the young and inexperienced.

Happy New Life!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Ability to Change

Fitness, ultimately, is the ability to respond to a challenge -- that may vary and be unpredictable -- and so that readiness, should include that ability to recognize, when and how the challenge is different, in order to make an entirely appropriate response. Running when one should be stopping, can be as ruinous and disastrous as doing nothing when the situation absolutely calls for it. Usually, those people who cannot distinguish the difference or appropriate response, do not stay around longer and are weeded out of the gene pool -- as the least fit by those realities.

But in a more civilized time and compassionate societies, many simply bump along endlessly throughout their brutal lives, being battered and abused by all that is happening in life and never really feeling as though they are really “in the game.” Occasionally they might see one come along who seems to stand out from the crowd, and mistakenly think that distinction is due to their weakness and unfitness, rather than that they may be the unquestioned leader of the pack that can stand alone and apart from the safety of the herd. So one of the mistakes these “unfit” individuals make is to attack the strongest of the herd, and after quickly being routed, every other member of that group, recognizes the one who has no idea of what is going on -- and is appropriately ignored.

The leader emerges because (s)he has superior faculties of discernment -- to make the right discriminations -- before every other member of the group is aware of them, but they have at least learned which other individuals to cue on for their survival, and beyond that, success in life. While these metaphors can easily be seen and noted in subhuman animal populations, they are at work in human societies as well, because they are the time-proven winning strategies that are perpetuated by replication, imitation and further refinement in that direction.

There may also come a time when conditions change so that those at the head of the pack, find themselves at the back, or moving in precisely the wrong direction -- if they don’t have the fortunate right instincts for change, at the right moment.

And that is the purpose of conditioning -- not just to be successful and proficient in one unvarying and untiring manner, but also to be alert to take in new information that may tell them that something wholly different may be more appropriate. Whatever that response might require, it will still have to fall within the range of one’s repertoire for responses -- of which the whole range and gamut is from complete relaxation to complete effort, rather than just the repetition of any limited part of it, which is what most popular conditioning practices are.

One can be certain in a long and eventful life with any significance and purpose, that there will be many challenges and changes because of that success -- so that the conditioning only to be one unvarying way forever as the best strategy of doing anything, has relatively little usefulness. The measure of one’s successful conditioning programming (education), is the significant movement and change of state, that creates a readiness to recognize the opportunities for action at any present time -- rather than mindlessly repeating, “Life (and history), only repeats itself,” until one perishes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Age of Misinformation, Deception and Manipulation

When there is freedom and opportunity, the range of actual experiences and actualizations will vary greatly, manifesting everything every individual brings into that situation. So naturally, some will be much better off while some will be much worse, but on average, the general experience will be much higher in the progression of time. That is what it invariably will be -- as the process of natural selection -- which is the test of time, and not simply the current hysteria and mania which can be more easily manipulated.

The problem is the tendency to magnify only the experiences of a few as though it was the greater truth of that experience -- and thus give the impression of what is not true. In another era, that was usually the ploys of “Madison Avenue” types -- who believed that anything they could get away with and fool their fellow citizens with, was fair game -- for which they were rewarded quite handsomely with status and income. That "success" caused many others to take up such tactics to achieve their own devious successes.

Many however, destroyed their own personal integrity to the extent that they became a cliché of those individuals whose personal health and lives suffered -- because very few could maintain a vastly separate and different life. That is the disintegrating experience of the fragmented life -- in which nothing has relationship to any other reality and validating experience in life. The truth for those, is simply what they can get anybody else to believe.

Unfortunately many people get that experience of education rather than in systematic inquiries of uncertainties -- finding out when they don’t know. For the former, it is enough just to be told what to think (and reinforced), rather than learning how to think for themselves, and not require some authority, like the “information specialist,” professors, and editorialists to tell them what to think, while also making them think they came up with those biases and prejudices quite on their own scientific methods and merits.

So while it is enlightening to be aware of other people’s opinions and thoughts, what is even more important is to recognize when those notions are ignorance promoted as “conventional wisdom” that every “progressive” and “liberal-minded” person should pride themselves on holding.

It’s not a partisan issue as much as it is the danger of this incomplete picture that undermines life and experience in every actuality. One disastrously mistakes the tiny part from the greater truth of the whole -- which is the whole truth, and not to know and experience that, is to experience utter confusion and chaos all the days of one’s life, and not to be aware of even that.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Exercising For Life

Undoubtedly the most misguided piece of exercise information in the last 50 years has been the notion that the primary reason for exercising is to provide more work for one’s heart, as though that was an unconditionally good thing to do -- instead of the primary reason many people don’t take it up, and particularly those in most need of it -- which are those in the weakest condition, for which the benefits of exercise (enhanced circulation) can be a critical need.

The heart always does its job of pumping blood -- unfailingly, and that automatic (autonomic) function, must be considered the base support level -- or the constant rather than the variable one is trying to deliberately impact. That would be like changing all the rules of physics rather than first understanding them -- and then wondering why one can’t make a difference in the world, and in one’s own life, rather in the simple understanding of those things that can make a huge difference with only a little bit of attention paid to them, of simple awareness and attention to what matters, and not of all those things that do not.

When one is feeling, sleepy, weak, or otherwise “disabled,” the directive to jump up out of one’s deathbed and run a marathon or bench press one’s bodyweight, would be to anybody who knows anything about anything, a sure sign that such advisers (experts) knew nothing about anything -- except in the world of academia and popular media, such beliefs are highly valued because they test the limits of incredulity and gullibility of such audiences for the sales pitches to follow.

The remarkable thing is that such critical movement, is also the basis for improvement and performance at the highest levels of accomplishment also -- as one who executes “the basics” with such a mastery that there is no weakness in the foundation of their preparations.

The whole objective of conditioning exercises for one’s own life, is not to make everybody their own cardiologist (or expert of their choice), but simply to improve their performance and functioning as the presently are right now -- in the understanding that optimal functioning produces its own efficiencies.

Therefore, it is not an accident that world champion athletes look like world champion athletes -- because their movements require them to be in that condition.

But that doesn’t mean a bedridden person needs to pole vault 20 feet in order to regain their health; they simply need to restore greatest functioning and movement to those most critical movements of the head, hands and feet -- that most conditioning programs ignore entirely, or remarkable improvement at every level would be easily achieved and effected.

There is a real simplicity and obviousness to this that every group of “professionals” tries to complicate as much as possible for their exclusive benefit and profit -- including many of the health and other “helpful” industries -- that may in fact, only serve their own job security rather than the health and interests of the consumers, who should remain the ultimate judgment of this -- despite the self-regulating self-interest group’s demand that they know what is best for everybody else.

Some people, in every walk of life, in every activity, have more integrity in this than others, and can see clearly that everybody else in the world does not exist for their own exclusive benefit -- as lifelong cash cows to be milked as long and lucratively as possible. That is not one’s entitlement but their own responsibility in thinking things through despite “what the experts say.”

In another time, that might have been more difficult to do -- with most people less educated and having less or no access to the information of the world. Particularly helpful is the information outside of one field in obtaining a broader perspective of the truth universal to many fields -- and not that every specialty has their own unique truths and hierarchy to transmit those truths.

That insight is probably the greatest key to the understanding and success of every endeavor any individual or society has ever undertaken.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Beyond the Competition

A problem for many people, is motivating themselves when nobody else cares whether they improve themselves or not -- and it is more profitable for others, that they do not -- and so they “need” their help for that purpose. But of course, if one really improves, they will no longer require their help -- and so, a dysfunctional codependency is established for as long as it is possible to be maintained, or one simply no longer cares about such things any longer. That indifference more than anything else, is the reason people deteriorate and die.

So it is very important to retain that vital interest in everything -- because the time soon comes when there is no longer that caring, and without it, it doesn’t make a difference and matter what one does. That’s why many try to remain in “competitions” that somebody cares about for as long as they can -- but unfortunately, the time comes when there will be nobody to care other than oneself -- and so it is essential that one’s conditioning and education recognizes the need for self-validation and improvement, as the primary motivating force, which makes lifelong improvement possible -- even if nobody else cares.

Once that importance is recognized and cultivated, it is a relatively simple matter to effect -- but without that “caring,” nobody cares, and deterioration is what everyone is accustomed to seeing -- justifying it as the “natural “ and inevitable “aging” process. Mostly, it is about no longer caring, that produces that inevitable result. Caring is an organizing principle -- by which there is either improvement, or not caring that it matters anymore.

That’s why people often remain in the public eye -- as their motivation for keeping in top shape and condition -- to have somebody else provide that guidance. But there inevitably comes a time, when nobody else cares -- because there are those coming up, who are much more energetic, ambitious, and ruthless about hogging all the attention.

While one is youthful and naive, there are many organizations that will provide such guidance and preoccupation for the highly motivated in this way. Eventually, even the most dedicated and determined have to drop out -- because of the premature wear and tear on the body, especially the joints. At that point, all those joints are usually shot -- and so conditioning programs that use those same focal points of movement, are likely to result in “negative” conditioning until one ceases those activities entirely. That is the usual trajectory of an athlete’s career and participation -- unless he totally rethinks the requirements for fulfilling progress -- without which, most will be distracted onto other things as soon as possible.

Therefore, the psychological aspects of conditioning become much more important -- particularly in the understanding of the process -- beyond just doing what somebody else tells one to do, and even competing against oneself -- in which if one thinks about it, the more he wins, the more he also must lose -- in an escalating zero-sum game.

The key to improvement, should be measured in how well, rather than how fast, or how much, which are the usual buzzwords in such discussions. To go beyond that, to a greater understanding of effort and purpose, allows one to reach their goals of attainment, rather than always be left in that state of striving for an unattainable point beyond -- which of course, is always failure.