Sunday, January 27, 2008

Overcoming "The Resistance"

The mantra of exercise developers in the recently concluded century, was the need to develop “resistance” as a necessary requirement for work to be done (measured) productively, and so it was thought by simple-minded people, that simply producing the greatest resistance, produced the greatest results -- overlooking the logical extreme of such a conclusion, that maximum resistance, makes any movement (work) impossible, and ultimately, extremely hazardous to one’s health.

Machine-makers therefore touted that the productivity and value of their machines, was that it provided “the greatest resistance throughout the full range of that movement,” not considering that those conditions, limited the range of movement actually possible to achieve, in which it could be always noted, that the extreme ranges of motion itself, provided its own resistance to even further movement, and so the range of resistance, was not in fact, the fullest range of movement of the muscle but actually the machine.

The fullest range of movement, must inevitably result in the greatest muscular contraction and relaxation -- while the range of resistance, will always be limited to a fraction of its actual fullest range of movement. For fitness purposes, the range of movement, is much more important than strength and proficiency over a very limited range of total possible movement.

This becomes more apparent as people age or deteriorate in their abilities. Their range of movement decreases -- and not so much a proficiency over a narrow and constricted range -- which is often the range which is measured as the only thing of significance, resulting in a deceptive and erroneous indication of one’s actual health and fitness, which should be obvious in their appearance.

For this reason, many people who put in extremely heavy workloads of exercise, often look to be in terrible condition, except that they can put out heavy workloads of effort -- with very little apparent, visible results. Such people are even conditioned to believe that how they look, has no relation to how fit they are -- which is like believing that world champions don’t look like world champions even before they attempt anything.

Most competitive athletes rely on those obvious visual cues as the person most likely to be the one who will be the winner in their event.

Form produces that function, and vice versa. Only in the so-called “fitness” world, is nothing related to any other reality, which is an indication that such “experts” have absolutely no idea of what they are talking about.

They think that reality must conform to their theories, rather than that their theories must conform to the realities of one’s experiences in order to be meaningful and significant. But then, that would be science -- and not just wishful-thinking, which is what they think makes anything so.

When one goes beyond the thought to actually meet reality, one encounters the full range of actuality.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Making the Easy Extremely Difficult

A reaction to a world and technology in which everything is made easier and more convenient, is to make everything more difficult and prohibitive, as though that was a value in itself -- largely a pining for a more primitive time and struggle, in which every moment of one’s life was consumed and dedicated to the mere survival of another day.

Those primitive responses die hard in some people -- particularly those who never mastered those rudimentary skills, and so their entire existence, is a repetition of that one thing -- conquering and reconquering that one same challenge, rather than going on to the many other challenges and discoveries of a virtually undiscovered world.

People of such primitive skills think that they know more than they do not know -- rather than suspect that most of the world is unknown to them, and it is merely their desire to stay only within their very limited comfort zone, that enables them to believe that they know “everything.” And if they are in a powerful position in the bureaucracy, they may even effect laws and policies in which everybody else is prohibited from knowing anything but what they know -- and what they know, is subject to their arbitrary whims.

So if they say “Jump,” everybody else’s response should be, “How high?”, rather than “Why?” In such conditioning, asking “Why,” is a great heresy and signals one out for instant punishment -- an extra lap or 100 sit-ups/pushups for every transgression until there is finally silence and compliance -- and that is how the “truth” is enforced from time immemorial.

Seeing no other way, some think that is all there is, and no other way, but this coercion to the “correctness” enforced by all the sanctioned and accredited authorities, whose categorical imperative, is that everyone has to stick together, for if there is any sign of dissension or even hesitation, the discipline and conformity will fail -- and shortly, nobody will believe in their authority.

One of the most difficult conditionings to break one of, is the notion that there could be a vastly better and easier way to do things -- anything. Nowhere is that lesson more indelibly stamped on people’s psyche than in physical conditioning, which makes it very problematical, difficult and prohibitive, to those who could benefit most from it. As a result, they get caught in an endless loop on a wild goose chase, doing everything but that which would help them instantaneously and immediately -- as any real solution does.

Instead, they are advised to buy costly devices and supplements, “spend” a lifetime learning from those skilled at making the easy extremely difficult -- as though that was the answer to their problems. That is simply the diversion and busyness, that prevents one from seeing the simplicity and clarity of their problems, and in that seeing, is invariably their solution.

For that reason, many of the great teachers have advised, that when the mind is silent and still, it can take in the information readily apparent to one’s own eyes, ears and other senses -- and learn the truth of the world directly, rather than relying on what others tell them is the truth -- while warning one not to trust one’s own senses about these things, as they promise to remain to tell one what the truth is, as long as they live.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Range of Motion

When people talk about not being able to do this or that anymore, what they’re usually referring to is the reduction in their range of movement and activities -- rather than that they can’t run 10K instead of 5K. It is an easy matter for someone who can run 5K to run 10K -- and in fact, those who only run 100M, are usually the more impressive physical specimens because they are capable of producing much greater bursts of power over a brief duration.

Those bursts of power, are determined by the range of movement -- from fullest relaxation to fullest contraction. The greatest example of such muscle functioning, is the unfailing work of the heart which must work in this manner of full relaxation alternated by full contraction as the dedicated function of the heart -- that does nothing else.

All the other muscles of the body, can be trained to do anything else it is determined is meaningful and purposeful to do -- but that does not preclude also optimizing the circulatory effect. In fact, that deliberate intention, is the greatest directly beneficial effect, that the muscles of the body can be trained to do -- but in most conditioning activities, is ignored and misunderstood -- in the thinking that the heart is the only organ of the body relevant for this purpose.

However, in the very common experience of hypertension in modern lives, what is characteristic is that the muscles are used in a manner to actually counter the effectiveness of the heart and circulatory system by maintaining a constant tense or contracted state -- into which the heart is pumping into, rather than a relaxed or dilated one. Thus, many are initially advised just to be more aware of their constant tension that elevates their blood pressure -- because that is the consequence of blood vessels that are constricted and never alternated by moments of relaxation.

Thus for health reasons as well as maximal athletic performance, the basic skill beyond learning any other specific skills, should be in familiarizing oneself with its fully contracted state and fully relaxed state -- and its effects in the principles of all body functioning -- way before creating elaborate theories and belief systems of what to do and which authorities to follow.

The unfortunate evolution of conditioning activities and discipline over the last 50 years, has been distorted primarily by concerns about which apparatus and personal self-aggrandizement/promotion is most profitable rather than what is most beneficial for every individual to know to enrich and enhance their own lives -- without the profit for any self-designated “professional” group who claim that they are the exclusive gatekeepers to whom homage and tribute must be paid, before anybody is allowed to attain their own best lives and fulfillment -- as every person has a right to do.

Largely the reason people don’t exhibit the wide range of human performance and capability including optimal health, is that they’ve never been taught the full range of those possibilities -- beginning and remaining focused on their own unique capabilities for that expression, which would surprise and certainly be the most relevant to every individual -- rather than the adulation and imitation of anybody else.

That is the proper study of every individual -- knowing what their own limitations (range of motion) are, and not just the generalizations of what it must be -- by those who claim they know what these must be for everybody else.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Are We Getting Better or Worse?

There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who are getting better, and those who are getting worse -- but nobody just stays the same, even if that is their greatest desire. So the choice we have is how do we change? Do we get better, or do we get worse? People who don’t believe they are changing, are getting worse without admitting it. In fact, they are in denial about it -- and that’s why they hope to convince everyone and themselves, that they are merely staying the same.

Life is like a shark -- that has to keep moving or it dies. Many people’s greatest aspiration in life, is that they can merely stay the same -- as they always have been and as they always hope to be, but that is not an option in life, for life is change, and one only can choose which direction.

Most often, change doesn’t come about because of entirely one’s own choices but are the collective action of individuals in society affecting each other. That sum is usually quite positive, allowing most of us to just go with the flow, whether we are consciously aware of that or not. Nobody living in any society and context, largely doesn’t go with that flow although many still think that every encounter with every other, is a grim personal battle for survival, of one against every other, without a greater context, consequences and significance.

But such thinking is largely the remnants of primitive thinking, as even the shrewdest of successful individuals, will now acknowledge, that they just see what everybody else is doing, before everybody else is aware that they are doing it. Eventually, everybody else does come around to seeing what only the most astute could see initially, and they have moved on further to see what nobody else does again. So even that vantage point, is not fixed, but always changing -- and that is what life is, this flow.

The ancient folks called this essential life force, prana or chi, and scientists later called it neuromuscular impulses or cardiovascular circulation. It is change, movement and flow at its most basic level of operation and mastery that makes much more complex and consequential action possible. Some people make a religion out of it -- while for many others, it is merely an obsession and compulsion.

It needn’t be a devotion and dedication people have been conditioned to believe it has to be -- in order to be effective. In fact, the less mystical, the better. In a world in which everything seems beyond every individual’s control, the simple mastery of personal functioning and presence (appearance), should be well within every individual’s ability to effect -- but many just don’t know that yet.

They think they have to go to gurus, consultants, surgeons, professors, personal trainers and other quasi-authority figures, to become the person they really want to be. That is what they’ve been conditioned to think.