Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Healthy Attitude

The most defining attribute of a “healthy” person is their attitude -- about their own lives, specifically and directly. That leads them to regard every challenge and difficulty, as simply the work they have to get focused to do -- and not that all the irrelevancies of their lives and habits, are more important.

Many do not have the time and energy to solve the urgencies and immediacies because they are involved in the rituals of their daily living -- failing to understand that these rituals were designed to aid them and not prevent them from being effective in the real matters that actually count.

Chief is this flexibility and willingness to overcome one’s habits and conditioning and embrace the new. Such people have convinced themselves that there is nothing new -- and in fact, the world is the same world it was a thousand years ago, or for that matter, even ten, and with great changes and advances, even a year could be an entirely different world. But what really changes, are individuals and their responses. Some do it sooner than others -- while many, will be the last to know, as well as the most resistant to acknowledging that things and times have changed -- because they think it is their responsibility to defend and perpetuate the status quo.

These are the “bureaucrats” of life -- who show up each day and keep the system running as it is -- as their job and “duty.” The entrepreneurs of life, are those questioning everything -- including whether it is necessary to go on doing things as we always have done before. They become the innovators and advocates for change -- by living it; the former’s idea of change, is to demand that everybody else change before they do, or will.

And so during those times of notable and pervasive changes, a few start to come out on the “other side,” while many more are still contemplating whether to make the leap. These changes may accompany symbolic political changes but are actually much larger cultural and social changes that the political changes must also reflect.

The protest movements are largely symbolic of the resistance to change -- rather than an expression of it, because it is just against the prevailing the positive forces, and offer no viable alternative “actions.” The opposite of anything, is simply the original thing itself -- creating its own internal energy. Real change is that energy and time being refocused on the new -- in entirely positive and productive ways.

For that to happen, very obviously, symbolic (political) changes will take place, but it is just the metaphor for the much more pervasive changes taking place.

A dominant theme of these times is the movement away from “becoming” to actual “being,” as many more, no longer contemplate their strategies for the future, but are now in the process of living out those realities. That is the face of the present disruption that is the current recession -- or economic discontinuity -- when people do not continue as they recently have, but change in a very fundamental way.

And that is largely this shifting of attention from the future to the present, just as the previous generation, shifted the focus from the past to the future -- but both the past and the future, is not the urgency, immediacy and reality that the present is.

This change is entirely positive because it means people find out in their own realities and experience what the truth is -- and not as in past times, are told what that truth is, and then merely pass it on to others, depending on their place in the pecking order and status quo. Thus, many of those with central roles in the old world, are aghast and disturbed by the new -- even as much as they like to insist and perceive themselves as the “progressive” elements of society, when clearly, by their actions, they are the rearguard defense for all that is dying and no longer true.

The healthy mind and attitude, are those capable of letting go of both the ideologies of the past and future, and discovering the truth of life as it actually unfolds -- without the preconceived and limiting ideas of what they “know” for a fact, but have never inquired deeply for themselves. They simply repeat the “truth” somebody else imposed upon them.

The freedom from that manner of conditioning and living, is the healthy mind and attitude that characterizes and summarizes “health” in these times.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Range of Motion: An Instant Classic

Most people are used to experiencing pain from movement, particularly as they age, which invariably leads them to avoid such movements, reducing their range of motion in movements, until finally at the end of their health, they hardly move at all. That, obviously, is a very unhealthy and disempowering conditioning that takes place over many years. To combat that effect, some take the radical approach of forcing ranges of movement, that speeds the injury and abandonment of movement in such an area -- which is also not helpful and productive.

One of the movements I noticed when taking a shower, was a slightly painful feeling every time I went to wash my back holding a piece of soap -- reaching one extent from the top, and the remaining areas from under the shoulders. That movement became the inspiration for the development of one of the great shoulder girdle/rotation and arm movements it is actually useful to maintain, and extend one's range if at all possible.

That exercise would be to make the rhythmic alternation of arms and hands attempting to touch each other in the back -- as a very simple movement that done for a count of 50, will maintain the integrity and strength of the shoulder girdle and rotation, all one's life -- while producing the awesome physical development one usually associates with long hours of lifting weights overhead -- usually with fully straightened arms to maintain that position for at least a recognition of control.

Although that is commonly done in strength competitions, the question of whether it is an actually useful movement to learn and master, is questionable. Most people just abandon such movements as they age -- largely because it produces injury and unnecessary wear and tear on that joint -- moved in that way, under a heavy load -- while possible, and eventually not attempted at all in later years because of self-limiting pain.

An extremely useful alternative to developing those muscles and maintaining that structural strength, is the rotation of the bent arms fore and aft -- with the objective to at least touch one's fingers in the back -- which most people will not come close to doing, but that is the approximation and the intent -- of achieving that full range. Of course, people with extreme flexibility in that area, will be able to touch their fingers, and for those, then a point further up the hands of each, would indicate increasing range of motion.

One notes that the similarity to muscle contractions achieved through conventional movements for that development are greatly exceeded -- with every increment of that range of movement, for which it is unnecessary to add more weight and resistance (and how could one?). The movement itself, provides its own resistance -- the further one moves to the greatest extent of one's range. The muscles must be contracted to their greatest extent -- as the natural design of that useful, voluntary movement -- enabling many others.

I think such a movement probably best illustrates the paradigm of the new concept of exercise to maintain and strengthen useful movement -- and not merely become proficient at the arbitrary ones that will invariably be abandoned because they serve no simple, useful purpose. And if one can do that, fitness, conditioning and exercise becomes much more meaningful and relevant to daily living -- and not that one has to run a marathon every day, week, month or year -- to ensure that they can and prove to themselves and others, their fitness levels.

People who are very observant, notice the range of movement as the proper assessment of each individual's vitality, alertness and capabilities -- in the quite ordinary and extraordinary movements they make doing common, ordinary things. They do not need to design tests to measure that impression and impact -- to know that as a "fact."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moving Everything

As a person diagnosed since his childhood days as having "arthritis," I knew that if I didn't consciously and systematically move a part of my body each day upon awakening, that when I later initiated such movements without any warmup or preconditioning for it, I was particularly susceptible to pain and injury -- that if I undertook even a very brief exercise at, conferred great preventive as well as performance-enhancing advantages.

The challenge though is that with over 600 different muscles in the body, one would be hardpressed for time if he only exercised one at a time, rather than large groups at a time. That should not be mistaken for exercising a large muscle as though they are many -- because each is just one, no matter how large or small. So the trick, challenge and effectiveness is to devise movements that engage as many muscles at once -- and not just the largest muscles, which is unfortunately the approach taken by fitness instructors as the best way to "burn" as many calories as possible, while limiting the movement to the focus on one muscle, working in isolation.

That was a huge problem in early thinking of strengthening the body by isolating each part of the muscular whole -- in favor of movement around only one muscle. Even if one was very conscientious, obviously one had to perform 600 movements before one felt assured that they had complete development and immunity from the lack of exercise.

In that environment, it was revolutionary to think that the better approach was in creating movements that didn't isolate the muscles, but actually required them to engage all the other muscles. What does that?

After many years of observation, study, and experimentation, it was obvious to me that simply doing "more" of what one was already doing, was not a solution to anything -- but that is largely the thinking in the most hopelessly out of shape people -- that they are doing everything well, but simply need to do more of it, rather than move differently -- and actually create new ways of moving for them, and that will make a huge difference, and not more of the same.

The same is the familiar, and so when discussing what obviously isn't working, such people limit their discussion only to considerations of doing more of what they are used to -- such as walking, and will refuse to try anything else, no matter how effective it might be. They just have a mental barrier to doing things in another way that actually might work and eliminate their problems of being in poor condition and shape. Many undoubtedly convince themselves that they are in marvelous condition -- despite that being the source of all their health problems that preoccupy their lives and limit their possibilities (range of activities and movement).

So logically one would make the proper exercise of a person each day, increasing that range of movement -- at the extremities that activate all the supporting muscles to effect. That would be the logical approach and logical thing to do.