Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The World is Change

Many confuse what is going on in their heads -- with what is going on in the world of actuality, and so think that the world stays the same and simply repeats itself, rather than that it is always changing, but they have to rediscover the world as it NOW is, and not how they learned once, that it was, and thought it could only be.

Probably the great change of an observer over these many years, is how the generations themselves have changed, so that a healthy person of 40, looks like the healthy person of 20, only a generation ago. And it is not simply one's imagination or wishful thinking that that it is so, but actually a fact.

Unhealthy people also look unhealthier than ever before because the same health care facilities and standards, enable people to live unhealthier, whereas they might have perished in earlier times -- that could not sustain suboptimal lives as well and as easily.

With just a larger population sample, there will be a greater range of manifestations, so that there are indeed people who are taller, bigger, faster -- and at the same time, many more who would have died previously because medical science could not save them, or life was harsher and more demanding of each individual.

So that is good and bad news -- depending on the individual choices one makes, which contemporary life, makes increasingly more numerous. The tendency for many though, is to believe their own choices, are the only ones available -- even if they are not the ones they would prefer, but they don't want to continue looking further, because it has no payoff -- and they want the payoff, even though it is small, or nonexistent -- because they just want to stop looking.

Any explanation will satisfy them -- even if it explains nothing. They just like the sound of words -- even if signifying nothing. They will often claim to know "everything," while actually never finding out the truth of anything for themselves, but think that it is enough just to know what other people tell them is the truth. And then they stop -- and are not bothered that the world of their explanations, and the world as it happens, seems to be two or more vastly different realities. They will prefer the world of the explanation, to the world of self-evident truth, discovered only by assuming one knows nothing to begin with -- rather than everything, without any necessity to even look.

If people can be easily divided into two different "races," that would be the difference that distinguishes one band from the other -- the degree that one lives in the world of thought over actuality (experience). While thought is good, and often helpful, it is not an exclusive substitute for experience. That leads many to continue to believe they are right, despite the outcomes proving they have no idea what they are talking about -- or even think, they think they know with absolute certainty.

This is the problem of mass education in which people are taught to accept a certain truth -- with no idea of how to test the validity of that truth for themselves, so that their only recourse is to ask other experts, who also don't know how to test for the truth of these things themselves. And so that many so-called experts agree, means nothing if they all were simply taught the same thing as the unquestionable truth -- rather than the real science of that truth being derived independently by every observer who offers their insight.

Mass media and mass education has supplanted this independence of thought to the "politically correct" point of view as determined by those who self-anoint themselves as the authorities on these matters -- which on further investigation, turn out to be those who merely can effect this authoritarianism and intimidate the others, most usually through the repetition of the "party line."

Whether discussing politics or fitness, that had become the way we largely came to think we knew something -- because the right people in authority said so. In the past, it was the New York Times that pronounced that they were the ones who printed the news that was worth knowing -- or in fact, actually happened. In other hierarchies, it may have been the Arthritis Foundation who knew everything there was to know about arthritis -- and anybody else, was simply a fraud -- because they said so.

So now we very seldom see the facts, but are told what we need to think -- even that we should think we thought of it ourselves, but there is no way of tracing the evolution of the thought process, other than these implanted memories of "knowledge."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nautilus Machines (Principles) Revisited

Like many people in the '70s, I was inspired and awakened by the brash thinking of the inventor of the Nautilus machines -- whose major thesis was that we didn't know what we thought we knew -- so far as exercise went. We largely accepted the dictatorial pronouncements of the physical education instructors -- who just knew what they were taught as dictatorially, because in those days, one didn't inquire after the truth oneself, but had come to rely on others, supposedly more educated and knowledgeable than they, to do the thinking for everyone else.

It was a very orderly world then -- of specialization into the various branches of "knowledge," each with their own laws seemingly not related to any others. It was a very centralized and formal hierarchy structure of information transmission -- presumably by a few researchers working in highly controlled laboratories, dutifully certifying and validating all that was true and knowable, and then passing their revelations on to the intermediaries of the media and educational institutions for further broadcast and propagation.

But the creator of the Nautilus machines was going around claiming there was such a thing as "self-evident truth," which he claimed was obvious to anyone seriously considering such matters for themselves. That was a very unique way of looking at life in an era in which public education because the norm for most learning "everything," when previous generations were not entirely reliant on learning everything, through such institutions.

Many previously, had discovered life/experiences for themselves -- but during the decades of the '50s and '60s, with the push for universal education of the same "perfected information," the powerful metaphor of the IBM mainframe computers occupying entire buildings, and all information subsequently being keypunched and processed through those machines, that was the vision of progress and the future. This was the machine age in which people became subservient to its machines.

But this was the beginning of that end -- where the ultimate machine, gives way to an even greater understanding beyond the control of the machines.

The thesis of the Nautilus machine, was that it was prefect in providing variable resistance throughout the full range of a possible movement centered around a single, focused axis of rotation (curve). Nobody could challenge that axiom -- that if one restricted the movement to those parameters, nothing else was possible. But was that all that was possible?

That is the problem with subsequent and similar machines -- the presumption that that movement or activity is all that is possible and meaningful, when in fact, they may measure that which is meaningless to measure -- a muscle moving in isolation to every other. That has no real world value, and conditioning in that manner, predisposes one to injuries -- because it is the recruitment and spreading the work over all the muscles and beyond that, all one's faculties and resourcefulness -- that is one's maximum guarantor of survival (fitness). That is to say, that it is not enough just to compete with one's muscles -- that one also hopes to recruit one's head and total resourcefulness in the challenge, to obviously a higher level of performance and actualization.

So while one may develop prodigious and formidable capabilities in isolation, one could not assume that it was possible to put them all together appropriately as required, unless integral to that exercise and conditioning, was the recruitment and integration of all one's capabilities -- and it is that conditioning, that one wanted to achieve -- and not any meaningless movement in isolation and contrivance.

Obviously, the proper conditioning movements to practice, were not exercises one did not do otherwise than in a gym, but that which could be done anywhere, anytime, under any conditions -- and particularly when one's momentary capability needed to be enhanced and optimized immediately -- and not just in six weeks, six month, or six years in the future, which obviously, has no meaning and usefulness.

Yet unfrotunately, that is what contemporary conditioning and fitness programs have come to mean -- virtually exclusively, and so there is this chasm of disconnect, between one's condition, and the shape they want to be in -- never to be actually achieved, but is always pushed further into the distant future of becoming, and never being, and actually arriving at that state.

That was the prevailing manner of thinking for that generation -- by which one went to school and prepared oneself to become something other than what one actually was -- without first understanding what one was, which as had been noted from the wise observers of all time, was the only truth worth knowing -- oneself, not that it was everything that could be known. But if one didn't know themselves, how would they know they were not already the person they thought they should become -- or how far they needed to go? One needed a starting point, a place of reference, an undeniable truth -- even if it wasn't what one wanted it to be.

That is to say, "the truth" was not simply what one wanted it to be, but was self-evidently true for any and every observer.

The problem with the Nautilus machines was that the movements for which they were designed to produce full range resistance doesn't require a machine -- because the greatest range of movement, provides its own ultimate resistance -- and nothing else is possible. The range that is most important to achieve, is the position of maximum contraction, and not maximum hyperstretching -- which the body never moves into a powerful and full contraction out of. But that is the range built into any machine, rather than its maximum range at the end of contraction -- if it was even necessary to do so.

When one moves in that direction, ultimately, one can go no farther -- while the muscles must be in maximum contraction. Movement out of that state into a relaxed state is not achieved by moving into the hyperextended range -- but only up to a relaxed, neutral range, yet the peculiarity of most resistance machines, is to provide that resistance in the hyperextended range -- in which it is dangerous or not productive to do so.

Thee is no need to provide resistance in the range of relaxation; nor is it necessary to build resistance against its ultimate contraction -- because that ultimate range itself, is a maximal contraction in and of itself, and adding more resistance, simply prevents one from attaining that maximum range.

The fallacy of the Nautilus principles, was that it required a machine to effect and achieve the very valid observations he made about the effectiveness of muscle stimulation for growth. The movements themselves -- done without the machines, are the most productive movements to do. The key to effecting a maximum contraction, is the movement at the extremities of the head, hands and feet -- that cause a shortening (contraction) of a muscle from it's insertion to point of origin -- precipitating a mass reaction of all the muscle structures towards the origin of all the muscles located below the sternum next to the heart.

Five minutes of such movements a day, pushing the blood back to the heart in this way, from the furthest extremities of the body, is all one needs to do to obtain the health benefits of exercise -- and retain and maintain readiness for doing whatever is necessary to do to achieve one's survival and fitness. This manner of movement, invariably stimulates muscle growth -- which is the heretofore great challenge of bodies aging and deteriorating. It doesn't have to be an inevitability, or difficult to achieve. But it does require the proper understanding and relationship of all these things.

Then, the greatest range of motion, the greatest muscle contraction, and the greatest resistence, all become one and the same thing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Creating Something New

One of the healthy exercises for conditioning oneself to the life one wants to actualize, would be in creating a new "movement," as a self-actualizing manifestation and reality. Nowhere is that more possible than in expanding one's own range of motion and movement. In this vein, doing the same thing over and over again, obviously reinforces and creates the notion that all the rest of one's life will just be an endless repetition of doing the same things over and over again -- on the unvarying treadmill of life, which of course, robs one of life-creating vitality and enthusiasm, rather than making it more possible for ourselves in everything we do.

There are some people so naturally gifted and attuned to the movements of their own bodies, that they are fond of saying, that they are musicians, for whom their bodies are their instruments -- which they play joyously and endlessly in creative expression and delight. The most notable of these "freaks" are the creative dancers and gymnasts -- who are born that way, but with practice, play or work, attain levels that most people cannot duplicate no matter how many years of practice they devote to it.

While society has agreed that all should be granted certain "inalienable rights" like every other in society, doesn't make everyone equal in EVERY manner possible -- which is why we have athletic competitions and other forums of performance for exhibiting various levels of proficiencies. The right for everyone to perform, does not guarantee that everyone will perform equally well -- and it is very easy for those whose ambitions and wishful-thinking greatly exceed their talents and abilities, to believe they are really in the competition for "first" prize.

But they can only know that by actually participating and finding out what they can do -- as well as all the others. In this way, most people come to have a more "realistic" appraisal of their own abilities and talents -- but a few maintain a perception of themselves that is unsupported and unverified by independent observers -- as we hope a body of knowledgeable peers (experts) to be. Where that judging system breaks down, is when the abilties of an individual far exceed the capacities and previous experience of the judges to fully appreciate and assess them, since like most people, they look to the past (precedent) to guide them.

When the truly "new" comes along, often there is even denial and suppression of that fact -- rather than embracing the new, welcomingly. That has been true throughout history and societies -- because "culture" is the acculturation to everything that has come before -- hopefully enabling the individual life to go beyond that (in healthy self-actualizing) societies, instead of those requiring strict obedience to the past and tradition (knowledge).

That kind of world is a new one for everyone -- but that would be life in the future, of and in this unknown. But in the most repressive and suppressive societies, even that future can only be the known and familiar (treadmill of existence). Not surprisingly then, many of today's contemporaries, are wondering how they can break out of those molds, the boxes and pigeonholes designed for their lives by the inertia (weight) of the past.

Of course some rebel against that mold and fate sealed for them from lives lived before them as childish insubordination -- while a few will go on to create the new in asking if there is anything beyond what they are told are the ultimate and unquestionable limits. Is there a way we can condtion ourselves to make such lives more likely for ourselves? That would be in expressing the untapped possibilities and expressions we have not articulated before, and even suspected possible -- but that is all it is, the unthinkable because we are already "too busy" doing what we've always done before.

Rather than the new being difficult, it can actually be conditioned to be easy -- in the manner that a new movement (range of motion) becomes possible for any individual, at any level of talent and ability. That is the exploration of their present limits and limitations, and inquiring and articulating what lies (happens) beyond.

The inquiry and expression of that, is what makes any life remarkable -- and all it can be. Why shouldn't everyone have that basic right -- they can only give and manifest to themselves?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Better" Is the New "More"

Isn't it strange that articles on health improvement practices will usually be titled, "Eat better, exercise more" -- and not "Eat more, exercise more," or "Eat better, exercise better?"

It is though they presume that while foods may be different, exercise is not -- and so quantity is what differentiates, rather than as any real athlete or performer knows (outside of the invariably fat nutritionists with Ph.D.s, no less), that how they exercise and move, is the difference between one person being in remarkable condition -- while the other is not, and may in fact, be exercising harder. putting out more effort -- while obviously having no idea what they are doing, what is important to do, and what the whole purpose and objective is to do.

And so these people maddeningly get the ball and dribble and dribble and dribble until everybody doesn't want to play anymore -- and then they dribble in uncontested for a lay-up -- after everybody else has gone home. Such a person may hold the world record for points scored -- when nobody else is there to witness it, and thus further embellish their legends in their own minds.

As writers, we recognize when reading such articles, it really doesn't matter what that writer says, because it is so inconsequential, that nobody will ever entertain seriously what that person has to say. Nothing is intelligible or verifiable. They may as well say the moon is green, and tastes like cheese. It doesn't matter.

Unfortunately, that is the present state of writing about exercise and fitness in most mainstream media discussions in particular -- which should also serve as an indication of the validity of everything else they're saying, and think everybody else should believe. Aficionados of every activity have long recognized that what they know about their favorite activities and what the media presentations of it to the public are, are invariably and often shockingly, two totally different things.

Every worthwhile coach and instructor realizes that the objective of their instruction is not so that their students work as hard as they can, but that they work as smart and as efficiently as they can -- and that makes the difference, not only between winning and losing, but every other distinction and discrimination one will make to improve the possibilities of success in anything they do.

So obviously, when we see the encouragement just to do "more" rather than "better," it indicates the limits of that expertise and advice.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Moving Intelligently is NOT Rocket Science

Probably the greatest hindrance to the improved condition and conditioning of the general population of this society, is the trade association's insistence that everyone has to consult them first and pay whatever charges they are assessing, BEFORE they can move, alter their diet, modify their thinking for the purposes of self-improvement, or even for that matter, do ANY independent research and thinking for oneself for all the matters pertaining to their personal habits and inclinations.

That would be a very lucrative "personal assistance" if one could pull it off -- to require everybody else to have to consult them professionally, before they could make any decision regarding their personal life -- in the claim, that they know better than anybody else BECAUSE they obtained coveted advanced certificates in first aid, CPR and food handling, and knew the jargon of physical education teachers.

If you have real concerns about one's health, one should seek the properly specialists of those fields -- but not a prerequisite to seeking the higher levels of instruction from your locally certified personal trainer, particularly if they have no other credibility than their certificate. World champion athletes are world champion athletes -- not because they have a certificate saying they are so, but because they have proved it in open competition. And if one can train alongside the "World's Strongest Man" or "Mr. Universe," obviously it is highly instructive to do so, and might even be worth paying for their advice.

But a person who doesn't immediately strike one as being a world champion something or other, seeking advice and instruction from such individuals who cannot "prove" it by their appearance and manner, is dubious at best. Unfortunately for many, they are not likely to frequent environments where world champions and other adepts are commonplace -- unless one has naturally grown up in such environments -- like the offspring of coaches and instructors who have pioneered/created such wisdom.

The obvious recent great example was Bruce Lee in the teaching of martial arts -- and popularized in his own classic movies of the genre. Even people who had no interest in martial arts, or any other physical activity, could be impressed by his mental rigor of a supremely conditioned individual. Such authenticity can not be faked -- like with the many people who claim they know something, but it would take many years before they could exhibit it to anyone else.

But in the real world, such expertise and wisdom is apparent to even the most unknowledgeable and unaware of these credentials -- as the basic communications intellectuals describe as "body language," which is likely to be 95% of the content being communicated in every human exchange. "Educated" people refer to that as "confidence," which many of them do not have, despite their educations. It is something beyond -- having not studied the knowledge, but actually contributed and created it.

That "quality" of inquiry and self-knowledge, transcends every field of learning, and for that matter, activity -- where that learning is manifested and integrated into one's being. Those are the qualities that are not being measured on treadmills, and is highly unlikely to be the device of choice, of such adepts -- whose very conditioning, requires them to develop a greater awareness in everything they do, every time they do it -- and not as the dull pedagogue thinks, is how he thinks such remarkable and distinguished people would act, if they were one.