Friday, April 30, 2010

You Have To Know What You Are Doing

A lot of pseudo-scientific people will point out with pride that what they know, they know, by observing people who had no idea what they were doing -- which are the claims made for double-blind testing, in which the participants will have no idea what they are being observed for -- and every attempt will be made to keep them in that ignorance, when in most human activities, what you know, or think you know, is the test -- and simply doing anything without that as a concurrent or primary intent, is meaningless, and way before the study is ended, the subjects will have lost all interest in what they are doing -- which may be all the researchers may be measuring.

When it comes to exercise, and the studies of exercise, it would have to be obviously true that one doing something one hour a day, every day, would develop a greater insight and understanding into what they are doing -- even more importantly than what they are doing, because that's what the basic human constitution requires one to do. If they become more unconscious and unaware of what they are doing, then most people would not judge that to be progress or success, no matter what they became "the world champion" at -- which would again be totally meaningless and purposeless, because that was not what they were trying to be.

Such a world would be a random nightmare that one had no idea of the results one was hoping to achieve, and so doing just anything, told them nothing, and maybe in 25 years, they could learn about they were doing, and reveal the monumental study they had participated in. In such a scheme and universe, time separates everything -- and so there is no immediate biofeedback that what they are doing feels right because it achieves precisely the effect they want to -- instead of the private fantasy going on in their heads that they have mastered the universe, and everyone they encounter, are also aware of their great distinction. And so that explains why many behave "inappropriately," when the appropriate behaviors are obvious to everyone else -- who have agreed that they have to share a common basis for that intelligence and awareness to manifest, and for subsequent greater social organizations to be created and sustained.

That is the essential human contract that governs all purposeful activities that one can meaningfully assess, is worthwhile doing -- and not simply the advice, that doing anything is better than doing nothing -- because even "nothing," is obviously a judgment on the value of what one is already doing. That doing is primarily a judgment that one is not doing something, that would meet with the approval of the person purportedly with the superior knowledge or control of what is really going on -- as though only they actually knew.

That's not the reality most live in except in the most oppressive societies of our times -- which are distinguished by the deliberate intent to keep everyone else in the dark about what is actually happening and going on -- because they alone know what is best for everyone else. That increasingly, feels like what we experience in contemporary life as the technocracy -- of rule and regulations by the experts, usually for their exclusive benefit.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moving Without Resistance

As many gifted athletes experience for the first time beginning at around the age of 30, they don't seem to be a quick as they used to be, and that is shortly and usually compounded by the experience of having injuries they've never encountered before, which they never seem to fully recover from, and therefore, there is no chance of regaining that peak performance they were previously noted for.

Usually, those injuries come in the form of muscle tears -- particularly at the hamstring (leg bicep), or more definitively, at the Achilles tendon -- which is a signal to stop in no uncertain terms. Very few people make a full recovery from an Achilles tendon tear, but much more common and persistent, are the lingering hamstring injuries -- or adjoining back spasms, almost always caused not during the contraction or power producing phase of muscle function, but when the muscles are actually moving into the relaxation phase -- but continues to hold on in a contraction, that therefore causes a tear.

Most people don't think about it -- when it occurred to them that they were injured, in the movement towards contraction, or the movement towards relaxation. Those movements are caused by muscle filaments sliding over one another, lubricated by the mucus, which throughout one's youth, remains very viscous, or optimally liquid, but with age, tends to solidify throughout the body -- making such smooth and fluid movements, less so over time.

As I've pointed out in previous discussions of this this aging phenomenon, there seems to be certain nutrients that one can consume that seems to forestall this thickening of the mucus that is characteristic of pain, disease and malfunctioning -- usually treated just as a "symptom" rather than the cause of the disfunctioning of the cells, tissues and organs -- that seems most notably maintained by the popular cough medicine ingredient guaifenesin, which quite a number of people in many different arenas of activity and study, have noticed varying positive effects -- such as eliminating body pain, associated with movement -- particularly as a treatment for fibromyalgia.

Then when these pains become so bad, they largely restrict, prohibit, or preclude movement -- as even a consideration, which accelerates the negative impacts of poor circulation, which is another form of movement within the body.

Traditionally, we have thought of resistance as something outside of the body -- that we exert force against, to produce a favorable assessment of fitness, strength or prodigality -- and seldom, if never before, what are the internal resistances against movement. And while one can recognize the negative aspects of such resistance in our example of letting go of the contraction rather than producing a muscle tear or rupture, the most highly developed disciplines of movement, express this in the ancient notions of tai-chi and chi-gong, which advocate slow movements that seem hydraulic in the manner in which they simply ride the fluidity of the muscles moving in and out of contraction -- without moving into the extremes of fullest relaxation, or fullest contraction.

Their movements are entirely mid-range movements deliberately advocated to avoid the extreme positions that produce maximal contraction particularly. And despite these practices being thousands of years old, this is the area I sensed needed improvement and articulation -- even more than the mid-range, which one achieves and sees in most activity.

But what one seldom, or never sees, are movements to the extremes -- at the extremities, and particularly, initiated at the extremes -- and bringing that contraction back towards the origin of the entire muscular system at the point coincident to the heart. Effecting that movement particularly, has a very powerful healthful effect on the body -- because it compresses all the fluids back towards the center of the body, where they can be purified and revitalized by those centrally located essential organs of the body.

Understanding the essential fluid composition and nature of the body, is really the profound realization of healthful conditioning, movement and practices -- and not the much less meaningful consumption of energy with no directed purpose. This is where fitness activities take on a spiritual and integrating meaning beyond doing anything without any purpose and meaning -- thinking that it will result in some kind of attainment or perfection other than randomness.

This is a qualitative effect and not just a quantitative one -- those who have very little understanding or insight into anything but knowing the jargon, don't pass muster. That is how one distinguishes those with a mastery in any field -- from those who know very little about what they are talking about -- and what masters of any field, look for in determining masters of any other.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ability (Power) to Change

In some traditions and disciplines of physical conditioning, the focus is on one "state" of muscular action -- the teaching that relaxation is the achievement, and then the more modern notion, that the effort is everything -- whereas the real significance and value, is of the ability to easily move from one state to the other, as required and appropriate -- to effect change, in a meaningful and personal way, instead of again, in the "statist" vision of nonchange and permanence as an observation of the world.

This worldview was necessary for those who believed that categorization, or placing everything into its proper pigeonhole, was the essential task of understanding everything -- while the fringe voices at that time, insisted that the "process," or "movement," from one state to the other, was what was important -- and that understanding, has won the day.

In the old world view, if one was one thing, then there was no escape from that description or stereotype -- one had to remain an alcoholic or another genetic fixation because that's the only fate that life allowed. Thus, it was very important what and how one labeled themselves -- as black or white, liberal or conservative, schizophrenic, one thing exclusive of the other -- rather than being all, or as much of life as one wanted to be -- while discovering those limitations and possibilities.

This larger cultural context dominates and influences all aspects of our thinking and doing -- as the prevailing paradigm, of which at any time, there are those on the leading edge, many in the mainstream looking for that leadership, and those fiercely defending the old status quo, even though with every battle, their cause seems to grow more hopeless, until finally, there is the capitulation that everything in the world has changed and is different from how they thought it would always have to be, and they are now playing "catchup" because they only prepared for their one outcome that was not to be.

That is the important survival value of conditioning in which change is the most important adaptation to understand and facilitate -- and not steeling oneself ever more determinedly, for only one outcome. We need to be prepared for a range of challenges, situations, and responses, and optimize the effectiveness of whatever life will bring -- hardship at times, but not always, and hopefully, by preparing for the worst, being able to recognize and appreciate the good and better when it comes "unexpectedly," and embrace it rather than deny and suppress it so that the negative assuredly replaces it.

So this matter of conditioning has evolved in a very short time from one century to another, to value quite different capabilities, and to make the proper responses -- so that one no longer consumes all the food one can obtain because there is a ruinous abundance instead of traditional, anticipated scarcities. This is true of food, resources, and information -- that an advantage can be turned into a disadvantage, if one does not individuate their personal responses to the much larger generalizations. You don't want more water in a flood, but that is all one can think of in a drought -- and one has to at least recognize the reality of their actual situation over the generalized "average," which doesn't tell us anything meaningful, or advantageous to know.

This is probably the great shift in how we view, experience and understand the world of this time -- that the generalizations of old, have become less helpful than an actual assessment of the actual, that we can more usefully also know "more" about -- and not just simply more without end, as though somehow, that will always be useful. It can be a distraction and diversion from the attention one really needs to give to an actual situation -- which the learning for learning's sake advocates, will argue, is simply "anecdotal," rather than the preferred consensus as what is happening in the abstract -- while caring very little about what is actually going on around them.

We call such people lost in their own thought and ideologies -- having very little contact with what most others would agree is happening as a verifiable reality. They may insist that the world in their own heads, takes precedence over the reality everyone else is experiencing -- because theirs is a superior understanding passed down directly from the highest authority. The common term is cognitive dissonance -- that there is no corresponding reality with that going on inside their heads.

And so a very important tenet of any conditioning, should be integrating the world of thought with the world of action and verifiable, observable reality. When this connection breaks down, or is never established, then it becomes nearly impossible to effect improvement and change in any meaningful discussion. Yet, it is common in the instruction of exercise, that this very direct action of producing change of the muscle itself is never produced all the while one may ostensibly said to be exercising (changing) -- because that actual change of muscular states is barely detectable, as is obvious in anybody in any condition, actually effecting those differences.

It's much less important how much weight is lifted, or how far and fast it is lifted, and the effort sustained, than the actual degree that the muscle articulates from the greatest state of relaxation to its greatest state of contraction, which is such an obviously dramatic effect that the very word "muscle," was chosen to describe the appearance of a mouse moving under one's skin when observed in this range of its appearance and function -- a fact which has become lost to contemporary pseudo-academic discussions on conditioning activities, while expounding on everything else that doesn't matter.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sustainable Lifestyles

Probably the greatest reason for obtaining and maintaining one's best health, is that we cannot have a meaningful and sustainable society in which ten healthy people, are employed to keep the unhealthiest among them alive -- for the only reason that it is now possible to do so, and in doing so, provide employment in that manner for themselves. Then, all lives are sacrificed to no other purpose but to see how long life can be sustained at its lowest and minimal levels -- instead of at its highest, which would be evidence of a society functioning at a high level of actualization, instead of throwing the good after the bad -- and there being no limit and end, to how much good could be wasted and sacrificed to the bad, irresponsible, and uncaring.

That is the kind of wasteful society many so-called well-intentioned people think is a compassionate and caring society -- rather than as it truly is, a society that no longer cares, or can tell these differences anymore, of the good from the bad. At the base level, that would be self-reliance and self-sufficiency for all who are able, and beyond that, the identification, nurturing and encouragement of those whose very being creates abundance and joy for more than themselves. Prosperous and enduring cultures and societies have that higher purpose -- of transcending themselves in becoming more than they ever thought possible, because they discover and fulfill that great potential, in unleashing it.

Otherwise, life never overcomes the subsistence level of zero sum activity, in which one person's gain is at another person's loss -- and no excess and abundance is ever possible, and in fact, in many such societies, if such prosperity is created, the only course then, is to consume or destroy it as threatening to the status quo of subsistence living. A lot of the tribal cultures are that way -- which is why they can never grow into great civilizations, but can only become extinct as the only fate allowed such societies -- until they can go beyond.

That's not automatic, but has to be a vision beyond what they've always done before. Obviously, it is not just enough to repeat history, and do what has been done before. One among them, must see beyond that -- to life that has never been before, mainly because it was not thought possible -- if they thought at all.

In fact, the great thinkers arrived at those possibilities, because their minds were not simply repeating the familiar, but quiet, vacant and unpreoccupied, could gather the energy to make the quantum leap onto a new path of possibility and being. Societies that can't or can no longer make such leaps, are doomed, because nothing new can come into being -- and so it is important that in the education and training of individuals, those possibilities exist for everyone as a base level expectation, and a few will exhibit even greater capacity beyond that, which is the momentum for progress and evolution towards the infinite life beyond.

That's why religion is important in enculturating that value and possibility -- of an infinitely greater life beyond what we previously have experienced -- and not merely sustaining life, at its most remedial level possible -- as an end in itself. Such a society, has lost all its reason for being -- not merely to exist, but to excel at actualizing life as it has never been before and thought possible.

That is the true purpose of man.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Significance of Numbers (Statistics)

When I was young growing up and experiencing the world for the first time, a number that struck me as being particularly noteworthy, was 95 percentile, which means the top 5%, or 1 out of 20. That 1 out of 20, will stand out from the rest -- significantly, to the extent that many will consider that portion, a statistical anomaly (deviation), and throw it out of the population sample to obtain a more predictable distribution, because those extremes, can often so extreme, that they seem to have very little relationship to the rest.

The most obvious examples are contortionists, and their ability to move parts of their bodies into ranges most people don't think are humanly possible -- yet they obviously do. And rather than that being the exception, that is actually the rule -- when any population is measured on any index of being or performance. Somebody, will be the one in twenty, or one in a million, but most assuredly, that one in a million, will first come from that one in twenty, and that one in twenty population sample, will then differentiate into the one in twenty -- at which point, one will easily derive the one in 400, which is approaching finding the needle in the haystack.

To start off trying to pick the best out of 400, would be a much more laborious task than at first picking the 1 out of 20, and then from that, the one out of 20. In the age of computers, we arrive at that precision, but only attempting to distinguish the 1 out of 2 -- but it performs that simple task, a million times a second, or even, a billion times a second. That is why modern life, in the digital age (meaning the power of two), achieves the precision of intent with execution, with a remarkable degree of reliability and accuracy -- even for things we doubt could anything at all -- like a cheap (toy) watch.

In another time, nations prided themselves on their abilities to achieve that simple accuracy and reliability. And now we often can simply take that for granted -- and if it works for even a year, a month, once -- we would have gotten our money's worth. That seems to be the simple test for assessing the quality or defectiveness of products produced in mass quantities to make them cheaply available to virtually everyone -- does it work at all? If it doesn't, that's one thing, and if it does work, it may still not be precisely what one had in mind -- and one has to differentiate the next level of 1 in 20.

That 1 in 20, will be on the level that it is not just any 1 of the 20 -- but is instead, significantly different from the other 19 -- on that one particular index of importance. But as a practical matter, one doesn't need to concern themselves with such fine discriminations, because identifying the 1 in 10 is usually sufficient -- since the 1 in 20, will already be included in the 1 in 20. The reason for this is that when looking for the outstanding one in 20, there is on the other end, a 1 in 20 that will be so far a deviation from what one is looking for (at), that for all practical purposes, it is not even worth considering seriously -- if at all, unless one wants to make a study of it later. Such studies could actually consume a lifetime, delving into its own mysteries, and what it portends -- as a mutation (quantum leap) of another matter.

Thus one learns, that each is not randomly equal to every other -- in the actuality of contact and experience, but one can simply eyeball a particular instance, rather than at first, pulling out all one's fine-tune measuring devices, to determine an exactitude of assessment -- in determining how to get to the other side of the street. Usually, one doesn't have to first ponder, which came first, the chicken or the egg? -- to make that determination and decision.

But a lot of researchers actually do -- get lost in the meaningless and trivial of entertaining the limitless possibilities, when only the practicalities are meaningful. That is, one doesn't have to skydive without a parachute and survive that landing, to prove one's fitness. But it is less clear to many, that they also need not do much of what people have thought to be necessary to achieving certain results -- that could have accounted for 95% of the results, with only the application of the 5% of the energy consumption and effort -- and determining that, is what ultimately, is the highest manifestation of fitness.

World champion athletes understand this much better than those at lower levels of fitness -- who think that it is enough to obtain 5% of the results, if any, with 95% of the energy consumption, or effort -- and that reversal of logic, has even become the mantra of modern fitness programs that are obviously so wrong to any rational person. One would never seek the advice of a person who made the understanding of anything, more complicated and unfathomable, to the point of randomness in thinking that anything is just as good as anything else -- in saying that anything is better than nothing, because that anything, could be what is causing most of their problems and difficulties in life, and that would not be becoming more fit, but less so.

Yet that is what many "educated" people think.