Sunday, May 29, 2011

When Everything You Know Isn't True

In the late '70s, one of my instructors working on the integration of physical sciences (physics) with the humanities (liberal arts), told me they were trying to figure out a way in which astronauts (NASA) could maintain their strength, because in "outer space, all the tenets by which people could exercise beneficially and meaningfully, did not exist, because the standard of measure -- moving a mass (weight) a certain distance in an interval of time, was meaningless in those conditions. So was there a way astronauts could exercise meaningfully -- beyond the usual terms of those discussions?

While some things did change, many do not -- when one is residing beyond the gravitation of the earth -- or life would cease to exist. The reason life can be sustained normally, is that atmospheric pressure is maintained -- just as it is on a jet plane, and that pressure, constitutes our environment more than gravitational forces do.

That's important to keep in mind, when we think that we are battling against gravity, as the overriding objective in exercise -- which is the presumption of one body acting on another (external to it), when the really beneficial effect of any exertion, is really the movements that occur solely within the body -- as nerve impulses, and the resultant/concurrent flow of fluids and gases produced by pressure differences, or hydraulic dynamics.

When a volume decreases (contraction), the pressure inside it rises, and when the volume increases (r
elaxation), the pressure drops -- which is why the heart and lungs work, and those observations can be applied to ensuring the health (well-functioning) of the rest of the body. Most popular contemporary exercise instruction observes this action of the heart and lungs and thinks it is enough just to increase the rate of that action alone -- rather than more productively, conditioning the rest of the voluntary muscles of the body, to aid the heart and lungs in optimizing those functions of circulation and respiration, and in that manner, strengthening those "voluntary" muscles, while saving excessive wear on the heart, lungs, back, hips, knees, and other joints prone to premature failures -- while the rest of the muscles and joints, atrophy for lack of use (articulation) -- although they are optimally designed for movement and expression.

Paradoxically, most contemporary exercise programs, try to move what is designed not for movement but for support and stability instead -- creating many of the problems they think their exercise should be preventing or healing.

Probably the best example is the familiar "sit-up," in which one tries to bend the torso at its most inflexible point -- rather than the opposite end -- where the vertebrae is better designed for movement at the neck. Not only is the latter movement easier, but it also more effective -- just to exercise (engage) the abdominal muscles with nothing more than the forward movement of the head alone -- while producing no or minimal movement at the trunk -- because it is the movement of the head forward, that is the essential useful movement of the abdominal muscles, and not the movement of the trunk. It is just that most people are not aware of this -- because they pull their heads forward, in order to do a conventional sit-up, and is impossible to effect, without the head first moving forward -- either through its own voluntary contraction, or being forced into that position involuntarily -- by the action of other muscles -- in this case, the arms bringing the head forward.

Most conventional exercises are designed with that "understanding" of movement of force exerted on some other part of the body or object, rather than producing its own voluntary (internal) movement, and in this way, being its own self-maintenance and improvement. It is like the difference between forcing a student to learn -- and a student wanting to learn.

The former stops as soon as there is no one to force them to do it, while the latter, continues because they see the benefit of it, and want that advantage. It is
their will to be, and express -- as what they are, and are fit to be. It sounds very deep and metaphysical, but it is actually the simplest way to be, and understand, and once there is that clarity, there is no choice between being the best one can, or not. The confusion is created, by convincing one that is not the easiest and best way to be -- but that one should prefer the hard, difficult and painful, because that is the good and virtuous path -- taught by one who knows better what is best for another (everyone else).

Thus one becomes their own worst enemy -- and undermines everything they attempt to do, and particularly, their essential health and well-being (fitness). So the conditioning is discussed as a matter of the mind conquering the body or in perpetual struggle with it -- rather than manifesting its optimal actualization. In this way, a lot of formidable minds destroy their own bodies -- thinking that is the victory, that is the purpose -- the subjugation and immolation of the body and senses, "No pain, no gain" -- until it is too late, they have defeated and vanquished themselves.

Of course that is a very destructive way of being -- against one's environment (body) -- instead of developing an awareness and understanding of these relationships, and how one can optimize one's chances and quality of life beyond this previous destructive and deteriorative conditioning -- to work
against one's own body, and to treat it as though it doesn't matter and has no bearing on one's well-being, all one's life. That doesn't make any sense at all -- which is why we have to be forced to understand it -- and abandon it as soon as we can.

It doesn't have to be that way.
There can be an integrative (integrated) understanding.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Simplicity of Understanding Conditioning (The State-of-the-Art)

Things to keep in mind:

1. Low impact, low wear and tear. First, do no harm.

2. Ensure (optimal) circulation to the extremities of the body. It has to flow through the core to get there -- not vice-versa. That requires actual movement at the extremities -- of the head, hands and feet, which are ignored in conventional/traditional exercise movements, which makes them ineffective in addressing the deterioration that begins at those sites -- despite the functioning of the central internal organs -- including the heart, lungs, etc.

The extremities, are the critical voluntary organs of the body accounting for the senses of sight, hearing, taste, thought, feeling, touch, balance and stability -- which in most people, deteriorate or disintegrate first.

3. Deep breathing is made possible by slow breathing -- through the nose only. Air movement is produced by altering the chest volume -- and not simply forcing the air out through the mouth, which doesn't require the engagement of the torso muscles for this purpose.

4. Movements should produce full muscle contractions alternated by relaxations in a rhythmic cadence to effect a "pulse" to wherever is deemed most important to keep vital. That can be done lying, seated or standing -- and need not elevate the heart rate, require high consumption of energy or produce overheating of the body (sweating).

5. Effective exercise (conditioning) movements, can be done any time, anywhere, in any condition -- as the need for it is recognized. It does not require special equipment, clothing or place. The human body itself, is the optimal exercise equipment (environment) -- once one understands its design and function -- particularly, to maintain and improve itself.

6. Movements should be sustained for a minute or a count of 50. Counting is a good way to maintain brain-to-movement coordination (memory), particularly in the aged, disruptions (strokes) and impairments (dementias). Intentionally increasing the blood flow to the brain, increases the functioning of the brain (intelligence and awareness).

7. There are far better movements than walking -- but one has to keep in mind, that the movements of importance, must occur at the head, hands and feet articulating its fullest range of movement -- which not coincidentally, produces its fullest muscular contractions throughout the rest of the body, since the design of the human body, is specifically to alter the angles (rotations) of the head, hands and feet, while being stabilized by the larger muscles (structures) of the body.

8. Changes in the shape of the body, can be effected immediately -- by the proper understanding and attainment of its fullest muscle contraction alternated with its relaxation. It is primarily a learned skill -- as the young call it, "Making a muscle." One can do that wherever there is a muscle (throughout the entire human body), and learns to perfect that movement of producing a simple full muscle contraction (articulation).

9. No muscle in isolation (specialization), can achieve its fullest muscular contraction. The state of any muscle, is dependent on the state of its adjoining (supporting) structures (muscles) in an integrated (integrating) movement.

10. A lifelong program of exercise, should be a daily, regular activity like brushing one's teeth. If one feels that it requires extraordinary effort, condition, and will to perform, they will disregard (abandon) it when optimal conditions do not already exist, and think it not possible to achieving that state -- through those movements.

That is the simplicity of Understanding Conditioning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Sunlight Bad For You?

The thing that is very disturbing about this so-called health jihad against tanning and the advisement against all exposure to the sun, is the fact that life evolved in the presence of sunlight -- and is unimaginable and impossible without it. That is obviously so in plants, but maybe less obviously so in animals -- but just as necessary for healthy growth and functioning.

The absence of light, is well implicated in Seasonal Affective Disorders, which is triggered by low levels of this essential nutrient, to say nothing of a whole generation entering their retirement years with osteoporosis, depression, arthritis, diabetes and other Vitamin D-deficient conditions. It would be hard to imagine life being possible without this vital nutritional (energy) input -- in the development of the human eye and brain as its primary and essential stimulant, as well as all the other developmental processes of light.

So that people should deprive their eyes and skin (surface areas) at all costs -- seems like over-the-top pseudo-medical (commercial) propaganda -- because millions of years of evolution have occurred without the use of these proper sun-shielding glasses, cosmetics and apparel. That's why these miners caught in cave-ins emerge from those deprivations in often critical conditions that take them a while to recover -- and those living at the depths of the oceans, have evolved to such bizarre forms.

Certainly one can't be serious in thinking that the natural and preferred sources of sunshine (Vitamin D), is Vitamin D-fortified milk and vitamin supplements -- rather than as nature intended and provided for conveniently, but of course, there's not so much profit in charging for the sunlight. And now it is claimed that any exposure at all, causes cancer -- and should be avoided at all costs, seems rather contradictory to billions of years of evolution and intelligence.

Of course there can be overexposure to the sun, but none at all, doesn't make any sense.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Problems of Longevity (Aging)

As people live longer, what becomes clearer, is that the body begins to break down at the extremities of the body, where the circulation is understandably the poorest -- in being the furthest distance from the heart, but that doesn't make them less important, but are actually, of the most critical importance, since they are the distinctly human organs and features of the head (brain), hands and feet, that make humans the most advanced of life forms.

So to progressively lose those capabilities, makes one decidedly "less human," because one loses those uniquely human capacities to respond to life -- and most exercise prescriptions for maintaining the highest functioning of the human body, have ignored them in favor of organs that make less of a difference, because of the conscious and deliberate attention paid to them -- of the heart, which is an autonomic (automatic) function, and then to the larger, core muscles of the body -- and even thinking that the rules of development and functioning are different for the brain, as they are for the muscles or any other part of the body -- which requires oxygen and blood flow, to maintain their optimal health and functioning.

Of course there is a physical component to mental functioning -- which doesn't continue despite the blood flow being choked off to the brain, while the heart beats frantically -- at its target heart rate. In fact, most of the diseases of aging, are rather distinctly, the problem of a poor (decreased) circulation (movement) to (at) the extremities, becoming critical failures -- as in diabetes, arthritis, congestive heart failure, and dementias -- which while described as diminishing mental functioning (cognitive), is also invariably accompanied by the lack of physical movement of the head, and its various lively expressions, as the whole body begins to adopt an increasingly, statue like impression of immobility and unresponsiveness.

When the circulation gets so bad in the feet and hands, they have to be amputated, which is still not done for the impairment at the head (brain), fortunately, with its obvious consequences. The whole treatment of exercise specialists, is to regard that such functioning and maintenance is automatic -- rather than decidedly voluntary, and where a person can make the biggest difference affecting their health and well-being, because the maintenance of the health of the extremities, implies the health of the rest, but not vice-versa -- as we see with people dying at the extremities, while still maintaining vital health signs for many years after they have stopped all cognitive and voluntary signs of life.

That is the heartbreak of this whole generation of "dying" while the traditional "vital signs," continue for many years beyond -- and one wonders, is there anything one can do to maintain the functioning at those critical vital organs of human functioning and responsiveness as we know it?

Obviously, that would be to place the central importance and measure of health, at these extremities -- rather than at the old measures of this vitality and vigor -- that are rendered meaningless, when these critical (cognitive) faculties are disconnected in this way.

The surprising answer, was in response to my question, is there a movement, that activates all the muscles (600-800), as though it is just one? And that was only possible, in a 360 degree head turn -- which I recalled previously being recommended as the only exercise that one ever needed to do -- by an internist in the '20s or '30s, in a slim volume, of 25 chapters or so, that prescribed this movement as the cure for all bodily ailments and conditions. He called this movement, The Giant (Big) Swing, which was the only exercise he recommended, for 25 "chapters" of cures. (I haven't been able to locate that book again but that was one of my original or confirming inspirations) while I also pondered the question, "What would be the best exercise for developing the neck muscles of the body?", which seemed to be one of the markers of declining mental (cognitive) health as the neck muscles atrophied, especially in talking heads that never moved otherwise. Despite once being known for their mental acuity, they seem to go into a rapid descent -- upon retiring, and becoming increasingly unresponsive in the manner I have described, to become basically, living statues of themselves. Of course that is a horrible end to any life -- let alone a very distinguished one.

There is a cliche in exercise, that if one doesn't use it, they will lose it -- without realizing its fullest implications -- that one has to actually "fire" a neuromuscular impulse at the furthest extremity of the body, to actually maintain the health all along those pathways -- which otherwise, stop at the heart, or wherever hub (axis) one thinks it is important to limit movement to, rather than effecting that movement, at the farthest points of the body -- to ensure those circuits are maintained all the way out -- beyond the hips and shoulders, where most conventional movement (attention) is limited to.

And it is those areas beyond the common (conventional) axes (focus) of movement, that is the problem -- where the body begins to die. Now being aware of this, what would be the inescapable (obvious) solution? Fortunately, they are also the easiest and most convenient exercises to do -- if people were not conditioned to think that exercise has to be hard, difficult and not immediately possible to do -- at any time, condition and position to make that life-altering difference.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Great Divergence

As the first wave of Baby Boomers reach retirement, what is obvious to the attentive, is that some are reaching that milestone as the traditional "old people," while an increasing few, are redefining that stage of life, in an unprecedented way -- because they have the information and technology to do so, while the former, shun those new fangled ideas, to their dying days. They will age in the way their parents, grandparents, and ancestors did -- though with conditions made prevalent by living longer than they would have in the past -- to have noticed and categorized.

The implications for that continuance are frightening, especially in light of the recent trend of increasing dependence and codependence, that make the cost of (that kind of) living prohibitive. It is one thing to live a long life in excellent health and condition, but quite another to be wracked by one life crisis after another -- which to a greater extent than most will acknowledge, is the summation of the choices we make, rather than random chance and fate.

Things don't just happen; there's a reason things happen -- why some get healthier and better with time, while others only get worse -- and are enabled to do so, by support systems, that are value-free. On the other hand, those who actualize the highest levels of well-being and functioning, usually have to go it alone, because fewer are interested in fostering that independence -- since its commercial value is less obvious.

So one has to primarily value such attainments by (for) themselves, because there is not going to be large crowds cheering one on -- for achieving milestones that have never been imagined (expected) before. The first few, are greeted with disbelief -- that the now possible, is not only only an accomplished fact, but there is a clear roadmap for others to follow. But the old beliefs (conditioning) die hard -- that the world now, is a very different one from the world of ten years ago, let alone fifty, when most of the retiring generation, were fixed in their world view -- as the only way it has ever been, and should be, as the testament of their own lives and legacies.

But that way of thinking -- is what has passed. That era, was about their egos, and strengthening their own permanence, against an always changing and evolving world -- which now becomes, a huge disadvantage, and keeps them out of the flow, of the fast-moving current that is life itself.

That is the greater life promised and possible in this lifetime -- being able to participate in it fully, as was never possible before. Even such simple things as writing, and speaking, now have been made accessible for those locked out of those activities before -- by the hierarchies and bureaucracies that defined it exclusively as "their turf." But when the ground begins to move beneath their feet and the grass begins to grow, they have a more difficult time convincing everybody else that theirs is the perfect truth -- of which God made them the guardians for everybody else.

And so a whole generation will be awakening to this realization that life can be very different from the one prescribed for them -- as one of the unthinking masses who needs to have all their thinking and talking done for them -- by the new self-appointed masters.