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.


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