Saturday, January 26, 2013

It Doesn't Take Much

Most people have been conditioned to think that simply "more" is always and unconditionally better -- except maybe in the case of smoking, eating, drinking, and conspicuous consumption.  However, even too much of a good thing can be harmful, or counterproductive -- as in the case of exercise, when more results in injury and constant fatigue and the shortage of time and energy -- rather than increasing it.

So it is important to find out just the right amount of something -- that produces maximum results in the greater considerations of life, rather than just being ends in themselves, that begin to detract from everything else in life -- which is the often heard complaint that they don't have time to do anything more (else), so why bother?

That would be the first consideration in designing a program of any effectiveness -- that it doesn't take all one's time, to return very little -- or in many cases, no measurable results, so that such behaviors become obsessive compulsive disorders in themselves -- not necessarily an improvement from the condition they were trying to improve.

So while one may begin an activity thinking how much better they will make the rest of their lives, it can shortly become the only thing in their lives -- until eventually, they can no longer do it at all -- at which point there is a huge void in their lives, and no longer the capacity or will to embark on anything else again.  That is the problem with many overzealous programs -- that ultimately result in people becoming "burned out" and coming to to feel the futility of any further effort -- and even to care about such improvements anymore.

In fact, the whole notion of "improvement," is regarded as a folly and impossibility henceforth in their lives.  That is the mental part of "aging" -- which is the giving up that any further effort can result in a betterment -- and all one can do anymore, is simply accept deterioration and decline as gracefully as possible -- which becomes their self-fulfilling fate.

'That's why it is very important to have ways of measuring improvement -- even if one has to create them oneself, because nobody else cares anymore whether one does or doesn't.  It is vitally important that one themselves care -- and can tell the difference, which is the basis of any measurement of improvement -- and not that not being able to "discriminate" any differences anymore, is the height of age and wisdom.  Vitality, is about being able to distinguish those differences -- and especially, those things that do make a difference of significant importance.

Many lose their way -- and think that the most trivial matters, are equally as important as the most significant -- because they have no way of distinguishing the two, or anything else.  Thus every day, is simply the repetition of every day before it, and expected to be repeated as long as it is possible to do so -- as the only measure of their lives, that "more" is simply better -- always and unconditionally.

But for a rare few, the quality of life, matters more -- and not unsurprisingly, results in "more" too, but that is not its objective.  Better implies the more, but the more, does not necessarily produce the better.  This is the distinction overlooked in most discussions on the effectiveness of exercise for the human body.  What quality allows one to persist over a lifetime of sustained improvement -- and not just the traditional pattern of improvement for a relatively brief period in one's life, and then the complete cessation of it -- during those times and conditions one would benefit tremendously from that structure and orientation in one's life.

That is obviously the "step beyond," where even conventional/traditional exercise has not gone before -- in producing old people who can still do impressive things, but not in producing people who do not age in the first place -- but are regarded as "ageless" people -- or those we never think to categorize primarily by age, because of attributes that are more significant to describe them.  But it doesn't just happen.  It has to be deliberately designed to address the vulnerabilities that lead to the despair that all efforts in these matters are hopeless and futile.  Otherwise, one would do them.

But to do things just because somebody, or the mass media says one should, with no confirmation from one's own experiences, quickens the sense that all is futile and hopeless, and the institutions (authorities) exist merely to delude us further -- which is the increasing cynicism and disbelief of the old, that anything can be trusted anymore.

The key is not setting oneself up for these disappointments and failures -- but rather, designing the milestones (measurements) for easy success that becomes a habit and expectation invariably fulfilled.  There is nothing wrong with succeeding time after time after time so that it becomes one's tendency -- and the path of least resistance.  That is a mind-boggling concept for those who have been conditioned, and condition themselves always to make things harder on themselves -- thinking there is something virtuous in that -- until eventually, their goals are too far from their capabilities -- and discourages them from even trying anymore.

That's usually and predictably how people fail.  Knowing this, one would then plan to fail, as much as to succeed -- or program rest, as well as effort.  That is much like the action and example of the heart -- that derives its usefulness from its ability to both fully contract, as well as fully relax.  Formerly very active, dedicated and devoted people quit entirely -- for that reason, that they think they have to always do too much, and never allow themselves adequate time for rest and recovery -- until they are forced to, by some cataclysmic breakdown of the body now demanding rest and time off.

So before one gets to that point, too much of a good thing -- can become a bad thing too, and not train to the point of exhaustion and failure, on a daily or weekly basis -- and build up that reserve instead for the long haul, and those times when one actually has to go to those limits.  But not routinely.  That is what one is trying to build up.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Hardest Thing to See is the Obvious

As one who has spent over fifty years instructing people on exercise, very few are willing to accept the obvious -- that the primary function of their own muscles, is to shape the condition they are in -- directly and immediately.  Many teach that only as a product of time -- in one year, something miraculous happens that transforms them totally -- and not that that possibility exists presently, but obviously, some have a greater skill at doing that than others.

Competitive bodybuilders look the way they do, because that is the way they want to look -- so that even the novices have that "look" -- of a bodybuilder, because it is a "conditioned" response.   That is what their conditioning does -- but that is not the only condition possible to be in.  But unless one has their own unique sense of aestethics and ideals, they will default to what everybody else looks like -- which may not be their own best shape, or condition.  They are trying to be somebody else -- and as long as one does, they cannot be the best at what they alone are meant to be, and manifest.

That's always what I found disagreeable about competitive bodybuilding -- in that there is a stereotypical ideal that only a few conform to, while rejecting all the other possibilities of supernormal development.  In fact, those with too freakish development, are penalized for wrecking the symmetry of the preconceived ideal -- which is that people have to look like stereotypical competitive bodybuilders, rather than actualizing their own unique possibilities.

But that is not the green light for the lazy and cynical, that being in one's worst shape and condition, is as good as being in one's best -- because everything one does and thinks, and even thinks of doing, is determined by their conditioned readiness to respond.  That is to say, that one will be ready to respond to challenges that arise, because one has the immediate capacity to do so -- and not only what one hopes to do a year from now, or at some more ideal time and condition in their minds.

That is the difference between those who do, and those who only think they can -- and think that is the same.  Thus they feel, what they can see themselves doing in some imaginary future, is what they actually are capable of doing, or in fact, have already done -- in their mind's eye.  And for such people, those fantasies and delusions become even more "real," than their actual experiences and actualities -- which is the mental illness called cognitive dissonance.  Their report of reality, cannot be confirmed, tested and verified by any other independent observer -- not previously told what to think and see.

A lot of that kind of "learning," is passed down as the academic tradition -- of agreeing to what the duly-certified authorities have said everyone must believe -- and not that there could be another way of seeing things.   Any other possibilities, or truth, are not taught -- even if they could be more valid, and obviously closer to the truth, they don't want to believe.

So the conditioning of the mind as to what is possible, and what is not possible, usually preserves the status quo except when there is extraordinary insight that supersedes that past conditioning -- and bumps it onto a different trajectory, a different pattern of being.  That is why a lot of people's conditioning programs, keep them the same -- rather than changing them immediately, effectively, and then permanently.

A clear and elementary example is the person with a pot-belly -- who can still effect a pose in which that shape and condition disappears -- because they have "sucked" it in.  Instead of doing fifty situps -- or even a thousand -- hoping to make that appearance permanent in that roundabout way, it is obviously much more effective, and self-evident, that they can produce that "condition" directly and immediately -- and that should be their "practice" or exercise, and not all the others they are doing, that don't produce that immediate appearance and effect.

There is nobody who is in poor or undesirable condition and shape, who doesn't have any muscle.  But their muscles haven't been trained (conditioned) to do anything they want to do, or would be beneficial to do -- but instead, they are useless and unexercised to produce those effective responses -- which is nothing more than to relax or to contract, as appropriate for the situation.  And the socially desirable response, would be to be in the best shape and condition possible -- unless it was perceived that being in a "damaged" condition was more advantageous -- which undoubtedly, is a bad lesson to learn, and poor outlook to have in life.

Such attitudes and outlooks, damages one psychologically -- into thinking one is powerless on one's own, but if they attach themselves to some larger group, they can be powerful -- or at least, untormented.  In being harmless and impotent in that way, one thinks they can escape the notice and wrath of more powerful individuals they think will taunt and bully them as they learned on their first days on the playground as kids -- and the wisdom of not standing out, or ever standing alone -- even to be one's own best.