Wisdom is the function of Meditation. Meditation is the body of Wisdom. 6th Zen Patriarch
The above heading came to me in a tweet, when I was attempting to describe how learning happens when we actually change our movement towards ideal. Even the above statement is not quite correct because ideal movement is our birthright, it is not something that I dont have, that needs to be found. So what goes wrong? Why am I so confused? Why are there so many mixed messages?
All great questions. The answer as I see it from experience, is to continue to have the open question about optimal or ideal, and as a result of the question do 2 things;
1. Delete/cease what is causing harm via the ability to notice or attend to breathing, stabilising, moving.
2. Find pioneers/leaders in the field whose teaching works 100% of the time, in all possible contexts.
In other words, the principle is always true. Its job is to modify my behaviour by giving the system enough feedback so that I can over-ride my dysfunctional patterns of movement. These dysfunctional patterns exist because of old injuries, and the ways I have compensated for the injury. Or, I have focused on movement patterns that are dysfunctional as a result of conditioning. These messages have been passed onto me by a parent, coach or teacher without being brought into the light of direct experience to see if the principle is ideal.
The most common of these messages is the advice; ‘take a deep breath.’
The non-literal interpretation of this advice is to pause and notice. To stop and observe. When we do this with breathing, we notice the diaphragm, and yes we do want the diaphragm to operate through its fullest excursion, but the most important aspect of breathing is to slow the exhalation, so that the diaphragm is working eccentrically. If I were to just take a ‘deep breath’ without training or the capacity to observe, my chest would go up, which would increase the load on my paraspinals in order to compensate for the oblique orientation of my diaphragm. This breath would be both sub-optimal and pathalogical, even though I followed the advice to the best of my ability.
So back to the heading of this blog. The brain is not a master organ, it gets all of its information second hand through the body as sensation, and the world as sense-perceptions. As a result of this information, the brain modulates via an efferent response. The information supplied by the body is called afferent, and is the upward aspect of the pathway, the efferent modulation is downward. In business speak this is bottom up and top down.
What this means in practical terms is that the body supplies the brain with information regarding movement. The good news/bad news aspect of this fact is that in order to change movement we need to give the brain better information. We can’t just get it by turning up! We need to turn up and bring our best.
The reason the brain is a map of the body, is that what is stored cortically, can only be our current best. I can’t just want it to be better, it can only be better through clarity. Clarity means that when I consider the task, there is no ambiguity. If there is ambiguity, I am not clear. This means 2 things;
1. I can work it out for myself through continued and better practice.
2. I have a capacity to ask great questions while concurrently being involved in a network of committed fellow students of the work, so that I can continue to learn in significant ways going forward.
Once again my experience tells me that the above 2 possibilities are rare, although point 1 is more common. At least many committed and determined people attempt point 1.
Why is point 2 so rare? The answer that comes in via contemplation and experience is that we are conditioned to think that we should already know it, and just be able to do it. Big assumption! And assumption implies suffering.
What might an ideal model look like to live well, and to maintain full function through a life-span?
1. Undertand the fact of breath-stability as developed by The Prague School of Rehabilitation. Based on the functional ideal of Developmental Kinesiology.
2. Move in a variety of ways. Walk, run, sprint, cycle, swim, climb, fight, roll, paddle, throw, kick etc
3. Challenge coordination by moving in different ways. Ways of moving, dance, tai chi etc.
4. Load movement. Hills, powerbands, race, parkour etc
5. Meditate, Contemplate Reality
6. Eat food that is most alive, find supplements that are living and whose potency comes from nature.
7. Spend time in nature
8. Build and contribute to networks of people that are authentic and open
9. Undulate load and value rest
10. Support, Encourage, Enable and Challenge yourself and others in ways that contribute to growth and development