Why is it that the things we really need to know in life often have to be figured out on our own? These nuggets of wisdom should be required reading in school but we end up learning the hard way. Take for example this simple truth:
The human body has over 650 skeletal muscles and is designed primarily for continuous movement. Prolonged sitting does not promote health.
We should all know this, but instead many only learn after acquiring heart disease, diabetes or obesity. From an early age we teach children to sit for prolonged periods of time, instead of teaching them the importance of continuous movement.
Why is it that our priorities regarding health are backwards?
In a poem by James Brown (pen name James J. Lachard) God says that what surprises him most about humankind is:
“That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.”
“That by thinking anxiously about the future, that they forget the present, such that they live neither in the present or the future.”
“That they live as if they will never die and die as if they had never lived.”
Movement is life and 2016 is the year to set our bodies free!
From here on out do not be surprised when you see random movements from people you thought you knew. And don’t be surprised if waves of movement overtake you as you read this blog post! Warn your employers that in 2016 you plan to stand up every 15 to 30 minutes to shake your booty for health. Continuous movement is part of your birthright and the core of the new health revolution!
Waves, Pulsations, Spirals and Fractal Movement
As beings with approximately 37 trillion cells, each filled with active subcellular components, we contain a fabulous kaleidoscopic movement medley. In addition, to our internal movements, we are surrounded by external fields of movement, such as electromagnetic, gravitational, sound, vibration, planetary and galactic movement. This mind-boggling orchestration of movement goes largely unnoticed, but tuning in to it has amazing potential for maintaining and enhancing health. Emilie Conrad (1934-2014), the founder of Continuum Movement, taught that the wave nature of universal movements gives them a fractal quality that allows communication across scales of space and time.
The profound insight here is that movement, the most ancient language, is the only language that connects our atoms, cells, tissues, organs, bodies and minds with planetary, galactic and universal intelligence that appears to us as laws of nature.
Our bodies have their own voice yearning to speak to us through movement. This communication in the form of movement ultimately emanates from sources of wisdom that are typically hidden from conscious perception. Lisa Medley, a certified body-centered practitioner who trained with Emilie Conrad, describes this as freeing our bodies from constrained linear movements in order to experience the wisdom of the body. In “Fluidity Emerging”, she demonstrates the fluid wave motions that emerge when the body is freed from linear confinement and oppression. One of her favorite quotes from Emilie is, “Movement is what we are, not something we do.”
In the quest to understand the relationship between movement and health it helps to have a scientific framework for the relationship between mind and body.
The Scientific Model of Mind and Body
The scientific study of consciousness reveals that our brains trick us into accepting our perceived world as the ultimate reality (i.e. Naive Realism). However the real state of affairs appears to be that everything you perceive, including the world around you, your body and your thoughts, is just a limited simulation of the real world created in the brain. Bjorn Merker provides a nice illustration of the nested nature of our perceived world in the graphic below.
In this graphic the entire square represents the real world, while the largest circle represents the body (a subset of the world). The second nested circle represents the brain, a subset of the body. Because we are not conscious of much of the brains activity a third nested circle is drawn to represent the subset of the brains activity that is correlated with consciousness.
Within the third nested circle lies the world that you perceive to be real. This is where your personal world lives! This nesting structure continues with the fourth nested circle that represents the simulated body within the simulated world and finally a fifth nested circle that represents the conscious mind in the form of thoughts and decisions. The center of the fifth nested circle is labeled with an ‘e’ for ego.
The long and short of this is that each person creates their own world that is a limited representation of the real but hidden world. This limited representation of the world has been referred to as the Umwelt by the German biologist Jakob von Uexsküll.
An analogy to this would be a FaceTime / Skype conversation . The image on the cellphone screen is representation of the person you are talking to and not the actual person. If somewhere along the way a hacker figured out how to change the apparent location of your caller, the representation you see may not be completely accurate. In the same way, the nested model implies that everything we percieve is a representation only and the idea that we are perceiving the actual reality is an illusion imposed by the brain.
We can tentatively call the first circle in the diagram above the Real But Hidden Body (RBHB). The reason why it is important to understand that you can only perceive a representation of your body is that your body representation may be weak, causing you to ignore communication from the RBHB, resulting in illness. Our body representation may also be limited in scope and it may be necessary to develop methods to expand it. This would allow better communication with the RBHB resulting in enhanced health.
A thorough understanding of the consequences of living in a nested world are critical since it can profoundly alter not only how we interact with ourselves (i.e. our bodies), but also how we interact with others. For example, the nested world that my brain creates is different from the nested world that your brain creates. This accounts for huge personality and cultural differences that need to be respected and taught at an early age so people can learn to get along with those who have different reality simulations running.
With respect to movement it opens a whole new dimension for how we interact with our bodies. As an illustration, recently I was on a long drive when I began to feel tired. I realized that my RBHB was bored. My RBHB did not understand that when hurtling down the highway at 70 mph it is not a good time to release its world simulation by putting me to sleep. So I thought to myself, “how can I communicate with the RBHB, or give it something it understands . I reached for a pear and began to eat it very slowly. Interestingly this, brought me back to full alertness. I nibbled on the pear for the duration of the trip with no more tiredness! The RBHB understood “eating a pear” but not “driving!”
Evolve your World Model for World Health
Emilie Conrad taught that movement is your birthright. As the year 2016 draws closer we will be faced with many challenges that may only find solutions if we are able to expand our world models. We can clearly see that new ways of thinking are required, one of which is the need to prioritize health over money. There are many people who believe that freeing the body from its linear confinements will not only benefit individual health, but will also allow us to synchronize with harmonious forces of sustainability and balance necessary for the future of human survival and advancement.
Let’s dedicate the year 2016 to the “Freedom to Move, ” less sitting, and the exploration of how our bodies communicate with us through fluid wave motion. It could be the beginning of a world-wide revolution in health!
Merker, B. (2013). Body and world as phenomenal contents of the brain’s reality model. In Alfredo Pereira Jr. and Dietrich Lehmann (Eds.), The Unity of Mind, Brain, and World: Current Perspectives on a Science of Consciousness (pp. 7-42). Cambridge University Press.
Eagleman, D. (2011). Incognito The Secret Lives of the Brain (pp. 75-100). United States, Pantheon Books.