Tag Archives: Movement

Activity: The Mother of Life

Tai Chi Girl Chen Flying
Activity is the Mother of Life

Have you ever noticed that some people nap more during the day  as they age?  It often becomes harder for them to stay awake during routine activities.  There are many sleep related disturbances that can cause excessive daytime sleepiness at any age, such as:

  • Difficulty Initiating Sleep
  • Awake A Lot During Night
  • Difficulty Returning to Sleep
  • Snoring
  • Pauses in Breathing
  • Nocturia
  • Symptoms of Restless Leg

These sleep problems tend to increase with age but are not considered part of normal aging.  However, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) can be the first symptom on a slow but steady path of decline and suffering in the elderly.  The symptom creates a feedback loop that tends to promote further decline because as a person increases napping during the day they incur the following setbacks:

  1. Naps that are longer than 10 – 20 minutes can create sleep inertia resulting in grogginess.
  2. Naps too late in the day or that are too long in duration can diminish sleep drive negatively affecting the depth and quality of night-time sleep.
  3. There is an increased health risk (i.e. mortality risk) from excessive daytime napping.
  4. When a person is napping they may get insufficient physical activity throughout the day.  This in turn degrades sleep quality at night.

Thus when it comes to excessive napping, sleep that is normally restorative,  may truly become the insidious “Brother of Death” described in Greek mythology.  Excessive daytime sleepiness may also be accompanied by depression, attention and memory disorders, and an increase in nighttime falls.

Activity: The Mother of Life

To break the insidious cycle the human body needs vigorous activity that is challenging.  Activity is the mother of life and is often the best antidote to sleepiness.  We take movement for granted but in reality it is a magnificent gift and we are designed to use it as medicine and as a life-giving tonic!

We forget that movement is magical!  Our abundance of technology can not replicate the grace, versatility and independence of human body movement.   And it is all orchestrated by a fabulous network of trillions of tiny beings that we call cells.  They are all yearning to get involved in your life, but they can’t unless you blast the trumpet of movement in multiple degrees of freedom.

The body yearns for that bygone era when it had to fight for survival or flee to the tops of the trees, when the entire body participated in the endeavor of life.  Nowadays many of us make a living by twiddling our fingers on a keyboard, or moving our yappers non-stop.  Some are lucky to ambulate throughout the day, but how many people do you see climbing trees for a living, or swinging from vines?

So next time you yearn for a nap ask yourself this, did you really get enough vigorous physical activity today?  If the answer is yes then forty winks may be in order.  But if not, challenge yourself to a duel instead!  Get out there, get active, and bring your bodies 200+ degrees of freedom to life!  You may even sleep better tonight.

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Challenge yourself to a duel!

Set Your Body Free in 2016

Set Your Body Free in 2016
Set Your Body Free in 2016

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.

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Diagram showing how the simulated world of our perception is nested in the real world. By Bjorn Merker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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.

file6421254810322Let’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!

 

References

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.

 

Motion Commotion and Laughter

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Playground fun at any age! Photograph by Jordi Payà from Barcelona, Catalonia via Wikimedia Commons

Movement may be one of our greatest allies in the quest for health and healing.  We all know that we should exercise to stay healthy, but beyond that there is growing evidence that intermittent movement is essential for health as well.  That is, exercise after long periods of inactivity may not reverse the effect of inactivity.  For example, Dr. Mercola recommends that ” a reasonable goal is to get up four times every hour or every 15 minutes while you are sitting.”

In particular, the combination of movement with play, fun and laughter may pack a huge healthy punch.  Research supports that laughter may have the following benefits:

  • improves your immune system and protects your heart
  • boost your energy
  • diminish pain
  • protect you from the damaging effects of stress.
  • helps increase happiness and intimacy

This means that we really need to rethink our work environments so that we can incorporate motion, play and laughter throughout the day as part of our daily lives, if we really want to achieve optimum health.

Stephen Jepson of “Never Leave the Play Ground” may be onto something, with his revolutionary  system for keeping his body healthy and fit as he ages.  He promotes the idea that we can stay healthier longer keeping our minds more youthful by reintroducing activity in the form of physically challenging games into our daily lives.  His technique includes games that improve balance and coordination, and it is clear that they also include a good dose of laughter.    Looks like it is time for us baby boomers to start creating more play grounds for adult sized bodies!

With regards to laughter, you may now be able to find laughter clubs, laughter yoga, or laughter therapy in your own neighborhood or one nearby.  For example, searching for “laughter yoga Providence” on google returns links to the Providence Laughter Club and The Center of Joy.

The future is pointing towards models of proactive health that tap into the hidden resources within our bodies and spirits that we can access to promote renewed vitality and youthfulness.

So when can we have our next play date?