Saturday, August 01, 2020

The Ultimate Exercise Machine (Exercising at Home)

The shutdown of gyms and other exercising venues, is an excellent opportunity to rethink "exercise" -- and all it can be, and not simply focus on what marketing strategies will sell best -- whether they actually deliver those promises or not.  If they indeed worked, we wouldn't have so many people living longer lives -- but in poor health, making them vulnerable to whatever the "disease" and "fear" merchants can conjure.

Health is the best defense against any disease -- or disaster.  That is simply being the best one can be -- and beyond that, is out of our hands -- and that is important to realize also.  It is like that old wisdom, "Let me change what I can, and accept what I can't change, and most importantly, know the difference."  Most spend all their time and energy trying to change what can't be changed, while doing nothing or little, to what they could make a huge difference in their lives -- and so they come to accept the futility and despair of doing nothing that really matters, while protesting constantly that things shouldn't be as they are.

Far more fruitful and practical, is to accept things as they are -- and figure out a way to work with those millions of years of evolutionary wisdom -- and fully embodying and exemplifying those possibilities, rather than expecting and demanding perfection without any effort and expense on their part.  Nothing has ever worked that way.  Even the lowliest of insects, must work tirelessly from dawn to dusk -- or dusk to dawn -- just to survive another day.  That is the advantage of being higher up on the evolutionary scale -- that one no longer has to toil every moment of their lives, just to secure enough food to sustain them one more day.

Instead, they are well-designed to store up excess reserves -- for more difficult and challenging times, and emerge unscathed, and even ahead of when things became difficult.  That is the value of culture -- which propels each subsequent generation to begin on a higher level, and not revert each time to merely subsistence concerns -- beginning with just eating enough.  And thus humankind, has long exceeded those thresholds, and even become a curse to those who cannot manage abundance and success well -- but can only think to undo those advantages, and begin all over again, as the only way they know to live in a world of greater prosperity.  We know such individuals as "dysfunctional," because despite their seeming great advantage, always find a way to undermine themselves.

These are people who cannot handle success -- but are doomed to repeat failure repeatedly, and prefer it as all they know.  Meanwhile, the best and the brightest have moved on -- regrettably having to leave them behind, or they will drag down the rest -- if empowered and enabled.  Such people, thus empowered, will then turn on their enablers -- and no amount of compassion can change that -- however much they demand that the rest cannot move on without them.  That is the "dysfunctional relationship."

But it always begins with one -- exercising and actualizing their own fullest possibilities as the greatest antidote to whatever ills and misfortunes befall them -- and whether they risk it all on the proper outcomes, or simply lie in wait for their ultimate demise -- and thinking there is nothing they can do about it but trust in others to do it all for them.  Such a life -- and society -- doesn't work that well, because there is no limit to how much all the others can sacrifice for one who will not do anything for themselves -- or others, but increase their incessant and insatiable demands.  There is no limit for how much others can do for them, while always dismissing offhand, what they can do for themselves -- first and always.

That is the genesis of a healthier culture -- than the less perfect societies of the past, each seeks to improve upon -- as their own categorical imperative, or supreme commandment of life.  In that respect, the individual is the world -- as the highest manifestation of it -- and not just as a theoretical model, of what ought to be instead.  That is the evolution of understanding that makes greater achievements possible.

In order to make that leap to the next (higher) level, the understanding of what one is doing, first has to be stripped of all presumptions and beliefs -- that those are the only things possible.  The work, or action that is measured, is what is going on inside the body, and not its apparent manifestations that is more likely to be counterproductive, and even injurious -- as the practitioners of every activity ultimately experience.  If that were a therapy or course of improvement, it would not be crippling, debilitating, inevitably, abandoned -- when needed most -- which is the truth of such fitness modalities.

When things work, they work, and don't require unlimited and increasing commitment and devotion to produce those favorable results.  It is simply an indication that it doesn't work -- and a different approach and understanding needs to be looked for.  That is self-evident truth that is manifested in every life -- and not needing a double-blind study to prove -- all in the names of "science" -- which is always rigidly controlled to defend the self-invested status quo, who like it that way.

For all the rest, they should begin each day with a systematic program of stretches and movements just to get functioning properly -- and not that personal records have to be achieved in every effort.  Ideally, the greatest gains are made in going from total incapacitation, to the flawless execution of even the simplest movement -- which in olden times, would be that focus on breathing or heart rate -- which is unnecessary, because it is an autonomic function, and therefore, always appropriate to a more conscious and deliberate effort and movement -- that is only possible with the correct breathing and circulatory support, but the breathing alone, cannot ensure -- just as heart rate alone, will not ensure a world record, or personal best.

One implies the other, but not vice-versa.  In fact, one is automatic, or autonomic; it takes places regardless of conscious effort.  Otherwise, one can't properly do anything else -- because they are too focused on the breath, but the proper performance of any other conscious and deliberate movement, includes the proper breathing.  Nothing else is possible.

The most basic of human movements is to lift oneself off the ground -- as well as lowering oneself down to that level as easily and gracefully as possible.  That is the great teaching of yoga that is always overlooked -- and often eliminated from the practice altogether, as though everything else was more important.  If an athlete cannot raise themselves off the ground, they are "finished," because they won't be going to the next round.  The contest is over.  That is simply the elemental truth in every activity, much less competition.  We don't need more funding and double-blind studies to "prove" the truth of that obviousness.  It is evident to any body still functioning -- and can tell that difference.

In fact, some performers get off the ground so easily and gracefully, that one would never know that it wasn't part of their program; they just made it look that way.  It doesn't matter, as long as one can still get up -- and continue -- often, even better than before.  That's all part of the game -- what it takes to get there.  Whatever it takes.

That is even more basic than walking -- or any other claim to the most basic activity that can be exercised.  It is no shame to go from the most debilitated condition to one's most able and functional -- and in fact, the ability to do so, indicates one's vitality and viability.  They are undoubtedly, still in the game.  On the other hand, one's inability to change position, does not bode well for their future prospects.

In yoga, that action is manifested in going from the Child's Pose to Tabletop posture, to the Downward Facing Dog, from which they can move into the Forward Fold by walking their hands back toward their feet (rather than vice-versa as usually taught), and then shrug their way to a fully upright position -- as weightlifters do to lift the heaviest weights.  They have to lead that movement with their shoulders -- and not at the waist, which is the improper form, foretelling years of back pain.  Early posture exercises was mainly about this control of the shoulders -- leading the way, and as such, preventing the rounding of the back characteristic of back pain, poor posture, and the look of infirmity.

Prior to the 1950s, that's what fitness classes largely consisted of -- classes for attaining the perfect posture -- as a healthy and robust-looking person bound for success.  It's never to late to begin -- and maintain for the rest of one's life.  That says it all -- and is always a worthy beginning to each day.


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