Are you doing it? How much? In what way? How do you exercise? In reps and sets? How’s that working for you?
You most likely exercise the way you do everything else in life. If you’re half-assed in the rest of your life, you exercise half-assedly. If you’re type A obsessive compulsive that’s how you exercise (even if Yoga is your mode of choice).
There is so much evidence for exercise (intentional physical activity) that it’s almost ridiculous to talk about. Your eyes gloss over just seeing the word. Your brain goes into a spasm of programmed thought around the category [exercise] (whatever it is you do or don’t do and how and why – self-justification mostly).
And all the talk amounts to naught. There’s no cultural imperative, only the personal imperative (if any). That’s the nature of “modernity” (or “post-modernity” if you’re the idiot-philosopher who continues to construct monstrosities like “post-modernity” even after Philosophy died over 100 years ago).
Take this paper, for instance – Lack of Exercise is a Major Cause of Chronic Disease.
The author explains how exercise defeats:
accelerated biological aging/premature death
low cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max)
type 2 diabetes
nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
coronary heart disease
peripheral artery disease
congestive heart failure
deep vein thrombosis
depression and anxiety
polycystic ovary syndrome
But the Sickness begins far before Science. It begins in your upbringing. In that story you built around yourself like a fortress – about who you are and who everyone else is, and how you relate, and why. The fortress of excuses, explanations, and habits.
“The [Sickness] is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. … That you are a slave,… Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.”
It’s even in your Medicine. Don’t believe me?
What is this stuff?
“Home Medical Supplies.” Braces and canes, walkers and all that.
Why do you need it? Sometimes it’s an “accident,” but more often it’s needed simply due to lack of use (which is dis-use).
How long do you use these things for? Sometimes just after the injury. Sometimes – forever? Sometimes “only prophylactically,” which is to say…forever?
What is all this stuff?
What does the word “supplement” mean to you? Is it something you take…forever? Or is it something you only take as long as you need to, while you’re getting your body back into balance?
“But I don’t know how to get my body back into balance” or… “But our environment is too toxic to get back into balance” or… “The soil/plants are too depleted to give me everything I need.”
“I purchase products that are manufactured using petro-chemical processes, packaged in petro-chemical containers, and shipped and stored in devices that demand petro-chemicals.”
And the cycle continues. You’ve now created the necessity for the thing you say is necessary. A self-fulfilling prophecy.
But is it true? Is it really true that the soil is so badly depleted that it’s irreparable, and you and we must rely on isolated supplements forever? Is it really true that you need to wear that brace every time you do activity?
Or is that just what someone else told you?
Do you know that you need to take whatever medicine or supplement you’re taking (or make whatever excuse you make to avoid exercise)?
Or do you just say it?
Has a licensed medical professional with a truly holistic appreciation of health…
…And maybe we should define health now – the functional full-potential operation of your – mind (thoughts, story, perspective), body (physiology, habitat, terrain), spirit (soul, desire, fire), land (“earth,” habitat, environment), tribe (family, friends, neighbors), ancestor (evolutionary and genetic), with an emphasis on the connection between and within these things in your individual makeup…
…tested you thoroughly and told you that you need those things?
If they did, I’m sure they put a limit on their use.
Supplement in Order to Return
A supplement should be like a cast, or one of the splints or braces in the picture above. It should be something you use to facilitate healing. And once you are healed, you should not continue to use it.
But what constitutes “healing?” If you acknowledge the above, then “healing” means actively pursuing healing of your external organ(s) – your habitat. It means engaging actively with/in that habitat – both physically and “economically”…our slogan: Think Locally, Act Locally…and Global Takes Care of Itself.
I’ll bet this is befuddling. The “problem” is that “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Einstein was right.
But how do you get around language, Einstein?
Social theorists and public health specialists offer interesting alternatives to language. Individual action leads to social action which leads to cultural change.
But Culture is a group-interpretation of environmental perception-action dynamics. Everything hinges around that perception-interpretation. It is an “empty space”…the hub of the wheel.
Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
The trick is to begin to change your way of perceiving, and your way of acting. When you see processed food, you must see the entire chain of events that led to it. When you see a grass-fed steak, same. Process, content, and action must become deep.
When you see physical activity, you must engage with/in your external organ(s). You must appreciate the continuum of physiological response to exercise…
[Place-holder for an appropriate image of that continuum...I'll have to create it]
This is the unique opportunity. It is the opportunity presented to us by perspectives like the one in the paper mentioned above. Or the one in the paper “Exercise Acts as a Drug,” or in the paper “Antioxidants Prevent Health-Promoting Effects of Physical Exercise in Humans.”
What? Did you catch that last one?
Yes, it’s true. Antioxidants can buffer the body’s natural anti-oxidizing function – which is one of the main stimulus-actions of high-intensity exercise. In other words, it is partly the oxidization and inflammatory responses of exercise that cause positive adaptations.
So your high-dose antioxidant supplement (that you take without actually knowing whether or not you really need it, physiologically) may be “curing” you of the positive effects of exercise.
Are supplements, medicines, splints, walkers, MRI’s, chemotherapy, and all of that other stuff good? Hell yes!
They are extremely useful tools. But what they represent is that the person who needs them (and the habitat, society and Culture that that person is within) is out of balance.
The tool hasn’t been made yet that helps a person adapt to being in an out-of-balance state…though don’t think that people aren’t trying. Take, for instance, the papers on possible pharmaceutical (pill) “exercise mimetics” (see this paper, Lack of adequate appreciation of physical exercise’s complexities can pre-empt appropriate design and interpretation in scientific discovery, which I’ve mentioned before).
This is a pervasive, life, meditative, action-logic approach to “personal” change.
I will not ask you to exercise more. I will ask you to consider what the hell you think you are, really.
This approach does not ask you to change.
When you give an answer to the question of “you,” I will offer evidence of things that you are that you may have forgotten about, or never known.
The trees are your external organs. You would live as long if they were to disappear as you would if your lungs were to be removed from your body. There’s a connection that is undeniable.
The bugs in your gut outnumber your own cells. And without the 3 pounds of them, you’d die. Another “external” organ essential to life.
You are an ecology.
The Neijing Tu is a Taoist depiction of…what?
Supposedly of organ-relations and chi-cultivation pathways. But why is it drawn as a landscape?
Where does your health lie? Point to the place. Can you find it? Take a picture of it. Put it on your fridge.
All good books. All written in LANGUAGE; and all written from within our disconnected cultural framework.
Can one write something that makes change?
Can one write something that makes a change toward connection from within/upon a cultural framework/foundation that demands separation?
What is The Story?
What is the Story you made/make for yourself?
The Story likely involves degrees of separation, of disconnection. It is most likely mostly about disconnection, rather than connectedness.
Trauma is not a story. Trauma is an event that shifts perception, and sticks it in place. Trauma is an anchor.
Why do I say that? I say it because it’s what I’ve come to see when I examine the story I made for myself as a young boy. It lasted till…now. It is still the story that is my reference-point for different behavior, so it is still the story (get that one?).
Western Culture has evolved into a force of separation and isolation. In that evolution, the individual is forced (as a member-participant of Culture) to interpret or to explain their interpretation of experience through that lens. Otherwise their experience is “meaningless” – there is no ground on which to understand it.
The praxis of Culture becomes directed toward actions that separate and isolate. And again, one who does otherwise is incapable of being understood (from within that framework).
When I was 4 my mother took my 1 year old sister and left my father and me. Vanished. And so the story begins. I focused inward to a high degree. When they reunited they decided that my sister and I should be together. The solution was to have us stay with one parent for a year, and then switch. This involved changing schools, neighborhoods and homes every year, from age 5-11.
Certainly it creates a sense of isolation. It fosters an introspective tendency, even “introverted.” The trauma of “losing” my mother was a starting point, and an anchor. But that’s normal.
Are relationships trustworthy or worthwhile from within that framework? What “ground” do you stand on, in any situation?
Larger social dynamics that many people have experienced didn’t help. Being a latchkey kid, for instance. Relatives being very far away geographically. These are common problems in today’s world.
I was not unhappy, don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of fun as a kid. But I never “grew up.” It took a long time to become embodied again.
Once I met Mick Dodge, I had to start from scratch. And every day is like starting from scratch, believe me.
A mantra – How can I be/do more connected?
Another – Teach me.
A third – … [insert the experience of moving in habitat]
It demands the most Exuberance to become Elemental again. It demands the most Humor. It demands the greatest Seriousness.
It is a path of cultivation. The cultivation of connection. And it is simple. In the words of Mick Dodge:
“Every goal is only two feet away. You take one foot, and put it in front of the other.”
And that’s what you do, every day.
Dig into your Sickness, dear reader. And keep digging. Go under, deep into the Earth – into your Earth (too).
And, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, if it feels like you’re going through hell in the process – keep going.