A Better Place
Most people don't choose the place they live in but accept the place they find themselves in as the best of all possible worlds. So they indulge themselves while on vacation -- as the place they would choose to be -- and not where they spend most of their life. It just never occurs to them that they could. Only a rare few find themselves where they really want to be -- as though such a thing were possible.
Yet that choice, has the greatest effect on all their other decisions and choices in life. Many are simply not in the best environment for themselves. It may be too hot, or too cold, too far from the ocean or mountains for them to feel at home -- in their best environment. They may be remote and isolated -- and mystified why they feel that way.
And beyond that, is what they make of that environment -- to make it better, optimal as far as possible for themselves -- before eventually realizing they must move on to even better. The quest always involves a journey. It is never about just staying in one place all one's life -- thinking one day life will be different. That is the reality of poverty -- that things never change from day to day, and year to year. There are no passages in time and rites. Everything stays the same. There is no hope for different -- and better.
That may be the differentiating mark of those who stagnate, and those who grow -- not just by one parameter, but every facet of their lives so as to be immeasurable and unrecognizable from where they began. Then change is very significant and meaningful -- and not just small modifications that don't amount to anything. Real change changes everything -- and not just one thing.
So, many are unprepared for real change -- as much as they talk and hope about it -- but having no understanding of what it really is. Real change even takes on a life of its own -- and for that reason, is eschewed by those who want to control it -- or feel they must be in control. Instead, they will seek to suppress it. And so the power of good things, is never allowed to happen -- to blossom in its own good time. There is a season for everything -- but not before its time.
Lots of people want to be told what the truth is -- but very few are willing to find that out for themselves, and that is the real power and joy of it, and its value. It is the finding out that separates the truth seekers from those who only pretend to know -- because somebody else told them so but they will never know how to find out the truth of any matter for themselves. And that's what matters -- and not the countless many who say, "Tell us what is the truth, and we will repeat it -- as though we understand and thought of it ourselves." "Tell us what is correct, and we will follow and chant it," and think themselves enlightened and wise beyond all the others.
They think they know all the answers -- but have not even begun to ask the right questions. So how could they know anything worthwhile? Because to ask the right (meaningful) question, is the beginning of understanding -- that no amount of simply knowing all the right answers can ever hope to achieve. To such people, it doesn't matter what the question is -- they know their answer, regardless.
By asking the right questions, it is possible to discover the answer to any question, but if one only learns the right answers, they may never realize they know nothing worth knowing.
Lifting Your Own Weight
All my life, I've pondered the question, "What is the most essential movement (exercise) to do?" Obviously, that would probably be a movement one takes entirely for granted -- but shouldn't. That is the key to their entire well-being, and differentiates those thriving, from those retreating and withdrawing from life.
The question can also be rephrased, "What is the most efficient way to lift one's own bodyweight?" -- which many offhand will dismiss as impossible, only for world-class athletes, rather than something everyone needs to do daily -- as many times as possible, and doing so, will ensure their good health. It defines their good health -- and capabilities, all things being equal. That is the simple act of raising one's (own) bodyweight from a chair or bed, and also lowering one's bodyweight with grace, ease and safety.
This is particularly important, the older and weaker one gets -- to do this very well, and those who lose this ability and faculty, lose their mobility and basic competency that makes all other movements possible and practical. Those who lose this facility, are called "incapacitated," or "disabled," even if the capabilities exist, but are never exercised anymore -- at some point in life.
One simply decides at that point, that one can no longer do it -- for one reason or another. Often, it is for a concern of safety -- that one is too weak to stand up any longer, or one has feet, knee, hip or back pain that makes any movement (change) painful and difficult -- which obviously won't get any better if it is never articulated and exercised anymore.
Yet if there is only one thing a person does, that is the movement that will make the greatest difference in one's health and well-being, and so if a person does nothing else, that would be the movement to master -- and the key to their health, well-being and fundamental strength. Not coincidentally, the best form for lifting one's bodyweight off of a chair, is the identical movement employed in Olympic weightlifting-- to lift the heaviest weights humanly possible. That is the movement of greatest economy and efficiency -- and as such, is the fundamental movement that should be mastered by everyone -- whether it is their intention to do a little or a lot.
Learning the proper mechanics and dynamics, also solves most of the back pains and problems of alignment resulting in the abuse and misuse that results in destructive wear and injury. By using the major (largest) muscles of the legs and back, ensures the proper priority of strength and development, and all else can then be done from this position of underlying, fundamental, "core" strength -- much more so than merely developing six-pack (ornamental) abs.
That (latter) is not an essential development in any practical or useful movement or activity. The only function is for "show," or display. Otherwise, it has no useful function -- and may even be counterproductive in producing a development without a usefulness -- as the actual ability to get in and out of a chair or bed easily, competently and gracefully, conveys. Before one is completely bedridden, they may spend many years being helped into a chair in which they never leave all day. That is the condition known as infirmity -- or the weakness and inability to do normal things without assistance.
But way before we get to that point, what can one do about it? That answer is simple and obvious: that is the strength and ability we must cultivate as a priority -- and doing so, will prevent most of the problems of increasing immobility -- from the comfort, familiarity and safety of one's favorite chair.
The beginning position is exactly like that taken to lift the heaviest weights possible -- leaning forward with arms hanging to one's side until one is basically falling out of the chair onto one's legs, and then standing up and completing the movement with a shoulder shrug -- rather than stopping the movement at the lower back, allowing the upper back to remain rounded. The completion of the lift is achieved when the force generated by the legs is allowed to traverse through the spinal column -- rather than stopped at the lower back, absorbing that force -- causing many people to walk around painfully all day with rounded backs, rather than exhibit a healthy, pain-free arched back as their basic posture.
That is obviously the difference in the healthy posture and a poor one. That has been the observation, study and practice of yoga -- primarily to develop that flexibility in the spine that allows them to move into an arched position. The problem is that that is achieved by only using half of one's body -- either from the waist up, or the waist down -- and not wholly and integrally, from the feet on through the neck that restores the fundamental integrity of the body structure to always move completely in that manner.
That's why most "back" movements are ineffective -- for relieving pain and building strength -- because back strength cannot be developed only from the lower back up, or the lower back down -- which are all the exercises we traditionally think of as "back exercises." The back has to be exercised completely -- from the feet on through the neck -- to revitalize and restore that fundamental strength and functionality of the human design.
That is the quintessential weight-lifting movement of the human body -- just to lift its own bodyweight into the position it can do the most good and be the most effective. One doesn't have to buy and lift any additional weight -- besides one's own, in the most efficient, economical and effective manner that ensures their mobility and fundamental capacity to recruit the muscles of the entire body -- all at once, every time. That is the fundamental dance of movement -- to get up and down tirelessly, effortlessly, gracefully -- as long as one lives.
One doesn't have to run, swim or lift a marathon -- until one can't, and then never gets in and out of a chair or bed anymore. That is their mantra -- what they must become good at. Getting in and out of a chair as the most fundamental weight-lifting movement -- and doing so, will ensure one perfects that skill all one's life.
Tommy Kono, 2016.
From a seated position, feet flat on the floor, head up looking forward, arms hanging alongside the legs, shift the weight forward until it is in front of the toes, raising the hips and straightening the back with a full shoulder shrug -- in a smooth, continuous motion.
Slowly lower the hips until one is seated again. Repeat ten times.
Repeat throughout the day as often as one is mindful -- but at least ten times to begin each each day, and ten times before retiring at night. One has just lifted their entire bodyweight in the most useful manner possible.
No Amount of Doing It Wrong will Make it Right
Many people are taught to believe that there is only one way to do anything, so that when things go wrong, the only solution is to apply more force (effort) rather than improving their understanding -- of how things are going wrong, and how to make them right. They insist on staying true to their present understanding -- no matter how disastrous the results are, while merely increasing those same efforts that have not proven successful -- and rejecting anything different. That would threaten their world view -- as the only way it could ever be.
So rather than anything ever getting better, everything just gets worse for them -- in a one-way downward spiral that they are certain is the fate of every life, no matter what they do. Of course such despair invariably leads to depression and the sense of hopelessness that is the worst of all human ills -- whether one has actual physical ailments or not.
Conversely, those with an outlook that thinks to try everything humanly possible until something does work, invariably find a way -- that works. Way before that ultimate solution, they get better and closer to finding the solution and truth of their quandaries -- as rightfully, the proper purpose of all their activities. Just as often as not, the better way may be something far different from what they set out thinking -- as their solution to their problem, which might have even worked before but no longer does, and might now even be the source of that problem.
The obvious ones are the champion athletes who now only become injured trying to do those things they did easily and effortlessly before -- that now may even be a threat to their continued survival as they grow older and wiser. The truly wise, at that point, move on to where they can continue to experience success rather than tempting permanent debilitating injury and disability.
Usually, one sees the trend of decreasing reward at increasing risks, and changes course appropriately and moves onto new and different ways of being successful -- even if one was never before. But there is certainly no point, in continuing to do what one always did before -- resulting in failure and poor outcomes. No amount of complaining and lamenting is going to change that -- yet that is what many do, while actually doing nothing that would make a difference!
The road of history, is littered with many such lives -- as the only thing many thought they could do -- which should become increasingly apparent to many, was not all that could be done -- even and especially in one's daily lives, where it would make the most difference. People don't all do the same thing -- which accounts largely for their difference in outcomes and fortunes -- no matter how much mass media would like us to think otherwise. If they had their d'ruthers, everybody would think and do the same thing -- with the same results, but obviously, that's not what's happening, even if one wishes it were so.
The weakness is the lack of fullest understanding of what is going on -- even while there may be many variations of the explanation that no one has a monopoly of the truth on. That's true for exercise, medicine, investing, marketing, human knowledge and relations. They are an ever-evolving and improving understanding -- and not simply that the oldest is the best. Frequently, they are the least perfected -- even if advanced for their time.
Because of such advances in every field of human activity and knowledge, the state-of-the-art subsumes all -- rather than just being the politically-(socially-) correct half-truth people often argue about. The better issue, is which is the whole truth -- and not what partisan truth should win out over the other. That is the endless problem -- and not the solution of evolving a greater (whole) truth.
That greater whole is transformative -- changing everything, and not just one thing -- while everything stays the same. That is no change at all. It is simply the same old problem in a different light, using different words. But nothing has really changed -- not even the understanding of the problem.
And that greatest understanding, is coming to the realization that everything one knows, is the problem -- preventing them from trying anything truly different. They just call the same thing (lack of understanding) by a different name -- and think they have solved the problem, which of course, keeps on coming back.
Mistaking the Effect for the Cause
"Correlation" is the co-incidence of two events happening simultaneously -- neither of which may have caused the other. It is just noted that when there is an incidence of one event -- the probability of another event occurring at the same time, is that correlation.
Less well understood, especially by those with just a politically correct (liberal arts) education without any science courses -- is the cause and effect relationship -- that is to say, that one thing causes the other, virtually without fail. Then we're pretty certain, that one thing, is the cause of the other -- so to see the other, we have to cause it.
Nowhere is this misunderstanding greater than in the field of conditioning for fitness -- where one hopes that by doing certain things, one improves their chances for survival and success -- which is being fit to do so. So essentially everything a person does -- is a preparation for everything else they will subsequently do, and if all they are experiencing is failure in everything they do, they have to change their behavior to produce the desired outcomes.
But that doesn't happen just because one wants them to; there are preparations and practices one must take to increase the likelihood and probability of those favorable outcomes -- all one's life. There's never a point at which one can just call it a day and coast on in to the promised land of everything good, and nothing bad will ever happen again. It requires a vigilance, constant preparation and practice -- or the results become less certain, unpredictable and erratic -- the normal definition of failure, disappointment and frustration leading to depression.
Thus the bottom line question asked by most health professionals, is summed up by the question, "Have you experienced depression in the last several weeks?" Not to, indicates the resilience and robustness of that individual to feel they can overcome most challenges and difficulties -- and the future successes of that individual. But that does not require a Ph.D or M.D. to master; it can come from any regimen that empowers one to feel that way -- capable of being successful at what they have to do in life, including all the things healthy people take for granted -- such as their own self-care, grooming, hygiene, cleanliness, nutrition, practices, interactions with others, etc.
Failing those minimal tasks, is a dire prognosis for the future of that individual. So one hopes to get at least that much right -- for all the days of their lives. Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, those lessons are seldom taught, systematically and rigorously, which already sets one up for a lifetime of successes or a lifetime of failures, and in the end, even the most previously successful succumb -- thinking they never have to improve anymore. But all of life, is this evolution of being and improvement -- or there is extinction. That is the Way of Life.
Still, many think that if they were only rich and famous (first), they would surely become good at something eventually -- and not that it will simply speed their self-destruction. In the field of physical conditioning, many are prescribed a course that is impossible, and if they don't (can't) do it, they will predictably be in bad shape, but if they could walk on their hands for 100 yards each day, they would assuredly remain in remarkable condition they had never achieved before at any time before in their lifetime -- as though that was any wisdom and usefulness.
Yes, I suppose if one could fly or walk on water, one would have godlike powers -- and health. So the question one asks, is not what one cannot do that will one day result in their doing so, but what can they actually do -- and improve? That answer should be obvious and self-evident -- in increasing the range of motion of what movement one already manifests. By that, one means more precisely, increasing the range of motion one can obtain voluntarily and willfully -- and not by any outside force forcing a range of movement that can be done safely and healthfully (without injury). Otherwise, we can just snap a head back with the justification that "whatever doesn't kill one, will make them stronger and better off for it."
Obviously, that is the wrong understanding -- but not unlike much advice one hears in many highly competitive and destructive activities -- especially to see how far they can push the limits without injury and death. There is a certain appeal and thrill to some -- who misunderstand the first rule of survival and fitness is not to be injured or killed by anything one does. That includes the realization that if one doesn't use their legs anymore, the chances of them becoming permanently disabled are inevitable -- that can be effectively maintained by using them daily, for at least a few repetitions in increasing that specific range of motion -- daily.
So rather than being a hard thing to do, it should be made easy by practice and intent -- even if one does nothing else otherwise. That is especially so for those who have no better use of their time than to devote it to dissipation and destructive habits -- even if they think that is what their "retirement" should be all about -- hastening their own end until it is over -- as the only way they know how to be. That is the only way they've seen it done before -- and not that that stage of life now has to be re-created and re-imagined, because it was never possible before.
But that is the challenge of this time and age -- as never before.
Easy Does It
People fail when everything they do becomes too difficult and impossible to do even the simplest things necessary to achieve and maintain their optimal health. Eating becomes a chore, sleeping, bathing, and eventually even breathing. At that point, life lies in the balance. If things get any worse, that life may no longer be possible -- but if it gets better, that life is resurrected and recreated -- and that is the importance of "recreation," and also, "resurrection." "One must die to the old -- and be reborn in the new" -- especially when that old is not working but only ensuring one's end.
Still, letting go of the old, may not be possible for many -- conditioned as they have been, to always make things more difficult for themselves. That is what they think is necessary to "improve" -- that they first have to create the problem in order to motivate themselves to discover a better way of doing things -- than they always have been done before. There is no provision in their learning (conditioning), of simply finding a better way -- freeing one from the addiction of that conditioning that fails them.
In this very manner, most people are ultimately their greatest victims -- victims at their own hands. Only in rare cases, are a few destroyed at the hands and capriciousness of others. Even those who are, usually play a large part in placing themselves at the mercy of others -- whether well-intentioned or not. The most common of these "relationships," are the familiar toxic codependencies -- of which it becomes difficult to distinguish which is the victim and which is the perpetrator.
Only a generation ago was there acute awareness of such vulnerabilities -- as people were more dependent of specific others because they didn't have access to everybody as easily as the World Wide Web made possible. It is even difficult for those who were not living then to even imagine such a world -- now living at the leading edge of communications and information, as every new generation is born into.
So the challenge of the old, and for every generation, is to constantly die to the old, and be reborn into the new -- and living only in that reality, and not the past, or even the future -- but the now, which implies that past and the future, and is the only reality. How one does in that present moment, is the sum total of that life -- and nothing is more real than that.
The culprit therefore, is all the distractions and entertainment, that takes one away from that focus and mindfulness, that that is what matters -- and not all those things we often think is so important instead. That is the simplicity of being -- totally there, in the present moment -- when all things are possible. And particularly, that is the solving of the problems of our daily living -- which is both the simple and the grand -- reduced to clarity. Otherwise, there is confusion as to what is the actual and what is the imagined.
And that is the way many live their lives -- always in this confusion -- mistaking especially, the complicated for the simple -- and insisting that things always be complicated and difficult, as though that was the end purpose of their lives and activities. Eventually, life just gets totally out of control -- and consumes all their time, energy and resources. Every little thing, then becomes a big thing, consuming all their time, energy and resources.
Yet despite that, everything simply gets worse, and eventually, hopeless -- at which point death becomes the only thing possible. That existence is no longer viable -- and capable of continuing, no matter how great the expenditures and effort. So rather than effort being a measure of success, it actually is a better indicator of failure -- because sustainability demands economy and efficiency. Everything that is uneconomical and inefficient must end. We know that in everything we do. But some will persist in their denial for as long as possible -- until that is no longer an option.
Then life and choice, is out of their hands, beyond their control. Intelligence is what makes the world simpler and easier -- rather than more complex and difficult. And that makes all things possible.
One Step at a Time
Wise people are advised never to get ahead of themselves -- which means they are thinking too far ahead of their actions and reactions -- and thus have little connection to what is actually going on, from moment to moment. Thus, obviously, they are never "in the moment," but invariably, "out of it." That is obvious to everyone else but themselves -- whose actions are inappropriate, because they have little to do with the exigencies of the moment.
So it matters very little where they eventually hope to end up, if they have no idea how to take the first step -- leading to the one thereafter, and in that manner, actually getting to the place they only imagined at the start. But that "envisioning," is not nearly as important as the awareness of where they are, and what they are doing momentarily -- and can respond to every contingency appropriately -- which is the kind of conditioning that has high survival value, and one can be confident, that no matter what situation arises, they will do the appropriate (right) thing -- rather than just the socially (politcally) "correct" thing -- often with disastrous results.
It does not so much matter, if one always does the right thing, but always gets the wrong results -- no matter how certain they are. That manner of doing, tends to undermine one's confidence in doing everything, so in the end, they are certain that nothing they do matters, because they never get the result they hope to achieve. That sense of helplessness and randomness of experience, lead many to feel that bad things happen despite their good actions -- rather than seeing the truth of the matter that it is obviously the wrong action.
Thus the Buddhists were among the first to point out the importance of "Right action," as being the cornerstone of "enlightenment" in this world. It is not enough, to know one thing, and do something else, and think there could be the productive results of integrated action and activities -- as though nothing is related to anything else. The essential connection, is the truth of that moment -- and not the promised truth six months from now. Things that work, work instantly and immediately -- or they don't work at all, which only becomes more apparent in time -- but time may not be what one has to waste.
The truth is not what is learned and remembered, but is rediscovered and reproven from moment to moment -- in everything one does. It is not just what a few "experts" do, and then tell everybody else the truth of the matter -- but what each discovers for themselves in living every moment. That is the truth and reality of everybody's life -- and no longer the world of a few specialists and experts who "know," and those who must believe everything they are "taught," by those claiming that authority.
That is what the primitive (prescientific) society was -- the world of a few, who told the others what to do, and what to think -- and that was the way people thought ought to be -- was the only way to be. Hopefully, we know better now, unless we find ourselves in cultures that still revere those authoritarian hierarchies as the highest ideal -- and long for the restoration of that social order. That is also familarly, the world of one's childhood -- of which an unfortunate few regard as the best of times, who hope never to grow up -- and always have authorities around to tell them what to do.
They will never become the mature adults who assume responsibility for all that they do -- and are proud of that fact. Those are the people who come to feel that the world they live in is that of their own making -- and not a destiny beyond their control, and only other people, can do something about -- to make more favorable for them. The problem with that, is that those others in control, are usually acting in their own best interests, and not necessarily everybody else's -- just because they have the power, and think that is what makes right in every case.
Solving the Problems of One's Own Living
It should come as no surprise to learn that each and everyone has their own unique challenges, problems and difficulties to overcome, and that is the ultimate meaning and purpose of their lives -- and in that manner, showing the rest, how it is done -- in their own efforts. That is the value of learning from others -- and from everything in life. All are engaged in their own unique struggles -- some more successfully than others, but we can learn from both the successful and the failings.
Of course, we don't want to be the failing -- and not that we merely want to be successful at duplicating such failings -- in repeating what they do. But many learn nothing else -- and that is why we call them dysfunctional: they fail to adapt successfully. And if they persist, will soon become extinct -- unless the society enables such failures, rather than recognizing and favoring its successes.
It may be that instead of containing the failures and catastrophes it brings, society encourages its spread -- in ensuring that what has brought about such calamities, are the only way to go -- despite the disastrous results and consequences. The people are implored to charge on -- as thought there are unlimited resources and lives to give to these hopeless situations -- until it is thought, that there must be another way. And then history itself is changed -- and the memory of the failings, are extinguished and forgotten.
One doesn't have to remember and revere the failings -- lest people forget, because there are always a whole slew of new challenges to recognize and surmount. Each generation's successes also sow their future challenges -- even as scarcity brings about abundance and a whole new manner of coping. So in one generation, rampant starvation may give way to rampant obesity, and the strategies for dealing with that reality shift, is not just continuing what we've always done before -- as though that made sense anymore, and for all times and conditions -- no matter what.
Thus the ability to distinguish rapidly changing and different circumstances, is the greatest survival value and skills that need to be honed all one's life -- and especially, when one has grown immune from that responsiveness -- in thinking there is no more to be learned, and unvarying repetition will suffice -- no matter what. That will not be a happy ending -- in anyone's life. Those who will be most successful later in life -- who challenge the present paradigm of becoming less able, by becoming increasingly so -- whatever it takes. It may take everything they have in life -- to ensure their own success.
What is more important for them to do? Which means it can't be the end of learning and living, but a beginning for even better, and not a retreat and surrender -- that ensures their demise. It's not that it is hard as much as it has not been done before -- but which is the only thing that makes sense to do. It would not make sense to give up before one graduates from school, but it makes even less sense to give up when many feel that is the only thing they can do. Then surely, one does not find out how it could have been otherwise.
That is the condition of aging as we've known it up to now -- and think it could not be any different, let alone better. But the current outlook and prospects do not seem good -- so there is no harm in thinking any differently. In fact, one has nothing to lose, and everything to gain -- in thinking differently. So why not? Nothing in life, has prepared us to think that way -- but that does not make it impossible, or even improbable. It is just the way we haven't thought before -- but that has been true of every evolutionary leap in the improvement of life, both individually and collectively. That is also the ending of the way we've always done it before -- and particularly if that's not working out so well and satisfactorily.
Defenders of the status quo will say that theirs is the only way -- even if it hasn't been working out so well so far, and their answer is that we simply have to try harder (increase funding) -- at what is not working, as though that is transformative at some miraculous point. It's like dying doing what you love to do -- because that is the only thing one does. But all that is certain, is the dying -- regardless of what they do, and then it doesn't matter.
Most never get beyond that resignation and acceptance -- thinking it is the ultimately wise thing to do. But we are not talking about simply doing the same things we've done before without success -- merely thinking that we can get another result, but rather, doing what we have never done before, and finding out if there is any difference -- and that makes the difference!