Growing up, I was a regular North American male focused on what my friends and I deemed worthy and having a good time. At 22 I was in a car accident breaking my pelvis and rupturing my bladder. This changed my life dramatically and led me to a background in rehabilitation and strength training. I believed everything could be fixed if you could fixed with corrective exercises and finding proper structural balance.
Unfortunately, this path made me obsessive and eventually very sick. The more I trained the sicker I got leading to a 2 year bout with IBS. I was trying everything I knew at the time (deloading the volume of my training, food elimination diets, blood work, supplements, increasing sleep etc). I kept getting worse. I started working with a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor. She told me to stop working out and go for long walks everyday.
I had just opened my own gym and this is what I did for a living. I hesitantly gave it a shot. In 2 weeks my energy had dramatically increased and my IBS gone. What was I to do? I was teaching people what made me sick? Through this I found movement. It had a devastating and positive impact on my life. Many of my beliefs and ideals were shattered.
It forced me to realize there are very few definites. Many people are finding many things by accident and or the same thing with different methods. By realizing you don’t know you cultivate an environment that keeps you asking questions and helps you find solutions for your story.
A Few Definites:
1. Life is not static. Looking back at my teenage years, I laugh at a few of my beliefs. What works for us one day may not the next. Even my definites may be argued by myself in five years or another point of view. This is the beautiful thing. It forces us to unlearn and adapt. Change is inevitable. By accepting this and trying to work with it we stay inquisitive. This is how solutions are made. Often we stop looking for a better solution once one is found. Change will force us to find new solutions and hopefully encourage us to never stop looking.
2. We must learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable. If you support something all of its life it will not be able to support itself: whether it be the ability to say no, the arch of your foot, or the son that still lives in the basement. The movement community has realized this — dealing with difficult temperatures, finding stillness in difficult postures, breath holds, etc. — and practices ways to find calm within the uncomfortable.
Still, we must be wary not to become dogmatic one or miss the big picture. It is not the ice bath but the principle. These practices will change the way you think. Helping cultivate the ability to find peace in a difficult situation outside of the training session.
You don’t stop the meditation when the meditation is over. Most of us are constantly uncomfortable and finding very creative ways to avoid it. I strongly suggest you do nothing and just watch. When you can take this mindset to life, then you get it. It’s easy to smile when it’s sunny. If we teach ourselves ability to stay relaxed while uncomfortable, we can see what is really going on.
3. We learn from doing. Information is great but may not always apply to the individual. Immersing yourself in what is going on makes learning an experience. For me, this took a long time to realize. I wanted the Guru to show me the way. While they can be very useful, the best ones show you how to reveal yourself. This has become obvious to me as I have taken up wild food procurement.
When I gather plants, I do hundreds of squats in a huge variety of positions. I rarely use a traditional squat that was taught to me by strength coaches. I have found more out about how I squat by spending time in it. Trying to not step on things, dealing with temperatures, bugs, uneven, slippery surfaces and many other variables. Over time I was forced to learn to relax. I improved my resting squat more by accident than with many of drills I had be shown.
When I took up hunting I was so thankful for what I had been taught about moving quietly and stillness. Yet it was not enough. When fishing I was grateful for having done many balance drills. Although, I was still not prepared for slippery rocks, cold temperatures, moving currents while carrying a pole attached to a fly I am trying to watch to see if I get a bite. I did not even realize the vision in my left eye had issues until I tried to watch that fly flow through that stream with reflecting light. Practicing is great but it only helps you prepare.
Many of us spend too much time practicing and I believe it is causes us to miss the game. Practicing will not have all the variables that happen in the real situation. This forces us to ask questions and find solutions. Try to incorporate this into your practice! Without the actual doing, we cannot be made aware of all that we would otherwise miss.
4. Movement should be enjoyable. If you are not enjoying moving than you need to keep looking, be realistic, and take the previously mentioned ‘definites’ into account. There is a place for struggle but often enough it will find us. Unfortunately, it is often hard for people to enjoy themselves, just moving to move, feeling good because we can. Traditionally enjoyed practices of movement like dancing, playing, wrestling and sex have all become very taboo. People often get stuck in their head and judgment stops them from letting go.
I have had people stop coming to my classes because I do partner work. We have a terrible story built around these primitive practices. Yet they are all seen as enjoyable across cultures and centuries. We need them, to enjoy life and make hard work worthwhile. I have seen many people lose their ability to play. They become timid or overly competitive. They forget the joy in it.
Many people who can only dance once they have had a few drinks. Young males naturally take to fighting especially when you add alcohol. Could this be too far or could the ice bath be both therapeutic and brutal at the same time? Find an environment where you can feel free from judgement and don’t have to force it. Move however feels good for your body and enjoy it. If you feel silly good. You have can work on #2.
5. We are all individuals. No two people are the same. What works for you may kill another. The poison is in the dose. One person can handle 24 beers, 48 muscles ups and still drive home. While another will be one the ground broken, dizzy and puking far before he gets to the car. What may work for 98% of people will not work for the other 2%. Accept this and get creative. Find what works for you and experiment. Keep in mind that we usually avoid and fear what we need most.
I move because I need to. To learn about myself and my environment. How they are changing and how to react to this change. To learn to overcome struggle and embrace adversity. To move through life questioning. Letting go of attachment to preconceived ideas. Trying to be an non dogmatic observing. To play with ideas that may be solutions, for the enjoyment of it. I hope this helps add meaning and purpose to YOUR movement and YOUR story.