Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shifting Sand

In your daily life, are you surrounded by man-made terrain, or are you surrounded by God-made terrain? Do you blunt and blind your senses with shoes? Do you rob and starve your brain by being sedentary? 

I ask these questions because this weekend I am at the beach. Yesterday I was walking, running, and playing in the sand, the shifting sand. I realize that I was exposing my brain and body to rich sensory information. The shifting sand, the sun, the wind - they were all coming together to create an experience, a buffet of nourishment for my brain.

We were created to be nourished and flooded with rich, sensory information ever single day. It shouldn't be a rare treat. But yet, for most of us, we have traded in our rich sensory buffet for day-old bread and water.  That is most of us spend the majority of our time sedentary, in shoes, under fluorescent lights, or in a concrete "jungle." 

We are simply not experiencing all the rich nourishment and vitality that has been created for us. We are settling for bread and water when we could be out dining on steak and wine (metaphorically). Our bodies were made for the sensory experience that our world is supposed to provide. Experiencing our world in it's natural form - walking in the grass, climbing hills, going for hikes, playing in the surf - is one of the pleasures that not only nourishes our brains, it fine tunes our bodies. It strengthens our souls and literally makes us stronger and healthier. 

We were not meant for a life in the "civilized" jungle of concrete, brick walls, and fake lighting. Blue skies, cotton-ball clouds, and rolling green hills were actually created to romance us into exploration and vitality. Do you want to improve your health? To lift your spirit? To reduce your stress? Take off your shoes and go for a walk in the grass. Let the blades of grass kiss the virgin space between your toes. It will pleasure your brain and lift your soul. It will help turn your hamstrings on and put a spring in your step. 

The point is, bust out! If you want to experience the fullest level of health you were created to have, you need to experience the wonder and gift of all the beauty and textures that have been placed around you. Chairs should only be used to rest in - not live in. Shoes should only be used to protect your feet when necessary. They shouldn't be a coffin of sensory deprivation. 

I know we can't live outside all of the time, nor do we need to forsake homes and shelter. But, we should experience our world often, if not daily. We are putting ourselves in isolation and we are moving further and further away from the vitality we were created for. We are afraid of germs, we live to eat and sit in chairs, and we walk around in a weird stressed state of anxiety mixed with the depression of a lifetime of "what ifs". 

It is time to trade in the stress and brokenness of existence for the joy and wholeness of life. Man cannot live on bread and water alone. We were made for a buffet of rich, sensuous "food". Take off your shoes, go outside and experience the beauty that is waiting to nourish you back to life. Go play in the shifting sands.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Showing Up

Two thousand years ago, people walked most everywhere they went. And, chances are, most places people often found themselves at where places of employment. Maybe it was a farm, a battlefield, a huge ship, a constuction site, or whatever. Way back when, most jobs were physical. They required some degree of manual labor. So people often walked to work, they worked, then they often walked home. The point is, people moved - A LOT. They were probably in great physical shape. They had to be, their lives depended on their bodies' ability to move. 

Todays world is very different for most of us. Many of us drive to work, and when we get there, work is not too physically demanding. We aren't building pyramids, plowing fields, over-taking castles, or sailing the seven seas. We are holding down office chairs, staring into screens, or texting on our hand-held, condensed "world." Many of us are not in great physical shape because we no longer have to be - our lives no longer depend on our ability to move to earn a living. 

But that is the lie, isn't it? Our lives really do depend on our ability to move well, don't they? Think about it, if we can't move well, we simply are not going to enjoy this life we have to live. In fact, if we can't move well, many of us will think this life is not that great to live and we may spend all our time thinking about how "old" we've become, or how much it hurts to move, or how one day we may have to ride around the mega-store on our Easy Rider. 

We need to wake up. We are heading down a path that leads to a very deep pit. A pit so deep it will be hard to climb out of; especially with a soft, large, overweight, sluggish body. Easy Riders don't climb, folks. 

We need to become like our ancestors before us. We need to go to work. We need to move deliberately throughout the day. I'm not saying we should all trade in our jobs for manual labor, but I am saying we should all be deliberate in our attempts to find ways to move. 

Moving is so restorative that it only takes a little bit here and there to overcome much of the damage we create by being sedentary. Two to three ten minute movement sessions splashed in and throughout your day can keep your body mobile, strong and healthy. Think about that: 30 deliberate minutes of moving every day can keep you out of an Easy Rider/Walmart Cart when you are 50 years old. Two to three movement breaks a day can keep you action ready when your 70 or 80 years old too. 

Deliberate moving should become our "new job" because we are no longer forced to move. So, we must force ourselves to move. We must show up day in and day out. We must find ways to move, to play, to explore. We were meant to live well over 100 years of age, with HEALTH and VITALITY. You know it's true, you just have a hard time accepting it because you don't see it actually happening. Instead, you see a great deal of 50 to 60 year olds trading in their legs for motorized shopping carts, or recliners. 

Show up. Every day. Make moving a priority. Go to work. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Have We Gone Too Far?

We are starting to get too big for our britches. Or at least it seems like maybe we are. We have started saying seemingly weird things like, "You have to earn the right to move, or do whatever.", or "That person has good, quality movement." I am sure these sayings, and others like them, are not meant with any harm towards anyone but they can be harmful, if not misleading.

We were all made to move. Therefore, by birth, we have earned the right to move. Whether or not we own a foundation to perform various moves is another matter. However, it is a matter that can be easily addressed. All of us can address our movement issues by simply returning to the movements that we were designed to grow by. Our developmental movement patterns are the movements that build a solid foundation of strength and stability from which we can discover and learn how to add other movements. 

Basically, we "earn the right" to move by being born and then learning how to move. We retain our movement foundation and abilities by continuing to move - by being active. We forfeit our ability to perform certain movements by choosing an inactive lifestyle. Inactivity, if anything, steals our movement birthright. Again, this can be easily addressed though because we were simply made to move. If we are not moving the way we should, or want to, we just need to go back to the beginning and re-learn what we once knew. It is miraculous how spending some time on the ground can help us fill in movement gaps in our bodies. 

Which brings me to the point of having "good, quality movement." We all possess good, quality movement. Whether or not we all display "good, quality movement" to whoever is judging that movement is another story. The eye is subjective and perception tints the lens. Anyway, we were all made to have good, quality movement. We were made to move with grace, strength and fluidity. Our bodies were designed to resemble poetry. This ability belongs to all of us. If we are not moving with the grace and efficiency we were made to have, all we have to do is find it. The grace, the poetry, of our movement is kept inside of our brains. It is hardwired into us. Our developmental patterns (spending time on the ground) are the keys to unlocking this graceful potential that we possess. 

The point is this: you are not lacking anything that you need. If you are missing a movement, a reflex, a posture, a strength that you want to have, or that you need to have, it is in you. All you have to do is remember it. All you have to do is "press reset" - relearn how to roll, rock, crawl and walk again. The beauty that you were made for rests in the simplicity of a child's ways. 

You were made to move. It is your birthright to move like poetry. Don't believe anything less than that.