A New Definition of Fitness

In our current worldview there is a prominent paradigm around fitness usually involving a lot of sweating, lifting of heavy things and logging in a certain number of steps. While I believe this activity serves the interests of many, it doesn’t necessarily provide a fitness for the whole person. 

I’m going to suggest the following criteria for fitness that can be applied to any activity: gym, yoga, pilates, dance, rock climbing, marathon running, etc.

  1. Rebuild hapticity. How many of us have done something truly idiotic that ended up with a sprain, strain or break? The key to avoiding such accidents is to rebuild hapticity. Haptic refers to the perception and manipulation of objects using touch and proprioception. The best example of this is walking across a creek by stepping on stones. Not knowing how the stones are balanced under the water, my feet might carefully explore each rock wondering if it is stable enough for me to put all of my weight on to it. Living in Silicon Valley I see how hapticity has been eliminated or reduced. Incoming stimuli is fairly predictable and we no longer need to perceive through touch. Without hapticity, the equivalent to my creek analogy would be to simply tromp along the rocks. But, if I can rebuild my hapticity, the risk of injury is greatly reduced.
  2. Explore individuation. Whenever I am in contact with something else, it is an opportunity to know myself as separate from the thing I am in contact with. This way my body brain isn’t the weight that I am lifting. I am separated from the weight.
  3. Unfold our being in CONTEXT. This one is important because it is in all caps. My circumstances and environment shape me, especially when I allow those things to shape me. This one has an easy example, imagine walking into the lobby of a grand castle versus walking into a garage that has been housing old cast off things for years. The context is different making the meaning very different. If I can unfold my being within the context, then I can make appropriate movements.
  4. Track “fixed places’. We all have a place that doesn’t move as well as others. I call that a fixed place. When I am aware of the fixed place, I can track it during movement. Tracking the fixed places often releases them.
  5. Explore where movement is confused. This is similar to being fixed and it is definitely related. I might not know how to make movement if the place where movement arises is fixed. Or maybe I try to make movement happen by using everything I have versus only what is needed. In either case case, confusion arises.
  6. Develop agency. I just recently added this one. It’s important to know that I am doing the movement because I want to. I am the only one that can allow. When I get really clear as to who is moving (preferably me), what I am moving and where I am going with that movement, then I can always be choosing. Otherwise I am just doing something that someone else has told me to do regardless if it is appropriate for me or not.

While this may seem like a lot to embrace, it is quite easy with a little practice. The key to the practice is awareness, mindfulness and slowing down. It may appear as if there is very little going on on the outside, but inside a lot is happening.

Is the iPad keyboard the curse of Steve Jobs? Or, is it an opportunity to stretch our perceptive skills?

I've been thinking a lot lately about something Hubert Godard once said in a class he taught in Berkeley in 2002. I had just finished my first year after Rolfing training and found myself in a somewhat unsafe environment. I say unsafe because I felt very unsure of myself amongst all these other Rolfers that had been doing the work for decades longer than myself. Many of the older Rolfers told me they didn't want to work with me because my touch would lack the skill required to be in their systems. It's not the thing you want to hear having just been freshly minted from the training. One thing I have learned is that when I am in a state of emergency, as in having my confidence rocked by that unfair sentiment and being insecure in the first place, I do not have the capacity to learn. So much of that week remains in a blur of adrenaline.

But Godard did say something during that week that stuck with me. He said that aging wasn't just a physical process, but it was a decline in our perceptions. Meaning, as we age we become more fixed (or develop a strong preference) in one mode of perceiving, usually the eyes. The other "portals of perception" (his phrase) shrank due to non use. In other words, the ways in which we perceive the world can atrophy!

I have had the opportunity to watch the aging process through my parents, my clients and even myself. And true to what Godard observed, we do start to develop preferences for the way we know, interact and learn in the environment. Most people seem to prefer the portal of seeing over the portals of say smell, hearing or skin feeling. So when I watch an elder walk into an environment I see them sort themselves out by using mostly their eyes. They look first before stepping, look first before answering a question, look first to figure out who just walked in the room.

Perception is a complex many layered event, so I hesitate making such a decisive correlation by saying only sight is used. But it makes me curious as I type this how many other ways of perceiving am I not attending to. And while it may be impossible to be attentive to everything when I have one task to accomplish, that is typing, I observe that when I hear the sizzle of bacon cooking behind me in the pan (because I'm fortunate today to have my amazing husband prepare a beef daube with carrots for our supper) and smell the shallots, my body feels more like it's hanging. I'm not having to hold myself up. I also notice that when I use my eyes more peripherally (meaning I see the screen in front of me, but I can also see the items on the table behind it and beside me) I can actually type on the keyboard of this iPad mini a thousand times better!!

I'm not sure if that is what Steve Jobs intended. But it's working for me. To all those iPad typists out there try it and tell me what you think. Can you type on your iPad keyboard by seeing the screen in front of you and at the same time seeing what's behind and beside your device?

Possibilities

I don't offer a cure. I offer a process.
I don't offer analysis. I offer a chance to explore.
I don't offer teaching. I offer a conversation.
I don't offer a service. I offer an opportunity.

If you are willing to explore a process and have an opportunity to begin a conversation with yourself, then you are on the path to healing. Self directed healing lives as a possibility in all of us, but it is outside the realm of the everyday mind. Self directed healing is an inquiry into the realm of the body. Asking a question, diving into the inquiry is where the process of healing begins.