Why movement is the best medicine and how it makes us smarter

Our senses operate through resonance, by allowing ourselves to be moved, we gain information, and may play wiht grace.

You will not find these ideas in books on neuroscience and psychology, rather than hard facts, my explanations better resemble metaphors.  They are my attempt to rearrange fragments of knowledge and allow a fresh picture to emerge. One that better matches biology and the possibility of greater bio-diversity.

Relax to receive – Information as movement

Emotions lend power and texture to communications. As discussed in depth in my previous post, although emotions come in many flavours, perhaps it is useful to see them as being either: based in physical contraction or expansion. Notice, that I chose to write expansion rather relaxation.

When cells, tissues, organs and bodies are relaxed they are able to resonate or be moved more freely they are receptive to in-comming signals. They gather, transmit and move with more information, expanding their inter-relationship.

Do our Intentions determine our intelligence?

Intelligence can be defined either as pure information, for example, to gather intelligence. Or the ability to recognise and store repeating patterns. To sense and make sense of what is happening.

In nature, which encompasses everything, all is interrelated, even chaos or the dissolving of order happens predictably. We tend to hang onto or memorise the repeating elements or pieces of this larger pattern that we see advantage in.

Those broken of pieces of the greater pattern become our intentions. How we store or memorise these fragments determines both what we are able to feel and how we feel.

There are ways to make sense of the data that allow us to move gracefully and effectively in the flow of what is happening. When we cling to patterns that seem to bring personal advantage, but do not flow with what  is happening we experience and perpetuate turbulence.  Lets explore this.

Synapses form loose connections like sea grass swaying in the currents, like Ram they are up-datable. Hard memories are stored elsewhere, like ROM these determine how we react to inputs with less flexible responses.

Virtual Reality of the Synapses – The Mind Field

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the our nerve endings to make and break connections like trees waving together in the wind. As we have more  rich and engaging experiences we make more connections, we come to understand what is happening and how to move with it. These types of connections are flexible and update readily. They begin to form an inner map that resonates with our environment and circumstances.

Our instincts shuttle resources away from this part of the brain, away from healing, rejuvenation and protection of the DNA. Into our muscle memories for fast life saving actions. Our muscle memories are a collection of learned skills that provide moving experiences. But skill are not the only patterns stored in our bodies.

May the Force be without you for a while

We need to contract to transfer or generate force. Applying less force for less time not only saves energy, it allows us to return to greater sensitivity faster.

Grace, elegance and efficiency are measures of how effectively we apply force. All of these are determined by how well our cells move in relation to each other and how well our bodies move in relation to their surroundings.

Friction is a cost of moving things, (like Inertia) it is a force that must be overcome in order create movement. In our bodies, non useful stored tension wastes energy as it hinders our ability to move and be moved.

Sensitivity is the ability to resonate or be moved by incoming energy, be it, sound, light, heat, magnetism or another expression of force, (they are likely all one anyway).

So if Neuroplasticity is in fact, all wavy and tree-like, how dow we come to be so tense and why do we have the ability to not be moved?

How do we store these patterns that do not “resonate” or move nicely with the passing energy, like leaves in the wind and waves in the ocean?

So glad you asked 🙂

Tension is what we think, Sensation is what can not be thought.
Fascia is stores and releases energy. If not released tension becomes memory that we experience as emotion. Is this tension who we are, or who we think we are?

The Spring within – Fascia is the tissue of Connection or is it?

A cell, much like an amoeba, is an individual unit of life, as such it can move (contract/relax), produce energy from food, and sense its environment and reproduce. It senses its environment predominantly, through its membrane or surface.

To increase access to information from environment it can increase its surface area, if it gets too big it will become unstable and fragile. At some point it is just easier to “join forces” with adjacent cells to create a more complex organism.

Cells become tissues, different tissues join to become organs, organ systems, organisms and eventually organisations of organisms. Yet binding this all is the tissue of connection – the fascia. Yes even our societies are bound by fascia.

is freedom proportional to acceptance?
We are hard wired for validation, the more threatened we feel, the more alone we feel, the more seek attention and validation. Is leadership the art of relaxing people or creating tension?

Fascia becomes the tissue that determines if there is an issue.

Fascia forms a moving, sliding, gliding three dimensional web that binds us to together. It is elastic and stretchy, combined with muscle and nerve fibres it both receives and transmits force. Fascia takes on the role of the membrane in that simple amoeba model, it is all about inter-action.

Due to the elastic nature of fascia, it can store and release tension like a rubber band.  Imagine a cheetah running, as its foot absorbs the weight of its body returning to Earth, that force is stored, as it springs of the ground, that stored energy is released. Together with powerful muscle contractions the combined force is enormously effective.

For this to work, the fascia must release all non relevant tension, (friction) and get out of the way. The cheetah’s nervous system must coordinate muscle contractions and relaxations in perfect timing to the changing circumstances. Total and perfect sensitivity to environment though the senses is required.

Sensitivity is a function of softness, of suppleness of the membrane of the fascia of the organism to “allow” what is to be.

Threatened with extinction

When we perceive a threat, the emergency part of our brain selects a spontaneous instinctive response. Enormous resources are sent to move us out of danger. If there is in fact no real and present danger those resources remain unspent.

Precious bio-chemicals, electrolytes, endorphins, neurotransmitters, hormones, ATP remain in the system, we get a rush.  The fascia gets wound up ready to spring.

We experience these minor and major tensions as the emotions of contraction. If not released, the spring remains wound up, that stored tension becomes a kind of body memory. The corresponding emotion is un-pleasent, unbearable in fact, as it keeps us blind un-easy, threatened and vulnerable. It makes us feel alone.

When we repeat this many times, fail to move and feed our bodies poorly, the fascia gets stuck in the prepared state and we loose both agility and sensitivity. We embody the fear response and as we become increasingly deadened, we get scared more easily. This turns us back to the tribe for comfort, re-assurance and validation. Attention seeking.

Stories Kill the possibility of life.
Can we work together without controlling each other, with out squeezing the life out of the biosphere? Yes – but first we must accept our fears and sense what is real. We must let go of our stories.

Swell times ahead – inflammation vs information

In the animal kingdom, animals that move poorly become lunch, their molecules are recycled early. In the world of Sapiens, we have learned how to re-direct the forces of nature, we can create swelling in the environment and harvest from it, saving our energy.

We no longer need to be graceful and sensitive, so long as we are up-stream of the swelling we can harvest easily. We are taught how to behave and what is valuable. We play the game of squeezing nature and competing for a place up-stream. Those downstream in the land of lack, are obviously un-educated or lazy.

These stories that maintain the status quo and are not fluid and wavy at all, they are all about fear, contraction, swelling and control. Perhaps we can not store these kind of memories in our synapses, maybe they are stored in the fascia, in the skin within. They are transmitted and re-enforced via stories empowered by tone of voice and body language, via the emotions of contraction.

When action arises out of understanding, there is beauty and grace. The possibility of Abundance returns. Fear is the opposite, can we move beyond fear? what is the alternative?

Movement as Medicine

Movement brings awareness to both tension and relaxation, to where we are stuck and swollen and to where we are fluid, alive and sensitive. All movement happens in relation to the energy or forces that are present in our environment.

To free ourselves from the stories that are anchored in our fascia with emotion we need to return our focus to sensitivity. This is the most difficult task their is and very few succeed totally.

Most of us have fleeting experiences of the alive connected, timelessness and selflessness of these “states”. We call them altered states, but I wonder if they are our birthright and it is our collective culture that alters us?

The purpose of these writings and illustrations is to explore letting go of non-relevant tension. Allow our synapses to build better models, to understand the flowing biology that coats this planet. To return to Information, accept our vulnerabilities and release inflammation.

 

Fueling the Fire – Food and Flow

ketogenic diet for SUP
Zero Carb, High Intensity Training SUP Race Preparation Experiment

Food and Flow

Freemocean is about understanding and achieving flow states(1). I enjoy sharing my discoveries and deeper thoughts on this blog, my goal is to follow the trail of questions rather than get stuck on answers.

Flow states are peak experiences or altered states that humans (and many animals) can deliberately access to increase performance, happiness and creativity. Traditionally they were considered matters of spirituality and gurus usually associated attainment with abstinence of that which was deemed to be un-healthy or un ethical.

Over the last few decades we are seeing an acceleration in athletic, creative and intellectual performance being attributed to flow states. Altered consciousness, no longer solely the domain of mysticism, is rapidly flowering everywhere, where peak performance is essential.

I removed my opinionated posts about nutrition, but I continue to experiment with my own biology. Nutrition is not crucial to flow states, but I have found that higher energy levels and being able to move freely are powerful”on-ramps” into the flow state(2).

SUP Racing in Thailand
Allowing my body to maintain a posture of balance by absorbing the wave-form in the water is how I re-discovered flow states, inspiring me to write this blog. photo is from a SUP Race in Thailand, hosted by Amara Watersports Co. Ltd, where I work.

Identifying and removing the blocks to flow

First slavery, then our early technologies such as steam and oil have allowed economic forces to ignore the ecological requirements that sustain biodiversity. What this means is that we no longer needed move in synergy with nature to harvest, food, energy and raw materials.

The investments that followed have locked us into some poor harvesting strategies. Those strategies were supported by our cultures and much of that dogma became entrenched in academia. We find ourselves waking up daily to fixed overheads. They can only be met by participating in systems that keep us desensitised to the relationships present in our own biology.
With the the dawn of agriculture, how we eat and move changed radically over a 10,000 year period. Industrialisation rapidly took us even farther from direct connection with natures cycles. Fortunately the Information Age may be allowing us to re-explore and learn from our roots. To learn again that relation with biology was never a choice, but a necessity.
We can read or listen to ideas about being more in tune with our surroundings, but experience can only arise from action and feedback. When we get direct sensual feedback, then we understand, then we are in connection. Only then does action arise without the need to think, without the need to check in with memory and past perceptions. From here we can allow ‌flow.
meat and movement for flow states
Surprisingly, no plant based foods and a small amount of focused movement turned out to be great preparation for this event.

The move n’ meat Experiment

Amara Watersports hosted an SUP, (stand up paddle) race in early December 2016, I had been playing with the low glycemic diets, (low in sugar and other carbohydrates) for a few years by that time. I was using 45- 50 minute aerobic training in preparation for the 6km SUP event, where I came third. That was almost 4 months ago.
Since then I have been focusing on flexibility and intense body weight training using gymnastics rings and some animal movements (6). Beyond the odd windsurfing session, I have not done any aerobic type training. In the last 4 months, the longest I have paddled is about 1.5km, and only on two or three occasions.
I hardly move, but when I do, I ensure it demands strength and focus into my senses. ‌ High quality attention, but surprisingly little time spent in practice.
To suspended from more points, the foot bar is also free from the ground, . Now all the muscles coordinate, integrating more of the nervous system.

Not only did I stop exercising so much, In the last 4 months I started to reduce the amount of plants I was eating to simply onions, turmeric and pepper. In the last 6 weeks leading to my next race on, I began eating only raw grass fed beef once a day(5). In the week before the race I ate a few extra meals, mostly of sausages, cheese or bacon. (not an ideal Omega 3 to 6 fatty acid ratio, but affordable and accessible fat for fuel).

I joined the March 26th 2017 SUP STATION event(4) where nearly 50 boards crowding the start line. Despite eating, no fruit and no vegetables and doing no aerobic conditioning, I still managed a ‌solid third place in the 6km race.
This result ‌ surprised me. I did not think it possible to be in the lead pack without conditioning my body for long distance. The result obviously does not prove anything, but perhaps it does open the mind to what that our biology thrives on and what it does not ‌required at all. To enter flow state, we release assumptions, most especially ones that affirm self as seperate from the greater biology that envelopes this planet.

notes:

(1) I define “Flow” as direct and effortless bond with environment, though the senses. Opinions or thoughts of self as seperate create conflict and suck me out of flow instantly.

(2) “On-ramp”, a fantastic phrase borrowed from writer, Steven Kotler. Who provides a fantastic resource on the history, impact and biology of flow states in his books and on his website – The Flow Gnome Project

(3) Lowering Carbohydrate intake reduces insulin spikes and when reduced enough, leads to using dietary and or body fats instead of sugars for fuel, termed “nutritional ketosis”. My article – Oxygen and your DNA explores why that may be an interesting option

(4) SUP Station is an awesome business on the Chaophraya river near Bangkok, the owners are wonderfully intelligent and kind people. The event was so much fun and the skill of the racers is growing with each event. The trophies in the photo were made by Cobra international who also supported the event. SUP Brothers Bruno and Daniel hosted the event with the support of Starboard and NSP.

(5) I did break my own rules a few times, but all those exceptions would add up to far less plant based products than what most people eat in a single day.

(6) The Gymnastics rings I use are simple donut shapes hanging on adjustable length straps from a tree, another set up is some rope that washed in from the sea, it is has loops tied in either end and is also hanging over a tree branch. Animal movements emulate the motion of the bear, the monkey and the frog, they demand balance, build muscle and open joints. I only use them for a few minutes. I rarely practice movement for more than 20 minutes a day, though I am starting to do more intuitive stretching.