Movement is Important, but it is NOT Everything

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Movement is the way of the body.  Movement is how the body expresses itself and interacts with the world.  It is one of the ways in which the mind interacts with the world.  When a human or animal can perform highly skilled movements, it is a sign of health and even prosperity.  Simply look to professional athletes, Broadway, dancers, and various other entertainers.  It is no surprise that fitness has become such a booming business that captivates so many people. 

When we feel good, we move well and frequently.  When we move well and frequently, we feel good.  Movement is a huge part of health, happiness, and freedom.  When we are in pain, it is difficult to be fully happy.  Movement is the way we are able to transport ourselves.  It allows us to be independent.  That is a form of freedom. 

IMG_9364When there is a disconnect between our body and mind, movement does not work well or at all.  Think of people who have brain or spinal cord injuries, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or even a torn muscle.  There is a disconnect between the body and mind, leading to many challenges.  One of those challenges is movement.  When this disconnect is more severe or exists for extended periods of time, then our life expectancy decreases too.

For example, when people over the age of 65 sustain a hip fracture they are 3.5 times more likely to die within 12 months compared to their non-injured counterparts.  A hip fracture was also found to likely be a contributory factor in 72% of mortality within 12 months after hospital admission (reference).  This rate is so high because people lose their ability to move and they start to lose their independence.  They tend to have other physical complications because of the lack of movement, as well as mental complications.  People who can’t move tend to lose confidence and gain fear.  They tend to move towards sadness and depression, which leads to death.

All of this is to say, movement is important.

There is a lot of movement that happens in our body without any of our control or awareness, so I am mostly going to be referring to movement of our joints to create actions such as walking, jumping, sitting, standing, lunging, and so on.

Would you agree that it is more common for people to run, lift weights, attend a fitness class, yoga, cycle, swim or work with a personal trainer than it is to meditate, journal, or work with a mental health professional?

Would you also agree that exercising to relieve mentally heavy issues such as stress and depression is common and highly popularized?

Do you know that when you have things like stress or depression, your body is extremely affected?  Your movement is extremely affected?  Likewise, do you know that your mind is extremely affected when your movement is affected by pain and injury?

The body – mind “connection” works both ways, and always together.  You really can’t separate the body and the mind.  They are one and the same, however it is easier for the mind to understand them as separate so I will continue to refer to them as so.

Exercise and fitness are human creations to combat issues that we are creating as we become more and more sedentary, and more and more stressed.  They were created and popularized as business opportunities.  To be more elite as an athlete or to start the newest fitness gimmick that will be a craze to make a lot of money in a short amount of time.

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We are constantly being told that we have to exercise and perform certain types of exercise to be healthy and happy.  But what happened to just being active?  What happened to just being happy and free to do whatever we want because being active, happy and free all go together?  Everything is so structured and intense now.  Even the “relaxing” endeavors are intense because people get obsessed with them. 

Movement in the form of fitness has become so vanity driven.  Classes and fitness brands have turned into events to see and be seen. Community is super important, and one of the reasons why CrossFit has been so successful.  The community aspect is great, if it’s genuinely filled with love and gratitude. Unfortunately, like high school, most of these fitness brands seem like it’s more of a cliquey popularity contest.  That’s typically a lot of negative energy that can easily suck you in, so be aware!  The community that we want to create is one that is accepting of and promoting being your true self.

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I think that we all need to chill on the fitness stuff.  We need to play more and just live more active lives.  I think we need to spend more time with ourselves and with other humans, interacting.  We need to put forth the effort to find our true selves.  I think we need to be less structured – who cares about time and what day it is.  Who cares if I am not up to date on the latest movies, sports, TV, podcasts, books, and so on.  Who cares if I can’t do a handstand or handstand push-ups or 20 pull-ups or a pistol squat.  Who cares if I can’t deadlift 500 lbs.  I certainly don’t.  And I certainly could not care less if you or anyone else can.  If you want to do those things, great, do them and find other people who like that as well.  But don’t negatively judge others who do not share your same interests.

The body can’t survive without movement.  The mind can for a period of time, but our true self is beyond the body-mind.  As I wrote earlier, the body will die much more quickly in someone who cannot move independently compared to those who are able to move independently and freely.  But, I believe that those who are unable to move freely can prolong life through mindfulness and spirituality practices. Those of us who are able to move freely will also potentially prolong life, and absolutely live a more fruitful, happy, free, and fulfilled life if we also practice mindfulness and spirituality.

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The body-mind is organic. It comes from awareness and has to return into awareness. Awareness is where all life resides. The true self is awareness.  That is the cycle of life. Body-minds come and go at all moments in time, which means that awareness or consciousness or the beyond is the constant. That is where we all truly reside, so our connection to that is our connection to nature, to other beings. It is beauty, love, happiness, peace and freedom. These things we cant explain but just are. The ability for the body-mind to tap into that, oh yeah, that’s where the sweet stuff is.  This is what I referred to in this instagram post from the other day.

That’s where we find the joy of life. Beyond movement – beyond the body, beyond thought – beyond the mind.

If you are only exercising or taking fitness classes for vanity reasons, I’d suggest looking deeper into that. In my opinion, we should be primarily exercising to feel good and for fun. And, no, I do not mean feeling good by thinking that you look good. There is a reason that is called shallow, because it is. It’s fleeting and often to what end?  Secondarily, exercise is a performance enhancement. The reason I have that second is because if it’s number one, then we often aren’t in a great headspace. It’s like a professional athlete that doesn’t actually enjoy playing anymore, they are never as good of a performer, are more likely to be problematic as a teammate and more prone to injury. It’s a negative energy. Exercising to feel good and for fun, that’s positivity. It’s freedom and happiness. It’s not a burden or something that you have to do, it’s something you want to do and is part of you.

I haven’t felt that for a while, so I haven’t done any structured exercise in several years. I am, however, very active and aware of my body. I actually lost weight when I started being more aware in general, letting go of stresses more often and quickly. I easily dropped 12-15lbs without changing anything else.

Movement is part, but not everything.  The body is one piece of how we interact with the world.  If we only use movement or fitness to affect our mind, then we are never purposefully changing our mind. We are never fully understanding our mind and certainly not beyond. If we never go beyond, then we end up missing the enjoyment and freedom of life.

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To get the most out of life and be happy, we must be mindful and spiritual, and we must move well.  Understanding more about the mind and beyond has changed my life more than anything else, I believe. I would have been going deeper down a darker path of releasing and living in negativity if I hadn’t become aware. I see it in so many people, probably the majority that I come across and interact with. But change and understanding can only happen on the individual level.

Getting help is great. We can guide others to notice, see, understand and become aware for themselves.

I do not believe any one of them – body, mind or awareness, to be more important than the other.  For our lives, with these body-minds, they are equally important.  However, one or two of them are often overlooked.  I find awareness to be the most overlooked because it is the most unknown and the most confusing for the mind, as it is beyond the body-mind.  We tend to be either biased towards the body or the mind because that is more easily understood, more tangible.  Try to get comfortable with just being and enjoying, not understanding.

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