The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Body and emotion, the hard way

One of the things that I love about Scott is the way he keeps evolving. Over the last years,he’s started incorporating some serious yoga into his programs, and that’s all for the good. In my opinion, Yoga is just the best body-mind discipline available to the general public. Unless you are qualified to TEACH a yoga class, if you are serious about your health you should attend one at least once a month, and have a home practice at least 15 minutes twice a week MINIMUM. Yoga puts back what time takes away.

Anyway, the common element between many of these disciplines is the idea that the human body is interrelated systems which must be addressed globally for maximum impact. That means that you either practice an old, tried and true health system, or you research your butt off to be certain that you are covering everything.

The Lifewriting idea originally came out of the observation that the Hero’s Journey seemed to give people perspective on their lives that often disappeared under stress. It evolved to embrace the question of selection of resources—I’m now convinced that I’ll never find the “perfect” set, although things like I.F., Spiritual Autolysis, and the Flow State Performance Spiral are fantastic.

One thing that does hit me is that stress limits your ability to detect stress. It also limits your ability to find and use resources in your environment. In other words, as stress becomes strain, you become blind to the possible alternative options. Life turns into a “my way or the highway” situation. “There’s nothing I can do” is a common complaint. How many times have you heard this from a friend, when, as you look in from the outside, you see a dozen options?

Worse is the person who has a complaint that requires a long-term behavioral solution. Many times, I’ve suggested someone, for instance, meditate. They don’t have time. Years down the road, they hit an emotional or physical problem, where the perfect answer would have been meditation, but it will take about six weeks for that solution to begin to kick in. They don’t have time, and want an answer NOW. They’ll survive the crisis, and then once again won’t make the time to meditate, and the cycle continues. Month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

Scott has a saying about pain in the body: pain is the last to manifest, and the first to leave. In other words, chronic Yuck accumulates in the body for a LONG time before it actually begins to hurt. You try desperately to get an athlete to change their behavior, and they won’t. Or they’ll go to a clinic just long enough to salve the pain, and will then hit the field again, without addressing the underlying problem.

The same thing psychologically. People don’t want to address the real problems. They’ll deal with the symptom once it becomes intolerable, but as soon as the discomfort is gone, they’ll go right back to the old behaviors.

It’s heartbreaking, it really is.
. For at least the next 28 days, I'll be playing with a new exercise option. Actually, two of them.

Most importantly, I have a goal of performing 15 reps of FlowFit II in Fifteen minutes. Trust me, this is overall fitness at a VERY high level--flexibility, cardio, upper and lower body. Nice. But I'm also going for a 100-rep "Century" with the bruiser, using the Gama cast (a sort of over-shoulder figure 8) . Yep, I've tried before and failed. But the I.F. seems to give me a better recovery, so I'm trying again.

I'm using what's called a "Density Cycle." Here's the plan. You take an exercise that would be a complete and total physical breakthrough if you could do 100 reps. Say an exercise you can currently do 10 times. Do five reps per minute for 20 minutes. (approximately 1 minute per set. Expand this time-frame if necessary.) When you can complete all twenty sets comfortably, do 18 sets of 6 reps, at about one per minute. Or you could just rest one minute in between sets. Keep this up, upping reps and dropping sets so that the total work just clears 100 reps. This plan is strange, because as you march through the different rep schemes, you get a cascade of different physical effects: strength, power, size, endurance, fat loss, etc., each emphasized by a different rep range (strength/power is 5-7 reps. Size is 8-12 reps. Muscular endurance is around 15 reps, etc.) It's gonna be wicked, and I think going for both will be fascinating. I'll alternate with pure yoga days. This should be fun.

Please pay VERY CAREFUL ATTENTION: You MUST have serious recovery time built into a program like this. That is no #@$$%ing joke. You can tear your body to pieces if you try to make it adapt faster than it is prepared to do.

Yesterday, I did 20 sets of five Gama Casts, one set every half-hour through the day. This morning, I was sore, but that’s nothing in comparison with how sore I’ll be when I start compressing the rest periods. And if I don’t respect my body’s messages, and hurry too quickly through the stages, I’ll tear myself apart.

Now, this is the point. Do you see it? Your ability to progress physically is in direct proportion to your emotional control and discipline. In other words, the urge to “get there” to the final step will force you to degrade technique, to fail to get all the possible good from a given step. I think it relates to fears of age, or inadequacy, or desire to control the pace of change. We fear we can’t, and push too hard. We fear our competitors will get there first, and forget that we are never, ever competing with anyone but ourselves.

This opens the door a little wider, showing how body is created by mind and emotion. It is just a bit harder to demonstrate how intellect is created and controlled by the body and heart, or how our emotions are controlled by physical sensation and mental focus.

All three are interrelated, and there is nothing sadder than a mindless jock, an open-heart who won’t learn from mistakes, an intellectual brain-in-a-box. Sigh. Our true excellence lies so close at hand. It takes so little time to connect with all three—but growth demands consistency. Just a little work every day will get you there.

But most people wait until it hurts, and then try running the emergency room.

That’s nuts.

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