This is The Way

Categories: Blog, blog Dec 14, 2020

In the latest episode of the Mandalorian (Season 2, Episode 7, The Believer), the episode highlights the struggle between freedom and order. The argument is many think they want freedom but what they really want is order. Or, maybe they want the illusion of freedom draped over the safety of order, kind of like a “structured freedom.” I love the Mandalorian series, but this particular episode of the Mandalorian was amazing, if not very thought-provoking. 

Anyway, freedom versus order is a theme that may very well run through every fabric of our lives, even those that it shouldn’t, like movement. Some of the most common questions I get on YouTube involve rules for movement. People want to know if they are doing the movement wrong, if I’m doing it wrong, how many reps they should do the movement, how long they should do the movement, etc. 

I get it, I guess; no one wants to do anything “wrong” or anything “unsafe.”

But at the same time, why are we concerned we will move wrong or in an unsafe manner? And why do we search for the magic formula, or the magic number, to know when we no longer need to practice a particular movement? Our ability to move is ours to explore. When we first came into the world, we were carefree and hellbent on moving as much as we could. We couldn’t not move. Movement begged us. The more we moved, the more we learned, and the more we could move. We grew in strength, dexterity, confidence, and adventure. Each of us moved and refined our movements without rules, without imposed limits, and without concern. And in the process, we enjoyed our freedom. 

So what changed?

What happened to us that we are so willing to trade the freedom we were born with for the rules of “The Way.” When did we become concerned with how far our knees should move past our toes? When did neck extension become a poison instead of a tonic? When did move every way you discover and rest when you're tired become three sets of ten for 4 weeks? When did we trade the flexible limits of infinite movement for the rigid walls of training cycles? 

There was a time when your body knew more about movement than any expert in the world. There was a time when you used movement to heal, strengthen, restore, build your body, mind, and emotions. You were the movement expert, and you learned simply by being and doing. And then, over time, the voices of others started to penetrate your ears.

The rules, the fears, the ways of “do this,” “never do that” started to accumulate in your brain. You began to trade the information your body knew with the information your brain was receiving. You began to confuse exercise with movement. You began to confuse “being good” with following the rules. You began to fear being injured, or being weak, or being odd. It’s not your fault. We all get programmed with the order of the ways or our world. We all get robbed of our freedom. 

As I said earlier, we were born with complete movement freedom, despite some of our parent's misguided attempts to correct us, expedite us, or coral us. We moved and learned at our own pace, and we did it masterfully. We had the perfect combination of developmental programming, curiosity, whimsy, time, and patience. Day in and day out, we showed up, moved, played, learned, and rested when needed. There were no rules and no real limits other than what our body would or would not allow us to do. 

And that’s the way movement should be. Show up, move often, challenge yourself through curiosity, and learn the limits of your body’s abilities by moving where you can - where it will allow you to move. 

There are no magic time durations and no magic repetitions. And, if you gently and attentively explore your body’s abilities rather than being aggressive or blindly moving, you will find that there are no real rules for moving. Your own body will tell you where it can and cannot go. The more you move, the more you explore, the stronger and more capable your movements become. Then, just like when you were a child, your abilities increase: you move better, more efficiently, with more strength, control, and power. In fact, almost everything you want to have from your body can be found through consistently and curiously moving your body. 

Yes, the structure of exercise can have benefits, but exercise is not a substitute for your given design of movement. Also, the rules of exercise should not be blanketed over movement. There are no rules to movement. There are rules for training, for exercise, for sport, and that’s where they belong.

Don’t be afraid to move, but do move.

Set aside time every day and explore your body’s ability to move.

Reclaim your freedom to move.

This is how you optimize your potential to enjoy your life.

Comments (6)

  1. berzerk:
    Dec 14, 2020 at 10:23 AM

    Hi Tim, if I read your post correctly, there's no need to listen to anybody on how to move better because we as human beings already know how to move in optimal way?


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Dec 14, 2020 at 10:59 AM

      The optimal way is actually inside of each of us. There was a time when all we had to do was allow it to move us. It is still in us, but to find it we may have to return to it - deliberately. Again, don’t confuse movement with exercise. But also exercise is likely a bandaid for movement - for most of us. What the majority of us need to do is simply move as we are designed to move. Our bodies can show us how if we seek their knowledge. It may be confusing, but we all did it once without any help at all.


  2. berzerk:
    Dec 14, 2020 at 12:21 PM

    When we were children, something made us move in certain way that eventually we were able to function as other humans: stand up, jump, walk, run. There was no freedom there, each child goes in the same sequence, rolling before sitting, crawling before walking. Morover when a child learns to walk, it rarely goes back to rolling or crawling from one place to another, does it mean that the previous skill is inferior in terms of body functions comparing to new skill?
    As adults, each one of us move differently, due to some reason, perhaps related to biases we have about ourselves. How does one go back to move the way we're designed to move avoiding the learnt patterns and biases? The phrase "move as we are designed to move" itself shows there's optimal pattern for humans to move. if there is one, how does it go together with the freedom part? If we are to move the way we were designed to move, does it mean we shouldn't swim because it's not one of the skills we learn as children?


    1. Tim:
      Dec 14, 2020 at 01:15 PM

      Great insight and discussion.

      Yes, we did have an original developmental sequence. But still as being individuals and circumstances dictated, not all of us went through the whole program and not all of us spent the same amount of time in each stage. Most of us did make errors in these stages as well, bumps, bruises, falls, mishaps. But we would reset by reengaging in the program. And yes, there is no freedom in running a program you’re designed to run, but there is freedom in engaging in that same program you never lost. The body has a design that can restore it (help it move better, express itself better and even facilitate optimal healing) at any age. That design also gives us a foundation for infinite expression and skill development, like swimming. There are rules to exercise and noted paths to success for skill development - and they are helpful and needed. Though they are achieved better when the body moves often according to its design. Anyway, those rules have leaked into everything movement based thought - seemingly so. My only point is that it’s okay to explore our design without having rigid structure. But that makes people uncomfortable

      Thank you for the discussion.


  3. berzerk:
    Dec 14, 2020 at 04:42 PM

    Hi Tim, many thanks for your patience and replies. It's increadible how much I've realized about myself when trying to write some more questions.

    Thanks a million Tim!


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Dec 14, 2020 at 04:52 PM

      I will thank you, too. I really loved your question and it broadened my view as well as hopefully helped me articulate what I was meaning better. Thank you so much for sharing your vantage point. I appreciate your sharpening effect on me.


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