This is The Way
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.