“You’ve got a choice: …you can just give in. You can give your jailers what they want. Switch off another light and in the ocean of darkness bow your head and cry. You can despair for your kids, and they can despair for you. But what does this choice give you? Have you any great new happiness now? What does your unhappiness give to your children? Why did you make this choice? Why did you walk into the trap of captivity?”
“I would suggest that the prisons I incessantly create are not designed to lock me in, rather they are designed to lock the world out. And the oddity is that either way, I am a prisoner who has sentenced himself to a prison within which I do not belong.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough
Shoulders crushed, chest collapsing, breath wrung out. Smothered. Like a straight-jacket – arms strapped tight, legs too. Darkness setting in. Claustrophobia becoming paralysis. Pain into panic. Wrapped, suffocating in its grip, crying for the release of death.
Dying by giant snake? Or by the early-onset, slow, loss of mobility, that we call ageing? Indistinguishable to me.
Agonizing confinement is a terrifying situation to be sentenced to, the tightness and suffocation of being painfully constrained. Like the prey of an anaconda, gripped in its final moments – this image embodies what we live to flee.
From enslavement to imprisonment, poverty to isolation, depression to disease and pain; all of these share a common thread; they limit our partaking in life. They restrict us, like a strangling grip. To be trapped, to lose our freedom, either internally or externally, is to lose our vitality, our life. Breaking free is what we were born to do.
“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
It is the release from restraint which we chase; whether we strive for social liberty, yearn for riches, run from ageing, or seek spiritual liberation, it is freedom which compels us forward. We are a microcosm containing the macrocosm and are bursting to engage and express fully. Freedom is an experience without limits, and to our bones, we feel it is our birthright. To lose our freedom, in any form that we can recognize, is our greatest fear.
We tend to believe that ageing is an indomitable thief of our freedom and happiness; an unavoidable slow-puncture in our tires, gradually bringing us to a painful halt. This pandemic of early-onset, painful disability has become so common that it is now considered inescapable. However, common does not guarantee anything.
It is possible to avoid losing our movement vitality in the way that many do. Premature decay is the result of accumulating more time spent moving carelessly; it is not an unavoidable and direct consequence of merely spending more time alive. An unfortunate coincidence; that we simultaneously gather the effects of poor movement while we age.
“Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.”
Our unstimulating and monotonous westernized lifestyles create our poor movement. Our environment has morphed from highly variable and unforeseeable, to specific and predictable. Comfortable, yet unfamiliar and dull forces are shaping our bodies, depriving us of the stimulus to develop fully. Let us destroy this illusion and scapegoat that age brings with it unavoidable paralyzing decay.
If we acknowledge this shift and consider the consequences that are clear for us to see, we can make changes to steer clear of stumbling unknowingly into such unnecessary suffocating situations as so many of our aged population do. It is possible to craft a movement practice to unravel the limitations that our modern lifestyle creates in our bodies. We can escape the gradual strangulation that we believe is unavoidable with ageing and instead preserve the delight in unbounded experience.
“Freedom, in any case, is only possible by constantly struggling for it.”
The main requirement is that we exert some of our movement activity towards the goal of nurturing our body’s movement functionality, continuously. We must be proactive and gather movement which aims to unravel specificity and expand possibility, sustainably. This possible for anyone who chooses to understand and then act.
Natural forces have always shaped our physical development throughout life. However, we have now tamed these forces on our mission to forge a comfortable environment with less resistance. We have subdued the natural forces and have replaced them with physically unstimulating and monotonous activities. The new synthetic environment is mis-shaping us, and we have a responsibility to maintain our movement despite this, or it will be lost. Use it, or lose it – this cannot hold more true than it does for the case of the body and its movement. We need to understand this reality to adapt.
In this age of information, ignorance is now a deliberate choice. We can apply our intelligence to this issue more effectively than ever before. We need to decide to use physical activity towards biomechanical longevity as often as we choose to use it toward short-term goals like aesthetics, muscle building and weight-loss, or chasing the endorphin highs of endurance and competitive sporting events. Yes, this will require learning and understanding of the actual implications of various activities, especially on our joints and connective tissues. Still, there are not many investments of effort that will yield such substantial returns. It is a real pity that our schooling does not yet consider this knowledge foundational, but that time will come.
Do not wait for the motivation of desperation that naturally comes with injury and ageing before you act. Instead, be inspired and proactively organize a movement practice to care for your most significant gift in this life, your mind’s vehicle, your body.
“Your body is the harp of your soul and it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds.”
The notion that maintaining the human body in good form is a characteristic of self-absorbed gym-goers is outdated, and we must discard it. If you live in a body, and you subject that body to the repetitious western lifestyle, then, unless you unravel the specificity that will develop, you will encounter weakness and restriction, pain and then injury, early-onset ageing – there is no way around this.
It is through our physical body that we engage with our environment, community, and goals. Movement freedom is physical freedom – to walk through nature or play with children, to dance with loved ones or sport opponents, or perhaps most importantly, to sit upright in stillness with comfortable strength. Our movement is our youth; it is our energy in motion, our life. It is profoundly precious.
“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.”
We embody the most sophisticated technology discovered in the galaxy, that is our vehicle, and it deserves all the care and respect we can muster. It is unimagineably more advanced and deserving of our respect than any smartphone or supercar, and it can bring indescribable joy when flowing freely through movement. We are living and breathing through the real thing – beast meets god, god meets beast. It can evolve however we would like it to, it can feel as good as we would like it to, it can explore, contribute and connect as much as we choose. We need only to give it the appropriate attention.
No reasonable person would condemn themself to painful constraint or dependency – so how do we then allow them to become a part of our body? They are deaths, little baby deaths. Every physical moment that we encounter we experience through a lens; our body. Therefore, restriction in body limits experience, discomfort in body erodes experience.
With direction and a dash of discipline, you can drink from the fountain of youth, and die younger, much later than you have been domesticated to believe possible. Don’t dare waste any more time before treating your body it’s worth.
“The man form is higher than the angel form; of all forms it is the highest. Man is the highest being in creation, because he aspires to freedom.”