I often ask myself, "Why do I treasure one movement and not another. Why am I more likely to do this movement, and not a different one? Am I diverse enough in my movement? How often does my ego interfere with my choice of action - and what is the underlying mental mechanism behind my movements?"
I don't have the answers to all of these questions, but I do have a lot of thoughts on how I should approach this subject - movement. As stated in earlier articles, we tend to imply that we move with outmost diversity, and that is also why I question my own motivation from time to time. How diverse am I really, what am I emphasizing and why? This made me come up with an approach to moving which includes as much as the world as possible, our environment, our psyche, our body and our daily life.
I hope you will find some inspiration in these words, knowing that they do not account as truth, but merely as a tool - reflecting upon what we experience and what we do.
The complexity of moving
"To me it seems obvious that we tend to furnish our movements with values due to our own personal beliefs."
Because we are such highly developed creatures - considering motor skills - we have a wide range of movements that we can perfect. Just take the incredible difference between a piano player's finger movement, and the massive amount of force created by a 100 m. sprinter.
In my opinion it is almost impossible to imagine all the different movements that we can come up with - and for that sake, does it really matter?
When we look at movement from a health perspective, we just want to do a lot of diverse movements, a little of everything. Then our joints will be well functioning in various positions, our muscles will produce and absorb force, our bones will not fracture, and our cardio-vascular health is beyond mediocre.
The fact is, movement is interconnected. All movement affects or compliments each individual movement. Cells, nerves, fascias, ligaments and muscle tissue all get affected when we move.
Every muscle in your body is connected to fascia which is connected to another muscle and so on. Your body's anatomy is a network on the same scale as the neurons in your brain. So how dare we isolate movements, when they are clearly connected through the strong bonds of our body? We must understand this diverse network as a part of nature, just like the ecosystem of this planet. Nothing is left alone. All processes influence each other and strengthen or diminish their natural function.
In the light of this knowledge it becomes clear that moving can be so much more than health. It can be whatever you want it to be, and trust me, that is quite a lot - you uniquely shape and perform movements, due to the way the world has shaped your mind. The only way we can interact with our environment is through our movement. Movement is doing - moving is living. Even reading is a movement; you can't do anything without moving.
To me, this obvious truth is immensely relevant because it has helped me shape some really important thoughts about life.
Thus the complexity of movement is what creates the nature of movement. A way of being in this world and a way of affecting ourselves and others - movement is all we have to give.
"Moving can become an attitude towards your actions and a way of cultivating your mind by the approach you have towards the movement."
In parkour, movements are free, not organized and not "too" categorized. Within this freedom of movement we have the opportunity to do whatever we like. But why is it then, that we like some things better than others?
To me it seems obvious that we tend to furnish our movements with values due to our own personal beliefs. This might be aesthetics, body sensations, previous experiences and so on. We have so many preferences that we barely see how blind we really are. Because your preferences are not mine, and that weakens our ideals in this area of life, and therefore they have little universal amplitude.
Like everything else in life we try to categorize movements and put on labels of "good" or "bad". And of course it makes sense if we have a goal of personal movement, something we want to achieve. In that case different exercises can be more beneficial than others, but it is not this kind of mind-set I am addressing. My point here will be, that having a goal with movement is not necessarily what makes movement beneficial in the end.
All these ideas about what is best and what is worse is made up by our mind and our circumstances. If we spend a lot of time doing gymnastics, we will have more preferences towards the aesthetics of gymnastics; clean lines, alignment and restricted movement patterns. But if we spend more time in a capoeira community or parkour, for that sake, we might appreciate less clean movements, more "natural looking" and creative movements that are new to us.
In the end, none of us is right or wrong - it is all just movement. Both the peculiar movements and the clean aligned movements have their place in that complex piece of cell-bundle that contains your mind. Remember, your body is part of a greater whole, part of the ecosystem of this world; it is part of a universal interconnectedness. This whole doesn't care about what you like or which movements you do.
WHAT IS THERE TO GAIN?
"Moving is living - and how you want to live your life is your own choice."
So without goals or hierarchical movement understanding, how do we choose what we want to do?
Maybe we should try to choose everything - as much as possible.
When you sit and meditate, you try to develop a calm attitude and clear mind in that specific situation. That is why most experts, monks etc. will tell you to practice meditation in all actions, hence movement. In that way movement and mind is connected, so that conscious moving has the potential to develop a balanced and joyful mind - so to speak, moving is a mental discipline manifested in a physical practice.
When I look at movement in general, I see goals, achievements and graded movements. All disciplines have this, even our non-judgmental parkour community.
But isn't this just the easy attitude, the non-reflecting way of viewing our actions?
Like the monks, we must understand that the way we treat our "training" movements, influences the way we live, the way we think and the way we treat this world.
That is why I try to view movement as a practical way of developing my mind, creating more calmness and more openness. And if every movement is able to do the same, if every movement is connected in the basis of our brain and nervous system, then why is it that I should not do flips? Or why is it that I should not lift weights? Or maybe start playing the piano?
I only see reasons to move, what ever it might be. Moving can become an attitude towards your actions and a way of cultivating your mind by the approach you have towards the movement.
This approach is focus, passion and dedication. Actually becoming your movement, trying to be focused, relaxed and joyful while doing it. If you have this approach you will benefit immensely from all movements. Because this approach makes you aware of details, of body sensations and of right progression.
The universal understanding of movement only cares about how you approach the action, not why. Because a dedicated and aware movement and a complete understanding of your body as nature created it, will make your movements beneficial with regards to your health and mentality.
Moving is living - and how you want to live your life is your own choice.
I choose to view all movement as equally important, enjoying the freedom and benefits from the calm mind generated by an aware attitude towards my daily training, whatever it may contain.
Play wholehearted - one love.