Being in and out of movement
A few years back, I was very intrigued by, and welcoming of the so-called `paleo´ movement. I eagerly read all I could, travelled widely to attend various gatherings, gave a few lectures, wrote some articles, and in general saw the renewed interest in `real´ food and an unprocessed lifestyle as a damn good thing. What seemed to happen however, is that the `movement´ became bogged down in a pedantic squabble (and a lot of ego) over `what is paleo or not´. Instead of rejoicing in the spread of awareness about nutrients, movement, community, food sources and so on, people seemed intent on reinventing the `brand´. As an afterthought here, I think the majority of the silly debate revolved around and between those who had `newly discovered´ real food and a more unprocessed health lifestyle, rather than those of us who had grown up eating natural food and being outside all the time.
The takeout for me was a renewed interest in looking at what certain aspects of my diet and lifestyle were `non-nutritious´ and hindering my daily performance and interaction with the environment and those close to me. In other words, being more aware and conscious about the choices we make and the agency we have in determining our health pathway. Fast forward to the current interest in movement or `natural´ physical culture. Like `natural´ eating and `real food´, the idea of stripping our `training´ mindset back to its basics is about simplicity and connection, not the addition of unnecessary complexity. In fact, I see the opportunity for myself (who may be seen in some niche circles as a kind of representative for this `movement culture´) to highlight people’s awareness of what hindrances they allow or factor into their daily movement patterns.
In other words, to remove non-nurturing movement can be seen in analogous ways to the removal of refined, non-nutritious foodstuffs from their lifestyle. The key element I see to this idea of movement is to make the discussion so translucent and ephemeral, that any attempts by people to corner or trivialize the `culture´ become meaningless and ultimately mere digressions to the entire point of human movement. The `point´, dear movement-police-cadets-in-waiting, is that there is nothing to cling to, no benchmarks, there are no dichotomies, there are no patents, there is just a sharing of joy and wonder concerning the possibilities, freedoms and instincts of being a human animal in today’s society within our wider universe.
My philosophical interest in the nature of human movement and physicality stems from a childhood surrounded by both constant interactions with nature and a house full of books on Roman and Greek heroes, poets, gods and monsters (my father was a philosopher and historian of the Roman Empire and Hellenistic period). From a lifelong engagement in movement and mythology, I welcome the revival of attention these days in both the experiential and mystical interest in what it means to be a free and/or constrained human. Movement is a great base for this interest because it is simply the only given `law´ of our universe. There is energy. There is movement. We are always in movement. We come out of movement, so why this desire to control or define something so vast? The ideas I’m working with currently relate to breaking down any barriers relating to the way we both theorize and undertake the experience of movement. Anything goes; only hardened egos beg to differ. Take your ´genre` to the party, add it to the pot of movement and enjoy the ride.
One of the most pervasive legacies of human development over the past few centuries has been the idea that the parts are somehow more important than the whole. It has become second nature to such an extent that the mere idea of an infinite collective is immediately cast in the pot of weirdo soup. Now much of this has to do with our taken-for-granted acceptance of science and/or religion, and the ensuing right or wrong dichotomies. We are quick to judge experience, even quicker to denounce wonder. The movement experience I’m working with on both philosophical and experiential levels asks different questions based upon the idea that category is the disorder and the demoralizing influence in life. Nature and our connectivity, through deeper awareness of the movement energetic on the other hand, is the heartspace for our exploration of this grandeur and our moving experience.
Our movement becomes an eternal moment of being alive and our sole task is to be present with each movement as a form of energy so powerful it brings us closer to unravelling the experience of simultaneous consciousness. This may appear Zen-like to some, or (add your own woo-woo) to others, but the real essence of stripping something so primordial down to its inception, is the simple liberation provided through the experience of just being in your movement. This seemingly illusive notion occurs whether we like it or not, but our awareness of the moment (prior to self-conscious judgement and analysis) requires surrendering and letting go of any ideas you may have about yourself. For many who are so focused on their niche specialization, this is a hard pill to swallow, but then again, why seek comfort in the illusion of some representation?
Through training, work, physicality, love, community, solitude, mysticism, illness, vitality or any number of states of being – movement – our baseline energetic, frames our patterns of choice and experience. Being aware of our place `in and out of movement´ helps us shape a world in which we take responsibility for self-actualizing our potentials and freedoms, via continual reflections upon the greater whole. The temptations to continue to base experience on social media identities, past mistakes, media scare-tactics, notions of culture, certain movement ´mastery` or a belly full of frozen spam may still occur, but needn’t detract from our wider journey.
You see, human nature is like a collection of debris floating down an endless river full of twists and turns. At each bend, whirlpools collect our fallibilities forming debris of delusion, until the rising flow strips away the stagnating illusion of harmony. We first acknowledge the flow and become aware of the whirlpools. Then, through a succession of choices, offer the movement of our heartspace until we find ourselves immersed in the currents of autonomous movement freedom. From a physical perspective, we can apply our modern-day terminology to this flow if we wish. Ideas of strength, skill, mobility, style etc can find their place in your practice for sure, but think of them as aspects of a greater flow of movement – a flow that transcends any spurious notion we may have about our mind or body being separate entities. By thinking about this idea, suddenly we must rethink everything we’ve ever been taught about physicality and progress in the development of our training.
We needn’t fear this possibility that allowing ourselves to be so deeply involved in our own movement patterns may just be the window we require to open up our realm of creativity and soulful interdependence with the wider cosmos. After all, philosophers and explorers have for centuries sought to ask questions and experience life based upon the ebb and flow of moving terrain. And certain mystics were never entirely sedentary. Everyone can in fact become better equipped at facing the challenges and wonders of life simply by placing our movement experience at the forefront of everything we do, and as part of the creation of what we might become.
A joyful and progressive movement lifestyle need not be a solitary affair, or certainly not one outsourced to external interests, but ought to be a constant learning experience you yourself discover as your connections widen. No matter what their background, make a concerted effort to read and seek out people with real life experience and see what your take out can be. Maybe nothing, but maybe some small aspect you can incorporate into your way of moving. Be vigilant and avoid letting commercial interests steal not only your hard earned cash, but also the most essential asset you have: your time and health. Remember, movement just is. It is life. So don’t waste time in debating what it is not.
So what are some practical steps we may wish to think about and act upon in this flirtation with our simultaneous energetic? As alluded to earlier with the ´paleo` movement, this idea of nurturing our awareness and experience of nutritious movement is one to keep in mind. Think of your intentions to discover your movement potentialities (whatever they may be) as a prelude to the removal of unnecessary clutter in order to experience your true movement autonomy. It takes practice and lots of curiosity, patience, self-love and gratitude. Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll outline some moves we can incorporate into our daily routines in order to bring some of these ideas into practical fruition.
Keep moving. That’s what we do.
Dr. Tom Mountjoy is an independent anthropologist and health researcher interested in a wide range of topics relating to the philosophy of science and the nature of human experience.Tom can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via social media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube @primalmovers