|Robert Don Springer weblog
Paradise Body, Lost and Found
Part One: A History of the "Dreadfully Disappointed,
|"We used to live in the
Eden," they say. Yes, I believe that, but not exactly as it
says in the old "YWH" or "EL" Bible. No, mostly we lived IN THE TREES
of that garden
among their "ramifications". That's a fancy word meaning "branches".
It was a wonderful, three-dimensional experience which our BODIES have
not forgotten ...
and now miss, "dreadfully". Yes, we "fell from grace", the grace of
running & jumping, skipping & swinging from branch-to-branch in
all of those 720 degrees of
directions (That means 360
horizontally plus 360 vertically.) What a big 3-D "ball" of "ramified"
possibilities our BODIES then lived in! It was glorious, even better
Oh yes, there were dangers up there, dangers like falling (especially
in your sleep), large &
hungry cats, and silent & deadly snakes. Otherwise it was paradise
with lovely fruits and
insects to eat.
And so our BODIES then practiced good nutrition and plenty of exercise,
so no wonder
we NOW (forced to live in our body-unfriendly, civilized world) so
often feel "dreadfully"
home-sick for that "Paradise Lost". Yes, we miss our "roots" in the
tops of the TREES
because whe our BODIES left that 3-D paradise, they got put-back into
the "trailing and
tracking imperative" (TTI) which mammals OBEYED long before they (as
tarsiers) started living in the TREES.
Our first return-steps (now bipedal) back into that ancient "trailing
and tracking imperative"
(TTI) were devoted to following "protein-promising herds" (PPH) of the
other (older species)
mammals (still quadra-pedal).
Well, I suppose that when we left those TREES, what we lost in our arms
(our former "front
legs") we made-up-for in those amazing hind legs (and massive
buttocks). We became the best long-distance (marathon) "trackers and
trailers" EVER. No other
mammal was safe with
a group of us (now totally bi-pedal) chimps running after him
(sometimes for the whole day!)
armed with deadly "throwing" tools of predation. Yes, we had "protein
in the pot" almost
every night. Hallelujah! (And don't forget to say "grace".)
But what price have we paid for all this protein? What has this return
to the "tracking and trailing imperative" (TTI) done to our once
Part Two: Why
The Christian part of the
Holy Bible promises a resurrection into a "new body" in some
distant, after-death "new life" I don't buy into that "pie in
promise because I want my
RESURRECTED BODY NOW, thank you (RBN,ThY). And why not?
When we lived in the trees, we used our arms "aloft" (above shoulder
level and usually in a "V" position). Our legs were mostly used for
"bracing" our weight side-toside against branches. This meant that our
used mostly in a straddle "A" position.
Now, if you put these two positions to-gether (the "V" above and the
"A" below), you get an
"X" for the entire body. It was that "X"-axis body position which gave
us some very
important, deep-inside muscles which operated to bind the whole torso
(both thorax and
pelvis areas) to the very flexible spine.
But today, our civilized way of life neglects to exercise these deeply
import-ant muscles, and so usually if we want our paradise bodies back
again, we have to take
programs like yoga or Pilates.
Any other kind of exercise tends to
neglect these deep muscles
and can even cause our bodies to wear and tear and degeneration.
Certainly just walking or
running in a straight line ahead (especially on a level surface or a
treadmill) is a GREAT
LIMITATION on our "once-ramified" bodies.
This GREAT LIMITATION began
left our tree homes and began to track and trail again, led this time
not by the nose (like the
four legged mammals) but led by the eyes (now in front of the face)
"fixed on some prize on
the far horizon".
But at least running and walking gives your body SOME exercise. Today,
people don't even do THAT on a daily or even a weekly basis. So
much for the LEGS.
Let's now focus on our "upper limbs", our two arms which
(usually downward now) into our palm with thumb and fingers. THESE are
the parts of our bodies
which have become
the worst victims of civilized behaviors. And I have lots to say about
these pitiful arms and
hands which are enslaved by customs and habits that we have come to
take for granted and
consider to be "natural". They have even come to "serve" talking...even
on the telephone!
I once wrote a song about what happened to our bodies when they left
the trees. The song consisted of only seven words repeated by a low
voice as a
rhythmic chant while another, higher voice sang the same seven words
more slowly and melodically over the beat.
The seven words were as follows:
WALK & RUN, CARRY
& THROW, TALK & DRAW & WRITE
Somehow these new bipedal, arm-free activities have become the "Seven
Deadly Sins" against the "ramified" body we developed in our Paradise
seven "civilized" activities have come to dominate our "marvel-ous"
bipedal lives. The
first four activities at least involve moving the larger muscles of the
body, but those last
three are the worst of the bunch because they use only the very small
muscles, and they are
usually performed while the body is in the HORRIBLE position we call
"sitting down". For example
when I graduated from college as a commercial artist, I refused to
pursue that career
when I saw people moored to their drawing boards under fluorescent
"Sitting down" encourages bad posture (slumping and hunching) and the
nurturing of a pot belly in the lap. But the spine and torso are only
the more obvious problem areas. Very few people realize how
"dreadfully" en-slaved our
arms and hands have become in the "service" of civilized occupations
and rituals. These
"services" are almost always performed at LOW horizons or levels:
belly, chest, and hips.
Tables, chairs, and car-seats keep our arms and hands down at these low
levels where they
keep repeating the same movements over-and-over again. Very rarely do
you see anyone over the
age of eight gleefully tossing his arms up above shoulder level. How
sad for the adults of our
species! The major exception to this sad state of affairs is the
audience who have been encourages to "Get those hands up in the air".
What a glorious,
To counter this dreadful "sitting down" enslavement of my own body, I
have made several important changes in my life-style. Probably the most
has been my refusal to drive a car again. Now I either bike, walk, or
take a bus. But even
these forms of transportation have their body limitations. For example,
nothing for the arms, and walking is not only "trail-ahead linear", it
also forces the arms and
hands into becoming mere "straight-ahead" counterweights for the
swinging actions of the legs.
What a waste! And bussing usually involves "sitting down", but because
of those wonderful
metal poles and
overhead grips, I consider the bus to be a great gymnastic opportunity!
In fact, even while
sitting, I always keep at least one arm above shoulder level holding a
pole or a window sill.
And if I'm lucky enough to be standing on the bus, I try to
arms aloft and my legs
in that tree-inspired "A" position. Thereby riding the bus almost
becomes a "surfing" activity
with my arms up in the happy "V" (for victory) position. Yes, riding
the bus while standing is
one of my favorite "X"-axis activities for my "ramified" BODY.
However walking is the best, BUT only IF the arms are UP, UP, UP.
O.K. So people think you are crazy (or childish) if you go-around
waving your arms in the air,
but here's how you can gradually put first your OWN fears at
then become not a
"laughing stock" but an "inspiration" to others. The "safest" position
(socially acceptable) for
your raised-up arms is with at least one palm on the top of your head.
Two is better, of
course. Just walking with your two hands up there immediately frees
your arms from being
just "dead" counter weights for the leg movements. Now your shoulders
begin to lead the
torso into a spine-twisting action which engages those wonderful,
deep-torso muscles again.
At best, this "hands on head in public" strategy is a compromise or a
mild concession to the opinion of others, but eventually you must
convince yourself (and later
others) that the BODY
BENEFITS of this unusual behaviour far outweigh any unsympathetic
stares or silly
comments from strangers.
Really, since we left the trees, our arm muscles need additional
"gravity resisting" weights
while they move in those upper regions. One usually thinks of barbells
and dumbbells when
thinking of weights, but why not plastic bottles of water (small or
large)? Again barbells and
dumbbells suggest only traditional curling" and "pressing" which
reinforce the "trail-ahead
mind-set" tending to convert the body into a rectilinear "box car".
This moving-ahead, "space
cube" concept for the body de-ramifies its tree-trained muscles and
forces them into a "frontback, left-side, right-side" space which when
combined with the usual weight
lifter's pursuit if massive muscles, invites RIGIDITY rather
FLEXIBILITY. But if
you start your socalled "weight training" with small, plastic bottles
of water, you can build
muscle "tone" in
the arms while waving them about in diagonal and curvilinear patterns.
But even the bottles
(small or large) presuppose what I call the "bar-grip" which may well
have its origin in
"brachiation" (swinging from branch to branch) but it limits the
freedom of our "handy"
ramifications (thumb and fingers). The solution to this "frozen palm"
grasp is the occasion-al
use of plastic shopping bags for holding your water-bottle weights.
These bags come with
strap-handles which can be looped over the palm, the wrist, the fingers
combinations), or the thumb so as to invite all kinds of digital
freedoms like stretching,
rotating, clawing, and twiddling (with palm up or down). Why condemn
the digits of our
"branching" arms to frozen isolation while moving the rest of the body
in 3-D space? And too,
I recommend an occasional putting-down of the weights for brief periods
of "flipping" or
shak-ing-out the occupational (habitual) rigidities in those ten
digits. Liberate these poor little
slaves every chance you get.
So maybe you ARE too shy to get outdoors with your bottles and subject
yourself to possible
strange stares or even rude comments from the more rigidly civilized
members of our species.
Here in Brazil, many people who see me on the trail with my bottles
that I am trying to sell those bottles of water I'm holding
else would a person do
such a thing? And when a car-full of young men jeer in fast passing, I
just imagine myself
asking them, "And what are YOU doing for your poor body at this moment?
motionless 'sitting-down' give you the health and free-doom I'm
enjoying as you ride
past in your 'box-car' ? Now tell me who looks foolish?"
So maybe you'd rather exercise your body at home in private.
I suggest that you
get out of bed earlier than usual to do this because so much of what we
"with" or "to" our bodies in the morning is all about "regimental
rituals" which are designed
to put both your mind and your body "back on the trail" in pursuit of
that "prize on the
horizon". Well, DON'T DO IT ANYMORE. Get up early enough to
to really focus on three new thoughts while you exercise:
1. My body moves in a 3-D "bubble", not an always-forward-moving "box".
2. I stretch and strengthen my body's "X" axis.
3. My arms feel at home on and above my "chin table".
With these new concepts in mind you can easily design your own
THE BODY PROGRAM (RRoBP) with or without music. However, I have one
more word of caution:
Do not assume that every
move you make on, say, your left side must be
duplicated on your right side (or vice-versa). No, this is just
another form of rigid acculturation which tries to ignore the fact that
bodies (like our brains) have TWO IDENTITIES, each needing its own
freedom of movement, expression, and fulfilment.