Movement Is Medicine: Discovering Your Fountain of Youth
Where is the Fountain of Youth? People have searched for it for centuries, but I’d argue that it’s been right in front of us the entire time.
An old conservative man once told me that when you’re young you’re a liberal and as you get older and wiser you become more conservative.
I looked at him and said, “BS, I’ll never limit myself to a closed off way of being.”
The scary thing is that at one point in my life’s journey I noticed myself beginning to become closed off to possibilities. It took a friend pointing out that my physical limitations and resistance paralleled my mental resistance to things in life.
As I had gotten older in years, I had done nothing but tighten and become more wound up. This physical resistance and tightness was directly related to my feelings of being “Old”.
I had an “ah hah” moment and this is about the time I opened myself to Yoga.
This was a new challenge for me and new challenges offer people an opportunity for growth. You see, I believe that when you stop seeking growth physically, mentally and spiritually, this is when you become a closed box of ideas and thoughts that refuse to evolve and grow beyond parameters. Your potential is stifled and everything begins to decline.
You don’t have to be beholden to the things you said or did in the past. As you write your future, you can create a new past by acting in the present and choosing to think and move through life differently.
My son has been the ultimate example of this idea. He’s been a reminder that we learn through exploration, movement, touch, smell and taste.
He also reminds me of the human potential both physically and mentally when we are open to receive input instead of closed to it.
Children aren’t born racist, they’re taught to be racist.
Children are born with tons of flexibility, both physically and mentally. They are like an endless blank slate open to learning by example. For example, children aren’t born racist, they’re taught to be racist on this slate.
Many of us spend the early years of their lives killing our own potential or having it destroyed by the people around us instead of encouraging our full potential.
I watch my son fall into the splits. I watch him squat “ass to grass” as they say without effort. He goes in the corner to take a poop and he’s squatting. This is how we were meant to be. He sits on the floor in seemingly awkward positions.
But it’s through observations that they learn they should sit on a chair, on a sofa instead of the floor. They learn to restrict themselves and confine themselves in schools that have cut out recess to replace it with more time at desks. They forget how to play, explore and learn in the way that is best for their individual brains.
Here’s an example: My son learned all of his alphabet by the time he was 19 to 20 months old. We didn’t teach him. He would just point to the letters on our T-Shirts and we’d tell him what they were. So we just bought him a puzzle with the letters and he would point to them and eventually he started repeating them and when he noticed letters on Trains, or Buses, or anywhere he would make sure he pointed them out to us.
This must have been so exciting to him. These things mean something.
Someone said to us “well now he should learn them in order”… And my question is why? He had built patterns and understanding in his brain that isn’t linear or bad on rote memorization. He had constructed complex pathways in his mind which I’m certain will make him a much more flexible thinker.
So he’s expanding rapidly and although as adults we slow down in our expansion, there are many ways we can continue to expand and grow.
There are some that suggest that crawling before walking plays an important role in how children see the world. If that’s the case, shouldn’t it also be true that crawling is important to adult cognition?
Simple sequencing of moving opposite limbs in a coordinated effort is often lost and I have met numerous people in my course of coaching that cannot crawl to save their lives. So I teach crawling and ground based activity. I help people learn how to spend more time on the floor. I teach natural movement and exploration of ground spaces that brings a person back to physical touch with the earth.
This concept of “crawling before walking” is reflected in my coaching programs as well. Everyone wants to start out sprinting, but we must create a foundation for a safe expression of this movement without injury first by assessing range of motion and then learning to explore ranges.
We have spent so many years confining our bodies and becoming conservative that it can no longer safely move freely into liberal ranges without resistance. So we must gently move the needle through programming and condition the body to accept the change it is resisting.
Back to my story:
I’ve gone from Yoga practice to exploring other movements based on Yoga in part like Animal Flow. I’ve seen my body learn, gain strength in new ways and physically change.
But mostly, I’ve noticed a change in my mind as I’ve become more open to ideas and concepts and this is a part of the secret to recapturing your youth. Youth is about continuing to take calculated chances and risks. These risks often give the greatest rewards and often lead to progress.
So the “Take Home Message” is that “Moving Freely” is the secret to youthfulness.
The secret to the fountain of youth is to avoid limitations to your mind, body and spiritual being. It is through exploring the outer ranges that we learn and continue to grow. We gain nothing good from shutting down our imagination and creativity.
Expand, Grow, Move and Learn.