This picture shows the physical changes in the homo sapien over time, the great and invincible human who stands up straight and thinks on a higher level than “lower” animals. And look how we’ve changed. Do you think we are improving overall?
The picture indicates that the peak of our fully-upright bipedal posture has come and gone, which means our overall ability to move is less than it used to be; clearly the guy on the right couldn’t compete physically with the one standing tall in the middle. And some may say, so what? Aren’t we smarter now? Don’t we have gadgets to do everything? Can’t we just live our lives from the computer, if we really want to, ordering our lives ready-made? Who needs to move, anyway?
Can we function without upright posture?
Clearly, we can…to a point. Our sedentary lives and stooped postures may leave us riddled with pain, zapped of energy, and unable to climb or run to safety if our lives depended on it (we’re sure they won’t), but we still think it’s worth the trade of sitting down for work, play, and anything in-between. In fact, in our modern world it is feasible that someone could live their life from the computer, although the quality of that life would certainly be questionable.
The problem is that our brains really need us to regain a balanced posture in order to continue functioning at the high level humans have achieved.
Does our posture really affect our brain?
Oh, yes. The upright posture and the development of the large human brain happened, necessarily, together. The modern human brain requires the support of a fully erect spine in order to function healthily.
“The full evolution of the human brain came after the early hominids acquired upright posture which allowed them to make and use tools. It is subsequent to these developments that there was a sharp explosion in brain size…” (Brain Evolution, http://www.holisticeducator.com/brainevolution.htm)
The fully-upright human posture serves to balance the heavy brain and to open a clear, straight passageway through the spine for the increasing message flow between body and brain. A stooped posture is limited in the weight it can carry efficiently. Besides that, the maintenance of that posture itself stimulates activity and growth in the brain that make us humans, well, human.
“Standing itself may be classified as simple behaviour, but maintenance of the postural balance requires rapid processing of signals from the visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems (Nashner, 1976).” Brain Activation During Maintenance of Standing Postures in Humans. http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/122/2/329.full
So the question is, do you think that our devolving spines continue to support our intellect over generations?
Increasingly unhealthy lifestyles in the last few decades despite major “advancements” in health care and discovery suggest the insidious belief among the more economically privileged nations that having our high human intellect excuses our need for healthy bodies – indeed, we modern humans have become almost fanatically reliant upon the surgical/pharmaceutical industry for survival, and there is no doubt that we have many medical treatments and advantages that our ancestors did not. We also have so many technological aids for living that movement does not seem to be essential to a high quality of life. Our ancestors, however, are the ones that survived so that we could be here now, and they did that by standing upright and moving.
Can you look at these pictures and honestly say that you think humans are healthier now than in the past? Who do you think has more freedom of movement, the upright figure in the middle of the page, or the one at the far right who is barely taller than the ape? Who would last longer in a day of hard physical activity? Whose body would last longer without medical support?
According to long-term studies by America’s Health Rankings, a division of the United Health Foundation, our health as a nation is not improving much these days. In the 1990′s, the annual overall improvement of health in the United States averaged 1.5 percent per year. In the following decade, that number dropped to 0.5% improvement overall. Currently, 1 in 4 of us are clinically obese.
There is no question that human intelligence has evolved, but can it continue to do so when our whole structure is compromised?
For more interesting things to ponder considering our modern posture problems, please go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39523298/ns/health-mens_health/t/why-your-desk-job-slowly-killing-you/
Each day, spend some time just appreciating your body. Even five minutes will do. You could be mindfully stretching, you could be lovingly washing yourself, you could be just noticing your own breathing. Whatever it is you choose to do, do it with the intention of building up your appreciation for your body and affirming its worth in some way. Don’t wait until your body is “where you want it to be” to appreciate it – that is going about it backwards. Build the appreciation first as your foundation, and all else will follow.
“I HATE MIRRORS!” Wow, if only I had a dime for every time I hear that as a trainer. If I had even a penny for every time I said it myself – before really working on it with self-loving intention – I think I could buy Facebook. Today, I’m not so destructively self-obsessed, and it feels soooooo much better. I no longer avoid walking past store windows or buying clothes I need to try on. I can actually watch myself exercise and monitor my own form. Can you relate to the hangup I had? Would you like to be free of that monkey?From childhood, most of us are conditioned to use mirrors to critique ourselves – to notice when our hair needs brushing or our face has dirt on it, which is sometimes important. Many of us, however, take this objective assessment too far, harshly doling out self-criticism born of DYSMORPHIA, a warped sense of body-image that can lead to eating disorders and depression, ultimately working AGAINST your health plan! To feel better – and to be more accurate – about your body, learn to BE OBJECTIVE. This definitely takes practice, but it can be done. You’re breaking a very strong pattern, after all, so you’ll have to replace that negative inner voice with another one. Start by treating yourself like your own best friend; find something to appreciate, rather than criticize, EVERY TIME YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Give yourself some compliments. It may take a while to deconstruct years of self-criticism, but the end result will be a HEALTHIER, HAPPIER YOU. No, I’m not suggesting that you ignore the spinach in your teeth, but as you clean it out, how about giving yourself a big smile and appreciating the beauty of that?
In our ‘Nip and Tuck’ society, we are strongly conditioned to criticize our bodies and to “correct” them, conforming to a variety of media-prescribed ideals. With all of these messages about our inadequacy, it can be a challenge to maintain healthy and balanced attitudes about our bodies as functional vessels for our life adventures, which they are.
Who doesn’t want, deep inside, to really love themselves? Who doesn’t want to feel content with their life and happy with their choices? We all do. But we don’t.
Most of us are waiting until we “get it right,” somehow. ‘One day, when I ________________, then I’ll give myself a break and love myself, but right now, I don’t deserve it. Not yet.”
We criticize our bodies, our lives, our friends and family, and our worlds. We live in discontent, although our deepest Selves really just want to be happy.
Don’t wait until you are perfect to love You. Love You Now. It’s much easier than you think, and there’s no need to become perfect first. It’s just a matter of practice, just like the negative thinking to which you are more accustomed. You may be very practiced, polished even, at negative thinking. You may do it at every possible occasion. You can criticize yourself (and maybe others, too) at the drop of a hat. Wouldn’t it be great if your optimistic, positive thoughts were as immediately available?
It is simply a matter of practicing the thoughts you want (name them for yourself) until they flow out as a natural response, effectively reconditioning your mind. You can do it, and all it takes is commitment. Try these three things, and watch yourself change:
Body Appreciation Time. Every day, spend 5 minutes just appreciating your body in some way. You will practice thinking thoughts like, “I love my body. It takes me through my life. It is a good body, and no matter what, it is mine and I will take care of it today.” These thoughts may seem awkward at first, especially if you aren’t used to thinking that way, but it will feel more and more natural as you practice. Couple these loving thoughts with a short activity involving your body. The activity could be just about anything that makes your body feel good (and appreciated). It could be scrubbing yourself all over with your favorite salt scrub and saying to yourself, “I appreciate this arm (face, leg, breast, etc.). It picks things up for me and hugs my loved ones. I’m taking care of it today.” It could be a stretching session in which you focus on the actions and feelings in your body with appreciation. It could be that you just rest in a hammock or on the ground and float inside your body, noticing what you notice inside. The activity does not matter, as long as it makes your body feel good, and it could change daily if you choose. The important thing is to consciously form thoughts which are affirming and loving, and to return to these again and again, gradually replacing the old, worn-out thought-processes with shiny new ones. You’ll feel better about yourself sooner than you believed was possible, and you didn’t have to become perfect.
Treat Your Body Like Your Best Friend. Chances are, you are kind and giving toward your best friend. You most likely give that one the benefit of the doubt and have their best interest in mind. Your body has been with you for every single second of your entire life; it has never left you or betrayed you yet, even when you (your mind, your actions) have betrayed and hurt it. Talk about loyalty! Imagine the confusion inside each and every one of us when we habitually speak and think negatively about the one thing in our human lives that has been present each and every moment. We naturally want to enjoy our lives, and this body-hating habit inhibits that enjoyment tremendously because of the confusion it creates. To break away from negative self-talk and start loving your body today, just notice how you are thinking. When you catch yourself speaking negatively to or about yourself, about your body, your life, your world, notice that. Notice the words, the tone, the feeling. Would you speak to your best friend that way? If not, how would you speak to your best friend in the same circumstance? If you find that you are being unreasonably hard or critical, turn it around. Choose a thought that is more uplifting, more encouraging, more affirming. It will take practice, but if you remember that your body has always been with you and always will be with you in this life, that it really is like a best, loyal friend, you will turn your thoughts around one by one. Start with something small, a nagging negative thought that you are already questioning. Tell it to get lost by repeating a counter-action thought until the nagging thought has lost power. (Eg.: Nagging thought – “My belly is so loose these days since I had the baby. I hate it!” Catch it. Change it to something like: “My belly is loose – what a miracle that it housed a new, growing life! It isn’t like it was before the baby, that’s true. It has gone through a change because of what nature called it to do. I accept and love it now because it is a part of me. I will do what I can today to support it, and the rest of my body, to be as healthy as possible.”)
Just say, “I love my body.” Just say it to yourself. Then say it to others. Practice saying it until it is true. Because deep, deep down, it is.
TODAY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE. TODAY IS THE DAY YOU SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY.
TODAY IS THE DAY YOU DECLARE YOUR BODY TO BE YOUR MOST SACRED, POWERFUL TEMPLE, THE DAY YOU DEDICATE TO ITS CARE.Why today? Well, not only so you can feel better, function more fully, have organs working well, breathe more easily TODAY, but also because, well, you never know when you may need to call upon your body for a really big effort.
Please listen to my story of a recent, unfortunate event that happened to one of my favorite Body Lovers…My youngest daughter is almost 14 years old and has always been the most naturally able-bodied, agile, healthy person I’ve met. When she was 3, she was climbing up to the top of the jungle gym and there was no stopping her. She started playing soccer at age 5 and has taken up many other sports in the meantime. She just loves to MOVE. She thrives on the delight that her body brings in its full expressions of dynamic power, of delicate balance, of increasing strength and speed. She has become a formidable soccer player, enjoying the speed of forward, the stamina of midfield, and the power of defense.
Last week she experienced a soccer collision that has left her leg badly broken and openly wounded. She’ll be having surgery soon. AND HERE’S THE POINT: Even with her amazing health and strength, it’s still really, really physically hard! Her hip has a tough time lifting up the giant splint/cast, her arms get tired from using the crutches, her core gets sore from reclining, all this adding to the stress of it all…AND WHAT IF SHE WERE NOT SO FIT? WHAT IF SHE HAD NO CONNECTION WITH HER BODY, NO DETERMINATION TO RUN AGAIN? Her specific pain and general discomfort are very great already…I cannot imagine what her condition would be if she were not so strong. No, I correct that; I CAN imagine, and it’s worse. Way worse. I have seen individuals who virtually “threw away” their bodies with significant injuries or illnesses, developing hate and disdain because of the pain and frustration. But it isn’t the body’s fault; it needs your help to be healthy. YOUR BODY NEEDS YOUR BEST EFFORT!
Because you deserve to feel better.We all have enough stress in our lives. We only add to it by ignoring our health. TAKING CARE OF YOUR BODY TODAY, EVEN JUST DOING ONE LITTLE STRETCH, WILL EASE YOUR OVERALL STRESS LEVEL JUST A LITTLE BIT. And every little bit adds up.
Your body is your home; you have no where else to live. Your castle, your temple. YOUR LIFE.
What will you do for YOU today? The amazing young woman I mentioned will be breathing deeply, drinking lots of water, laughing, and even stretching. She will progress through a healing program because she wants to enjoy her body again. BECAUSE SHE HASN’T HAD A CHANCE TO FORGET THE JOY OF HEALTH, AND SHE’S HUNGRY FOR IT.
REMEMBER. REMEMBER HEALTH. REMEMBER MOVEMENT. SEIZE THE DAY!!!!
September 11th, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized | Comments are closed