Body: the Fifth Circle

There’s a deep connection between the motions of the body and the development of the brain.

In the book Spark, John Ratey asserts that the brain developed as a result of motion or the need to move.  He gives the example of a sea squirt, which has a rudimentary brain it uses to permanently attach itself to coral, and then promptly eats its brain.

It seems body comes before mind, at least developmentally.  The mind functions best in the vessel of a healthy, moving body.  Maybe the circles should be ordered as body, mind, and spirit.

In any case, our health and happiness is to a large extent dependent upon the health of our bodies.

Body, the fifth circle of practice, tries to answer these questions:

  1. What am I eating and drinking?  How much? Are they healthy?  Am I temperate?
  2. How can I keep body fit?  How can I leverage my personality in choosing my exercise?
  3. How can I leverage the mind/body connection?

Oftentimes those things that taste best act like slow poison in the body.  They may have high concentrations of fat or sugar.  Not coincidentally these are often “foods” that take little or no time to prepare; “processed” foods that are ready to eat, but have had all the life processed out of them.  One of the best things we can put in our bodies is water; and most of us don’t drink nearly enough of it.

How can we exercise enough without eating too much?  How can we wire the brain with the body in ways that promote a healthy symbiosis?  How can we detox, de-stress, and renew our bodies and our minds?  Are we competitive?  Do we enjoy athletic competition, or avoid it?

Let motivation be your guide.  If something turns you on and tones your body, pursue it.  A competitive person might choose something like tennis over yoga, and vice-versa for a non-competitive person.  Do what you enjoy, and you will look forward to it.  Nerves that fire together wire together.

Practicing Aerobics, Frugality, and Sustainability

About four years ago I started riding a bike.  Gas had got up to about $3.50 per gallon, and I was (and still am) driving a Honda Pilot – a 15 mpg gas guzzler.

When I was a kid, I was riding my bike with a friend along a busy highway.  We went up from the road onto the sidewalk, but my rear tire stayed on the road and I wiped out into the right hand lane of the highway.  Fortunately there were no cars behind me and I just got scraped up.  But it scared me, and I quit riding my bike on the road.

So I wasn’t an enthusiastic biker.  My desire to save money outweighed my fear of the road.

I had a heavy duty basket put on the front of my bike, and two saddle bag baskets installed on the rear.  The saddlebags are good for lighter weight, more voluminous stuff. The front basket can haul an amazing amount of weight, at least 50 and maybe even 100 pounds.  The mitigating factor is my ability to hold it steady on the road.

At first I used the bike for short trips to the grocery.  Gradually I became more confident and began to take longer trips.  I just tried to keep the pedals moving.  I began to enjoy it.

About the only time I take the car now is if I have a passenger, I’m pressed for time, or severe weather.  Otherwise I’m biking – joyfully.

I have gradually realized many benefits from riding the bike.  I don’t just ride the bike for exercise; I’m always trying to get somewhere, either run an errand, go to work, or visit someone.

That is, I’m accomplishing transportation I would otherwise need my car for, as well as getting exercise.  And that’s nearly every day.  I mean, how often do you go a day without getting into the car?