FreeMocean is the name I give to my perspective on training, it is my tiny chapter in the vibrant culture of movement. I had a couple of pivotal moments in my SUP training that led me to "connect the dots" if you will in some new and interesting ways.
FreeMocean is designed to be part story book and part training manual - I will keep rewriting it until all assumption of "knowing" is removed.
It has been said:
that the greatest block to understanding something is to think you already do.
that movement makes us smarter
that it is easier to pass a rope, (cable) through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.
the more you focus in one area, the less you will know about another -
My first realization was how easy it is to enter "flow state" while using an SUP. For me, more demanding conditions help me to keep my attention in my senses, but the movement itself is where I think the real key is to be found.
The second realization came to me when I was trying to increase my paddling speed. I found that once my technique was good, the best thing I could do increase my effectiveness was to reduce excessive body tension. While watching squirrels run across my garden in the morning, (we do not have any domestic animals to scare them away atm), I noticed how effortlessly they ran, flowing water-like across the ground. To move like that, they are only contracting for the exact amount required, and for only the precise moment needed. They are not moving a body that is stiff and full of inflammation. They are not firing agonists, (driving muscle group) against over-tensioned antagonists, (breaking or controlling muscles). When I began to consciously relax my body, I noticed something else, my opinions and emotions seemed to be linked to this background tension in my body.
Over 20 years ago, I sold my pride and joy, a Kawasaki GPZ600R motorcycle to start funding training as a Naturopath. I did 2 years full-time study as a massage therapist, earning an associate diploma in remedial and sports massage and also did some advanced studies into myo-facial release and trigger point therapy targeting the ill-psoas muscles, (deep hip-flexors that lie at the heart of many skeletal imbalances). I ended up returning to my electrical trade but retained a fascination with both health and pathologies. My other recurring interest was in Permaculture, which has been described as applied ecology, working with natural synergies to create surplus sustainably. Economics and business management come from decades of living as contractor, investor or small business owner. The thread weaving all these together has been the desire to be feel free and be well.
I have made numerous attempts to write a description of what FreeMocean is, how it varies from other methods of training and would therefor require its own name. Below is one of my early attempts, since then I have read many books and spend many more hours on the ocean, but I wanted to put something down so here it is:
In Nature, its all about energy and reproduction where energy is stored as fat or sugars. In business energy is stored in money and assets, but its still about replication. Either way the most effective use of energy is rewarded.
Efficiency is rewarded by applying minimal energy for maximum result, such as a herbivore slowly chewing grass. Effectiveness may be rewarded by using maximum energy only at times of peak return, such as a cheetah which is adapted for 20 second sprints. Both are viable harvesting strategies.
To know how and when to expend energy, we need real time information from our environment, this is situational awareness.
In the wild, recognizing patterns allows us to plan in advance. We know when animals return to watering holes and when certain plants bare fruit. Harvesting strategies allow us to conserve energy and live longer.
Compared to other animals, humans do not have strong senses of sight, smell or hearing. Our brain however is the part of our nervous system that is highly developed. Using 20% of the blood our heart pumps, and a similar amount of oxygen, the brain is an expensive organ. What we get in return for this expenditure is the ability to conceptualize. That is, we can imagine that which we have not yet experienced.
This allows us to try new ways of arranging the things around us. Such as making tools and traps, keeping livestock and growing crops. Humans discover how to be more effective by creating new harvesting strategies. Much like individual species, individual humans are rewarded for specializing in unique abilities. Human babies are the most vulnerbable creatures on Earth, but they are also the most adaptable to their environent.
Animals certainly do learn, but are less flexible and more instinctive in their responses. Humans are able to imagine different possible outcomes for their actions, we are able to tune our instincts. The development of complex language gave us more ways to interpret events and also the ability to share the lessons from those experiences. Through creating and sharing stories we are able to learn and teach, without having direct experiences.
Successful stories use symbols and strong emotion to anchor lessons into our long term memory. To compete with other stories, they must also carry a strong motivational component. If I wait by the water-hole before dawn, I can surprise the animals that come to drink returning as a sucssful hunter. In our modern world this became, If I wear expensive clothing, people will know I am productive and sucsessful.
3 Factors that determine which ideas are selected for long term memory storage:
1. Motivation - captures our focus
2. Emotion - determines their level of importance
3. Repetition - locks ideas into long term memory
Survival is our primary instinct, so ideas that are anchored to painful events become powerful memories.
How we perceive events is hugely important, because it determines both our level of motivation and the emotion we attach to them. These sub-conscious instincts will determine the actions that shape our lives. This is how humans select the instincts that allow them to adapt to their environment.
Once these instincts are part of our subconscious, they effect how we perceive. If we perceive an event as reinforcing an idea it locks it in even deeper through repetition. As a species, this is both our great weakness, and our greatest opportunity for freedom, fun and wellness.
All creatures must harvest energy. Successful creatures re-invest part of that energy for security and reproduction. Crocodiles conserve energy, they let the sun warm them, they move either very little or with explosive speed, they stay in the water, so that their prey must come to them. They have armor like skin that matches perfectly to their environment and can even make simple traps. For the crocodile, energy is captured as flesh and stored as fat. In modern day humans, energy is measured in money, and stored in assets, but the lessons from nature remain surprisingly useful.
Sucsessful humans increase the amount of energy they harvest, through specializaton and trade. Through selling labour, goods and services, their own and that of others. Those who can master skills that are sought after do well, those who can predict what is going to happen next do very well, but those who can co-ordinate what is going to happen next do best of all.
Artisans, athletes and entertainers use great skill to increase the value of things and of thier time. Scholars such as engineers, scientists and analysts are able to further increase the value of skilled labour, through finding greater efficiencies. The ultimate harvester though is the one who can tell great stories, the one who can change the percieved values and behaviours of large groups of people. Much of our behaviour is determined by our instints, these are modified by our deep beliefs, which are shaped by our long term memories. Our long term memories are selected by emotional impact and personal survival or gain. Repitition or the perception of repetition further anchors these new instincts. This is not right or wrong, it is just the way we have evolved to adapt to our environment.
So we find ourselves awash in both real emotional experiences and countless stories about what is happening and how we should feel about it. Within this noisy and incredibly manipulative environment we must compete to sell our own productivity. How does living in a world where the ability to influence the perception of reality determines success, affect our physiology?
Our bodies are comprised of cells, tissues and organs
that sqeeze and relax, moving substances through the various processes necessary for life.
Avoid Swelling Mistakes
Inflammation, ie swelling or tension is the bodies defense mechanism, designed to limit damage. Inappropriate inflammation wastes energy and interferes with both recreaction and re-creation. Contraction and relaxation is how we do everything, if we must contract against excessive swelling we are wasting energy. In the wild the hunters will probe the herd, to locate which animals express the lowest energy, these soon become the next meal. Energy is hard won, it is best not to waste it with inappropriate tension or inflammation.
Inflammatory factors, or “swelling mistakes” begin externally and are brought into our bodies and minds.
To avoid Swelling Mistakes. we need to understand the costs and benefits of what we orally receive, breathe and what we come to believe. What we believe to be true about ourselves, each other and our world has the greatest influence on the level of tension we feel.
When our perception matches our expectations, we relax and are generally able to perceive and choose more creative, effective and kinder possible actions. If we are full of opinions about what we like and dislike, we may find oursleves in a constant state of resistance.
Our bodies ability to perform complex actions, is vastly increased when we are able to focus attention on our senses. When our nervous system has full access to information from the environment in real time it is as though it has all the variables it needs to complete complex physics equations and send out instructions so that our limbs respond with grace and precision. Those who are well practiced in certain complex actions or are gifted in certain activities may still perform with skill even when they are not really paying attention. To be at our best, we will need to provide our nervous systems with all the data.
This state of high focus on the reality of the current moment, leaves little or no attention left over for thinking about or applying meaning to the information that is coming in from the senses. As soon as we start filtering the incoming data with our opinions, we loose some of the bandwidth of available attention. How those opinions and beliefs were anchored will determine the quality of attention we are able to maintain.
Positively anchored memories/beliefs are those that were not anchored with fear or a contraction in the body, possibly the opposite. Updating these memories is both easy and pleasurable. This is what we call the discovery process and it allows us to relax as we feel safer when we are able to perceive our environment accurately. This is why children love to play, it is how they learn through positive association with cause and effect. Play is about learning what we do want, about what makes us feel alive and expansive.
Negatively anchored memories create inappropriate tension and loss of focus. Inflamation is the bodies way of limmiting damage by restricting blood flow, it can slow bleeding or the spread of toxins. Inflammation in the form or swelling helps to immobilize damaged joints. We also contract muscles when preparing to absorb impact from a fall or a blow. When we perceive a threat, we contract, sometimes that is appropriate, many times it is not. Past experiences of fear and or pain teach us about what we dont want - contractive and dead.
Personally, I try to eat vegetarians - that is organisms that are able to process, condense and store the fat from a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids. This produces Betahydoxal Butyrate which is an anti-inflammatory super fuel, that does not stimulate insulin, deplete antioxidants or encourage small dense LDL formation , thus helping to avoid vascular pathology - please do your own research i have little expertise in nutrition.
Air pollution - sadly, for most people on Earth, this is now very hard to avoid, but exercising in biodiverse wilderness or on open bodies of water will help. The more people who are able to choose better health as a priority, the easier a tipping point will be reached.