Listen to your body

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Human mind

The human mind has the capacity for greatness. But how clear headed are we on a day-to-day basis? Who doesn't make poor decisions? Is there anyone in the world that hasn't acted rashly?
How often do we follow our emotions rather than good sense? Are there situations where trusting our gut instinct may have proven the wiser choice in hindsight?

Monkey mind

In Asian meditative traditions, the human mind is considered to be a 'monkey mind'... How come? A monkey may look cute but it has an enormous capacity for mischief and mayhem.
It is not to be trusted under any circumstances.


Scientific studies have proven that human memory is far from reliable. Even events that we imbue with great significance are always remembered partially. Plus, we change.
How we see the world alters as we grow, experience, reflect and re-evaluate. Could the viewpoint of a child conceivably be compared to that of an adult? Are your childhood memories remotely accurate?


We can argue about virtually anything. Logic, reasoning, excuses and justifications can be used to warp our experience of the world to suit our requirements. Opinion reigns over reason.
Facts are frequently ignored.


You look at your stomach and it is blatantly fat; quite clearly you are notably overweight. What do you do? Do you diet? Change your lifestyle? Maybe.
Or perhaps you simply shrug and say that your body doesn't look all that bad for a person of your age. It looks like a lot of other people's bodies...


Many people are fatigued. What do they do to off-set fatigue? Do they cut back their commitments, do less, rest, engage in milder forms of exercise? Not usually.
They drink caffeine drinks, eat sugary food and moan about being tired.


Stress is inevitable in life. It cannot be avoided. But you can learn how to cope. This will take patience, persistence and effort.


A lot of people desperately want to feel relevant and significant. They feel too important to stop, to rest, to say no, to delegate. This is the ego talking.
Even the most base animal on the planet will rest when tired...

Low energy

At some point we all feel wiped out. Jet lag. Clocks changing. Working overtime. Over-doing it with the gardening. So, what do we do? You stop. Slow down, do less, sleep, rest and heal.


American TV copied the European custom of drinking a glass a wine with an evening meal. UK residents copied this off American TV. Now, lots of UK people drink wine with their meals. Is this a good thing?

Be scientific

Figure things out for yourself:

  1. What are the health benefits of wine?

  2. Is alcohol known to increase mental acuity?

  3. How many units of alcohol are you consuming each week?

  4. Do you come home from work eager to drink your large glass of wine?

  5. Can you stop drinking wine with your meals? 

If you cannot stop, you may well be a functioning alcoholic. Go see a doctor.


Bad knees, back ache, stiff neck, soreness, pain. Many adults experience these things
. What do they do about it? Ignore it. Pretending is easier than changing.
If the pain gets bad enough, people make it the doctor's problem. By then it is often far too late.

Mental acuity

If your mind is sluggish, what do you do about it? Eat broccoli, do a crossword puzzle, play sudoku? Oh, really? Do you honestly think that this is enough?


People tend to ignore what their body is telling them because dealing with the problem is usually inconvenient. It upsets the status quo.


The danger with ignoring your body is that problems usually don't go away. They often get worse. They multiply.


It is easier to watch TV or play on your mobile phone than to commit to low-impact, healthy exercise, constructive rest and productive, non-fiction reading.
Change is arduous when you really don't want to change. Human nature inclines people to stay put. Even if it means that your quality of life will suffer.

Will to power?

Forcing your body to do things can also be bad. People run, they go to the gym, they cycle. 50 year olds undertake military-style 'boot camp' training that was designed for 18 year olds.
What is the outcome?


Superficially, many people look better from undertaking harsh exercise regimes. Now, look closer. Watch them move.
See the raised shoulders? The jutting chin? Stooped posture? The clumsy gait? The look of emotional anguish and aggression long after the exercise is over? Is this what you call healthy?

Look after your body

Suppose you buy a car in 2010 and use it very rarely. In 2016 you decide to sell the car and take it to a dealership.
The mileage is unusually low for a car of its age. Yet the car is still 6 years old chronologically. In terms of wear and tear the car is 6 months old.

Motor learning

For many people, their fitness regime does not take into account
'motor learning'. Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body.
Agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, structure, alignment, biomechanics, efficiency, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, skill, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Tai chi combines exercise with motor learning.

There are several excellent reasons to use slow and gentle movement as a means to develop coordination. Probably the most interesting reason (I'll start with that one) is based on an obscure principle called the Weber Fechner rule. The Weber Fechner rule describes the relationship between the magnitude of a particular stimulus and the brain's ability to sense differences in the amount of the stimulus. The basic rule is that as you increase the stimulus, the ability to tell a difference in the amount of the stimulus decreases. This is a very common sense idea. Imagine you are in a dark room with only one candle lit. It will be very easy to sense the difference when one additional candle is lit. But if you are in a room with two hundred candles, you will have no idea when an extra candle comes on.

This rule works for all varieties of sensory perception, including sensations of muscular effort. So, imagine you are holding a one pound potato in your hand while blindfolded. If a fly landed on the weight you would not know the difference, but if a little bird landed you would know. Now imagine holding a fifty pound potato. You wouldn't be able to feel the little bird landing. It would have to be an eagle. The point is that when you increase the weight from one pound to fifty pounds, you become about fifty times less sensitive to changes in the amount of muscular force you are using to lift the weight.

(Todd Hargrove)

Page created 7 October 2012
Last updated 04 May 2023