Chilli con courage
I've lived long enough to have gone through some difficult experiences in my life and sometimes I've been told I'm brave for the way I've faced and overcome obstacles. I have noticed that though I may have an abundance of mental fortitude, I definitely lack physical courage. When I am faced with the decision to do some scary breaking jumps, rolls and movements, I don't have a lot of inner resources to help me. I am sometimes reminded of the Lion in the Wizard of Oz who asks to be granted courage; as a child I mistook it for chilli con carne and imagined him tucking into a bowl of it.
Is there a difference between bravery and courage? One definition states that :
'bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. . . courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the imminent and unavoidable presence of fear.. . the essence of courage is not the feeling of being certainly capable of overcoming what one is faced with but rather is the wilful choice to fight regardless of the consequences'.
There are many reasons why I lack physical courage; as a girl growing up this quality wasn't emphasised or fostered; it is boys who are defined and define themselves by their physical capabilities. A man can easily prove himself to be courageous by undertaking physical trials without any demand to grow emotionally; emotions are perceived as feminine and physicality as masculine. There are a lot of heroes for boys and men who display the qualities of courage and bravery for them to emulate and draw upon. Fairy-tales and stories for both children and adults reinforce this gender programming and through trials and tribulations the man goes on quests and fights whilst the woman waits for her man to save her, looking beautiful but practically and physically incapable of much.
As I've progressed in my training, I've had some compliments saying how much technique has improved and I don't jump or run like a girl anymore.
I was happy to accept these compliments until I gave it a bit more thought and decided that this reinforces the way men move is somehow the way we as women should aspire to. Even the highest level female parkour athletes don't move like men; they are often slower and have a different gait. Why do we have to strive to replicate men and why do I aspire to move, jump, run just like the boys? Women's participation in sports is lower than men and in extreme sports the gender gap is huge; in parkour the prevailing demographic is still young men.
To develop physical courage first we need to start with the mind; and there are so many obstacles to overcome and many of them are self-created. I think of it sometimes as a form of psychological warfare I engage myself with. Fear is the root of them all and they manifest in so many forms - fear of injury, fear of people watching, fear of judgement, fear of failure. It doesn't matter what it is, it's the same fear planting doubt in my mind. And with doubt this reduces the ability to commit, to be 100% sure of what you're doing, it can make the difference between doing a move and not. I often gave up trying when I didn't succeed immediately and would lament others who became successful in their chosen field, attributing all kinds of advantages to them that I didn't possess, forgetting that persistence in the face of failure is a powerful tool and great things can happen by chipping away slowly, over time.
Dan Edwardes, founder of Parkour Generations, has written has excellent article called 'Undoing the Architecture of Fear' where he talks about how fear is constructed over time.
'The key, I think, it to see any fear-inducing situation as an opportunity to understand one’s own process of fear and thus develop one’s psychological immune system. Strengthening the mind is surprisingly similar to the process of strengthening muscles: regular stimulus against resistance builds resilience and capability. So embrace those stimuli, in this case the causes of our fear, and realise they are your opportunity to delve deeper into your own internal processes and become a better version of yourself in doing so.'
He recommends various techniques to held inoculate oneself against the freeze response, where your body overrides your mind; it instigates inaction making it very difficult to continue and hard to keep focus.
Parkour provides a powerful framework for me to increase and develop my courage in a clear and measurable way. It draws out my weaknesses and reveals them in both a mental and physical way. 'If it doesn't challenge you it won't change you' is a phrase I've seen on social media and it resonates with me; I need push past my comfort zone into known the edge, the unknown place where transformation happens.
An interesting study was published this month which has shed light on the process of joint tissue repair and regeneration in humans which mirrors the ability of zebrafish and salamander to regrow limbs. Our current understanding is that human cartilage cannot regenerate itself, or at least, only to a very limited degree and is why repetitive joint injuries often lead to the breakdown of cartilage and eventually, osteoarthritis.
The definitive list of all the barefoot and minimal shoes that can be bought or shipped to the UK.
I was really impressed by the level of diversity and choice out there and was pleased to see so many companies who make handmade shoes have added the choice of Vibram soles, making it easier than ever to find the perfect style that suits you.
In 1907 London County Council built the first open air school in the UK and by 1937 there were 96 open air day schools in operation throughout Britain, with 53 of them being residential. Children were taught in classrooms that were designed to be fully or partially exposed to the outdoors and even slept outside exposed to the elements.
The problem with our currently accepted model of acute stress response is that hormones such as cortisol require hours to alter physiological responses which seems inconsistent with the need for an immediate response to danger.
How have we changed our lifestyle and our home over the last 4 years to get more movement in our everyday lives and what effect has it had? And how can you get more movement into your lives, even if you live in rented accommodation?
I’ve been following my hunch about critical thinking recently and how it can impact every area of our lives. We all think we are more rational and logical than we are, and our beliefs, choices and decisions are made for us and not by us more than we’d care to admit.
Popcorn has been reborn as a gourmet food in recent years. I, however, grew up eating the unholy sugar-laden Butterkist popcorn which stuck to my teeth. As I munched on another huge bag it occurred to me that I really should just start making my own as it is ridiculously easy and satisfying. I don’t own a microwave, so it’s stove-top popcorn every time for me.
My new favourite YouTuber, a beautiful place for a swim and the endless search for stretchy trousers I can train in.
Frances’ week in links.
Interoception is the awareness of internal body sensations and provides us with information about how our body is feeling on the inside and is the way we self-regulate to ensure that we look after ourselves, allowing us to sense things like pain, hunger or thirst and take appropriate action based on these signals.
Perception can determine reality so, although there are certain factors (such as age or gender) that can make us more vulnerable to victim selection, we can stack the deck in our favour by adopting confident body language. As Jerry Sternin said, ‘it’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.’
Our whole culture is underpinned by measured time. Instruments invented to track time have been traced back about 6000 years to the Egyptians yet it was only about 500 years ago that clocks became precise enough to be measured and minutes and seconds became the universal norm. To put this in perspective, if accepted human history spans 24 hours, 43 minutes represents the amount of time since clocks were invented and 3.5 minutes since we began using minutes and seconds.
A stone tray is a great way to reintroduce movement for our feet and requires very little time or effort - maximum gain for minimum effort!
Variety is the spice of life, so they say, and this applies as much to our feet as it does to other aspects of our lives. Convenience has its price and barefoot shoes can only do so much if we’re always walking on level surfaces and this limits restoring foot mobility.
Flexibility isn’t about using physical force to lengthen muscles, it’s about communication; reassuring our nervous system that a particular range of motion is safe to move into.
Functional: To be practical and useful, rather than attractive.
That is the definition of the word Functional, so then why are so many of the functional exercises we see popularized currently so useless. Most functional training fails to replicate anything you would actually do in your everyday life, and that’s what I’m going to look at in this video
When I was 18, I had a friend who was a lot older than me and when I visited her the only furniture in the house was a rocking chair (reserved for her partner) and a futon mattress that was used as her sofa. It never occurred to me to ask her why she’d chosen this living arrangement; I guess I chalked it up to her being ‘alternative’. Fast-forward a good many years later and here I am, in my own furniture-less abode.
Concentrating for long periods of time in a meeting room is hard going; how many of you have felt drowsy and unable to pay attention as the time goes on, reaching for another snack or cup of coffee to keep awake?
When you leave the room you take a few deep breaths, or go and stand outside and feel refreshed, like you’ve woken up.
There’s a sense that offices are benign places, that nothing bad happens in them, yet this veneer of respectability hides another truth.
Stand still. Absolutely still. Oh wait, you can’t.
Pressure mapping has confirmed that we are never 100% still when we’re standing up; there’s a wobble here, a wobble there, constantly readjusting minutely and imperceptibly. Our centre of mass moves one way and then our soft tissues correct it by bringing us back towards the midline so we don’t fall over and can concentrate on other things during the day.
The book was ‘On The Road’, originally published in 1957 and written by Jack Kerouac. It’s become a classic of American literary counterculture and spawned the notion of ‘going away to find yourself’, an idea enthusiastically adopted by hippies which now finds itself clinging on for dear life under the guise of a ‘gap year’.
Whenever we travel for work we add-on a day or two to take in the sights and see a little bit of the world. We were working with a family in Lancaster, so checked the map and saw a huge forest close by and decided to detour back through it on our way home.
The Forest of Bowland is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty according to Google. Here is our experience of it.
I discovered the artist Dylan Louis Monroe and his Deep State Mapping projects earlier this year and have been eagerly awaiting the release of his free pdf ‘Healing Web’ which has finally been released today. His ‘Q-Web’ diagram spread virally across the dark web in 2018, becoming a worldwide phenomenon. It was published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibit ‘Everything is Connected’ in September 2018.
It’s all too common to see people proudly filming their torn, bloody calluses and posting them on Instagram as a badge of honour, ‘Hey, look how hard I’ve been working! Now I’ll be out of action for a week but I’m really hardcore. I chose not to nurture my calluses as that wouldn’t make such a great IG post!’. I’m assuming you’re not one of those people, as it’s unlikely you’d be reading this article.
I consider Aldi a barometer of the times. Last week I was perusing the mythical middle aisle and came across organic, Japanese matcha powder. I’ve been in the health and wellness world for coming up to 20 years and remember a time when it was a struggle to find many ‘superfoods’ in health foods shops, let alone a small supermaket. Then you see it on a Starbucks menu and know it’s reached the big time.
If the axiom ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ is true, then it isn’t a surprise to note how modernity’s love of reductionism has its fingerprints all over the movement world.
All too often I see people training in a compartmentalised way, working parts of their body in one plane of motion, seemingly forgetting that movement takes place in glorious 3-D.
For most of our time here as a species we’ve been mooching around barefoot as our feet are superbly engineered to deal with rough and uneven terrain. The barefoot movement of the last decade has sought to unshackle our feet from the casts of shoes, supported by the resurgence of interest in all things wild and natural.
A reductionist approach to health is symptomatic of an old paradigm, one that is being undermined more and more by research showing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Health isn’t just the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being - defined as such by the World Health Organisation.
As time moves on and more research is done on the subject it becomes increasingly clear that sitting at a desk all day isn't good for us, in either body or mind. The modern office based lifestyle is very different from the lifestyle of our prehistoric hunter gatherer ancestors, and yet our bodies aren't all that different at all, and this is the crux of the problem, our bodies just aren't equipped to deal with long periods of being still, if we were, we would be a tree, perfectly designed to sit in one place of years upon years.
We spend a large chunk of our lives lugging around inherited beliefs and assumptions without ever stopping to take stock of whether we believe them or if they serve us; we’re the product of our environment, the caregivers who shaped us, instilled their values into us. Now we’re all grown up, we reflect it back out into the world and these stories we tell ourselves shape our internal model of reality.
Here at Movementum, we’re wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year!
Enjoy a few alternative Christmas songs we’ve selected; the perfect accompaniment to a mulled wine and mince pie.
Who among you has sworn off coffee because it doesn’t fit into your clean living regime?
Coffee is one of the first things to be sacrificed on the altar of health and giving it up is a sign you’ve committed to the task of upgrading yourself.