Life Performance: What is it? Proof that people don't have it. What causes poor life performance? How can you achieve it.
Life performance is being able to do the things you want to do and to do them well. It is about being able to maintain and improve the way you move through life. It is about becoming the best version of you and having fun doing it. It is about creating or tweaking your self-perception, self concept and ability to move and act to a place of confidence and fulfillment.
Don't we do that already? The one word answer is no. Most people get caught in a cycle of reduced physical ability and mental/emotional turmoil. Our brains are working overtime repeating negative thoughts, spinning on the same topics or fixated on problems or limitations in our world. Our bodies breakdown prematurely. Our balance, reflexes, coordination, energy, resilience and endurance start to deteriorate sometimes even when we are doing the things we are told to do. Even when we can maintain our physical functioning and comfort there can be sense of lacking, of incompleteness, an emptiness that steals our ability to be fulfilled, content and joyful.
Every facet of life is movement. Our movement is dictated by the present capacity of our bodies and brains. Our brain and bodies adjust to the positions we spend the most time in and to the demands of our work, sports and hobbies. They adapt to the pains we have now and the injuries we have sustained over time. This adjusting and adapting is crucial to allow us to carry on, however, it happens automatically so we aren't really tuned into how it pulls out of whack, out of balance and out of centre. It is insidious and persistent.
It is a complicated and comprehensive process. But like most things in life the, "keep it simple" approach is the most successful. The common denominator and result of what happens with all of these adjustments and adaptations that we do automatically and unconsciously, is to add layers of tension. This tension resides in the muscles and connective tissue or fascia. It effects our body, breath and bones, but the cause is in the control centre- the brain and nervous system. It puts pressure on joints, pulls your spine, joints and skeletal system out of whack. All of this puts us at more risk of injuries, it makes us weaker, slows us down and increases pain. It reduces our ease and ability in movement it reduces our life performance.
It is like all of the moving parts of your body are different tires on a automobile or a transport truck. Each part or tire has it's own brake. As one part or tire gets compromised from injury, pain, work, demands, or static positions the brake for that area gets applied a little or a lot. The ones around that area also clench a little to support it and keep it safer. This would be fine if after the threat, pain or problem was corrected we took the brakes off. But most people aren't aware the brakes are being applied. They don't know it is happening, how much it is happening or why it is happening. If you don't realize it is happening, how can you change it?
Because we lead busy, stressful, distracted and demanding lives the brakes are applied over and over again. The brakes are applied to the degree they are needed. In some instances it is just a little but very repetitively, other times the brakes are applied to the extreme. Like there is an emergency. In these situations they are applied hard and full. So, it can happen in one big incident or it can happen gradually over time. Before we know it most of the breaks are held on. We get more and more restricted in our bodies, our movement and our brains. The first step to preventing or solving any problem is awareness. Awareness of the problem and/or the risk of the problem.
It you take pride in how you perform, move, act and age then you are left with the question Why? For others, they just accept it as aging or as a fact of life that they have no choice or control over. If the ladder describes you, you might as well stop reading right now. I don't want to waste your time.
For the rest of you, what if we do have a choice? What if we can change our life performance? What if we can improve our comfort, balance, movement, enjoyment and outlook? To do so requires briefly looking at why and how it happens.
So we go though our lives sitting and standing in certain positions. These positions are dictated by whatever activity we are doing. In the early years there are many positions we get into. We play, frolic, be silly are active adventuring and discovering life. As we get older and get into a career the variety of positions gets less and we spend more time in the limited positions that are a part of our jobs. Our movement and restrictions are learned through the positions and activities we spend the most time in. These positions and patterns get very specialized and learnt well. The movements of our life come from time spent acting and reacting to the people, demands and situations we are exposed to. We react to fear, perceived threats and worries in automatic and predictable ways. We react to work, heavy labour, and busy lives in the opposite but just as automatic and predictable ways. We react to pain, injuries and static positions as well. The part that is predictable is the tension pattern to protect us, to move us forward or to guard and support us. The brakes get applied in many areas in many ways but they all compromise our posture, movement, mind and perception.
Our bodies become imbalanced and tense. This makes us weaker and weaker. We get a distorted sense of our bodies and our potential. We get a distorted sense of neutral. Our gauges get thrown off: sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot. It happens as a cycle and as the cycle repeats itself it creates deeper and deeper grooves or ruts. More and more breaks being applied in different primary and secondary areas. The breaks on the tires are the tension in the muscles and connective tissue. It puts more pressure on your joints, it puts more load on your skeleton, it compromises your easy and safe ways of moving, it means we need to use more effort for everything we do. It becomes so parts of our bodies are fighting or competing with other parts. It effects our heart, breath and the natural balance of all our systems.
When you want to solve a problem or prevent a situation it is critical to know what the source is. Where the control centre is and how to work with it. If you had a problem with a business and wanted to get it sorted out, do you think you would have more success from the owner/ boss or a clerk? If you want something to change you don't want to just deal with a symptom you want to go to the source to the head or the control centre.
The control centre in your body is your brain and nervous system. It is what controls and initiates the action of the brakes. Everything else is just a symptom of this efficient and consistent system. So to improve our life performance we need to access and communicate with the control centre and help it to remember how to let off the brakes and reduce the tension. This can sometimes be a quick process other times it can take a while to have real breakthrough success. Over the next few blog posts I will look at why you would want to change it, how you can change this process, how you can work with the control centre to improve your life performance.
The paradox of tension. We need it. It gets us out of danger. It helps keep us safe. It gives us feedback. It is essential for strength and power. It is a crucial part of living, life and learning. We can't live without it, but too much of anything turns it into a detriment. The important part is get rid of all unnecessary tension, to combine intention and tension or to get intensional.
If living life automatically puts the brakes on and they get stuck on it makes life hard. It makes life more painful, more frustrating, more chaotic and more confusing. It strips our confidence, our ability and the way we can perform in life. It wastes energy, clogging the communication in our nervous system, it leaves us in a state of anxiety, depression, apathy or complacency. Or we can stuck in a hyper alert, hyper vigilant, aggressive or agitated state. All of this takes us away from our natural way of be able to calm and centred.
Being calm and centred allows us to take in our surroundings. It allows us to make better decisions, move better, have more power and confidence and stay relaxed. It puts us in a position of conscious or awake adaptability. By using our intention and attention we can improve our life performance. By being aware, using appropriate tension, by staying calm and relaxed we can learn more, live better and love longer.
So we want to minimize our unconscious and reflexive tension, calm our emotions and nervous system and relax and centre our body. The only way we can take control or have choice is with awareness. Applying this awareness and the right actions is the key. While you can be taught many techniques that can be helpful when a situation that comes up that doesn't fit that technique you can be lost. A good foundational learning based on principles rather than just techniques allows you to intelligently adapt to whatever situation arises. This is true intension.
The only way to become familiar with what intensional is to learn how to let go of tension. To continually bring yourself to a deeper state of letting go, to be using your living body to help calm and silent your mind, to be playfully "checking in" as to what your body and environment is communicating to you, to relax your muscles, to let your body move more and more without restriction. As you practice and get better and better at this you will start to get more of a sense of ease and flow. You get stronger from using your living body as one moving and grooving organism. If you really want to further prepare and improve for demanding sports of activities than you can start to learn how to create a tension in your body to align and support your breath, your joints, your spine and your movements. To use the tension to your advantage to stay safe under increased risks and get the utmost stability, agility and power that you can. All of this increase your capacity as a person to move better, look better and perform better.
Ding, ding, ding. The alarm clock rings. As I start to orient myself