Over the past number of weeks I have been learning a lot and taking in a lot from various different sources, from books, to workshops, to online reading and podcasts. There is so much to learn!
One concept that seems to be coming up again and again for me is the concept of certainty and why we crave it.
I will not attempt to propose an answer as to why individuals seek certainty, but one thing I do know is that in many cases this certainty is an illusion and this certainty does not exist.
It is in almost all facets of our lives, perhaps in an effort to feel more continuity, more security, more understanding of ourselves and our environments. We tend to navigate through our daily lives filtering and sifting through all the knowledge that is presented to us.
In his book, 'Thinking fast and slow', Daniel Kaheman suggests that the mind has no capacity for processing the sheer uncertainty inherent in life. Instead we cope by providing convenient explanations of past events, in which the cause neatly leads to the effect. He calls this the 'availability heuristic'. Often the world around us is not easily made sense of so we create a number of biases in our thinking. Sometimes some effects have no apparent cause and this leads us to telling ourselves some creatively crafted 'truths'. Another shortcoming in our thinking is what Kaheman refers to as 'cognitive ease'. We tend to choose explanations that come easily to our minds even when those explanations may differ from actual reality.
So where there is no apparent cause we create one to which we can understand and if we cannot understand an apparent cause we choose our own explanations that make sense to us.
Take for example the vast wonder of mechanisms, structures and systems that are operating and involved in our own bodies daily functioning. Can anyone claim to even begin to understand everything in the body, its relationship to everything else and how everything works optimally- I would go so far as to say No! There is so much information there, that no one person holds all the answers to every anatomical, biomechanical and health related query existing today.
What we need to be aware of here is those that claim they do!
'The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.'- Stephen Hawking
In the 'Fitness' world, these same cravings for certainty occur. What will make me lose weight? How will I get fitter, stronger, faster etc? What is the best form of Yoga? Is Pilates better at strengthening my core?
I hear these questions being raised all the time, and yes there are answers to those questions, and yes there is research carried out that can substantially back up the answers which are given, but.....there is also a huge amount of variables, every individual will differ. Adaptations to programming will differ from person to person, physical and psychological approaches will differ from person to person. We are all different and it is all random...How well you can cope with one strategy is based on a system of trial and error.
Research and findings can be best used to create methods following best practices to date and following specific principles.
“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”- Ralph Emerson
In movement for example there are a number of widely acknowledged principles that govern human movement. Dr. Even Osar states that if we follow these principles, if we ask questions with them in mind, we can begin to practice what is ideal and optimal in motion.
In we focus on principles and keep them in mind, the method we choose to learn them, the method through which we move our bodies, the method through which we gain a greater understanding does not really matter. The method is completely unique to you, your personality, your lifestyle, your passions and what inspires you.
So what does all this mean to you?
You may feel stressed, or have an injury, or have pain in your body, or have many questions as to how you can become a better athlete. The first thing to acknowledge is there is no magic pill for everyone.
The latest fad is the latest fad because we want to believe it. We want to believe it so much that we pay for it, we convince our friends, we preach to convert the masses.
We all want to know what works and there is no harm in that, it creates a life long journey of learning, of exploring and experiencing. What is important to remember is the presence of constant change, of constant variables and constant surprises!
In my own body and my own life, I am always learning. Last year my body experienced its first injury that Ive ever had (lucky me!) and I have been on a journey of questioning, learning, rehab, movement and fascination ever since. I definitely started out wanting to know specifics and definitive answers and experienced at times frustration when they did not really exist. I have learnt for sure that all I can do is continue with designed programmes, continue with rehab and combine that with all my knowledge of movement to continue to create awareness and alleviate any reoccurrence or further issues.
In your life, the relationship you have with your body is life long, the questions you have will change, the experience you wish to have will also change. What works at one time will not be a given forever. What is important is that you cultivate a positive relationship, that you experience your body in enjoyable, nurturing and sustainable ways. How you choose to do that is always entirely up to you.
If we can acknowledge the randomness, if we can free ourselves from the constant quest for what is right or wrong or what creates success or failure and concentrate soley on the process of feeling, of experiencing, of observing, of listening to our own breath, we can free ourselves from the trap of self expectation, of results chasing and become more present.