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Can't vs. Don't

Can’t is an imposition. Can’t is a grudgingly accepted duty. “I can’t eat this.” “I can’t do that.” “I can’t feel what I’m feeling.” I’m not allowed. I’m not supposed to. It’s an order handed down from faceless authority. You fight against can’t. Don’t is an act of self-mastery. Don’t is a choice that’s already been made. Don’t is not a question. There’s no decision point, no pros and cons to weigh.

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A morning movement routine

I’ve always had trouble sticking to positive morning routines. I’ve experimented with many different ideas for morning habits and how to structure that first hour or so of the day, but rarely stuck to them for more than two weeks. The one habit that has stuck and cemented over the past two years, is to wake up, make a cup of tea (usually), and sit down with my journal. I love how writing helps me process my thoughts, setting the track and tone for the rest of the day.

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Gathering Movement

While I was listening to a podcast by Katy Bowman recently, my attention was especially caught by her discussion of the semantics of fitness. She observed the tendency to think of both movement and the fitness of our body in terms that focus on a hunting theme—on pursuit and battle. We favor intensity, pushing heart rates up, running as fast as we can to break our previous best, and in general straining towards our physiological breaking points to improve.

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Toughened Individuals

I pressed my foot down on the clutch and guided the heavy gearshift into the spot for the lower gear, then eased my foot up, trying to be as smooth as possible. The engine had been rumbling along like normal, but all of a sudden the friendly rumblings stopped. This wasn’t the first time the engine had died on me. The tractor was the first manual-transmission vehicle I’d ever driven, and I was still in the learning curve; the engine would often cut out if I mistimed the release of the clutch.

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Via negativa

Subtract, don’t add, to make positive changes. There’s a common thought in the pursuits of optimized training, diet, and lifestyle that you must always add to your routine to improve, rather than paring away the nonessential. We tend to add more complexity, trying some new workout routine or diet plan or throwing ourselves into multiple habit changes at once. All this does is make each change more difficult for us to actually keep.

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Kinesthetic Literacy

During an interview on Daniel Vitalis’ Rewild Yourself podcast, Tom Myers, creator of Anatomy Trains, brings up the concept of kinesthetic learning and literacy. He talks about the three modes of learning that neurolinguistic programming (NLP) can identify: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Specifically, he noted that of the three, kinesthetic is the most underused in our culture. As I listened, it struck me that some of the processes I’d always thought of as kinesthetic learning actually weren’t.

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Handstands and Work

Handstands are hard. There are many other skills I’ve been able to practice piecemeal, dabbling when the mood strikes me over months or years, and still seen noticeable improvements (QDR being a great example). Handstands are not one of those skills. While I’ve technically been practicing handstands for years, the best I’d ever had was maybe a ten second freestanding handstand, which was a total fluke and unrepeatable. In parkour there’s a phrase: “once is never.

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Going slowly

During some of my dance practice yesterday I was doing movements at the barre, working on footwork interspersed with pliers (knee bends or squats). During this practice I was challenged to go slower. Now, just a moment before I had thought I was going slow enough. I thought I had been matching my teacher’s tempo. Yet he was, perplexingly, asking me to go more slowly. As someone who’s spent most of his time in movement practice working on explosive movements, whether through martial arts or parkour, this whole deliberate slowness feels unusual.

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A play trick

Play is underrated and misunderstood. I love the word, yet I find that it’s assumed to be frivolous and without a point, clearly as adults we don’t need any of that. But we do! We need play. Play is one of the best ways to learn and playing can be more then something superfluous and silly…and even if it isn’t, so what? But it’s often hard to give ourselves permission to play.

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Positive excuses

Often during my life I’ve found reasons to not do something, excuses for avoiding what I needed to do. Whether that’s to get up, go outside, and move around, to talk to that interesting stranger next to me on the bus, or to do the dishes before they become a foreboding mass. We use excuses all the time. Our minds have the incredible ability to justify just about anything, regardless of how twisted the logic needs to become to justify the decision.

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