Movement is good for you. It releases endorphins, promotes serotonin, the happy chemical in the brain, and is the prime contributor to an efficient body. But I haven’t told you anything new, we know this, we have read the countless headlines detailing the health benefits of movement, perhaps even watched the TED talk detailing movement is the raison d etre for the brain. So if we know all of this, why do we struggle to pull on the trainers, step on the mat, or slip the swimsuit on?
Motivation is literally the motivator of human endeavour, the red thread that connects Albert Einstein, the Buddha, David Beckham, Krishnamachyra, Ido Portal, and everyone of us that actually wants to discover and sustain the quest for discovery. Irrespective of whether it’s quantum physics, perfecting a free kick, or enlightenment, every discovery entails change, movement - if something stops, it will eventually cease to exist, with the body a mini reflection of this cosmic truth: perpetual motion sustains the circle of life.
In many respects, our technological advances are working against motion: technology seems to be advancing at the expense of human movement. Everything is at our fingertips and our motivation to complete what were once the most simplest of tasks is being sapped as priorities shift to maintaining a productive day. Sadly, a productive day largely consists of what is of quantifiable value, with a fraction only earmarked for that which nourishes us.
The need to move has been labelled ‘exercise’, a series of repetitive movements that we do in the hope of improving our health, and is synonymous with dusty gym membership cards and failed intentions. In his wonderful Beautiful Practice book, Frank Forencich writes: “Today we know that it’s movement, not exercise, that keeps us healthy…When it comes to maintaining health, exercise is optional, but movement is essential. No one ever died from lack of exercise, but lack of physical movement is absolutely dangerous to health.”
Kindling the flame of motivation requires the recognition that our body is equal to our brain, we are physical beings that need to be physical otherwise we will slowly deteriorate past the point of no return. Imagining ourselves unable to perform the most simplest of human actions due to inactivity may be enough to spark the flame, and once sparked, we then turn the attention to the activity that excites us.
The gym memberships that gather dust belong to those cardholders who found exercise boring, which it is. Rather, it is the activity that we imagine ourselves finding freedom in that will add fuel to the flame, which can be running through the hills, cycling across the Pennines, holding handstand, or street dancing to Beyonce. When we can imagine ourselves participating in these physical feats, able to see and hear the desire of our body intelligence, the motivation seed has been sown.
Acknowledging that our physicality matters is hard when in a society that either values intellectual accomplishments or the body beautiful which is a skewered, almost perverse one dimensional perception of our multi-dimensional bodies. Increasingly though, the astonishing abilities of athletes is being recognised (think Under Armour) in the mainstream media and we’re getting a taste of our bodies’ capabilities when at their peak. But of course it’s horses for causes.
We certainly do not have to be an elite athlete to feel good, we only need the motivation to achieve our endeavour to yield the results relative to us. We shy away from those activities solely driven by quantifiable measurements, and look to the quality of the experience. Athletes and practitioners of any discipline all practice for that moment of heightened awareness and direct contact with the now.
In being motivated, we are finding the activity that has less to do with quantifiable measurements as these will quickly work against the best intentions when something goes awry and we’re fed the stick and not the carrot. Rather, we step on the mat, set forth across the Pennines, or jog through the parks because we yearn for the quality of experience, the attention in the moment, and discovering something we didn’t know about ourselves which can be the extra mile, beautiful backbend, or mounting that hill.
Trusting the communication of the body and acting is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves for in doing so we are more empowered and connected to the perpetual movement of life and we are truly alive.