Top reads July-August
Below you find some of my favorite blogposts, book quotes, workshops attended and videos I came online by in the past month. I hope you enjoy this format. It's a good way for me to recap and store some of the things I learn. I'm not sure yet about the categories used right now and whether I might have narrowed down the boxes too small for some of the subjects but I'm sure I'll figure that out. I enjoyed writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it and maybe learn a thing or two.
- FIGHTING MONKEY INTENSIVE II, KALAMATA
For sure one of the highlights of my past Summer. The teaching, the training, the post-training swims and conversations during enormous Greekbar meals together. What a week! Check out the Rootlessroot page for more info.
Fighting Monkey for me is about absolute honesty: honesty with yourself, people around you and the reality you are in. Honesty can only grow together with constant attention/observation, a big part of the practice Jozef & Linda suggest through the situations they put you in. Observation is what I try to work on. (Especially after Jozef attacked me in the streets of Kalamata telling me I had to give back the Fighting Monkey Certificate because I was not observing the environment, good lesson! :D)
Practically, during the week our work was roughly divided in working "The Form", the methodology behind movement situations with different tools (practice ball, wooden ball, ropes,...), coordination and rhythm, and stillness situations.
Jozef did a great job at describing his beliefs on the cycle of training: are good coordination and rhythm (in relation to the situation/sport/music) the basis for movement or strength? His way of naming the five elements behind cycle of training allows everyone in the group to decide for himself what his practice should realistically be like to evolve, if you allow yourself to observe and be observed. Your own 'programming' should eventually be done in this way: it should not be spoonfed by a teacher but through looking at yourself and asking others you trust you decide yourself what you need to work on. So again honesty. You don't just randomly work things - unless they really inspire you.
I will not go too deep into anything of what we did because that would take away from your own experience with these amazing teachers so I will finish this with 10 quotes that I wrote in really large font in my notebook because they were yelled really loud, repeated many times or because I was like YEAHHHHHH! I keep the imagination for yourself:
Become a super good friend with your proprioceptors.
Move your head and you already look like a dancer.
Little work. Maximum effect.
If you try, you are already enlightened.
THE MOMENT YOU GET ATTACHED TO SOMETHING, YOU GET BLOCKED!
The #1 thing is to see what you are.
If you are rushing, it means you are sick, you are going to get sick, or going to die soon.
If you are strong inside, you are strong in happiness for life.
Don't put your students in a box where you would like to have them. You limit them.
Elasticity in the body, plasticity in the brain.
Steve Morris really is a goldmine. I've been going into Steve Morris' stuff a lot in the past two or three months and just ordered his Startle Response DVD. During the past Fighting Monkey Intensive, many of the guys with fighting background or interest had bought some of his DVDs and were really pleased with the content and research behind it. Some of us were thinking of organizing an event for Steve so he gets some more exposure and it becomes easier for the interested to learn from him. Also the more I learn about the ideas and research behind Fighting Monkey and read and watch Steve Morris' work, the more I feel like these guys would really get along! A lot of what I posted below, we actually practiced in the intensive and could have come out of Jozef's mouth. Some outtakes from his blog:
The biggest thing is the impression of what you have to do.
With practice, you can switch in and out of ’emergency mode’ very quickly. [...] So you have the underlying mindset of constant mindfulness, scanning, which I call the ‘carrier wave’, and as soon as a pertinent cue presents itself, you’re off. What you then understand is that you can produce that external cue, internally. You can stimulate the process internally, with an image that triggers the same response as if the cue were external.
Going back to training, the only thing you can do is bring the training as close to the reality as possible. [...] use your imagination and your drills to take you as far in that direction as possible, psychologically, physically and technically.
ALWAYS USING THE BODY AS A WHOLE, and always with the idea of working in the anaerobic zone rather than the aerobic zone. And that ‘whole’ must include the fundamental reflex and behavioral patterns which are inherent.
Don’t get caught up in weight training at the expense of what you’re actually seeking to do.
- An article from Ultimate Athlete Concepts on Trouble shooting your program:
Coaching is an art form. The art of coaching is to place stress on the athlete and see how they respond. We take various techniques & tools and apply them onto a living canvas in hopes that the final product comes out how we thought it would.
Henk Kraaijenhof “where science generalizes and averages, art individualizes. Science is interested in unravelling the underlying mechanisms; the WHY. But training is interested in applying this mechanism to the individual, keeping individual variation and responses in mind; the HOW.”
Trouble shooting check list for programming:
- Check volume: one of the top problems in athletic development is over volumization of training.
- Recovery between sessions
- Stress of life/Life happens
- Rotate movements/volume/intensity/...
- Rotate methods
If all else has fails, make notes, talk to your network of coaches, and then change up your approach.
Dr. Ray Peat is an independent researcher who shares a lot of interesting, often provoking articles on website raypeat.com. He has a doctorate in biology, researches metabolism, thyroid, stress, aging and nutrition in general. On the other side, he's also a painter and wrote dissertation on William Blake. In this collection of interviews I read that he once started his own university, lived in a cave,... Interesting guy. His books go much beyond this however. Reading his book Mind&Tissue was really a gift. He shares russian perspectives on the brain: for example you'll find there a re-interpretation of Pavlov and contemporaries's lesser known research, Dostojewski's double, alchemy - basically suggesting a more whole view of the human organism and the lack of imagination and creativity we have in our lives at the moment. I am sharing his stuff not because I do everything he recommends, but because he makes me think and revise my assumptions on what I think was supposedly common knowledge. Just that makes reading his stuff worth it.
A Blake quote he's often shared:
"As the true method of knowledge is experiment, the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences."
Perceive Think Act
- From his article Protective CO2 and Aging:
Some of those (Taoist in ancient China) who claimed extreme longevity practiced controlled breathing and tai chi (involving imagery, movement, and breating), typically in the early morning hours, when stress reduction is most important. As far as I know, there are no studies of carbon dioxide levels in practitioners of tai chi, but the sensation of warmth they typically report suggests that it involves hypoventilation.
A high metabolic rate and production of carbon dioxide would increase the adaptability of the new organism, by decreasing the limiting genetic imprints.
Carbon dioxide has antioxidant effects, and many other stabilizing actions, including protection against hypoxia and the excitatory effects of intracellular calcium and inflammation.
Moderate methionine restriction (for example, using gelatin regularly in the diet) might be practical, but if increased carbon dioxide can activate the demethylase enzymes in a controlled way, it might be a useful treatment for the degenerative diseases and for aging itself.
In the traditional diet, rather than just eating muscle meats, all the animal parts were used. Since collagen makes up about 50% of the protein in an animal, and is free of tryptophan, this means that people were getting about half as much tryptophan in proportion to other amino acids when they used foods such as “head cheese,” ox-tails, and chicken feet.
I think these facts imply that excessive tryptophan, estrogen, and polyunsaturated fats contribute significantly, maybe decisively, to the degenerative changes that occur in aging. Experiments have separately shown that reducing dietary tryptophan or unsaturated fats can extend the healthy lifespan, and several antiestrogenic interventions can slow age-related changes and delay degenerative diseases.
Practically, get more:
CO2 / High altitude / Thyroid / Progesterone / Caffeine / Aspirine / Sodium / Coconut oil
Tryptophan / Pufa / Stress / Breathless exercise / Darkness
Carl Rogers was interested in what made some therapists successful [...] Successful therapists had three essential traits. They offered their clients acceptance or “unconditional positive regard” and empathic understanding, and they themselves were congruent, not presenting a facade of authority or esoteric knowledge. According to Rogers, “accurate diagnosis” and “specific treatment” didn't have anything to do with helping the client.
Reading with a critical imagination is as important for science as it is for literature or advertising. Good literature often opens expansive new ways of seeing the world, and good science writing can do that too, but too often scientific publications have ulterior motives, and should be read the way advertising propaganda is read.
When reading science articles, or listening to lectures, and even while privately thinking about experiences, it can be useful to watch for the improper use of assumptions. Our understanding has been shaped by the assumptions of our culture, and these assumptions present an attitude toward the nature of the world, in some cases even about the ontology that our philosophers have said is beyond our reach.
Although the dietetic association now feebly acknowledges that sugars don't raise the blood sugar more quickly than starches do, they can't get away from their absurd old recommendations,
The experiments of Bernardo Houssay (1947 Nobel laureate) in the 1940s, in which sugar and coconut oil protected against diabetes, followed by Randle's demonstration of the antagonism between fats and glucose assimilation, and the growing recognition that polyunsaturated fatty acids cause insulin resistance and damage the pancreas, have made it clear that the dietetic obsession with sugar in relation to diabetes has been a dangerous diversion that has retarded the understanding of degenerative metabolic diseases.
Fructose inhibits the stimulation of insulin by glucose, so this means that eating ordinary sugar, sucrose (a disaccharide, consisting of glucose and fructose), in place of starch, will reduce the tendency to store fat. Eating “complex carbohydrates,” rather than sugars, is a reasonable way to promote obesity.
If protein is eaten without carbohydrate, it will stimulate insulin secretion, lowering blood sugar and activating the stress response, leading to the secretion of adrenalin, cortisol, growth hormone, prolactin, and other hormones.
Simply eating sucrose was recently discovered to restrain the stress hormone system.
The bulk of the age-related tissue damage classified as “glycation end-products” is produced by decomposition of the polyunsaturated fats, rather than by sugars, and this would be minimized by the protective oxidation of glucose to carbon dioxide.
People who eat seafood get much more selenium in their diet than people who eat nothing from the sea, and selenium is one of the extremely protective nutrients that prevent atherosclerosis in animal experiments with excess cholesterol.
Anticholesterol drugs cause suicide, depression, and dementia, but there is a large amount of evidence from human as well as animal studies showing that mood and intelligence are depressed by lowering cholesterol. Simply injecting cholesterol into animals can improve their learning ability.
There have been several studies in India showing that consumption of butter and ghee is associated with a low incidence of heart disease; for example, according to one study, people in the north eat 19 times more fat (mostly butter and ghee) than in the south, yet the incidence of heart disease is seven times higher in the south. A study in Sweden found that the fatty acids in milk products are associated with larger LDL particles (Sjogren, et al., 2004).
- Ray Peat inspired strategies for athletes:
- Eat sugar/protein, preferably something high quality like milk and Oj, before, during and after exercise.
- Take a high quality B1, niacianamide and pregnenolone supplement before exercise and possibly after. 50mg of each is a good amount.
- Take 1tb of baking soda before and after exercise
- Rest as much as possible during exercise, if you are unable to breath comfortably through your nose you are over exerting yourself.
- Get good rest in your down time, be weary of posture when sitting and sleeping, focus on getting adequate sun/light(250 watt heat lamp) while resting.
- Bag breath during rest down time, only needs to be done for a couple minutes.
- Utilize low intensity stretches/yoga poses to help with recovery and flexibility.
- Peat on fear of failure in a podcast:
If you're anxious before you need to perform, stir a little salt in your orange juice.
"The world is very boring, and everything seems the same as everything else, until
you can escape from a certain interpretive framework,
to see what opportunities are really present to you.”
– Dr. Ray Peat
When people start thinking about the things in their life that can be changed, they are exercising aspects of their organism that had been atrophied by being in an authoritarian culture. Authoritarians talk about protocols, but the only valid ‘protocol’ would be something like ‘perceive, think, act.’
OTHER: TAO, CREATIVITY, JODOROWSKY, HENRY MILLER
- Dan Vercammen has a university of taoism in Antwerp whose group classes I attend sometimes. In this pdf he describes some Internal Alchemy practices (in dutch).
The best therapy for the individual human brain turns out to be precisely what is needed by society as a whole: active engagement with others in the solution to our predicament.
If these conditions of the overexcited brain and emotional numbing are allowed to happen in a large number of human beings and our intelligentsia, humanity will see a significant decline in the planet’s creative potential.
Creativity is needed now more than ever and must be reoriented to the task of preserving humanity as well as all other life on our planet.
- A new friend recently recommend me to read Jodorowsky's stuff and I really cannot understand how I have never heard of this man. Below there's a nice interview with him. His book about his spiritual journey is really amazing: in the book Jodoworsky narrates his path of individuation from Zen Buddhim, random and not so random encounters with the women who changed his life, transformed his fears and opened his emotional blockages. I wrote down some notes on goodreads. His list of the 82 commandments he got from the daughter of Gurdjieff is also a must read.
"Art is to remind people of their values: what they are."
- Last, I got reminded again how much I love reading Henry Miller's works. It's such a joy to see how this man looked at the world. He taught me that "No daring is fatal!" and that it's better to "stand alone and feel quite normal about our abnormality, doing nothing whatever about it, except what needs to be done to be oneself." In a compilation book of him I found some thoughts of Henry Miller on education:
In boyhood, we came to realize there were two sources of instruction: one which we discovered ourselves and secretly strove to guard, and the other which we learned about in school and which impressed us as not only dull and futile but diabolically false and perverted. The one kind of instruction nourished us, the other undermined us.
The true educators are the adventurers and wanderers, the men who plunge into the living plasm of history, legend, myth.
As boys, on our own, we were on the right track: we had sensed that education was a vital process, one acquired in the midst of life by living and wrestling with life.
"My empire is my imagination"