Monday, February 18, 2008

Body, Mind, Spirit Play

© Alan Davidson- All Rights reserved

The stained-glass windows in my Houston studio were flung open on a crisp spring day. I was dressing the massage table for my next client when I heard the faint sound of laughter. My third-story walk-up studio was near Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, and I had a bird’s-eye view of the playground from my bathroom window. It sprawled over an entire half block along Fairview Street. Kids were out for recess doing what kids have done for recess since the Dark Ages, or at least since I was a kid in the 1960s. I paused at the window to enjoy the sights and sounds of kids playing and having fun.

Two teams of kids scampered across the grass playing kick ball. Three girls added giggles of delight to their cartwheels. Phys-ed teams leaped like frogs, racing each other to a finish line; the winning team let loose a whoop. A gang of girls practiced cheers, stacking themselves into a human pyramid and laughing when it fell down. The playground could have been any circus, with the acrobats wearing red or blue school uniforms instead of colorful sequins and feathers. The breeze carried the sounds of squealing, happy children.

I pondered a mystery of life. Sometimes I still wonder why I was in such a hurry to grow up. Somewhere along the way the carefree play of children shifted to the march of adulthood. We traded running, jumping and tumbling for walking, standing, and sitting. Instead of crawling through bushes like kids, as grown-ups we lean against water-coolers. Rather than stomp around the great outdoors, we sit at our desks for too-long hours. We trade glee for the safety of our paychecks.

At a certain age we began to really slow down. The normal movements of our every day suddenly caused a dull ache that often, over time, spasmed into full-blown pain. We attributed these accumulating aches and pains to “getting old.” We resigned ourselves to the march of time without ever asking, “Does it have to be this way?”

The answer is, “No. It doesn’t.” I don’t believe in “getting old,” per se. I believe that with our minds focused on the daily rat race, our bodies simply forget how to feel vital and free: a classic case of “You lose what you don’t use.” Those once young and limber bodies have become tired and brittle.

One natural antidote to the ravages of time is to realize consciousness throughout the body’s five essential intelligences. A somatic life (body, mind, spirit in harmony) empowers a man or woman to live with a relaxed and concentrated mind; a strong, flexible body, and with sparkling, mature emotions that enables that person to share their love with others. It is a life that is dynamic, creative and harmonious. The bedrock of this vital life is our physical intelligence, the first layer of consciousness. The physical IQ is the densest of the five layers so that it can provide a stable foundation. It includes our muscles, joints, and bones, as well as the connective tissues: the tendons, ligaments, and fascia.

The four aspects of physical intelligence are Strength, Flexibility, Grace and Bearing. I think of them as the four pillars of our body’s foundation. Our professional and Olympic athletes have these qualities in spades. But each of us can peak these proficiencies to our best abilities and grow this layer of intelligence.

The coastal soil along this stretch of the Gulf of Mexico near Houston is reclaimed swampland: layers of wet clay, rocks and dirt. Here in the Montrose, a neighborhood near downtown, many of the old houses are built on pier-and-beam foundations. Large pillars are sunk deep into the earth and rise vertically above the ground’s surface. Beams are fastened horizontally to the pillars to create a stable foundation, one that can provide equal stability during long, hot summers and cold, wet winters. The house is then built on top of the pier-and-beam structure.

Like the old foundations in Houston, the four pillars of Strength, Flexibility, Grace and Bearing, working in harmony, create a dynamic platform for our body’s physical, emotional, mental, moral, and spiritual health. “Strength,” covers the importance of building our muscles. “Flexibility,” explains the importance of stretching and the body’s full range of motion. “Grace” covers our joints, balance and coordination. And “Bearing,” explores good posture and the natural position of our bones and how the muscles and connective tissue supports or distorts them. “Bearing” also explores the effects of touch and deep-tissue bodywork on this layer of intelligence.

So live a little; move your body, run, play, stretch, feel...and grow younger. Begin to peak your physical IQ today. Use it, don’t loose it.


Why do some people never manage to get their life together; whether it's their health, relationships, happiness, work, or money? Alan Davidson is the author of the free report "Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a Sensational Life"

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Alan's also the author of Body Brilliance: Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences, the #1 Health and Wellness book and Winner of Two 2007 Book-of-the-Year Awards.

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