How Do We Become Aware Of That Which We Are Unaware?

Hi folks, welcome!

The FitOldDog Training Wheel starts with the development of mind and body awareness, which can be a hard nut to crack. From:

The FitOldDog Training Wheel starts with development of mind and body awareness, which can be a hard nut to crack. From:

It took me a long time to grow up and wake up, and I still have a long way to go, but life is surely about the journey.

There are things you know that ‘ain’t so,’ and things that you just don’t know. These are different forms of not knowing, with the former being the more intransigent state. If you want to continue learning and improving throughout your life, I suggest that you determine the nature of your particular roadblocks and then develop the means to remove them. They get in your way!

Here are some causes of continued unawareness, of which I am aware, but I am sure that I am unaware of many others, what with the human psyche being so complex and bizarre. I have mixed together the issues of body-awareness and mind-awareness because I see them as a single entity, at the end of the day.

Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, which provides a convincing case for the application of discipline to solve your problems. From:

Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Discipline is the key. From:

1.  Fear of change (misoneism, my favorite word; do you have a favorite word?) – this is a challenging issue, as the mind that comes from fear will fabricate any lie or illusion to maintain the fantasy of knowing. Read “The Road Less Traveled,” by M. Scott Peck when crisis comes, which it most surely will. This book, given to me by a kind friend, Tom Star, was an eye-opener as I struggled through a fairly standard mid-life crisis in my late forties. The message is simple, but hard to digest, that being, ‘You are responsible for fixing your problems, because they are your problems, and discipline is the solution.’ When we have a problem it is common to search for someone or something to blame, but at the end of the day it is our problem and generally blaming won’t be of any assistance. If, however, you embrace the problem as your responsibility, fix it and work to ensure that it is not repeated then you are taking a mature and, more importantly, an effective approach to life.

Not Jim Carrey's best movie (which is Liar Liar), but it conveys the point of wake up from an illusion very nicely. From:


2. Blithely unaware and unquestioning – this is simply a form of mental laziness or torpor, which may be a consequence of childhood/social/religious conditioning and/or genetics (this makes sense from a tribal survival perspective). The teenage years often lead to turbulent questioning (Why are my parents not the gods I thought they were? Am I really going to die one day?), which, if you are fortunate, will start you down the road to ‘questioning the obvious.’ Watch the movie, “The Truman Show” for some enlightenment on this issue. The subject of this movie, Truman, is awoken to the idea that things may not be what they seem by a stage light ‘falling from the sky,’ and from this small event he eventually figures out how his life has been hijacked in the interests of commerce. It is easy to judge the subject of this movie as naive, but we are all trapped in some kind of construct that seems fine on the inside, but which may not be what it seems as judged from the outside.

Here are these thoughts as expressed by the Scottish Bard:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us 
To see oursels as ithers see us! 
It wad frae monie a blunder free us, 
An’ foolish notion

From: To A Louse‘ by Robert Burns.

Moshe Feldenkrais developed the Feldenkrais method, which FitOldDog really admires because it is so effective. From:

Moshe Feldenkrais developed the Feldenkrais method, which FitOldDog really admires because it is so effective. From:

3.  You know something is up, but you don’t know what it is (apart from the symptoms) or how to fix it – whether mental/emotional or muscular, the key is a correct diagnosis before proceeding to corrective action. Often external, even professional, help may be needed, but first collect all the data you can before moving on to find a cure. For instance, you may find that you persistently suffer from ‘messed up’ relationships or knee pain, in which case I would recommend some form of talk therapy or the study of Feldenkrais, respectively. In the case of my personal training problems, my Feldenkrais instructor, Karen correctly diagnosed the cause of running-induced pain in my right knee (I was guarding my right ankle!), whilst my dance and Continuum instructor, Rebecca, noticed that I tend to send my weight forward onto the balls of my feet when standing, which was inducing chronically tight calf muscles, now corrected by improved posture and stance. I am sure that I would never have diagnosed these issues correctly without their skilled assistance. So seek help if all else fails!

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is used by FitOldDog to calm his mind on a regular basis. From:

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is used by FitOldDog to calm his mind on a regular basis. From:

4. You spend your life in a constant state of unnecessary anxiety – this is one of the commonest awareness maladies that I see around me. The only effective and healthy cure of which I am aware is meditation directed towards quieting the mind, for which I highly recommend that you read and work with, The Power of Now,’ by Eckhart Tolle. You must be patient, but your patience will be rewarded by a calmer mind, and thus less anxiety (it worked for me, anyway). In fact, you may obtain a state of real calm, which can be almost euphoric, when all your troubles melt away and you are just in the moment. In fact, I think that endurance sports can induce the same feeling of contentment as one is just being in the sport. This isn’t escape, it is really being present in the now, the only place that actually exists as far as I can tell! I enjoy these meditations each morning with a nice quiet cup of tea (very English!). Which reminds me of another critical aspect of self-awareness, which is to establish your natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Are you an ‘early morning person,’ like myself, or do you find that you’re more energetic and creative late at night, like Tim Ferriss (one of my heroes) for instance? Then plan your life around your natural rhythm, rather than trying to force an inappropriate circadian cycle into your chosen life-style.

In order to learn you have to forget what you 'know,' and learn to listen, as in the Zen Master's story of the overflowing cup of tea. From:

In order to learn you have to forget what you ‘know,’ and learn to listen, as in the Zen Master’s story of the overflowing cup of tea. From:

5.  You know it all, already, so no one can tell you what to do – I had a good friend in England years ago, but he never read books because he didn’t see “why he needed other people’s ideas in his head.” He wasn’t arrogant, he just thought he had nothing to learn from the writing of others, so we slowly grew apart, which was sad but inevitable. Another expression of this approach is arrogance, which is often coupled with narcissism in my experience, so there is not much one can do with people like this. Such afflicted individuals have an important lesson to learn, which is how to listen and actually hear others, but they rarely do because they ‘already know best.’ There is a story about this situation, which goes as follows:

There is an old story that is often told of a Japanese master who received a university professor who came inquiring about the meaning of Zen. First the master served him tea. The master poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The visitor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” the professor shouted. “Like this cup,” the master replied, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?” Indeed, if we approach life with a full cup, we can not learn anything new.” From: The Garr’s Posterous blog.

Left cup is a control, and the right one is completely 'prolapsed (turned inside out) but you can see stress lines at the junction of the base with the side. Took me about 10 minutes!

Left cup is a control and the right one is turned inside out. Took me about 10 minutes, during which time I broke two cups before succeeding with this one!

6.  Be aware of your strengths and limitations – you can exploit your strengths, no problem, but finding and accounting for your limitations is critical if you wish to avoid unnecessary conflicts in life, or injuries in the field. When it comes to exercise, and more specifically endurance training, Joel Friel nailed it with his ‘styrofoam cup’ analogy, which goes as follows: “Successful endurance training is exactly like turning a Styrofoam cup inside out. So long as you take it slowly, you’ll be able to do it. Try to rush things and—rip!—you’ll tear the cup. You are the cup.”

Finally – the greatest challenge to building awareness is the fact that you are unaware of that which you are unaware, so why would you seek change in this area? Meaningful change generally needs a catalyst or epiphany, such as a broken relationship, a serious injury, or a life-threatening health challenge. It is better if you don’t wait upon such triggers, but start now, open your mind, without being naive, test new ideas, ensure that they work in your case, and slowly modify your mental map of your body, your mind, and your World to comply with reality in order to maximize your contentment and happiness, and to optimize your exercise for better health.

-k @FitOldDog

Today’s workouts:

WorkoutPLAN Coach: Chris Hauth
Duration: 01:15:00
3900 – 500 wup every 3rd length kick – 400 every 3rd length catch up – 300 every other length head up freestyle drill – 200 pulling – 100 non free – 500 long cruz – 400 whereby middle 200 is fast – 300 100 fast,100ez, 100fast – 200 kick – 100 non free – 500 pull – 400 breathing odd side
Duration: 01:15:00
This phase will prepare you for the final strength building phase. Following the same format as the previous phase, perform 3 sets of 12 reps on each exercise with the exception of leg press (3×15), sit-ups (3×20), and leg ext / leg curl (still 2×15). Increase your weight significantly so that the last two reps of sets 2-3 are very difficult but doable without assistance. Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.10′ jump ropeCore exercises: 2′ hold of position or 2′ of continuous repeats:
Plank – Side Plank – Lunge – PushUps – Supermans – Back Extension – Abdominal Scissors1. Bench Press (chest)
2. Incline dumbbell flyes or Machine Pec Dec
3. Squats (glutes & quads)
4. Calf Raises
5. Lat – pull downs (lats)
6. Dumbbell Pullover
7. Low Row (or bent over dumbbell rows)
8. Upright Rows (shoulders)
9. Alternating Dumbbell Curls (biceps)
10. Dumbbell Kickbacks (triceps)
11. Leg Press
12. Leg Extensions
13. Leg Curls
14. Incline Situps or your choice of preferred ab work

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.