Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pain's Tutelage

Pain’s Tutelage

Tim Maddox, movement enthusiast

Right now, my heel hurts because I tried to break The Law. I thought I could escape the inviolable balance of the universe. I thought I could get away with Too Much Too Soon. Turns out, I am not a special snowflake, unique and like no other. I’m just a regular schmoe who is susceptible to all the physical rules and limitations which govern phenomena and circumstances. So now what?

In Days Gone By

A couple of years ago, I’d have dropped into a depressive funk, ruminating over the loss of training time and the setback to my ever tenuous progress. I would have become sullen with a mind clouded by the thoughts of what I was losing. Sorry family and friends, I’m injured, so I’m turning on the jerk-mode and interpreting all events through this single point-of-view. Don’t try to comfort me, my loss is too deep. Ahhh!!! ....the miles I’m not running and the conditioning I am losing. [Rend garments here].

Changed Perspective

Today, I think about this differently by changing my perspective. Instead of bemoaning time lost at my primary passion of running, I will direct my thoughts more toward what I am capable of doing. I now have the opportunity to revisit the activities I set aside during my long distance training. As a result, I’ve done more hiking, belly crawling, low-noise movement, rowing, lifting, climbing, cold exposure and so forth.  

What is the Lesson?

Pain can be a distinct and limiting bummer and honestly my little heel pain is not even on the scale compared to what some folks live with on a daily basis. My words here reflect my personal experience and what has worked for me. But the same mental techniques which can help me overcome this physical issue can also apply to emotional and spiritual pain as well. When I make the choice for the pain to be an opportunity to practice patience, self-discipline and to transmute a negative into a positive, I take control, become the active agent and fight the helplessness or depression which can accompany physical issues. In this instance the pain itself is not the limiting factor, how I interpret its impact on the other parts of my life is what matters most. My perceptions, my mental story, the thoughts I form around what it means to me is the main cause of any suffering. So I make the choice to let the pain teach me about myself, about my arrogance, my pride and how lucky I am to have a riddle in my foot. In this way pain provides me with the opportunity to dive a little deeper into what this bag of bones, sinew and tissues is all about. Am I just an asymmetric projection of my movement abilities, a single-focused, all or nothing actor or am I capable of adapting to my situation, circumstances and finding the best path forward?

In our lives, pain is going to happen, but the suffering, the mental anguish which accompanies pain can be reduced and in some cases turned into joy when the right mental outlook is applied. Can I turn the lead in my heel into gold in my soul? I can if I accept the offering of pain’s tutelage. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mindfulness is a Mindset

by Aaron Baulch, NSCA-CPT / MCT Level 2 & Combatives

A couple of days ago, I made my way to a local park here in Tulsa. It is called Woodward Park and is one of my favorite places to practice here. It was a beautiful winter afternoon, although we have had some warmer than usual temps here lately, and a perfect time to get outside for a barefoot walk / jog. Over the last several years, my feet have slowly adapted to being unshod and I have patiently learned to practice in the shoes I was born with. It is now, by far my preferred way to train? Inevitably, questions of why I am barefoot arise. Doesn't that hurt? Isn't that dangerous? Did you forget your shoes? What if you step on something? All are valid questions and over the years have opened up great conversations about the benefits of spending quality time in the grass barefooted. Understanding that this is still a very atypical practice, I have grown to expect these questions and use them as an opportunity to connect with others. On this particular day, there were no such questions as the park was relatively quiet. Consequently, I was able to ease into my walk, connecting to the earth and consciously giving attention to what has evolved as the main reason that I believe we should all spend some time barefoot in the grass... The Mindset of Mindfulness.

Shoes off, mind engaged
When I first began taking my shoes off to practice outside, I remember being incredibly hesitant. It wasn't like I hadn't done it before. We all have at some point. Children at play without a care in the world. Over time we grow into adults and wearing shoes is part of being a grown up, so we get up each day and put on our shoes. Casting our feet, we limit mobility and decrease sensation. This continues as we age and as the years pass by, our immobile feet begin to contribute to a host of alignment issues throughout our bodies. That is, until we decide to buck the system and kick off our shoes to walk in the grass, on the beach or just to simply move around our homes. If, and hopefully when this happens for us, a shift must occur and it is unmistakable. Without our protective and restrictive shoe casts, we must begin to pay attention. We must slow down a bit as we scan the ground in front of us, sensations return rapidly as the bottoms of our feet signal the brain allowing old and new movement to return throughout the body. Paying attention to each step is something that most of us haven't done in years - if ever. With our padded running shoes or ultra supportive hiking boots it isn't necessary. A bare foot walk has the ability to alter this in a hurry. Each step becomes a lesson in what it means to be mindful. Remaining present in an action and paying attention to what is happening around us and within us. We must truly feel the ground as our feet contact the earth so as not to step on something that may harm us as we slowly grow more accustomed to being shoeless. As we walk, this mindfulness begins to sink in and our entire system benefits from each step. Our feet begin to regain lost mobility and strength. This, in turn, helps the rest of our body align and strengthen, as we begin approaching our movement as a whole - from the ground up.

New Year - New Thoughts
So, it's the new year and it's for this reason that I wanted to spend a little time thinking about our feet. Getting at least a little bit interested in how they might affect our entire system. New Year - New Thoughts. Let your mind expand and let your thoughts drift toward being a tad bit more Mindful this year. Mindfulness is a Mindset and one that we practice daily at Mindful Body Fitness. Being mindful is being aware to what's around you and within you. Thoughts, feelings, sensation and emotions are all pieces of being mindful. So, take off your shoes, put your feet in the grass and take a stroll. Slow and easy. Noticing all the things that come up. It's different at first, but your brain and body will remember soon enough. Enjoy the lesson in mindfulness and maybe learn something about yourself in the process.

Happy New Year!! Thanks for reading and look for upcoming Mindfully Primal blogs every Tuesday during 2017. Looking forward to sharing a lot of the topics that are brought up and discussed each week at the studio. Until next week...Invest in Yourself. Learn to move again.

For over 25 years, the health and fitness industry has been Aaron’s chosen profession. After graduating from Oklahoma University, with a Liberal Arts Degree, he moved into a natural career path as a personal trainer. Currently residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Aaron’s training journey has included numerous opportunities, experiences and certifications. He is the Owner & Founder of Mindful Body Fitness and proud to be a MovNat Licensed Facility. Aaron will soon be completing his Restorative Exercise Specialist and Primal Health Coach Certifications, to go along with current certifications held from NSCA, MovNat, Mount Madonna Yoga Institute and FMS. He has extensively explored Anusara Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and the hardstyle kettlebell techniques of the RKC. Today, his focus lies in being both a teacher and student of Natural Movement, mindfully looking for the practicality within our movements and as often as possible, mixing in a large dose of play.

Aaron can be reached at or at 918.313.0000.