Have you ever noticed that people who have active or adventurous hobbies that require a high level of physical awareness are generally more pleasant or have a good outlook on life?
Namely things like rock climbing, dancing, martial arts, yoga, skateboarding, etc? Activities that require you to pay attention to your body parts and learn how to move them in certain and precise ways.
The huge amount of coordination and physical awareness necessary for these sports is so healthy for the mind and and contributes largely to the broad picture of awareness such that these types of people are more closely in tune with the world around them and the people around them. This allows them to interact with others in the most optimal way, having established a better understanding of the present moment and situation at hand.
What is the broad picture of awareness?
Conventional wisdom, the natural human life cycle, and common logic all agree that there is an optimal progression to developing conscious awareness as follows.
Increasing your physical awareness will very much help you to become better in tune with your life both mentally and spiritually.
The moral of the story is, go find a new cragg to climb, learn a new dance step, or check out a class at your local martial arts school; it could be the beginning of something good.
In order to fully understand what's going on around us and optimize our lives, I believe that it is essential to have a basic understanding of some principles of physics. Get to know how things really work. Instead of learning by trial and error, if you have some knowledge or understanding of how events might actually turn out, you can probably make better decisions.
I think I see the point.. but what exactly are you talking about? Let's say, for example, you bump into a lamp and it begins to topple over. Your tendency would be to grab it any way you can and save it from crashing to the floor. So you grab the lower portion of the lamp because that is the part that is moving the slowest. (assuming that it is simply falling over by pivoting about a point at the base of the lamp) But the lamp is too heavy and you don't can't generate enough torque in your wrist in time and you only end up lifting the base of the lamp from the table and hurting your wrist in the process.
Had you been able to apply the simple principle of leverage at the moment you took action, you may have realized that a much smaller amount of force would be required to stop the lamp if you tried to catch it by a point further away from the pivot. The image above depicts a "second class lever" which means that essentially the closer you apply force to the pivot point, the more force is required; and the further away you are, the less is required.
There are limitless of scenarios where you can observe the principles of leverage. IE: golf, faucet knobs, eating utensils, your forearm, pushups... etc.
There is enough information on Levers and Leverage out there, that I don't need to get into an entire lesson, I just want to make you aware of how knowing and applying these principles can benefit your life. Do some research on your own at the links below.
This one is a white paper on leverage as it applies to biomechanics:
Let me know if this makes sense; was it helpful? Is there a situation you can think of where you may have used physical leverage to your benefit in everyday life and not realized it? Is there a situation where, looking back, you could have used leverage to your advantage, and didn't?
Image by Amin Tabrizi via Flickr
It’s aggravating to drop things you’re carrying or to spill your briefcase or book bag all over the floor because you were in a hurry. Do you think a samurai would ever drop his sword if he was in a hurry? Do you think a ninja would drop... anything... ever? The likelihood is that they would not. The trick here is that they have a level of understanding of these objects that allows them to know exactly how they will react under any given circumstance.
For example, a Samurai would know the following about his Katana:
- How is it weighted?
- What is the exact physical size in all three dimensions?
- How much weight can it support?
- How fast can he wield it with two hands? One hand?
- What will it cut through and how easily will it cut?
Know your book bag / briefcase
By understanding how your object (book bag or briefcase in this example) will react to certain circumstances will help to give you a fundamental understanding of what you will, or will not be able to do with it. For example:
- What happens when you hold it in a different place? Different handle? From the side? From a hanging strap? Does everything fall out? Will it break or tear when you hold it this way? Are there any other dangers you should know about if you’re holding it funny? Sharp edges, etc?
- How many fingers are required to hold its weight?
- Is there any way you can hold it with something else, like your elbow, or your foot?
- How much friction is there between your hand and the material it is made from?
Ask these questions, and ask any other question you can dream to ask. Ask these questions about any object you may encounter.
Be Prepared. Know all your utilities.
Make observations about your cell phone, wallet, pen, keychain, etc..
Your awareness for things around you will increase as will your fundamental understanding for these things with respect to how they function and react in this world. You will slowly be able to piece together the results from the physical tests and be able to infer other bits of useful information. You will probably be surprised at how you can use this information and how much it can benefit you.
So I'm driving down the road, and I've got a tasty snapple in my hand and my cup holder is chock full of yesterday's snapple bottle, but I've got to shift from first to second gear. How do I do it?
I've perfected a technique that comes in very handy for this scenario:
- Steering with your left hand, position your hand so that it is somewhere between 3 & 6 o'clock on the wheel.
- Release your grip from the wheel, but keep the back of your forearm against the wheel. You'll now be steering using friction between your forearm / elbow and the steering wheel.
- Slide your arm against the wheel and reach down to the shift knob to change gears.
This technique requires a bit of coordination and focus. I find that shifting from first to second is the easiest, because it is the closest move to the steering wheel, but that all other gears are reachable, at least in my '04 Honda Civic. This may be difficult for some at first, but with practice it can be fine tuned and actually obtain a good level of comfort. I have used this many times when I'm also making a fairly sharp turn.
C.Y.A. NOTE: The above is not actually recommended, for safety and liability reasons. Try this exercise at your own risk.
What does it mean to challenge yourself, and what is the benefit?
To challenge yourself is to set a goal to do something that will not be easily accomplished. A challenge can be anything large or small. Sometimes it is easier to identify the larger challenges (bench press your weight, finish your school paper a week early, don't eat that chocolate, etc.), but it can be more difficult and require more creativity to exploit the smaller challenges, such as opening the door with your foot or optimising the way you close the bottle of milk. I believe that these smaller challenges are extremely important to understanding one's self. All self-challenges are great, I just think the small ones are underestimated.
If you challenge yourself to jump over a trash can, or to walk up the stairs only on your toes, or grab a bug out of mid-air with a pair of chopsticks, these are all intrinsic tasks that are performed by the fundamental "you"; they are not composite tasks based on reliance of others or your surroundings. Every time you complete a self-challenge, you've further defined another self-limitation. It would be great to find all of you physical limits via small challenges and know them all fully. This would give you a good picture of who you are and what you can accomplish (at least physically) and this will, in turn, allow you to get to know yourself even better.
There is no limit to the amount of information you can find out about yourself, so keep being creative and continue to find out your limits. As you test your limits, you will, at the same time be expanding your limits. Therefore, once you know your limit, try it again (and again and again and again), you may surprise yourself.
The below image set depicts the limit test, acquisition and challenge sequence. The solid circle represents your physical limit (for example, the absolute maximum distance you can jump), and the dotted circle represents what you interpret to be your limit via challenging yourself:
Fig.1: You have tested your limit and were easily able to complete the task. You are too far within your personal limits and are underestimating yourself. This is all too common in humans.
Fig.2: You have not properly tested your limit, and for some reason you have an altered perception that you can do more than you think you can. This is dangerous as it is an overestimation of your own ability.
Fig.3: This indicates "pushing the limits". Continually challenge yourself and dance around the line which dictates your absolute personal limitation. This will allow for an improved familiarity with yourself as well as work to increase your limits.
Image by Getty Images via Daylife With a little practice you can learn to open door knobs with your feet. Quite useful when carrying groceries or luggage etc..
It's a bit easier with a door that is opening away from you. If you have sneakers on or soles with a decent amount of friction you will be able to make one quick downward swipe against the doorknob with your foot. You should be pressing against the doorknob in the direction of the door jam, but slightly forwards so that you will be pushing the door open once the latch disengages. I find it takes about 2-3 inches of dragging along the sole of your shoe.