How does our brain develop new connections that expand our world? Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert states that “The brain exists for one reason, to produce adaptable and complex movements.” Brain development is dependent on how we learn to move. The quality of our movements determines adaptability and complexity, therefore optimal brain development depends on learning to move with optimal functionality in accordance with the design of our structure.
As adults if we unlearn movement function our brain regresses by losing connections. This regression applies to just about everyone in western industrial cultures. Can the regression of our brain and function be reversed? Of course, just as children can learn so can adults and that is a testament to the plasticity of our brain!
Most adults have little awareness that they are regressing because it is gradual, taking years to become rigid, inflexible, and unbalanced in movements and thus limited in thinking. We are passive and accepting of the process because we see other people just like us. Our culture encourages it by detaching us from our sensual self through exercise, drugs, surgery and passive activities like watching TV. Becoming less and less functional is the accepted normal of the aging process. It is a tragedy with consequences enormously far reaching beyond each individual because our culture and society has become rigid, inflexible and unbalanced. Just look at the world today and see how rigid and resistant to change our society is, the polarization of beliefs, the divisiveness and inflexibility of our political leadership.
Before industrialization we lived sensually in our world with awareness of what it felt like to move, hear, see, taste and smell in every moment. Our survival depended on our ability to respond and adapt to our world in every present moment. Today we are clueless of what it feels like to move through our world with any awareness of anything or anyone in it, except when we feel pain, sore or negative emotions. Our reaction to pain is to usually make it worse with whatever activity we are doing. Our reaction to soreness is to convince ourselves we must be doing good stuff to our body (no pain no gain). Good grief, does this make ANY SENSE?
Numbness to what it feels like to move has made us insensitive to our world in the most destructive ways. It’s easy to treat animals and each other cruelly when we don’t know what we feel. It is easy to be destructive of the environment, our neighbours and each other when we don’t consider the effect our actions have on others because we don’t feel what we do.
The only way our brain can inform us that we are doing something harmful is through pain, stiffness, soreness, discomfort and so on. Why would our brain need to inform us when we are moving well? How have we gotten to the place where we don’t even know how to respond appropriately when our brain signals that we are hurting or about to hurt ourself. The more we behave in this non-sense manner the more we destroy neurological connections in our brain which limits our ability to think, feel and respond.
Fundamentally as we regress we lose balance in our structure which leads to fear of falling over. Our thinking brain extrapolates the fear of falling into emotional fear, intellectual fear and physical fear. The fear factor slowly rules our lives making us intransigent and rigid in our thoughts and actions. We repeat the same patterns and habits over and over again whether it is an activity, a relationship, an opinion or a belief. In short we become fearful of any change. Our only sense of security is that nothing should change, which is preposterous since we live in a world where nothing stays the same! The most destructive aspect of our fear based society is the us and them syndrome that allows us to justify otherwise heinous behaviour just because they don’t conform with us. George W. Bush reflected this clear fear divide when he famously said “You are with us or against us.” If I disagree with your policies I am your enemy?
If our society is to have any chance of survival we must reverse our brain regression. It is a simple journey to enter upon, begin learning how to move again with the freedom, flexibility, agility and wonder you felt as a child when the world was a curious place, you were fearless and you could hardly wait to experience change. It is never too late, science has proven our brain can make new connections and change up until the moment that we die. Who wants to live another day bitter, angry and hateful because of the world of intolerance and fear we have created from brain regression in movement.