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Evolution, Serotonin and the Future of Posture

Friends,

This is a message was sent to a friend, but you guys can read it too:

This is long. Read as much or as little as you like or skip right to the questions at the end. As long as I value your thoughts and opinions I may be inclined to periodically share ideas with you and some other people whose thoughts and opinions I value also. But I do it with no expectation of a response of similar length or by a certain time. People like you already help me by being a sounding board to write and vocalize complex ideas and I am grateful.

We get serotonin by dominance
But not dominance precisely -we get it by carving out a space -geographic/social/professional- which we defend and improve.
The serotonin we get inflates us, puffs us up, makes us stand taller. If we back down from a dominance display/not maintain our space/get encroached upon, we will have a relative deficit of serotonin and deflate.
When we inflate we rise up taller, walk more confidently and lift our shoulders and gaze.
When we deflate, we are scurrilous, scared and guarded.
Our early hominid ancestors walked on all fours and engaged in dominance displays (as did our much earlier crustacean and reptile ancestors). When they won they would make big puffed-up gestures and occupy more space.
Those big puffed-up gestures were the first fumbling overtures toward walking upright.
In very general terms, we can say that there is a correlation between standing upright and reproduction: the winners got the serotonin rush and also reproductive rights after all, and both flowed from the same cause: successfully occupying space, or ‘dominance’ if you prefer.
As the less dominant died off, the standards changed: the winners perpetually, habitually stood more upright more frequently, because statistically, a recent win will give you a courage advantage in the next stand-of.
Standing more and more upright even began to become a useful default posture because as we became more deadly and became hunters of animals, we also became hunters of each other, and one of the best ways to mitigate the problem of being hunted by other tribe is to not present yourself as a “target of opportunity” -walk upright so they know when they see you that you’re coming off of many battles and that they don’t want this problems. This marks when the standards began to change again: you can still win a dominance challenge with violence and threats but you can also broadcast that you’re not to be trifled with, avoid the acute challenge, and still win. This is a viable evolutionary strategy -think bright colouring on poisonous fish.
(*it’s important to note that broadcasting how much you’re not to be trifled with should be done in a similar manner as the poisonous fish 1) The fish can actually back up his claim 2) The fish isn’t aggressive because he trusts that you’re not that stupid -the result: calm cool, dominant coexistence)
Back to viable evolutionary strategy: as standing more and more upright became the norm for the pragmatic reason of warding off predators, the inevitable dominance challenges which still did present themselves would, when won, cause even greater upright posture, which over generations and a gradual cultural shift, created even more upright baseline standard for our ancestors.
***
At this moment, we are at a critical juncture: In an evolutionary history characterized by greater and greater ‘uprightness’ we are perpendicular to the land we stand upon. 90 degrees, the beginning of a square,
At least we should be. We look around the world and so many of our brothers and sisters walk like our earliest hominid ancestors, some even prefer to walk or crawl on all fours but are stopped from “bottoming out” evolutionarily by social norms. (Crawling and humiliation are fetishes which I think speak to a generalized fear of striving upward -but my views on sexuality are not as sophisticated as I’d like them to be so please take that example with a grain of salt.
(Note: I advocate quadrupedal movement for exercise and athletic purposes; not for insulating oneself against the challenges and dangers that the world will throw at us.)

So we see a world around us of bad posture, people slouching under the weight of a heavy world. What do?
Certainly, being the upright man in a world of slouchers would have an analagous benefit to being the “one eyed man in the land of the blind”. The same benefit actually: vision. Greater vision is now an even more effective way than fighting, threatening displays and a rough demeanour. If you have vision and a cultivated voice to communicate what you see you can look at the world around you see problems that will evolve into dominance challenges, threat displays and even violence while they’re still baby dragons. Then you can act accordingly and with much greater economy to squash those baby dragons and focus on higher order problems. The man with vision can much more economically and assuredly deal with threats to the space he is occupying and the people he loves within it, than can the brute with just fists. And the man with fists and vision? Nevermind…

Maybe this point about fists and vision is a good place to begin dovetailing into something approximating an elegant close: What I want I want to ask you (now that you understand how I formulated the idea) is this:

1)Do you think “upright” is the physical / postural limit of our evolution, or do you perhaps think as I do, based on everything talked about thus far, that our posture, better yet, “the lengthening and straightening of our spinal columns as a result of serotonin being released as a reward for successfully occupying space in the world” will continue to evolve? For example, will the open heart chakra position be the postural norm, where we incline our chins upward to survey the heavens and the man of greatest vision is the man who sees the threats and responds to the challenges of a larger multi-dimensional, multi-universe reality?

2) Do you think we can precipitate this evolution by “kick-starting it at the lower order and even younger level by correcting children (and adults) with a how and why for comporting themselves more upright (and beyond).

3) Do you think a critical threshold is necessary for this kind of evolution? Like if 500 million of 9 billion on the planet are walking upright and 8.5 billion are looking at their feet, I think makes it more difficult for the few to evolve to even further heights because so many people aren’t doing their duty and “occupying their space” as they should. We need the feedback of closely-matched people to contend with so we stay sharp. I think you are living this idea whether you know it or not -you’re someone who goes out in a incredibly focused manner searching for a “better set of problems to have”. I really respect that about you. You WANT to stay sharp. So yeah, what are your thoughts on a critical thresholds for evolution?

4) Hearkening back to fists and vision, do you think upright is the perfect equilibrium between the two? If we crouch too far forward in survival mode we miss the whole magical universe and perhaps more importantly, the dangers which aren’t immediate but are on the horizon and imminent?
If we exaggerate the strengthening / lengthening of the spine and focus our gaze upward toward the heavens only, perhaps only taking up abstract causes like ” saving the planet”, are we perhaps turning too much finite attention away from the world, and the comparatively small problems (which we are able to more efficiently and economically solve than the people whose “job” we feel it is to do so). Small problems which, if left unsolved, aggregate into huge problems which we can’t economically solve. I think something is lost here, even if we knowingly make a commitment to be a cloistered monk and focus solely on the abstract. Maybe the solution is as simple as “there’s a time to be more evolved and a time to be less evolved”? -I suspect the answer lies somewhere there, although at this juncture in human existence (as in all of them) I think we always want to keep “upward pressure” and so its not a 50/50 split. What say you?

5) If we can accept the idea that the man of vision:
a)sees problems while they are still small and distant (vision)
b)speaks the problems to the people who need to hear it (truth) c)wilfully takes on as much responsibility for the problem as he can bear (action)
d)is rewarded for his vision, speech and action by the tribe (serotonin)
e) inflates somewhat, stands more upright, becomes either more aware of higher order threats or able to see more distantly in the future how problems may develop (i dont know yet the actual mechanism by which his vision might improve beyond the fact that he sees something the rest of his tribe doesn’t -like a prophet or a seer)
f) this is what we want from everyone (shared ideal)
…we can undertake the solving of the problems in earnest.

This is what has occupied my mind as of late. I am doing so much healing. I am burning away so much of what is unnecessary. I see more clearly now and I’m excited to gain more clarity yet.

Best,

–Dre

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Humility is a Game of Limbo

Friends,

If you have been keeping up with my writing as of late, you may recall that I am doing some soul-searching about what the right path forward is in life. One thing which has come up a lot over the last couple of years is going back to school, and the field of discipline that keeps coming up is massage therapy. The hands are sacred; they are our interface with the world, and the more I learn the more I come to think/agree that our ability to think clearly and logically has a lot to do with our proficiency with our hands.

There are many things we can do with our hands; many ways we can make them skilled. Just over a year ago I started playing guitar and its made my hands a lot less…’stupid’. If the above assertion about the hand/brain connection holds true, then my brain is a lot less stupid also. If I can train my hands in even more sophisticated ways, what might it be possible for me to do with them, and by association, with my brain?

I like healing people. I like massage for that purpose. It’s a pure form of healing. Massage is to medicine what stand-up comedy is to entertainment. No team, no no complicated scheduling, no chemicals, no expensive apparatus. Just a motherfucker, a microphone/jar of coconut oil, and an audience.

I’m good at it. I have an aptitude, and even rudimentary skills. But its an important enough skill to learn more and have a better foundation in.

Taking a cursory look at RMT degree programs, I noticed right away that there are pre-requisites I don’t possess. Chiefly high-school biology. So, if I decide to go this route I will have to go way back and brush up on high-school courses for admittance. That is irksome, but I can imagine it being fun and, as per the title, humbling.

I ordered my high-school transcripts today so that I can present them to the adult learning center if I need to. I’m on the fence right now about whether to go forth into the world and travel once again and I hope that the next few days make the decision clearer, but even if I do leave again, I can hopefully do these courses remotely and get them done.

I should have gotten them done in high school, but a stupid teacher made an untrue comment about the nature of studying biology and I was completely disenchanted by the whole subject. Now however, it feels like it might be time to go back and make up for what was mistakenly neglected.

On the Billy Madison tip!

Best,
-Dre

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…When I Learn to Fly

“I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.”
-Foo Fighters

Friends,

I’m coming up on 5 months abroad now, the last three of which have been in Nicaragua, and, seeing as I just returned from a visa renewal trip to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say I don’t have any immediate plans to go back to Canada. I do have plans and intentions but the only person I’ve really opened up to about my intentions is fellow film-maker, Alex Loubert, but even that was a few weeks back and plans have refined since then. So for whomever is interested I’d like to elucidate upon the plans which have been formulating in my head. My intention here is to not only clarify my intent for friends and family, but to give some advance notice to those who may wish to collaborate on the ongoing art project which is my life.

OVERVIEW

Over the next two years I intend to improve myself and broaden my skill-set in order that I may live on the road indefinitely, making money as I need to and not being tethered to the balance of my savings. Also, should I ever return to Canada I want to have a skill-set which will allow me to live on my own terms and not on the indulgence of an employer.
(In the words of Cam’Ron: “Nobody gonna pay you like you pay yourself.”)
Also, and this is of equal import, I wish to improve myself while at the same time seeing as-yet-unseen parts of the world which I have always yearned to see. Perhaps at the end of this excursion I may be ready to put down roots and stay in one place.
No promises though…

WHERE TO BEGIN?…

About a month ago I spent a few days at Momentom Collective, a yoga and circus focused artist residency in San Juan Del Sur co-founded by Gabrielle Buenaciudad and Therese Lowton.

It was an eye-opening stay as I was immersed in a culture of incredibly high-functioning, supportive, positive and open people. Being there really fucked with some obsolete programming I have been holding onto for years; I kinda felt like I was short-circuiting at times as I internalized possibilities for myself which were fundamentally rooted in trusting myself and my intuition. I realized how much I second-guess my inclinations and how much this tendency has stifled me and postponed my full flowering, no homo.
(*On that note, living in Canada, especially near Toronto, with its “progressive” SJW culture, has been degenerative for my psyche, especially when compounded by working in tv/film where I felt pressure to be inoffensive due to the collaborative nature of the industry. I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but being removed from the industry, the city and the country fills me with a sense of freedom to speak which I ironically haven’t felt since I was in the military. Go figure!).
Since my time there (Momentom) I have made a concerted effort to be trusting of my inclinations and urges and to be deliberate rather than furtive in my overtures.
It’s actually a lot of fun as a big part of it is just saying whatever is on my mind. As a role model I look to Archer and just pretend I have Asperger’s -I say some real funny shit sometimes. Bartending at Surfing Turtle has been great for this because its a license to be deliberate about opening people up and the best way to do that is often brutal, hilarious and honest observation.

But, back to the topic of self-improvement….

My friend Brandon Gowe is fond of saying, “Always have at least three hustles.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, but three is a bare minimum. Right now I:

-Sell jewelry (Occasional)
-Get paid to teach yoga (Occasional)
-Chop a dime here and there (Occasional and illegal)

As you can see my bare minimum three hustles need work. Here is what I intend to do….

NICARAGUA

I have been living in #CarpeDiemEcoProject helping my good friend, Ghislain Beauchamp build the eco-resort he has been dreaming of opening for years. We get closer and closer to completion every week and things are quickening now with large-scale construction projects commencing this week which will see the camp overrun with local contractors and carpenters as well as the usual group of volunteers building with cob.
However, the reality is that it’s getting late in the season and he has floated the idea of closing the place down for the year as soon as mid-May as opposed to June as in previous years. So, using that as a rough timeline I’ve begun to plan life after CDEP.
As mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at #SurfingTurtleLodge and I’m enjoying it immensely, so I’ve naturally thought about switching to full-time. That idea certainly has some lustre and I’m not 100% against it because it would be great hostel-work experience which will be valuable for the next two years (more on that soon), but right now I feel pulled in a different direction.

HONDURAS

Pursuant to my goal of improving myself through a broader skill-set I have set the intention of heading north to Utila, Honduras and doing a divemaster certification. Apparently it can be done for about $1000 USD and it would be a pliable skill anywhere I went in the world with a coastline. Also, Utila is a paradise chock full of reefs, whale sharks and beautiful people. Being in Central America you hear a lot of grape-vine talk about hot places to go and this is one such place which is thankfully something of a hidden gem still. As a bonus, when I mentioned it to Ghislain, a dive instructor who had lived and worked there 5 years ago, he mentioned he was thinking of going back in May for a visit. This would be amazing as I would have a knowledgeable and experienced travel companion and good friend to roll with. Fingers crossed!

POST-HONDURAS

The next for-sure mark to hit after Honduras and divemaster cert would be North Africa. Timeline-wise I’m thinking I would like to get there by late 2017 or early 2018. My intention is primarily to see the Sahara and roughly re-create Santiago’s journey from “THE ALCHEMIST,” but there’s flex on start/end points and route.

To begin with, how to get there? Well, right now the most appealing option is to hop on a yacht in the Caribbean and work as crew to get across the Atlantic. That would be dope and satisfy a longing to do a trans-oceanic voyage. Ideally I would like to end up in Spain where I would begin my Alchemist journey in Andalucia, possibly after hiking the Camino de Santiago in the north (Lukazs, Tom, let’s do this!!).

Another way I might make my way to Spain would be less direct -heading to Mexico, then up the Baja California, through Cali, Oregon, Washington and BC finally seeing the Pacific Northwest that has enchanted me for so long and possibly working as a weed trimmer there if its the right time of year -As far as trimming goes, it’s great coin, but I’m more interested in doing it for the experience before everything becomes legal. In any event, once I got back to Canada I would finally hitch-hike across Canada like I’ve been intending to for years, stopping briefly in Ontario before jumping off to Spain to begin aforementioned Trans-Saharan Caravan.

#NOTHINGISWRITTEN (NORTH AFRICA)

I’m gonna immerse myself in the desert and just get consumed by the wasteland. But I’m also gonna take my time with it, working at hostels, doing workaways, woofing if possible, learning the language and making my way incrementally across the northern part of the African continent to the pyramids. If possible I would like to do more apprenticeships with jewelers, learning local styles and improving my skill-set. In Morocco, my first country after Spain, I intend to head to the Atlantic coast there and check out the fledgling aurf scene and see if my divemaster cert could be put to use.
In the desert itself I wanna go to an oasis soooooo bad. Oases have always enchanted me so I’m gonna live in one.
For the record, I am quite frightened of possible run-ins with extremist groups like ISIS but I figure I’m gonna be more of a curiosity to them than anything. I have joked that maybe they’ll kidnap and force me to make jewelry for them which would be kinda dope, but I was only half-joking: I wanna find out for myself who’s out there instead of just believing the news. Maybe I’ll write an ethnography.
If it turns out they do want to execute me I’ll try and see the humor in it and laugh on the way to my execution -it’s the only victory we can truly have in life.
This whole African excursion is gonna be gully and by the time I get to Egypt I will be ready to begin the next phase: INDIA.

PSYCH! SAUDI ARABIA…MAYBE…

I wanna see the Arabian desert because for me it represents a wasteland more inaccessible and dangerous than that of Northern Africa. Seriously, going there scares me not because of the harsh conditions but because of the strict observance of Islamic law. If they catch you slippin’, well….. Let’s just say there’s nothing scarier than an establishment that will kill you with impunity for perceived transgressions and all the while believe they are acting righteously *cough* police *cough*…
No guarantees on this one but it’s definitely a possibility.

INDIA

I have been teaching yoga for a while, and I’ve been practicing it for years, but I have yet to get certified and thus learn much of the associated theory. Certification will also lend more credibility to me when I apply to various hostels and hospitality locations looking for work. And really, what better place than India to learn yoga? There are many great places here in Central America to get certified and I will certainly broaden my yoga skill-set over time here, but remember, an important part of these next two years is seeing places I haven’t seen. So as well as getting my cert I am going to see India , feast like a king and maybe buy a monkey. Who knows!?

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Finally, I will make my way to SE Asia. You know, it’s a wonder I haven’t been here yet. For some people it’s their first exposure to backpacking, but even after more than ten years of excursions its uncharted territory for me. As far as self-improvement goes, all along the trip I will be developing my massage skill and reiki aptitude, and here in SE Asia I feel like I could really develop my Thai massage skill-set. Beyond that I’m not sure what I want from this place (food), but I know I gotta see it as it will (mostly) wrap up all my loose ends of bucket list places to see.

EPILOGUE

I’m not sure who I will be when this is all said and done and if I will be ready to buy property and build something of my own, or if I’ll want to come back to Canada or if I’ll want to pursue trips to Patagonia, the Peruvian desert, Antarctica, Eastern Europe, etc. (The bucket list never actually ends) I can literally do anything I want to do. My biggest challenge is aiming high.

So if you don’t know now you know, nigga(s)!

EPI-EPILOGUE

I owe special recognition to two very important people in my life who have precipitated a great desire for growth within me.

First would be Ghislain -meeting him and visiting his project last year was a very serendipitous experience for me and he embodies qualities that I aspire to embody myself. He is a skilled, positive, hard-working, dynamic individual comfortable with himself as a man and as a member of a community. It is by the strength of his will that the culture of CDEP is what it is. I admire the dude and feel honored to count him among my friends.

Second would be Marijo Lariviere. She is one of the most talented people I know whose ability to thrive anywhere in the world with her skill-set has inspired me greatly in my current path. Whether it’s yoga instruction, hair-dressing, jewelry-making, etc… She has so many valuable practical skills that it really made me reflect on what I bring to the table, what I could offer others (manual labor, carry a gun), and realize that I could do better. She made me aspire to improve myself if only to be of greater service to the people around me.

In closing I want to say I can be better than I am. I don’t say that with self-denigration or regret but with optimism, love for myself, and excitement to see the man I am evolving into.

I hope you enjoy the show too.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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