Blessings of Fitness & Creativity for Enhancement of Recovery Life.
A life in sobriety from drug or alcohol addiction can be greatly enhanced through physical, emotional, and creative fitness.
I used to run from myself; now, I do so to align with myself. This article is an abstraction of my happy place with activity but with a tidbit of physiological facts for professional uniformity.
Today, while exercising, I sanguinely harken to the past; I often relive how I once sought pleasure in poison in an unconscious but masochistic fashion under the false guise of rebellion and non-conformity.
No matter where I am on the planet; Wherever I am, so is exercise; it’s now a vital part of who and what I am; It’s an active reminder that I’m alive, creative, in motion, and still growing and healing.
From the polychromatic scene, sands, and shores of Venice, CA, to the parched earth and immense skies of Midland, Texas, to the voluptuous Rocky Mountains and traversing hiking trails of Vail, CO, to the eclectic rhythms, concrete, and lush NYC parks, I bring my very own version of imaginative motion wherever my life’s work takes me. Where my mind’s eye is a pixelation of reflection, marvel, traipse, and Journey, Such movement provides me autonomy, balance, strength, and peace.
Whether it’s 35 or 105 degrees, the outdoors? That’s my “Equinox” or “Planet Fitness,” whatever your jive…
When in my adolescence, between thirteen and nineteen, I felt as though I couldn’t do any physical activity without the use of cannabis, might that be bicycling, basketball, baseball, or playing drums, which includes “coming to” in the morning…yes, I was a teenage pothead in the Mid-Eighties. How original…
A salient time to share is when my buddies (who shall remain nameless) and I would ride our dirt bikes. We’d intermittently peddle and walk from the city to the Santa Monica mountains. We were donning thick silky locks of hair past the middle of our torsos that covered the printed tour dates on the backs of our Heavy Metal t-shirts. A three-mile slog up the ritzy northside/hillside suburbs to the fire trails at the tip-top of the ridge. What was the reward? 1) You could see the vast LA area covered with an iridescent layer of manmade smoke. Facing south, the Pacific Ocean—to the right, and Downtown LA—to the left. We would search the sprawling, dense city grid for our (insert Roger Daltry’s voice of “the Who”) “teenage wasteland, ohh yeah” of a neighborhood. Ascending above the hood as if we left our troubles for a brief moment from which we came. What was the reward 2)? The comedown–meaning: cycling (more like floating) down the mountain at at least a 60 to 70-degree angle would have us hitting speeds up to 50 mph while “totally stoned, dude.” The feeling is best described as being out of my head and body—a separation of the physical self. I’m gliding there but in a foreign space and place—no helmets, knees, or elbow pads. No protection, just the childlike invincible pretend armor and whatever “angels” were watching over, because my Mother would say, “Boy, you must have Angels watching over you.” I remember thinking how strange and dangerous that was, but that’s what made it so damn fun! There is that “street cred” where crazy and cool are synonymous. One begets the other in our infinitesimal worlds. I sure wouldn’t thrill-seek like that now. “I survived myself” is an understatement!
A distant romance? Yes. But here is the contrast. Today, I sprint, that’s right, sprint as fast as I can as many times as I can, and usually around the eighth dash, I generate and experience an emotional high. A youthful warmth, a wondrous encounter, provokes a creative energy that brings an amalgamation of emotions. For that precious moment, my ego gets stripped like an old coat of paint to the raw and honest me, an uncorrupted state. The quench for saltwater that swells burst and drip from my face. Both tears and sweat. Can I possibly articulate how good and right that feels?
“Human beings, in their feeling, thinking, and acting, are not free agents but are causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
~ Albert Einstein
It’s settled science about what neurotransmitters and hormones are released due to fitness and exercise. I stay clean today but live intrinsically “High” on healthy practices that unleash Dopamine: the “feel good” pleasure messenger, and hormones such as serotonin (modulator of mood, happiness, and anxiety) and oxytocin (love and affection). The difference between neurotransmitters and hormones is the former releases between the presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons in the ventral tegmental area, VTA, the “nerve terminal in the brain, from there released into the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex areas of the brain. The latter: Hormones are also produced in the brain – the hypothalamus region and emitted to the posterior pituitary gland. Endorphin hormones secrete into the body’s bloodstream. I get naturally “stoned” from my crown to the ground.
Dopamine plays a primary role in creativity as well as serotonin. These restorative surges drop like warm and salubrious rainfall; imagination finds its way to me in my exercise motions. Ideas, visions, and concepts are filled and provoked with sentiment and memory. I’ll take to my phone to record such inspirations. Some I keep; others? “Wow, no, please spare people; how corny.” I appreciate the anecdote and my story. For It is my story; I am reminded of it with a sense that brings contentment and happiness.
There is no strict doctrine to a fitness model that speaks to all. Where my clients are concerned, or readers for that matter: I humbly suggest a motion—a practice—a movement that they can healthily align with (if they haven’t already). That could be yoga, calisthenics, isometrics, dancing, martial arts, boxing training, weightlifting, cycling, or basic gym exercises… I thrive with running, stretching motions, and hanging from bars like a curious, snug, and fearless monkey.
As for breathing…yes, we do it autonomically to live. For most of my life, and still to do this day, I must remember how I didn’t know how or think to bring full breaths. Like a guppy gasping for air, unconsciously, I’d take in air only when I had to, ya know? …Survive. Little gulps of life, gulp-gulp to get by, no wonder I was a stress case. I was depriving my brain of precious oxygen all those years. When I did breathe well, I’d see black while my head would swivel inside. What does that tell you? Low levels of carbon dioxide. Blood vessels narrow, making for less oxygen—-to accept precious oxygen deep into my diaphragm to my then starved, impoverished brain is a revelation.
Breathing Exercise: via the nose, inhale, exhale through the mouth. Slow. Patient. Deep. Deliberate. Conscious. Consistent. Sincere. To connect with the breath, and use the breath to connect with the body. Once inside me, it’s my breath; to have a relationship with what gives vitality; how essential and spiritual is that? To experience the calming and healing practices that (I) took for granted is something I value more now. Ironically, my lifespan is in its 3rd quarter, after an extended halftime show. The more life I had by the metrics, the less I relished. Now? I’ll LIVE my life to death!
I’d be remiss not to give a shoutout to “UNOG,” that’s “United Nations Of Gainz.” The workout crew in Venice, CA, that I exercise with as often as possible. A group of the most healthy, creative, encouraging, brave, and supportive groups of humans I’ve befriended on this curious quest—no ego – only encouragement and motivation. We dangle, suspend, stretch, push, hang from bars, like happy rascals on trees, and do handstands on the sands just a football field’s distance from the pacific ocean. Where personhood reigns supreme – we compete with ourselves, not against one another. Thank you – I appreciate you guys!
Science, evolving, explained is magic. There is no divergence between magic and science. The frontier, the marvel, is the grateful experience and the union of the two.