Body – Control – Exercise Zones

by pre., Friday, October 16th, 2009.

Learning to consciously control your body involves understanding, consciously, how it works. If you want to be able to control the amount of muscle tissue that hangs off of your body, say, you need to understand what movements will build the muscles where you want them.

Understanding this in detail means knowing at least a little about how muscle cells metabolise their fuel to stretch and contract. Once you understand that, you can visualise how it works and correlate those imaginary visions with the way your body feels, how it reacts.

You can probably do that by visualising Tai Chi energy, or dragon breath flowing around your limbs, but the Transcendence Institute prefers to use the best available model, the one which illuminates a map which matches as closely as it can our actual physical reality.

Never the less, we don’t have time here to describe a years worth of university lectures on the way muscle cells metabolise various sugars coming from various parts of the body in order to produce the energy needed to feed their contraction reaction.

We only have time to spend a single article giving you the best overall simplified map of the process that we can. Much, therefore, will be missed from our sketch, and of course these things aren’t yet necessarily completely understood at the molecular level.

Types Of Metabolism

In short, though, muscles cells burn different fuels, depending on a range of circumstances, in order to power their patterns of contraction. The muscles in different areas will be using different types of metabolism at any given time, depending on what supplies of the various cellular and intra-cellular molecules are available.

The way your muscle cells, and body in general, responds to the different types of metabolism is important for full conscious body control. When exercising in different ways, your body’s muscles perform in different ways as the rate of excercise changes. Understanding the way your body reacts to these types of excercises will help you change your body, to control it, to learn to listen to it and instruct it how to grow.

You will likely never be able to accurately, objectively, measure which kinds of metabolism are happening in which muscle groups in your body at any given time. You can, however, use your pulse rate as a rough guide. The heart-rate works as a sketch measure to indicate what types of metabolism your muscles are using on average at any given time. Be warned though, it really is just a rough guide. If you’re more practised at one type of metabolism, you’ll be better at it, able to use it more. The range at which you’ll use it will increase. These differences will be spread all around your body, your leg muscles maybe undergoing a different kind of metabolism to your jaw muscles, or your arm muscles, at any given time.

We can divide up the pulse rate into zones, starting at resting rate and measuring right through to the maximum pulse rate that an individual is likely to achieve. This is usually about twice as high as the resting rate, so we start at a resting rate of 50% of the maximum value, and divide into five groups:

Types Of Exercise

Resting Zone – 50-60% of maximum

If your heartbeat is slower than about sixty percent of that maximum, you’re really not exercising at all. You may be asleep or in a coma or something. Possibly watching television. Your muscles are likely shrinking away slightly, certainly if you maintain that level of inactivity for some hours.

Efficient Zone – 60-70% of maximum

If you manage to overcome your lethargy and actually move at all for any decent period of time, even just stretching, your heart is likely to speed up to over 60% of maximum speed. You should probably just be in this range when recovering, or warming up.

Your body is not really putting any extra demand on the system, fuel for your cells is generated as fast as it can be used up, a Just In Time system of production. That fuel, known as Glycogen, is burned to produce Glucose, which is used in oxidation reactions to fuel cell motion.

Aerobic Zone – 70-80% of maximum

As your rate of work increases, your cells eventually begin to run low on Glycogen, and have to burn fat instead. The fat burning process is less efficient than simply using Glycogen, and so it starts to feel harder to keep the muscles working.

The TI excercises last week should have seen you at the low end of the Aerobic Zone for most of your time, as would a yoga session, pilates, light step or weight excercises or short distance running.

Since you are increasingly having to burn fat cells to power cell movement, and since you’re using and so building muscle cells, the Aerobic Zone is good for weight control, not only burning off calories (which is still only going 20% faster than if you were sat around doing nothing, remember), but also because the new muscle tissue built will be more expensive to keep alive when you ARE resting than the fat that’s been burned was.

Because you are likely breathing deeply, and pulsing powerfully, you are using and so strengthening the heart and the diaphragm and core muscles used in respiration. This helps to increase the flow of air in and out of the lungs, and helps getting the oxygen in that air to the muscle cells where it’s needed to mix with the fuel you’re burning, be that fat or sugar.

Anaerobic Zone – 80-90% of maximum

The process of burning fat cells produces a waste substance. Sometimes, fairly erroneously, known as “lactic acid”. The cell, of course, has systems for transporting these lactate molecules away from the cell. However, these processes can only work at a given maximum rate. At around 80% of the maximum hart rate, your body’s cells are beginning to produce this waste product more quickly than it can dispose of it. This is known as the Anaerobic Zone.

When working in the Anaerobic Zone, your muscles’s blood supply is being exercised about as much as it can usefully be. Blood flushing around the cells like a white river rapid, all the oxygen and fuels needed by the cells being delivered as fast at they can, all the waste products being removed as fast as they can.

Eventually, especially as lactates build up, the muscles start to metabolise their own cell structure to keep stretching and contracting and working hard. In order to build long-distance stamina, or to improve the range of the aerobic zone, you will need to excercise for some short bouts in the Anaerobic Zone. Staying in that zone as the Lactate damage begins to grow, however, may well begin to cause damage, and certainly reduce muscle growth rates, even as it may still be building and improving the bloody supply system which helps keep that damage under control.

Red Zone – 90%-100% of maximum

As lactate levels rise, and muscle damage builds, the muscles literally eating themselves to drive power, we reach a zone in which only the mega-fit are able to train. Almost anything you could want to do to your body will be better done after some rest at this point, at least after slowing down into the Aerobic Zone for a few minutes.

The Meditation

We will use some of the imagery from this rough sketch to have you dream of how your muscles are working while you dream about actually working them. This should allow you to ‘practice’ listening to your body while in the presence of an appropriate metaphor, and increase the probability that you will use this model to understand your body and so gain closer control over it as you excercise.

Body – Control – Muscle Memory

by pre., Friday, October 23rd, 2009.

Next week, we’ll present a guided lucid dream designed to help improve your control over your body. However, it’s worth noting that your body is paralysed during sleep, unable to move, unable to properly practice. If there is one thing which people with excellent body control have in common, it’s that they’ve practised lots!

Be they professional tennis players, virtuoso pianists, savvy conjurers, accomplished darts competitors, Olympic javelin hurlers, adept pistol shots, trained fencers or capable contortionists, the one thing that experts at body control will all have in common is hundreds and hundreds of hours of practise. While visualisation and lucid dreaming can help make the most of that practise, they will never be a substitute for it.

To be as in control of your body as you can be, you will need to spend lots of time deliberately concentrating on your body as you use it, as you move and dance and jump and play.

If you have been continuing to do the excercises listed in the last lap around the spiral then you are already practising a fair amount, but of course that this is essentially the bare minimum you should be doing. Those excercises will not help you develop fine motor control in your fingers, they will not help you learn the subtleties of interacting with a ball, they will not help you learn to juggle or climb or twiddle a poker chip over your hand or run or type or play computer games or walk a tight rope or ride a bicycle. The only way to improve at these things is to do them for a few hours.

Muscle Memory

The results of learning new control functions over your muscles like this is known as muscle memory. While the contraction patterns and muscle movement groups aren’t literally stored in the muscle cells themselves, much of the process is indeed moved down from the conscious frontal cortex to neurons closer to the muscles. A process of pushing that control down the spinal column towards the relevent muscles themselves.

Many movements, especially well practised ones such as walking or talking, do not require the motor cortex of the brain to send delicate contraction signals to each of the muscle groups involved in the action. Instead, a control signal is sent to the spinal column, and the actual movement patterns needed to perform this control function are recalled and regenerated by neurons closer to the muscles themselves, in the neural networks which more directly interface with those muscle groups.

Surprisingly Rapid

The process of gaining new muscle memory can be surprisingly rapid. While it it takes hundreds, probably thousands, of hours to learn to be an expert in the kinds of skills in which muscle memory is relevent, competing in world-class events, representing your nation at international level, it only takes a few dozen hours to become better than almost anyone you know at anything from which which most people refrain. If you put in forty hours more practice at a given skill than all your friends, you’ll surely be better at it than all your friends.

While the first few minutes at learning any new skill are often frustrating, perseverance usually leads to amazingly rapid increases in ability. Take juggling as an example. When first learning to juggle, you will inevitably drop the balls on almost every single throw. Over and over again. Most people give up after just a few throws. “I can’t juggle” they may decide, having dedicated less than five minutes to learning the task. However, if you stick at it for an hour a day for just a week, you’ll almost certainly be better at it than any of those quitters.

Remember that the unconscious networks of neurons which control and implement muscle memory are small, and stupid. They will learn the general idea relatively rapidly, and only take millions of repetitions to hone their skills to perfection. If one hundred times at practising take you 10% of the way towards perfecting it, you will see most gains when you are farthest away from that skill. Often the easiest learning is the low-hanging-fruit at the beginning of learning a task.

To summarise: If you’re trying to learn a skill, do not quit, do not assume you are simply bad at a skill, until you have given your muscle memory time to adapt and grow. Force yourself to practice for an hour, every week day for a month. This is less than a week’s time spent in a full time job. You’ll be surprised how much progress you’ll make. Remember to video or otherwise record yourself at the beginning and end of that month too, so you’ll easily be able to see the difference just 20 hours can make.

Body – Control – The Meditation

by pre., Friday, October 30th, 2009.

This week we present a guided meditation, a guided lucid dream really, designed to encourage you to become more in control of your body, of it’s muscles and shape and posture. As usual this lap around the spiral, it’s to be listened to during sleep, ideally infiltrating your dreams, starting around ten minutes before you need your alarm to go off in the morning.

As usual the first minute or so will slowly fade in, getting you used to the fact that you’re both conscious and dreaming, allowing you to become accustomed to the lucid state, to wake without waking.

You’ll then be asked to dream about how “It is the mind itself which builds the body,” how signals from your brain, your consciousness, can affect the way you stand, the way you move, the way your muscles flex and stretch and thus the way they burn energy, grow and shape your body.

You’ll dream that you are changing the way you move, your gait and posture, giving your practice and predisposition to move move gracefully, building patterns of movement into your brain, practising both during the dream, and during waking life.

You’ll even try impossible movements. Bending and stretching and moving your body in ways which are only viable in the dream world, learning how your body responds to those movements, the signals that you’d need your brain to send to your muscles if you were to perform in waking life. This should help you to understand, on a gut-instinct pre-conscious level, how patterns of muscle movement fit together, even beyond normal tolerances.

Finally, for the latter half of the dream, you’ll slowly become more and more active. Feeling your muscles working more and more and paying attention to how they feel as you move through the various excercise zones, the Resting Zone, the Efficient Zone, The Aerobic Zone, The Anaerobic Zone, and the Red Zone, even beyond.

You’ll pay attention to those muscles, learning how they react, how they send signals back to your consciousness, from pleasure through to work and finally screaming with almost-pain, telling you to stop.

Of course, we would advise spending some time in real life trying this too, learning how your muscles feel as you work them harder and harder, in order to give your internal model some good idea how things should work in your dream.

At the end of the dream you’ll look back at what you’ve learned before coming to full consciousness, taking notes, and getting on with your day.

Guided Meditation File 21 – Body -Control
Backing Music “Follow Your Heart” By Kave
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Body – Integration – Diet

by pre., Friday, July 2nd, 2010.

In lap one around the spiral, back when we were using bedtime meditations, we discussed diet. Changing your tastes to increase the chance of you eating foods which are better for you. Finding ways to avoid eating too much. Eating a wide variety of different things and how the food you eat is digested and used differently depending on your metabolic rate.

Your body is made out of chemicals. Many of them it can make itself, others it needs to get directly from the diet. Even the molecules which the body can manufacture require the raw ingredients from which to make them to be present in your diet. Your body will only function at it’s best if it has the right mix of nutrients coming in through the lining of your gut, and it should be obvious that you need a fully functioning body to even be alive, let alone aware, let alone transcendentally aware. Getting your diet right is certainly necessary, if not sufficient, for all the skills in the transcendence spiral. Without the raw ingredients, your mental functions will suffer.

Your awareness of the world is based on your senses, all of which require the right combinations of foods to function at full capacity. Your eyes need vitamins, your ears need vitamins. The neurons which give you the power of touch, and even the awareness of that touch, all need salt (but not too much) to work their ionic pumps to create the potential difference they use to signal each other. Your awareness arises from your body, and your body needs the proper foods.

Likewise with your memory. It is built from the interactions of neural cells in your cortex, and those cells are molecular machines, which need to constantly replace their parts as they wear out. The parts are built, directly or more indirectly, from molecules in your diet. This isn’t just idle speculation, scientific studies show that poor diet increases memory loss.

Some think consciousness is a spooky magical even immortal thing, but all the evidence suggests that at least every consciousness we’ve come across is made of neurons, of cells interacting and sending messenger molecules to each other. Molecules which need the right mix of chemicals in your diet to be built properly. Your self awareness, your ability to think, the entire process of cognition is more than just molecules, but it is still made out of them, it certainly requires them.

Diet is the very foundation of all mental activities and therefore should be monitored and maintained at optimal level wherever possible as you struggle to grow, to learn, to become more transcended.

Body – Integration – Body Awareness

by pre., Friday, July 9th, 2010.

We discussed body awareness in the second lap around the spiral, describing what the proprioception or kinaesthetic senses are, and noted how they are connected to your sense of balance, and determined by the stretch receptors in the neurons for your muscles.

We talked about how your posture signals your confidence to others and through it’s differing use of muscles groups builds the shape of your frame, the sizes of the various muscles hanging off your skeleton.

Also addressed was your range of movement, which is increased by stretching and actually using the full extent to which your joints will reach, literally using it or losing it.

Indeed, body awareness is so important that throughout the entire second lap we devoted each meditation to an excercise routine designed to increase your awareness of your body, your sense of how you are, how your limbs and balance are orientated.

Like Diet, a good awareness of your body is essential to many of the other spiral skills, and improving that awareness will automatically improve the reach of your skills in those other areas, and vice-versa, each feeding off the next, in the spiral that pushes us to higher levels of consciousness.

It’s been shown that posture can effect your recall of positive and negative thoughts, that good posture will influence your consciousness positively, effecting both your memory and, though that, your mood. Your mood, of course, effects your posture in turn. Simply consciously taking control of your posture can lift your spirits, affect your very cognitive processes.

Using this knowledge and your bio-programming skills you can change your mood by actions as simple as sitting in a relaxed way, smiling, holding that smile and thinking of happy times. You can even use posture to program others, since the way your are stood and your gait, the things you do with your limbs, are all powerful social signals carrying messages about your status and state of mind. These things are carried from one person to the next as though they were infectious. You can make others at ease just with the right touch, and by appearing at ease yourself, a certain boon to your social skills

The more deeply you understand the connection between the awareness of your body, it’s posture and the way you think the more you’ll be able to use that knowledge, that gut-thinking intuition, to put yourself in another’s shoes and build rapport and empathy with them. Empathy is, of course, the first building block of the ethical system we each live by.

Even your health can be improved by a good awareness of your body’s state, knowing when it’s even slightly injured and being able to take the appropriate measures and adjustments to your posture to ensure speedy recovery.

Remember, your brain is a part of your body, you use the very same things (neural cells) to understand the state of your own mind as you use to understand the state of the rest of your body. The same systems which monitor your mind are also monitoring your fingertips. Not only this but it’s not your brain alone which builds your consciousness. Your entire nervous system is one entity, there’s no real dividing line between the cerebellum and the nerves at the tips of your fingers. They are all connected, all a single system, every working nerve cell in your body just a part of the whole. Body awareness and mind-awareness are to some extent one and the same thing.

The Meditation

For all these reasons the walking meditation at the end of this month will concentrate on your awareness of your body, it’s posture, and your control over it.

Body – Integration – Control

by pre., Friday, July 16th, 2010.

Our guided lucid dream about Body Control had you dreaming an understanding of how it is the mind which builds the body, which determines it’s poses, how it moves, what it eats, all of which determine to a great degree it’s shape, size and the way the muscles build the frame which the fat and skin hang from.

You dreamed that your posture and gait were improving, becoming more upright, more gravity-defying, graceful and light and learning how that felt from the inside while sleeping. This helped your waking self to understand and push in that direction, try to move more like in the dream.

You learned, in your dream, how the various metabolism modes of your muscle cells feel, how you can guide those metabolism systems to shape and sculpt your muscles, giving you more strength and control.

During that lap we also discussed Muscle Memory and how practising a muscle-based skill pushed the required patterns of movement from the cerebral neurons closer down to the motor-control neurons, enabling both more skill and more precision of control. You learned that practice, especially along with good visualisation, can quickly build these kinds of skills.

We even talked about how mind and body and the immune system are related, and how ensuring each system is functioning well helps build strength in the others, affecting your very health, your susceptibility to disease.


Improved control over your the posture, gait, wellness, shape and strength of your body also interacts with the other skills in the spiral, helping to build each of them as each of them in turn support your abilities to improve that control.

We have mentioned how a dreaming awareness of your posture and gait can lead to a better understanding of how these things should feel in the waking world, which in turn helps build improvement of your control of them. As the alexander technique instructors will tell you, having the right balance, pose, posture and gait leads to better oxygenation though deeper more effective breathing, which in turns leads to improvements throughout the body.

This improved oxygenation of course affects more than just your muscles, it brings more life to your brain too, improving consciousness and awareness themselves. Improving cognition to untold degrees.

Posture and gait are also social signals, signalling composure, confidence, charisma and status. Improved control over them gives you improved control over your social skills, and in turn over other people.

Next week we’ll have a small diversion on will power and attempting to use will power directly to control what you eat. The week after that we’ll present this months walking meditation on the awareness and control of your body.

Body – Integration – Fat And Willpower

by pre., Friday, July 23rd, 2010.

It’s often assumed that willpower is the key to weight loss, or quitting cigarettes, or in general to take control over your body and start to ensure it does what it ought, what you want it to, not just what it constantly demands.

In his book “Gods Debris“, ‘Dilbert’ cartoonist and writer Scott Adams has a short section on willpower:

“You’re very fit,” the old man observed.

“I work out four times a week.”

“When you see an overweight person, what do you think of his willpower?”

“I think he doesn’t have much,” I said.

“Why do you think that?”

“How hard is it to skip that third bowl of ice cream? I’m in good shape because I exercise and eat right. It’s not easy, but I have the willpower. Some people don’t.”

“If you were starving, could you resist eating?”

“I doubt it. Not for long, anyway.”

“But if your belly were full you could resist easily, I assume.”


“It sounds as if hunger determines your actions, not so-called willpower.”

“No, you picked two extremes: starving and full,” I said. “Most of the time I’m in the middle. I can eat a little or eat a lot, but it’s up to me.”

“Have you ever been very hungry — not starving, just very hungry — and found yourself eating until it hurt?”

“Yes, but on average I don’t eat too much. Sometimes I’m busy and I forget to eat for half a day. It all averages out.”

“I don’t see how willpower enters into your life,” he said. “In one case you overeat and in the other case you simply forget to eat. I see no willpower at all.”

“I don’t overeat every time I eat. Most of the time I have average hunger and I eat average amounts. I’d like to eat more, but I don’t. That’s willpower.”

“And according to you, overweight people have less of this thing you call willpower?” he asked.

“Obviously. Otherwise they’d eat less.”

“Isn’t it possible that overweight people have the same amount of willpower as you but much greater hunger?”

“I think people have to take responsibility for their own bodies,” I replied.

“Take responsibility? It sounds as if you’re trying to replace the word willpower with two new words in the hope that I will think it’s a new thought.”

I laughed. He nailed me.

“Okay, just give it to me,” I said, knowing there was a more profound thought behind this line of questioning.

“We like to believe that other people have the same level of urges as we do, despite all evidence to the contrary. We convince ourselves that people differ only in their degree of morality or willpower, or a combination of the two. But urges are real, and they differ wildly for every individual. Morality and willpower are illusions. For any human being, the highest urge always wins and willpower never enters into it. Willpower is a delusion.”

Like the character in Adam’s book suggests, you very likely will give into your urges, especially an urge to eat for it is essential to sate that urge in order to fuel your life. Without food, you will surely die. Losing weight isn’t about overcoming the urge to eat, it’s about managing that urge.

The truth is that, whether you’re trying to lose (or indeed gain) weight or not, you will eat if you become hungry enough. The key is to manage that urge so that you eat less fattening stuff and ideally do so before the urge even comes along for once it hits, it’ll be demanding bulky stuff filled with fat and salt and tasty fattening calories.

As well as this of course you can learn to control your urges. We talked in the first lap around the spiral about controlling your diet by associating the foods which you’d like to like with nice positive experiences. When you get the urge to eat, you’ll likely want to eat the things which you have associated with nice positive experiences. Your urges can likely not be completely overcome, you can’t fight hunger with willpower, but you can divert it towards eating low-calorie high-nutrient foods, you can ensure that when you give into hunger, you have salad in the house, not chips and burgers.

Body – Integration – The Meditation

by pre., Friday, July 30th, 2010.

This week we introduce another guided walking meditation, intended to be plugged into your brain through earphones while you stroll around your neighbourhood or wonder home from work or potter through the countryside. For ten minutes or so of that walk, it should help focus your thoughts and improve your awareness and control of your body.

In order to increase your body awareness, you’ll of course simply practice paying attention to your body. As you’ve learned, practising something makes you better at it and the more your practice the better you will become.

You’ll walk with a typical high-confidence highly relaxed posture, even exaggerating those movements, while concentrating on how those movements are reflected around your nervous and endocrine systems. You’ll walk tall, chin up, a smile on your face and your shoulders thrown back, swinging your arms confidently. And most importantly, you’ll pay attention to how that changes your awareness, your mood, your consciousness.

You’ll experiment with the oxygenation of your system, breathing more deeply and quickly than usual, hyper-oxygenating your blood and paying attention to how that feels, learning to distinguish and become used to elevated oxygen levels. Most people tend to breathe too shallowly, too briefly, without filling their lungs with the life-giving air around them. You’ll practice overcoming this habit by exaggerating the opposite.

Before that makes you feel dizzy though, you’ll try experimenting with gait. Slowing down your walk and paying attention to how your body responds to that, how it makes you feel, noticing how each limb responds to the change in pace, how the pressure on the joints changes, their creaks and groans.

Then you’ll try the opposite, walking faster than usual, maybe even a light jog. All the time paying attention to your body, learning to listen to it more closely, learning to be more aware of the signals it’s sending you.

Finally you’ll once more revert to your relaxed, smiling pace. Striding through your world broadcasting confidence and self assured happiness. Still paying attention to how you’re holding your body, how it’s responding, and trying to take those movement patterns and neural habits out into the rest of your life.

Guided Meditation File 29 – Body Awareness – Integration
Backing Music “The Little Hacker” By Tawny
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