The Spell of the Sensuous with Lauren Hill
The dawn of a new year comes with 8,760 hours to delve deeper into our gifts, hopes, and dreams. A fresh number on the calendar is a poignant reminder to reprioritize and reflect on what we’re doing with this one life on the magnificent watery planet Earth.
To kick off a new year, my friend Courtney Webb and I headed to the beach at sunrise for a full body training session immersed in the elements: the growing fiery warmth of the rising sun, the grit of the sandy earth, a light summer breeze, and a thriving, aqua ocean to cool off in. With bare feet and bare skin, of course.
There’s a deep connection between feeling strong and healthy in our bodies, and the natural unfurling of those feelings to our minds and emotions. Some mystic biological magic happens when we’re really living in our bodies, using our senses and muscles and creativity out in the wild world that we’ve evolved to explore and play in.
An untaming is ignited. We’re able to feel deeply embodied. And powerful. And that’s a great launch pad from which to make anything happen.
Captions with Courtney Webb, of Humanus Habilitation
Photos by Kate Nutt
The brain is a muscle. And just like every muscle, it works best when it has time to consciously rest. Meditation doesn’t have to be anything fancier than just focusing on your breath for a couple of minutes, letting your thoughts glide by like dolphins through the line-up.
The subtlety of longboarding has everything to do with the fine muscles in our toes, feet and ankles. Stretching out those thankless little muscles means greater performance and longevity for our surfing.
Like surfing, the spine demands equal amounts of flexibility, mobility, balance and strength to function optimally. If just one counterpart diminishes the rhythmic oscillation of the spine stiffens to protect its imbalance. A healthy spine moves like a snake with fluidity and drive.
Balance. One of the most developed muscles in surfers is our Latissimus Dorsi. When used in conjunction with the deep core stabilizers, back extensors, and butt muscles, they enable paddling power. Long surf sessions that involve exhausting amounts of paddling can create excessive postural tension around the neck, shoulders and back. Make time to lengthen out the muscles you use the most and strengthen the ones you use least.
Refining strength and balance to bring them to the water. Single leg squat coordination and strength creates the ultimate leg power for surfers. No easy task; it’s the kind of strength can be developed over time. Work toward optimizing flexibility and mobility of the spine, hips and legs to involve key muscles with balanced precision.
Physiologically, our eyes need wide open spaces to wander amongst. We need subtle hues and imperfect surroundings. Apparently, all of this screen time is eroding our vision, but the close-upness of screens is only the short sighted issue: as we spend more time inside four walls, we miss out on the grand, sweeping land or ocean scape views that our eyes need in order to function properly.
“I started training with Courtney about a year ago after an ankle injury. She’s helped me to rehab my ankle, but also to recognize other imbalances in my body that inevitably occur from daily life: from sitting at a computer writing or carrying heavy logs. It’s really been about gaining greater awareness and sensitivity. When my physical body is feeling strong, challenged and aligned, everything else comes more easily – creativity, listening, focus, etc.” – Lauren
“Climbing is one of the most beneficial cross training activities for surfing. Both involve agility, upper and lower body strength and urge the core to engage in a creative manner to redirect limb expression. Always take safely precautions and be sure to not put yourself in any danger. Crawling exercises along the ground help to develop integration between the core with the limbs before adding vertical challenges.” – Courtney Webb
We have hundreds of thousands of sense receptors in our hands and feet. No computer can mimic their innate function. They act as tongues for our brain, constantly articulating information about our surroundings. Our body laterally adapts to the environment we immerse our self in. If we constantly cover our feet with shoes, walk on flat surfaces, breathe in conditioned air, sit at a desk, tap away at a computer or sit slouched in front of a television for a hours every day, we can only expect dysfunction and dis-ease to come about.
Keep on rockin’ in the free world
In just the last 3 weeks, a quadrillion atoms, 10 to the power of 15 atoms, have gone through your body that have gone through the body of every other species on this planet.
Running is a prominent form of human locomotion; a full body, rhythmic exercise much like paddling. When performed with conscious awareness of core integration with the limbs, we condition the major facial slings involved in paddling and provide vital interval training for heart health.
As surfers we need considerable leg strength to counteract the equal and opposite force of the ocean pushing back into our board whilst standing or turning. We can develop sufficient leg drive through lunges that involve the arms in circular motions around the body. This helps to develop intellectual strength patterns that serve to integrate the whole body as one functional unit.
“Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth – our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.” – The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram
Plotting a course uphill
Our wellness depends on the health and wellness of our environment. How we respect and interact with nature is only a reflection of how we respect and interact within our self. Hence we must start there.
“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans” – Kahlil Gibran, poet
Sun, salt, sweat, shade
Time to wash it all away and celebrate the blessings of having a body that allows us to enact our dreamiest dreams on an Earth that provides us with the elements of life.