Been thinking on willpower.

If we assume that at any one time we have a certain amount of willpower then it maybe a good idea to not waste it on small decisions, some of which maybe to do with us.

Our willpower can be depleted by:

  • Inputs such as media, be it social or otherwise.
  • A large number of possessions.
  • Options due to large number of possessions.

The distractions of the modern age may be one of the reasons we look at productive persons of the past, such as Leonardo Da Vinci who had a prodigious and wide ranging output. Their often shorter lifespan makes their output even more impressive. They had the same quantity of time per day as we have, but less inputs.

The idea of a fixed amount of willpower maybe a difficult one to hold, but let us assume there is a amount below which we don’t want to fall, below this will leave us open to poor/sub optimal choices. To test this a study was undertaken to show how making lots of choices would affect willpower.

Willpower tested in the following way:

  • Group A – Had to make lots of choices within this study
  • Group B – Had no choices to make

The groups were then tested by seeing how long the hand could be held in ice water.

  • Group A average time was 27seconds
  • Group B average time was 67 seconds.

So that being the case reducing the amount of decisions to be made would leave us with more willpower. Be it having less stuff/clothes/choices/errands to run (which have inbuilt choices). Albert Einstein and come to think of it Steve Jobs had simple wardrobes, one less choice to make in the morning. Think of ways to simplify ones repeated tasks along the lines of a direct debit/standing order as you would with bills or savings. This automation of saving permits you to spend what is left only.

Now if we mitigate the amount of choices to be made and take it as a given, can we increase the capacity or is it always fixed?

I doubt willpower can be increased,  as I think its the case of we exist in time and how do we use this time?  Look again at the graphic at the top of this article the basic equation of what willpower could be:


We only scratch the surface of our abilities to produce work of merit by muddying the waters of our mind with too many stimuli. These stimuli masquerade as work, other than research consumption often prevents outputs/creation.

Maybe willpower cannot be increased and merely optimised by letting non essential things be automated or drop by the wayside. Maybe just maybe willpower is the amount of time in our waking day where we either create, consume or just be.

Think about what you want and are the inputs permitting the output you desire or keep it out of arms reach?

Stopping/Starting – The puppy and the child

When doing movements be they of the somatic variety or other when do you stop? But more importantly, when do you start?

Some activities have an end i.e. washing up, but others are open ended. We often think in terms of sets and reps and do them to this formula barring injury whether we need them or not, whether we are exhausted or not.

dog image 4

Recently I ‎saw a video of a puppy playing in a paddling pool. The puppy was not being played with but was playing in the water, it did so until it wanted to get out. It got out shook itself and then jumped straight back in.

I thought that this was a good example of how to move, and how to give oneself permission to move and also how to sense what we want and what we need.

How many babies left to their own devices do not find themselves standing, running and jumping? This successful progression occurs without discussion of muscles, anatomy, sets or reps. Just exploring their range of motion and learning through experiencing.

This seemingly frivolous playful movement can be as powerful if not more so than structured activity. Some of my best learning in a kayak has come around through just trying stuff, this is exactly what we did as babies. We expanded into the world.

Letters & Strokes


Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nooccar/

Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to learning, be it  movement or sport.


We start as we start writing, clumsy scruffy letters but in the boat the strokes are often ineffectual clumsy and feel strange.

Practice is all important. A musician practices to get better. To improve and maintain you need to undertake concerted practice.

With a musical instrument the drive is to sound better, and the quality of your playing is easy for you and others to hear. With paddling the clues can be a little more ambiguous, especially when the beginner paddler is concentrating on not getting wet.

Some pointers to the standard of your strokes:

  • Economy.
  • Fluidity.
  • Balance and maintenance of.
  • Success, did you do it easily or was it survival?
  • Are the strokes even side to side?

Some of the points above can be sensed and others need external feedback be it success or third party input.

Set yourself a course or move on the river and repeat, see how effortless and smooth you can make it, how few strokes can it be done with?

“Everything and nothing” – Teachers Perspective


People go to school and they graduate.

Teachers teach and sometimes pupils learn.

Maybe the pupil learned only part of what the teachers wanted to teach them. For example they may have learned enough maths to get by and then as life developed they get or work out what else they need to know.

You can never be sure what you teach is what they learn as that is their experience. You are not there to sort the whole of the rest of their lives. We all exist in time and the future and their future needs will solved by them and applying what skills they have.

Be careful not to end gain and want more than this:

  • I feel better – yes
  • I feel lighter – yes
  • I am clearer in thought – yes
  • I can do that better – yes

Do you see that they get out of it what they get out of it, it is everything and nothing all at once.

What is the purpose of education, in its broadest and narrowest sense be it Somatics, school or sport?

An answer and one i favour is not performance per se, or even qualifications, it is merely the desire to learn and be interested. School cannot teach everything, but it can give you skills and set you off in a direction.

In the case of sport there is usually only one winner, so what of the rest, have they wasted their time? Or is their value in playing and competiting even outside the rostrum? Is the medal the only reward or can value be had from mastery and play?

In the case of Somatics, if they are in pain, or immobile help them with that and let them be on their way, on their way to be free. Let them find mastery in the rest of their lives and not expect it within the sessions. Our education doesn’t finish with graduation and neither in the confines of a movement session.

Things moving freely.

Further Reading:



Happiness looks like - CJL

“I always wanted to be happy, so I decided I would be” – Neil Baldwin.

Been thinking on happiness, in fact any emotion be it sadness or fear. How to deal with it and can it we create it?

Chanced upon a drama this week that summed up happiness and also sadness, it was about a gentleman called Neil Baldwin. What Neil Baldwin does is have ideas and action them. The majority of us think of an idea and overcome by inertia do not carry them out. This lack of action often then becomes anxiety as our thoughts and lives/choices are dissonant.

Sadness will appear in ones life, for example something happening to a loved one. That sad event needs to be just accepted its a natural reaction, unhappiness maybe down to choices we make or don’t make.

How can we live a happier life? Think about the following two points:

  1. Not comparing ones life to others, this leads to a prescribed life and can let oneself be open to unhappiness. Instead what about plotting ones own course and then their is no-one to compare to.
  2. Have ideas then try them out, say what you are thinking if it is not unkind, if it is unkind think about why it is so.

Be a creator not a consumer.


If you can watch the programme “Marvellous” <BBC> then do so, if not read the reviews to get a taste of what it was about.


Marvellous – Review

Marvellous – Review

Toby Jones Interview

Camus on happiness

Cognitive dissonance



Knowing Part 2



Drawing By Richard Feynman


Why is knowing important?

Knowing some fact or metric can enable a change be it training or the performace of a product.

Also knowing a sensation and becoming aware gives you non-verbal esoteric knowledge.

To enable change we need to know where we are.

The more you know the more you realise what you don’t know, and the more you see the interconnectedness of everything.

Taking it as read that everything is linked, thats just data/noise, what is useful is to make connections of past experience/knowledge and applying it to new things in new ways.

Polymaths use this and the partitioning of education into science and arts and giving one more importance over the other is short sighted to say the least. How do people for example impart scientific data? purely through numbers or words or do we use graphics? there is a link with science and art right there, and who says that if science and art were interwined to varying degrees that new methods of displaying information could not further the cause?

One of the best know examples of this was Leonardo Da Vinci, amongst his many undertakings he worked out how the heart valves closed hundreds of years before modern scientists did. Of course he did not specialise as modern man does but that is to the detriment of modern man. Leonardo noticed what was always there but needed to be seen, he looked around him noticed nature and then pondered.

Finally, the image at the top of this post brings us back to the previous “Knowing” post, Richard Feynman a scientist by training started drawing in earnest at the age of 44, he had art lessons from an artist friend and in return he gave science lessons. Feynman displayed some of his scientific ideas through diagrams as shown below:

Feynman Diagram


If you are not open and aware then what will you miss?



The Art of Ofey

Feynman Diagram

Feynman Diagram Video

Leonardo da Vinci and the Sinuses of Valsalva

Seeing & Looking – Listening & Hearing

Ever been to a musical concert where people film the musicians in front of them? This filming is undertaken in a sub optimal situation be it people in front of them, poor microphone or small lens.

Suboptimal issues aside, they are filming the concert to what end, to say they have been?

They are looking at the concert through a lens and not seeing it.

Seeing is not the same as looking, one has an active component. The same can be said of hearing and listening.

Why not just be and trust your mind to make memories as we would have in the past when we had no choice but to experience and remember.

We now have more pictures, data and I would proffer that we have less memories, as we always think we can rely on this data stored digitally.


Feynman's Wagon


Scratch under the surface of most people and you will find they have a thin layer, a veneer if you will, not of knowledge but of facts.

With modern technology facts are easy to come by, knowledge it seems has taken a back seat, maybe because it takes contemplation and the stimulation of the modern world drowns this out.

Facts are not knowing.

What do you know?

The wonderful Richard Feynman talks about this in the clip below, I recommend looking into his works, a fascinating insightful man.