The art of unf*ckwithability: getting a grasp on resilience
Updated: Dec 26, 2017
What does it really mean to be "resilient" and how can we achieve it?
When you stop to think about it, it's pretty amazing that palm trees survive storms. The trunks are narrow, and top-heavy fronds catch wind easily. But we all know that the trees most likely to break in a storm are the dead ones - the rigid ones.
Resilience comes from adaptability: the capacity for fluid motion.
Interpersonal and situational resilience means being able to go with the flow, regardless of what life throws your way.
Structural resilience means taking a hit or a fall without sustained injury.
Neurological resilience means managing life's unavoidable stressors without springing into fight-or-flight mode at every little thing. Aka you don't lose your cool aka unf*ckwithability 😉
Life is defined by motion. When you stop moving, you die. The aging process is a stiffening, but we can slow that process by restoring + maintaining fluid motion.
Our bodies are designed to be resilient, to allow for fluid motion throughout the entire system. All bones, muscles, organs...everything...is enmeshed and suspended in fascia. This tough spiderweb-like material transmits force across the system so that when you are knocked off-kilter by an external force, the whole system disperses that force and returns to its original shape (moving a bit like seaweed underwater).
But when you develop rigidity over time, that single functional unit that is your body becomes less tolerant of outside forces and accumulates layers of bracing around micro- and macro-traumas. And in a self-perpetuating circle, bracing begets more bracing...and thus we experience "aging".
But getting older doesn't necessarily mean we have to simply accept accumulated traumas! We can reclaim our structural resilience by unwinding stored bracing patterns, retraining the system to move fluidly, and maintaining a consistent movement practice.
Structural resilience impacts neurological + psychological resilience
Our brains are naturally resilient. That is, the default resting baseline is meant to be a state of neurological resilience. In this state, the brain will naturally tend toward happiness, connection, compassion, mental clarity + focus, healing, growth, and overall resilience.
When appropriate, the central nervous system can spring into action with "fight-or-flight" mode, which includes depression, anxiety, hypersensitivity, hyper-reactivity, inhibited digestion + cellular immunity, hypertension, and bracing (think of the last time you were startled or frightened...your body probably clenched in and froze, even if just for a moment).
Bracing is a normal part of the fight-or-flight response...and the way out of that response, the way to come back down to a normal resting + resilient baseline, is to MOVE. It's even in the name! Fight (move) or flight (move). Think of the last time you smashed your finger - you probably shook your hand right away. That's because special nerve signals that fire when you move (called proprioception) are our body's innate mechanism for coming down off of a fight-or-flight response.
The brain requires 3 things to survive + thrive: glucose (you need to eat), oxygen (you need to breathe), and proprioception (you need to move!)
Movement is so important for normal brain function that it's even been proposed that exercise is more important for your brain than for your heart or muscles (not that it's not important for those systems, too!)
BUT if you exercise with some places holding tension, then those areas don't send the normal healthy proprioception signals, but instead send nociception aka alarm signals...which drives up a fight-or-flight response!
Level up your resilience, level up your unf*ckwithability
So to level up your own resilience, you want to ensure all parts are moving smoothly (with the help of a neurologically-focused chiropractor) and then keep moving!