Swimming that Changes Lives - new TI Book
I've begun work on what will be my main project for the summer, a new 'baseline' TI book to replace the well-thumbed and well-known 'blue-and-yellow' book that was published in 1996 and updated in 2001. This book has been exceedingly important to the progression of TI from a series of small clinics with 4 to 6 attendees to a method to a global movement to a philosophy.
I believe this book will be the most important and impactful work of my almost 40 years in coaching. I am writing it with the explicit intention of seeing it achieve 'landmark' status, not just in swimming but in the far wider field of healthful, mindful aging. I will post previews of a large volume on the material in the book on my Swim Well Blog. I invite all of you to follow it closely. My main motivation in posting it is to receive feedback that I know will make the final book far better. You'll find the first installment here.
Second installment posted here.
I'm looking for YOUR insights and anecdotes to include in the new book.
I am not sure if that 'to include in the new book' is an invitation or a filter-out means... ;-)
In general I think it is a good idea to write this book, and I absolutely appreciate your enthusiasm for swimming!
So my remarks are meant to be encouraging.
E.g. this sentence got my attention:
'The human brain has been encoded by evolution to be a problem-solving machine.'
I think that 'problem solving' is a meta-function of an 'higher' entity and not a function of the brain. For those familiar with the way computer and programming languages work you might use the analogy of assembler language - which can be executed directly by the processor - and high level (=problem oriented) programming languages that need to be translated by a compiler into assembler language before the processor is able to execute it.
The basic functions of the brain are (amongst others) to perceive through the senses, interprete the information, filter information, combine information, store patterns, develop habits. The brain will automatically sense and preserve the bodies position in space, it will automatically (on a low-level basis) try to keep the body alive and adjust to life-dangerous situations, and a lot more I guess.
Problem solving on a higher level starts with the very definition of what is a problem, or in other words the conclusion or assessment to decide why 'something' is a problem: that needs analysys, a value-system that decides what is desirable or not, the definition of a goal, the evaluation and judgment according to this goal and so on.
The brain itself doesn't know anything about good or bad - it doesn't know such categories. It works on a lot more simple and basic level. If you are about to overrotate in freestyle your brain will use your legs to counterack against the threatening loss of balance and it will not ask you about it. It will switch into panic mode if the CO2 level gets too high and it is almost impossible to prevent it from doing this. But it cannot decide whether to take the more beautiful country road or the faster but more boring highway. It has no means to detect that there are those alternatives, that there is a problem, and that it needs to be solved. It takes a mind as the 'Meta-Institution' to use the brain for such tasks.
If the problem solving was an automatc brain function than you wouldn't see such big differences in people reacting to challenges that environment or 'live' offers to them.
Also, it is e.g. possible to commit suicide. So there is an institution in us that can can overide the brains automatic and build in functions of preserving it's own live and can command over the brain.
I think what is meant here is mainly the fact that the brain stores patterns - of movements, of thinking, of feeling, of relating to situations, of attitudes, of the way we speak, of our reactions and so forth. It has a tendency to use already stored patterns. The more a pattern is repeated the stronger the brains tendency to use that pattern. Up to a point where we run into habits (=autopilot) and do things or carry out activities that we originally didn't plan to.
So I think the point here - when we talk about swimming and training - is to use this capability of the brain in an intelligent way. That includes repeating 'good' patterns and trying to avoid undesirable ones and strongly putting the emphasize on this fact and not on the growth of muscles and lungs. The side effect of training muscles and lungs is to store sloppy and 'bad' patterns, this is almost inevitable. The intelligent way of using the brain well also includes to challenge the brain, to go for those functions or patterns that are still weak and not for those that are easy - although the temptation and the easier way is to do it the other way round.
This far this good - got a lot longer than I planned...
There are some more remarks I'd like to say about the 'transformation and transcendence' in swimming, but I am afraid it will carry me away even further. So, later...
There will be sections where I go into brain function in more detail and using more specific language. However there will also be places where I use more colorful, engaging and inspirational descriptions than a science writer would be likely to use. "Awesome problem-solving machine" is one example.
And in practical/functional terms, entirely true. The human brain developed, over a million years of evolution to solve the most basic and practical problems of surviving in a hostile environment - what will I eat and how will I get it - is this creature, food, environment safe or threatening, etc.
As one anthropologist said, "The human brain did not evolve to ponder metaphysics."
"Swimming That Changes Your Life" shows how to use an activity you love -- or will grow to love -- to enjoy more vibrant health and deeper happiness now, and increase them in years to come.
Read more here.
Add a '/1292' to the URL and then it works, or
Is the book to be a philosophical examination of TI swimming alone, or will it include stroke advice too as per the original blue and yellow book?
I found the story of your own swimming and then coaching being influenced by the so called maverick swimmers of the time hugely interesting, and a motivating factor in my own TI journey. I only wanted to learn to swim strongly because I was about to take sailing lessons.....I have yet to sign up for those lessons, so completely has swimming taken over! The constant battle for control and mastery of my actions in the water is so absorbing that I have yet to get bored. Learning TI compelled me to enter triathlon events, which I had never considered before,previously I only ran competitively. I came second in my age group in my first race, and eleventh overall, which I totally put down to my fast but relaxed swim, which left me enough energy to cruise through the race.
Last weekend I took my wetsuit to Cwm Idwal in North Wales (UK) and swam across the lake. For more years than I can remember I have rock climbed all the walls there, and ate my lunch staring at this dark brooding lake, which legend says that no bird dare fly over because the slain Prince Idwal lies at the bottom!, and would shudder at its inky depth. Now it holds no fear, and the swim across in such a dramatic location, and with such ease and style is a priceless experience. All thanks to stumbling upon your book!
Good luck with your new version.
The problem with science is that there are still a lot of scientists out there who didn't get the change of paradigm that the findings of quantum physics brings us. Since more than a hundred years now, mind you. We might think something like 'I only believe what I see' but quantum physics, and in fact the classical science also, tells us that we only see what we believe. There is no objective world out there, independent of the observer as the classical, deterministic Newtonian physics tells us. Any observation we do or a scientist is doing, or a scientific measuring device is doing is completely depending on the observer, the place and the time. In fact quantum physics start to realize that consciousness is a constitutional factor of our world. And that there are indications that consciousness can exist independent of the body.
Which has been stated by spriritual traditions since hundreds and thousands of years.
So the question: what is reality? can only be answered in one way: it depends.
Now, what has all this to do with swimming? Basically not more and not less than it has to do with anything else. I simply blame you Terry ;-), you are constantly inviting a view of swimming that points to meta-physical realities. Now, if we do it, why not follow it a bit further?
But, I think, you will not face a lot of opposition with statements like 'the brain is a problem solving machine'. The classical view of a solid and independent reality is firmly anchored in the mainstream thinking. Robert Anton Wilson calls it: naive reality. Nils Bor said: if quanten physics doesn't shock you, you didn't understand it. Ok, who wants to be shocked - life is complicated enough. I got my shocks in small and digestable portions through my spiritual life from my youth when I spent some time in india and from Tibetan Buddhism later. When you practice a different view of reality it is not a shock at all. It's like swimming: you have to stop reading at some point and do it. So the findings of quantum physics are more of a joy to me and have a great entertaining value. BTW the view points of tib. Buddhism and quantem physics are amazingly close. That's probably why quantum physics like to meet with the Dalai Lama.
But, just to have mentioned it, there is no such thing as freedom or liberty without getting as close to truth, or reality as possible. In fact, realizing reality and becoming free is the same. Denying it and staying imprisoned also.
Hey, swimmers, aren't we all freedom fighters? ;-)
Coming back to your book, this statement:
' No other physical skill or activity matches the unique potential of swimming to produce transformation and transcendence as well as improve physical health.'
is quite a bold assertion, I think. Did you ever talk to horse back riders? There is a saying in German (unfortunately loses it's charme when being translated) that says: the paradise of this earth is on the back of a horse. Horseback riders experience that what they call the 'unity of rider and horse' that is similar or the same that others call flow states. Although this might be more in the classical style and not in the Western style of riding. I bet horseback riders experienced that long before someone got the idea to call it flow states. And there are more horseback riders out there that experience this transcendental state than swimmers. But I appreciate absolutely that your are determined to change that ;-)
And, ok, a little provocation can be quite helpful.
Also, don't forget long distance runners and their endorphine states, ...
Again, don't get me wrong, I am absolutely in favour of your book and have no intentiion to discourage you. I am just stating some views that some other individuals might also share. What you do with it is of course your business and if you don't want to hear such comments, that is perfectly ok, I can manage to shut up. And still keep swimmimg. The TI way. :-)
And I like that 'Aging Swimmers (i.e. all of us)'. Good humour.
Anyway, I attach a link to an hilarious explanation of quantum physics by Robert Anton Wilson (don't mind the few sentences in German at the beginning, they are meaningless) for those who are into such kind of things. Or don't know yet they are into it. Or are not into it.
Explanation of Quantum Physics
Rather than duplicate your whole post I am just referring to it as the whole.
My fingers can only type out. "Nice Post" .
Enjoyed the link you provided as well.
One thought just struggled to the surface. Isnt it a trap to start comparing which disipline enables a flow state more than any other? :o)
Just out of curiosity, is there an ETA on this book?
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