WoW 044: On depth and delicate movement [Words of Wisdom]

Remember, friends: wisdom is the most valuable characteristic to attain in the world.

Wisdom can be defined simply as virtuous skill in living.

The three fundamentals of wisdom are presence, practice, and community.

Something to consider:

Take delicacy seriously.

By delicacy, I mean gently paying attention to the nuance of sensations, feelings, and experiences. Grow your skills in noticing and experiencing delicacy, and you will become more patient, present, and aware.

So much of the modern world is full of gratuitous noise, gross distraction, and a jarring lack of depth of presence.

To deepen your presence, practice delicacy and learn to enjoy delicate things. This delicacy work will grow your concentration, train your brain, help you be less anxious and more relaxed, and help you enjoy sex more and be a better lover. Developing a delicacy practice will help you be more gentle in conversations and can help you heal from trauma.

Ways to practice delicacy: physically, emotionally, and relationally.

Today we will focus on three aspects of physical delicacy: stillness, balance, and cross hemisphere brain work.

Develop a physical practice of delicacy. There are endless variations to explore, but these are a few ideas I have experimented with and enjoyed that I can recommend. Choose one or a few of the following and begin playing, practicing, and exploring. It might help to think of these in terms of "movement snacks". Small bits of movement that you can put into your day without too much effort. Before you know it, you may begin to crave this kind of movement.


Stretch and gently hold for a few minutes. Choose 5-8 stretches and hold each for 2 minutes. Do them daily for a month. For a more formal or guided version, attend a yin yoga class.

Hang from a bar or gymnastic rings. Accumulate 5 minutes throughout the day. Start by doing a completely passive hang (shoulders by your ears) and palms facing away. Over weeks and months begin to experiment with different grip and hanging variations.

Spend time sitting quietly in nature. When you simply sit and listen and pay attention in a wilde place it can have a calming effect. The wilderness can be violent and raw, you will inevitably experience its delicate, intricate, and incredibly nuanced attributes if you simply slow down and spend time observing nature queitly.

Sit in the bottom of a squat. Accumulate 5-20 minutes throughout the day every day for a month. Or work Ido Portal's squat routine into your warmup. If you are like most Americans, and deconditioned to the point of being unable to squat all the way to the bottom, this is even more important for you. You can work on improving this by putting books or something underneath your heels, which will help you get deeper. Eventually you can reduce this and work your way into a full squat.

Breathing. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Try this while a sitting, standing, or laying on your back. Set a timer if you'd like. Or count your breaths to 10 or to 100. Or do this while saying a prayer that is only a few words, repeating it on each exhale, or the first half on the inhale and the second half on the exhale.


Balance the end of a stick on the palm of your hand. Play with various length sticks, positioning the stick on different parts of your hand.

Stand on one foot. Practice tree pose from yoga. Stand on one foot and balance while doing other tasks, such as brushing your teeth, putting on clothes, or doing the dishes.

Learn to balance on an exercise (Swiss) ball. Start balancing on your stomach by raising your feet and arms off the ground. Then move to your knees. Then learn to stand on it for more advanced balancing. You can get one for about $20 here.

Cross hemisphere movements

Crossing the midline (moving an object from one side of your body to the other) stimulates both brain hemispheres. This concept is related in the use of EMDR, a modality psychotherapists use to treat trauma, and it's also something you can practice in your daily life in a less emotionally-focused way without paying a therapist.

Rope flow. Rope flow teaches you coordination, timing, hand positions, and throwing patterns, and you are crossing the midline with the rope faster per minute with an easier-to-sustain effort, or with less skill, than juggling. It can be very relaxing if you go slow or leave you breathless if you go fast. It can be done as shoulder rehab, prehab, or active recovery. It connects your hands and body and teaches your non-dominant hand. For ropes, check out Weck Method in the USA. Winding Ropes in Australia, especially if you want a heavy rope later. Octo Moves in Europe. And I'm a particular fan of the lightweight 'piccolo' rope that Tim Schieff makes in England. Or just grab any nearby rope, cut it to length, and get started.

Juggling. start with one ball. then go to two. Then three. Don't let "I can't juggle" stop you. You can learn to juggle. This teaches timing and coordination of quick and subtle hand movement. When weightlifting, instead of sitting down or walking, try juggling three balls in between your sets. Juggle 3 balls in the air with two hands, two balls with one hand, dribble two balls on the ground with two hands, or juggle a soccer ball, or a hacky sack with your feet.

Mace flow. Endless complexity is possible with a light mace. Learn the basics and put them together into a flow. Mace flow is an incredible combination of dance, moving meditation, weapons training, and workout. To see what's possible for mace flow, watch this and this, and to not leave the ladies to not feel left out, there's this.

Use a 5-7 pound mace for most women, and 7-10lbs for men. Don't go heavier. Even if you're strong, start with a light weight so you don't overtax your joints and because perhaps the best reason to use a mace is brain training which is most effective with complex movement patterns which can only be done with a light mace. Onnit makes great, affordable maces. A sledge hammer is how I got started with doing 360s, but you'll want to spend $40 on a mace to be able to do more complex movement patterns. Here are over 100 movement variations to learn with a mace.


“You can never be too subtle, and you can never be too simple.”

Paul Valéry, Analects


What is a new movement pattern that is most interesting to explore?

In what way can you open yourself up to delicacy and nuance?


If much of the activities feel very foreign, silly, or not mainstream, that's great. Get curious and explore something new!

Live wisely,


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