Archives for April 26, 2020

The Importance of Having Aims in Life

Estimated reading time:  4-5 minutes

You don’t reach something you don’t aim for.

I’m going to start with a few wise quotes that echo aspects of this same truth.

  1. “Seek and you will find.”
  2. “Sow so that you may reap.”
  3. “Knock and the door will open.”
  4. “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.”
  5. “Fortune favours the bold.”
  6. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.”

People often keep their goals and aims fuzzy. The problem with specifying your goals is when you do, you specify your conditions for failure. Guess what? You’re going to fail frequently, that’s one of the biggest ways you learn and move forward! DONT FEAR FAILURE… FEAR INACTION.

We fear failure and we fear making the “wrong” choice, often so much so that we freeze and make no choice… But making no choice is in itself a choice! There is no escaping consequence, mistakes, tragedy and inevitable death, HOWEVER this is not bad news! It’s freedom! Its freedom to pick your poison, pick your sacrifices, pick your responsibilities and priorities. It’s freedom to manifest your being forthrightly as a soulful part of the fabric of reality. Forge forward to your heart’s desire, for what we do in life echoes for an eternity.

Being afraid to fail is the same as being afraid of life. Embrace failures as stepping stones to success, for that, is what they are if you are correctly engaged and learning!

If you don’t fail regularly, you can’t be doing much of anything meaningful in your life.  Stretching to expand your being towards your greater potential requires the continuous process of numerous failures to reach momentary success… Then repeat. The evolution of your being and the realisation of your potential takes place in the field of failure.

If your goals are really fuzzy, your failures will be hidden in the haze.  This way you can fool yourself into a false sense of security, or so-called ‘blissful ignorance’.  This is willful blindness and failure to adopt responsibility.

It’s a most heinous crime.  It is a theft of your dreams and your potential. You’re stealing your life’s own meaning when you do this! 

When you fail to clarify what is of value to you, you are unable to be of value to it!

  1. Everyone wants to be valued! 
  2. To be valued you need to be valuable! 
  3. That means you need to add value in some meaningful way!
  4. To be of value, is to be of service to the betterment of something.
  5. When you engage with the task of bettering the “condition” of that which you love, you find meaning in life.

Being blind to what is of value to you, is a sin*. You are quite literally missing the point/mark. (*Sin was originally an archery term used to describe missing the mark/bullseye. Thinking of sin in this way, is conceptually more helpful than most vague notions).

How can you expect to lead a meaningful life if you are not clear on your beliefs and value hierarchy? How can you serve that which you love if you’re not clear what that is? How can you make the world a better place when you’re not even clear on what that means to you! 

Meaningful action and movement towards desired outcomes, requires orientation. Effort without purpose is fruitless toiling.

You should frequently consider what your core values are. We need to grow, refine and when necessary, restructure our concepts and beliefs.  When we can orientate ourselves functionally in the world, we can then move towards our desired outcomes.

Your brain is literally designed to reorganise its perception of reality around your aims.

We only process a small part of the reality around us to derive meaning from which to act.  Make sure your aims are straight so that that which you perceive, and the meaning you derive from it, serves your value structure. (Our brains cannot handle all of the sensory information around us in any given movement, so we filter our perceptions through our value hierarchy and through expectations and desires. Make sure you tend to the garden of those filters, as your life literally depends on it.)

You have to specify your aim in order to be able to track and move towards your desired outcomes. 

You need a value hierarchy and, what you put at the top of that hierarchy, REALLY MATTERS! 

Every level and relationship in the hierarchy matters, as it will dictate the meaning you derive in life.

Work towards the highest possible good that you can conceive and articulate. Let it be the star in the sky that guides you forth. Let your own personal, evolving ideal inspire you; your vision of this ideal will grow and develop as you do. It will always contain the qualities you admire most. 

Do the best you can with what you have, and what you know. When you know better, do better.

These are words of wisdom that have greatly impacted my life. It is my pleasure to share them with you and I truly hope they make an equal or greater impact on yours.

Warm regards

Stephen du Preez


I draw on many sources to fuel my writing yet I would feel amiss if I did not offer acknowledgement to Dr Jordan Peterson, his work has influenced me profoundly, I strongly recommend looking up his talks, lectures and books.

Article Word Count: 930
Author: Stephen du Preez
Date: April 25th, 2020

Continuing our exploration of the concept of health:

Continuing our exploration of the concept of health:

Chronically poor posture: A first world (Global Pandemic)

Estimated reading time:  10-12 minutes

In this article you will learn why most “unexplained” Chronic pain conditions aren’t the least bit surprising, we will explore some of the major contributing factors and seek to better understand our bodies, the state of HEALTH and how to achieve it.  

In order to gain a practical understanding that can guide us to positive change, we will need to explore a few important concepts and principles, so prepare for a journey of knowledge exploration and discovery (containing a few necessary segues), leading us to functional wisdom. 

These ideas if understood and integrated, will make a meaningful difference to how you see the world, aiding you in making effective decisions.

Primary questions and topics we will address:

  1. What is posture?
  2. Why is posture important? How does it affect me?
  3. What makes posture good or bad?
  4. Is posture genetic?
  5. What are some things I can do to improve my posture and health?

Important related concepts:

  1. What is the S.A.I.D. Principle? Why is it important?
  2. Adaptive cycles: what they are and how they are crucial in life.
  3. Adaptive competence: What it is and how to improve it over time.
  4. The ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest and recovery’ mechanisms of the body.

*Fair warning, I will be reiterating a few key ideas in an attempt to strengthen conceptual understanding.

Ok, so now that we’ve outlined these key points, let’s delve right in!

Posture is so much more than, “Do I look confident”

It is crucial to understand that having a healthy body is largely dependent on having good posture. We will explore some of why that is in this article.

So, what is Posture?

Simply put, posture is how you hold your body and it is your approach/attitude when using your body. It is the physical manifestation of your being, moment to moment. 

It is the poise with which you conduct yourself… and you should be aware that it has powerful, inseparable, influential relationships with all other systems of the body.  Simply put, if your posture is bad, it will mess you up… In many different ways! 

It helps to think of posture as a process, rather than a fixed state. Posture is meant to be adaptable and fluid in order to reorganise the body to give optimal function to the moment. A person with grace and poise tends to have a good balance between controlled movement and functional spontaneity i.e. flowing with the moment. Their adaptive competence is fluid and high functioning. Most people however, lead very sedentary or inactive lifestyles This causes a host of problems, as their bodies adapt to, and “lock” into these limited activities. Basically, sedentary people get really good at sitting i.e. remaining in poorly aligned, tight, locked up positions for hours on end. This excessive adaptation to sitting comes at the expense of functionality in other activities. (Being a specialist at sitting with poor posture is a terrible idea, but your body is just making lemonade out of lemons, and doing the best it can, given the situation and circumstance we put the body in.)

Introduction to the S.A.I.D. Principle:

It is important to note that the body is always trying to adapt to the stress we place upon it. This very useful concept is summed up in the Acronym, S.A.I.D(Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) – This is a fundamental Principle!

Adaptation to stress can take many different forms.  In this article, we are discussing mostly physical adaptations.  However, through neuroplasticity, we start to see how physical adaptations are also mental and emotional adaptations i.e. they are all connected and part of the same thing.  We have conceptually separated and labelled them – a very interesting topic that we can go into another time.)

I will do my best to simplify a few very helpful ideas regarding the S.A.I.D. Principle below. 

Having at least a basic understanding of this concept, will give you a significantly better understanding of human development, health maintenance and performance improvement. 

Let’s start by clarifying the S.A.I.D Principle a little further- Specific Adaptation to Imposed demands: 

  • Your body adapts to its environment and the stresses placed upon it. An easy to understand example of this is muscle growth and increased bone density in response to the demand of heavy lifting. Your body is trying to help you by adapting. By restructuring, it is better able to perform and meet demands placed upon it.
  • Examples of other Adaptations are endurance, coordination, speed, concentration, temperature regulation, memory, etc (notice the variability of attributes and skills that develop based on this principle).

Key idea 1: Adaptive cycles 

Without getting into excessive detail, it is important to know that there is a continuous, adaptive cycle taking place when engaging with life. Stress in various forms is constant. The human body is designed to continuously adapt and change; to flow with these shifting challenges and obstacles.

Key idea 2: Do your best to keep challenges well-calibrated.

In order for the body to optimally adapt to “life”, you should strive to keep your daily challenges well-calibrated i.e. take on the’ right’ amount of challenge each day in various forms.  This will trigger adaptive responses, making you better at handling those types of stresses. Variety and variation are good to keep things from becoming stagnant.  

Key idea 3: Avoid being overwhelmed

The greater the stress, the greater the damage. This means more recovery time and resources needed to fully recover and facilitate the adaptive improvement.  Too great a stress will be beyond the individual’s ability to cope, and will cause ‘damage’ i.e. physical, mental or emotional harm. Mindful and prudent engagement helps keep you away from unnecessary, harmful extremes.

Degrees of stress relative to a subject’s capability, simply put:

  Degree/amount Simplified description Simplified result Simplified scenario
3  Extreme stress  usually leads to death or significant damage (possibly permanent) Destruction or damage Usually sudden “external” stress. e.g. a severe car accident
2  Excessive stress  makes recovery difficult and adaptation unlikely Strain, no improvement Working to complete exhaustion
1  Optimal stress allows for quick recovery and adaptation  Improvement Working to fatigue but within good function
2  Too little stress doesn’t trigger an adaptive response  Maintenance Some engagement but no fatigue or lack of challenge
3  No stress generally leads to accelerated deterioration of an unused system   Deterioration No engagement

 * Long term adaptations can clearly be seen in an athlete’s changes in muscle mass, body shape, performance etc. (abstract adaptations seem to come about in a very similar fashion to stress e.g. social skills from social engagement, emotional resilience from overcoming obstacles linked to hope and adaptive competence).

Understanding and embracing this amazing phenomenon is one of the most powerful keys you will ever have to lead a healthy life whilst gaining the power to create extraordinary changes within your body. 

Key idea 4: Adaptive competence

Your collective adaptive competence is an evolving collection of ability which you use to navigate everyday life. The greater an individual’s adaptive competence, the more likely he or she will find a way to integrate successfully with life challenges day by day. Consistently dealing well with challenges is a good mode of being that moves us towards self-designated desirable outcomes

*Operating beyond your realm of adaptive competence will result in excessive disharmony or failure which could lead to anxiety, depression or various other “negative” emotions. (The phenomena of emotion and its utility will be a topic for another article).

Fight or Flight and Rest and Recover: two modes of being, which you need to be aware of

This topic will be addressed in more detail in a later article, but below is a quick summary to introduce you to the concepts. 

The body’s nervous system has two extremely different circuits which it uses to operate under different situations and circumstances. i.e. Fight or Flight circuit/mode and Rest and Recover circuit/mode.

Flight or fight, which you’ve likely heard of, is when your body “flips the switch” to operate in the “major action now” mode.

You can think of this as a red alert, all hands to battle stations.

  • High output
  • Fast response
  • Strenuous on the body (physically, mentally, emotionally)
  • Uses a lot of resources
  • Creates a lot of waste / toxins
  • Dysregulates normal harmony and reallocates resources and activity within the body

Priority Maximize immediate survival systems (digestion, organ function and hormone relegation are put on the back burner… Balance is thrown out the window). The body’s state calibrates for maximum action NOW. 

Flight or fight is a crucial functional system and mode of being when needed, but it is terrible for health to stay in longer than necessary.

Rest and Recovery – few people have heard of this mode, but you can think of this as the “holiday / spring cleaning” mode of the body.

  • Moderate output
  • Moderate response
  • Easy on the body
  • Low resource use (efficient)

Priority  Balance body systems and functions. Maintenance and recovery mode. The cardiovascular and nervous systems are prioritised as well as organ function, hormone regulation, blood and lymph circulation. Resource distribution in the body is better regulated, toxin and waste removal are better regulated. The body enters a more harmonic state of flow, integrating with a safe, relaxed environment. 

The human body is constantly adapting; seeking to harmonise with its environment. 

This can be seen immediately if you break into a run…  your heart rate goes up, your breathing volume and rate increases, your body undergoes countless metabolic adaptive changes in response to this imposed demand. 

If the body’s systems are inadequate for a given task, the body will do its best to compensate in various ways to meet the imposed demand. In the short term, this can be an amazing adaptive function of the body but, it increases strain significantly.  If the body is not maintained and frequently recalibrated, these compensations lead to injury, chronic pain conditions and or sickness.

Why is Posture important?

Sustaining good posture is a BIGGGG part of your health. We’ll explore why that is below, using contrast to help shape the conceptual landscape.

Poor posture leads to compression and restriction of vital structures. e.g. organ compression and restriction, connective tissue tightness, blood and lymph flow restriction, nerve impingement etc. Basically, poise and adaptive structure are necessary for health and function Without them the body lacks fluidity, becoming too rigid leading to strain and accelerated deterioration.

What is good Posture?

Good posture is relative to situation and circumstance.

Components of healthy, functioning and adaptive posture are:

  • Good proprioceptive awareness, enabling appropriate body architectural adaption to the moment (geometric suitability with kinetic linking).
  • Good spatial awareness.
  • Bones that are well aligned and supported by appropriate, adaptable tension (healthy body tension / tensegrity).
  • Pliability and adaptability to take various forms and postures, meeting the ever-changing demands of the environment.
  • Healthy functional and adaptive body tension: Fascia connective tissue plays a major role here, as all systems of the body are contained within it.  If that tissue is chronically tight and deformed, it compresses and restricts the systems within it! 
  • Balanced muscle strength and length, with synergistic coordination.

Neglect your posture, poise and grace at GREAT peril

A stiff body that is locked up in chronically “poor” posture, is under constant strain and is unable to flow and adapt to tasks outside of its accustomed norm. For most people, this means that their bodies have adapted so extensively to “chair sitting”, that they struggle to do many things or can’t do them at all. That’s a big deal! (unless you are content with a stagnant, rigid and sickly body).

Our bodies often compensate so well, that many of the negative consequences of our actions are offset and only manifest themselves in a slow creeping manner. Systems slowly become strangled, overstressed and destroyed over weeks, months or years. We overlook the importance of the aching muscles and joints. We just accept the chronic fatigue and tell ourselves that we’ll feel better later or it’s just part of getting old. We don’t embrace the pain, embrace the warnings and act upon them; PAIN is your tough love best friend looking out for you. It is a vital function of the body; it signals important information to us … YOU JUST NEED TO LISTEN AND RESPOND appropriately to get from a bad situation to a better one.

What are some of the major effects of POOR posture?

  • Excessive strain, stretch, compression and torque on vital structures (e.g. neurovascular system, skeletal system, muscular system)
  • Impaired breathing (major strain on health -sickness waiting to happen)
  • Impaired digestion (major strain on health -sickness waiting to happen)
  • Wear and tear on joints, tendons, ligaments etc.
  • Energy wastage – during both static and dynamic posture (poor or broken kinetic linking leading to weak and inefficient movement)
  • Compensative soft tissue tightness resulting in joint and movement restriction 
  • And sadly, much more…

Some areas negatively affected by poor posture: Meaning
Stability – which means more injuries and strain   TEARS, SPRAINS AND FALLS
Mobility – less functional ROM  INABILITY TO MOVE PROPERLY
Blood and lymph flow restriction i.e. sustenance and toxin management restriction  TOXIN BUILD UP AND INADEQUATE INTERNAL RESTORATION
Neurological activity restricted, endocrine regulation hindrance (hormone regulation) HORMONE DISREGULATION 

Your posture is NOT genetic!

What we see can be reversed… Posture can be changed.  

*extreme genetic abnormality would be the exception to this but generally speaking, posture is a by-product of your lifestyle.

Posture is meant to change and adapt throughout the day. 

No one has “perfect” posture all the time… That’s not what the standard is. Rather, functional adaptation to the moment is generally the goal. Remember though, a variety of challenges over time keeps the body healthy, limber, strong and fluid.

This is what it’s designed to do… It is necessary to maintain and even improve function.

So why is our posture so MESSED up?!

The answer to this could be an article unto itself, but I’ll try make a brief key point summary.  

  • We SIT in chairs for often more than half of our waking hours (for many people it is way more than half).
  • We walk very little and generally only on flat smooth surfaces whilst wearing shoes.
  • We have very little movement diversity, based on our modern lifestyle (no need to hunt, scout, forage, construct, climb. Heck, we hardly even play or dance).
  • We almost never sit on the floor (floor sitting positions are fundamental to helping maintain the function of our design).
  • The ‘artificial bubble’ environment we have created for ourselves in this modern age has removed many of the challenges we are designed to face. Challenges which bring out the best in us, ones that trigger adaptive responses creating health, competence and longevity.

It is no wonder that most peoples’ health and quality of life is so poor, surprisingly it isn’t worse! 

Considering just some of the conditions we typically find ourselves in, such as excessive chemical exposure, sedentary lifestyles, lack of personally meaningful pursuits, poor posture, technological radiation, etc., we need to ‘catch a wake up’ and give more awareness and energy to the fundamental nature and aspects of our being. 

We need to take greater responsibility for ourselves and our environment. There is no organism without the environment. There are no humans without nature to sustain them. We are inseparably part of nature and we’ve lost sight of this great, most significant of truths.

Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to regress to the stone age, but we need to see the cause and effect relationship in our lifestyles and wellbeing. We NEED to be more mindful of meaningful issues in the present that will dictate the future.

There are some simple steps we can take to counteract the negative effects of modern society. These include:

  • Don’t wear shoes when you don’t have to. This again is a topic unto itself, but trust me that shoes are really bad for your posture and your feet.
  • Spend more time sitting on the floor (the various positions of floor sitting are great for recalibrating the tension in your body, especially your hips!) They are also great for maintaining and developing functional core strength.
  • Take up a movement practice. Some fantastic common ones include martial arts, yoga, Pilates, dancing, rock climbing…just do something to actually use your body in ways that challenge you to think and grow.
    • Not moving, damages you physically, mentally and emotionally… the body cannot function correctly if you are a couch potato. (Failing to engage with the world physically is a sure-fire way to destroy your health and body function).
  • Counteract your postural torsion with periodic limbering up. Stretching, mobility and stability work throughout the day will transform your body in amazing ways.
  • Be mindful of how you feel. Be mindful and accepting of Pain. Don’t ignore it or block it out, unless you have already taken the necessary measures to correct the problem it is signalling to you.
  • Lead a balanced lifestyle.

I hope that this article has been an informative and enjoyable read. 

Knowledge has an evolving nature over time. I encourage you to always maintain a questioning mind, using your best judgement when learning and practising. 

Warm regards,
Stephen du Preez

 Article Word Count: 2877
Author: Stephen du Preez
Date: April 24th, 2020

Taking responsibility for your own health leads to freedom.

Photo by Gözde Otman from FreeImages

Does it really matter that we care for our bodies if our spirits will someday depart to be with Jesus? In caring for our bodies, does it really matter that we use natural products when man made health care systems are extending our life expectancy so greatly?

We have had friends who really denigrated the idea that they should be careful about what they eat, what kind of chemicals they use for cleaning and what they put in their bodies to combat illness. They said that we should focus on our spiritual health to best prepare for heaven. (These same friends did seek medical assistance to have cancer removed.)

I also once had a friend who said that the modern medical establishment was a blessing from God because of how it has increased our life expectancy. (The worldwide life expectancy has gone from just over 50 in 1950 to just under 75 now.) I believe factors other than the modern medical system have contributed to this improvement in life expectancy. If it were all about modern medicine, one should expect the wealthiest nation to have the greatest life expectancy, but the US is in 46th place. For the sake of my point, however, let’s assume that our increased life expectancy is because of our medical advancements….

We were created to glorify God, to spread and establish His kingdom in the Earth, and to love and bless those around us. On the third day, God provided the means of our healing. The leaves of the trees are for healing (Ezekiel 47:12). They also happen to work well for cleaning. If we care for creation, our bodies can be maintained at the highest levels of wellness (for our entire lives) through the use of things found in nature. If, like Caleb in the Bible, we can say at 80 that we are as strong as when we were 40, we can glorify God, spread His kingdom and love those around us at the highest levels for so much longer. It is not worth adding 10 years to your life if the last 20 years will be spent fighting deterioration of your body, living in a nursing home, and spending any money you may have saved over the years.

Finally, there is the part about being faithful over a little and being given more. Yes, we will leave these bodies eventually, but we have a responsibility to care for them while we have them because God desires us to be faithful with everything He gives us regardless of how important or lasting we view those gifts to be. Jesus told parables teaching us to carefully invest what God has given us. He also told parables teaching that God will not deal lightly with those who do not treat His servants properly. Jesus paid for you with His blood. You are His. Treating God’s servant (yourself) properly is a spiritual matter not to be neglected for the purpose of “preparing for Heaven.”

I have spent many years in ignorance treating my body harshly. I have spent a few years now learning to trust God’s provision, learning to recognize it, and learning to rest in it. I can tell you that it’s worth it. I can also tell you that it often does not take a long time doing things the better way before you begin to enjoy the benefits.

Taking responsibility for your own health leads to freedom.

Why Doesn’t God Keep His Promises?

Throughout the Bible, there are promises from God to His people. Growing up in the church, I was confronted with nothing but confusion on this topic. 1) I didn’t really know anyone who was experiencing all the blessings God promises in the Bible. 2) Perhaps because many believers have had this same experience, the theologians and teachers that I was exposed to had come up with lots of ways to explain away these promises. Some of the explanations were that the promises were meant for someone else. One popular way of dealing with the promises was to spiritualize them. “Oh, that promise is reserved for Heaven,” or “We enjoy that promise now but on a spiritual level.” 3) I knew of teachers who claimed that we can enjoy all the promises, but so many of them sounded as if they were only after the stuff rather than seeking to receive from God with gratitude. This kind of attitude provided much ammunition for those seeking to explain away the promises.

Photo by Arcelia Vanasse from FreeImages

I have never been particularly satisfied with the idea that the only promise from God that I can hold onto is the promise of going to Heaven when I die. I don’t think I ever had this thought consciously, but perhaps part of me wondered about the veracity of that promise when none of the others applied to me.

In college, God brought to my attention Psalm 27. At the end, David says that he is confident that he would see the goodness of God in the land of the living. At that time, I had specific ideas about what God’s goodness to me should look like. I clung to those words and prayed them back to Him for years. Over time, God did grant the desires I had in my heart at that time, and beyond that, He has continued to teach me about and show me His goodness.

You Must Believe!!

Over the last 10 years, God has exposed me to people who are clinging to God in anticipation of His goodness. He has been growing in me a hunger to experience His goodness and to be able to trust Him and rest in Him. One verse that has been particularly helpful in this fight has been Hebrews 11:6. If you want to please God, you MUST believe that He REWARDS those who seek Him. He wants to reward His people!!!

Confronted with this truth, I asked God for a long time why so very few people I know experience the blessings that the Bible seems to promise. He reminded me of the promise given in the most famous Bible verse (John 3:16) and believed and taught by evangelicals everywhere. Salvation is promised to all who BELIEVE in Jesus and that His death on the cross paid for all your sins.

That is the key. Most if not all (I have not done an exhaustive study) of God’s promises are for those who believe them. Most of the people I grew up around did not experience the promises of the Bible. As I mentioned already, most of them didn’t believe the promises but explained them away.

In Healing…

This principle is especially important to remember when it comes to healing. God wants all His people to experience healing: physical, mental, emotional and ESPECIALLY spiritual. BELIEVE it for yourself!!

To be clear. The healing is not always immediate. Often, God likes to take us through a process because he wants more for us than just our healing. My wife has struggled with some health issues for decades. A couple years ago, she was talking to God and asking when she would be healed. He told her that He could heal her now but that then she would not learn all that He wants to teach her. She chose to learn and grow, so she is being healed, but it is a long slow process. There are also rare times as with the apostle Paul when God chooses not to heal because He has something better in mind. God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for Paul. Paul got to experience something in his relationship with God that we know nothing about. First of all, very few of us are the apostle Paul. Very few of us are worthy of a “thorn in the flesh.” If you are one of those few, God is gentle and kind. He will communicate with you about it, and convince you that what you are dealing with is worth it.

There are things that can hinder healing which we will explore in future articles. However, the first step is to BELIEVE. TRUST God and REST in His goodness and love for you.

Joshua 21:45 Joshua 23:14

May God bless you with the salvation and peace to be found in His Son Jesus Christ.
Curtis Eastin, MDiv