Kurt Johnson: Silence, the Body, and Movement (Episode 22)
May 16, 2018
Kurt Johnson talks to us about silence, the human body, movement, exercise, wellness and performance.
How is Silence related to the human body? To movement, exercise, and performance? To physical, as well as mental and spiritual, wellness?
Today we begin what we hope will be an ongoing conversation in the Encountering Silence world, exploring these and similar questions.
We open this exploration thanks to Kurt Johnson joining in the conversation today. Kurt Johnson is a personal trainer and massage therapist who works with individuals, small groups and corporations, to help people manage pain, lose weight, improve fitness, and simply live better through movement, training, and exercise. He co-owns the Core Fitness training studio in North Haven, CT, and has over twenty years of experience studying and practicing the art and science of physical movement — and helping others to achieve their goals and beyond for bodily wellness. On top of it all, Kurt is an avid runner and also engages in endurance competitions. He has entered and completed half-Iron Man and full Iron Man races.
What's going on is you're doing, doing, doing, doing, but we need to take a step back and "non-do," and focus more on the quietness of your body, paying attention to those little things that are going on in your body, and finding out why these things are happening. — Kurt Johnson
If "personal trainer" evokes in your mind a young drill sergeant, fresh out of the Marines, who barks orders at his clients in a gym blaring with loud music and glaring neon lights — well, Kurt Johnson is not that person! Rather, his focus is on integrating physical wellness with mental and spiritual nurture — and so needless to say, he has some interesting things to say about the importance of silence in regard to physical health, fitness, and wellness. Kurt sees his ultimate mission to help people to find complete freedom in their movement of mind, body, and spirit, so they can become who they truly are.
Oh, and by the way, Kurt is Kevin's brother. 😇
We begin our conversation by exploring why (and how) silence and physical wellness and performance go together, which includes looking at the paradox between performance-as-goal-attainment, and how silence invites us into a radical place without goals or achievements — a place Kurt calls "non-performance."
My goal for people is to increase their energy levels. If I can get them energy, then they're going to feel better and it's going to link them to what their ultimate goal is, their purpose—and that usually always circles right back around into deep silence. — Kurt Johnson
The conversation expands (pardon the pun) to include the importance of breathing as a foundational movement of the body. Kurt points out that we live in a culture that is so geared toward achievement and performance, that often many of us carry so much stress in our bodies that beneath our frenzied activity, often our bodies carry significant amounts of anxiety and pain. Thus, the path to wellness often lies not in more "performance," but paradoxically in learning to let go of our addiction to striving and achievement.
A baby, when they're breathing, it really is amazing to watch. What's going on is they have full belly breaths, whereas when we get older we tend to be more in the chest, and this is where our anxiety and our stresses go. — Kurt Johnson
Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:
Jim Loehr, The Power of Full Engagement
Jim Loehr, The Only Way to Win
Bose, QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
Cassidy Hall and Patrick Shen, Notes on Silence
Patrick Shen (dir.), In Pursuit of Silence
Jim Loehr and Jack Groppel, The Corporate Athlete Advantage
Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones
Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones of Happiness
Sarah Marquis, Wild by Nature
Anthony DeMello, Awareness
Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself
Erik Dalton, Dynamic Body
Phil Page et al., The Assessment and Treatment of Muscular Imbalances...