Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 22 : May/June 2008  > Columns  >  Fitness  >  Body Being



By Travis Johnson, Ph.D.

Body Being


Undoubtedly the most important fitness concept for Outdoor Japan readers is function; how your body responds to the demands of moving and interacting in a 3-D environment to a specific activity. Whether you are bombing mountain bike trails, kayaking a river or even swinging a golf club, you rely on your body to function appropriately and efficiently for your success.

A large part of developing ideal function is actually getting to know your own body and feeling how it works. One of the best tools to facilitate this process is the book Zen Body-Being by Peter Ralston. Subtitled “An enlightened approach to physical skill, grace and power,” this book provides direct guidance into exploring awareness of your body and translating that into effective use.

Peter is a world champion martial artist who developed his insights through years of striving to move his body without effort. A fan of his work for several years, I recently caught up with Peter at a training camp in New Zealand. In both the book and his live training, Peter does an excellent job of working with principles, rather than techniques, to affect mental states, awareness and ultimately physical performance.

He coined the term “body-being” so students could remember the physical component is inextricably linked to the being of body and consciousness. He laid out five princi-ples to truly develop Body-Being:

1) Relaxing
2) Feeling the Whole Body
3) Moving from the Center
4) Being Grounded
5) Being Calm

Though I am sure OJ readers have heard of similar concepts before (I certainly had), what is really wonderful about this book is these principles are not discussed in an abstract sense. Rather, they are explored with practical exercises anyone can quickly learn and play with—often leading to rapid results.
In fact, many readers will be impressed by the simplicity behind what can be done to radically improve their movement and performance. The little things often have the most profound effect and, as the author himself states, the “book could accurately be called a guided investigation into the overlooked obvious.”
Peter’s work transcends all sports and physical activities and, even if you think you are already on your game, you will be pleasantly surprised by the additional potential revealed to you.

To learn more about Peter Ralston, check out his Website:
www.chenghsin.com. He will make a rare visit to Tokyo next year for workshops (Feb. 11 and 22), so keep an eye on his Website and www.somatic-systems.com for info and updates. For more about function and fitness, visit: travisblog.somatic-systems.com.