Welcome to Fit Brain Dragon

Welcome to my Blog and to musings, wisdom (perhaps) and other stuff from my world of Mental Health and Dragon Boat Racing in Adelaide, South Australia.

Mental Health is but one aspect of overall health and shares this Blog (and my mind) with Dragon Boat Racing, an accessible fitness activity that I have chosen for myself. I am not alone in my conviction that you can not have health without having mental health. It is also true, though less often said, that you can't have mental health without having physical health.

This rather obvious relationship is surprisingly missed too often by too many. This Blog will feature my thoughts about mental health and about the value of Dragon Boat Racing in my life.

In my experience as a Mental Health Nurse and a Counsellor many people with chronic health problems such as Diabetes, Arthritis and Depression may find enormous advantage in linking themselves to medical and other supports as well as a team sport such as Dragon Boat Racing.

It has been demonstrated in Type 2 (late onset)Diabetes for example that a proper routine of diet and exercise is a more effective first line treatment than medications.

About Andy Kelly

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Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Skype: andykinoz

Sunday, October 31, 2010

dragon boat racing and meditation

I'm especially enjoying training at the moment. Lots of long hauls and lots of resistance work. I was sharing with another paddler about how much I enjoy this part of the seasons training. More so than the speed stuff I think. There is something about the purity for me of the repetition of paddling continuously. I hear myself say to the crew (and to myself).."...like a robot, like a machine, each stroke the same, each stroke the best you can do".
Sometimes the synchronicity is there. We are together, my body swings into and twists out of each stroke with a very meditative rythm. At these times it's like the rythm of breathing in yoga, the rythm of the heart. Automatic, mindful but 'thought-less'...just paddling, nothing else, just paddling. The brain only switching in every so on to allow scrutiny and correction of the stroke.......I love the simplicity  and peacefulness of that.
I remember as a youngster a similar feeling when running long distances during training. One stride after the other, after the other etc.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Going for what you want

Farewell Max from the crew ranks. I have loved your endeavour, effort, humour and willingness to contribute. You were great fun.
I totally understand your motivation to seek another club for different experiences. I do...and I feel also a bit deserted in my hour of need. My spouse chose to remind me of the thinking around 'groups' and group membership.
Some of us join to belong and to contribute in ways which are consistent with whom we believe we are. Clubs and teams don't exist without these. Some are takers. They do whats required but essentially join the team because of what they can get out of it. For others, being in a team is simply a matter of balance. They will happily belong and 'put in' so long as the cost is not too great and as long as what they get out of being a team member is meeting their needs. I can see that you were not in balance Max and so leave to find it elsewhere. I for one wish you well mate.
Farewell to Sue too whose struggle with her personal health challenges has become overwhelming. Your energy and enthusiasm will be sorely missed. Best of luck in our life.
And so continues the circle of team and club life. Some leave, some arrive.
Yesterday was warm and today is chilly. Are we not blessed in this fine country? Oh yes we are!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Good Ache

Ahhhhh...my body aches in that muscle-weary way it always does after dragon boat training. It was chilly tonight at the start and end of training but otherwise pretty perfect. Light breeze, not much movement in the water. The boat moved well. Another new paddler tonight. Looks a likely type. The other two newies are keen as mustard too. I said a quiet prayer that the coach would not frighten them off with too strenuous a session.  Race start ans 1 min, race start and two minutes over and over again. 50% building to race pace. No wonder I'm sore in that delightful reminder that I'm alive, I have capacity to exercise and access to dragon boating and a large enough body of decent water. Truly blessed are we!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dragon Boat Racing and Martial Arts

Dragon Boat Racing, Martial Art and Mental Health....................
Dragonboat racing in its purest form demands much of the discipline and focus of the martial arts. Developing the ability to stay focused, both using energy and conserving energy, focusing on this stroke or on that move. Like the development towards perfection of each move, thrust, punch, throw or parry, the paddler checks torso angle, paddle angle at entry, hand height, torso twist and power output, each aimed at conquering the opponent. The added dimension of dragon boat paddling is the extra layer of pursuing synchonicity with each and every other paddler.
Mental health is achieved by being able to move towards the meeting of life goals. The disciplines of martial arts and dragon boat paddling enhance learning about breathing, developing personal power, working in relationship to others, being focused on this next move or stroke and not dwelling in lost opportunity or times when the pursuit of a goal did not produce the intended outcome.
Martial arts and dragon boat racing are good for health and mental health.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's tough sometimes

Its tough sometimes to keep the self separated from others. I find that I can often keep my own fears and feelings in perspective when I can insulate myself from others but get caught in a contagion of others feelings when I am 'forced' or am choosing to interact with others.
Resisting gossiping until caught in gossip. Resisting being critical of others until engulfed in a group who are criticising someone. Resisting anxiety and pessimism until surrounded by people who are filled with fear and pessimistic.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Season 2010-2011

Ah...first meeting of the season. A new group filled with ideas, promise and willingness for the success of the new season.
Dinner and meeting at Gio's Portobellos at New Port. Excellent.
A fair exchange of shared views and of conflicting views. Committee work always has its challenges.
Priorities are clearly recruitment. We have lost so many paddlers for a number of reasons so we must replace them to remain viable.
Major focus also on fundraising and sponsorship. Hey universe...any ideas?
God Bless dragon boat racing. Our training season starts this weekend..beewdy!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mental health and dragonboat racing

The strange mix of these two interests in me and reflected in this site is a puzzle.
On one hand I see immediately how they may relate. Not necessarily dragon boat racing perhaps. But then why not? Dragonboat paddling or racing is simply a sport which increases fitness and engagement with the world. I guess jogging does that too. I'm not suggesting that dragon boat racing is the ONLY sport to enhance health (and therefore mental health) but because I love it, I think that its a great sport because;
  • it increases health and wellness through increasing fitness
  • it increases the feeling of fitness and wellness and capability in the world
  • it increases flexibility and muscle strength
  • it encourages focus on the NOW, on each element of each stroke right now as you are doing it
  • it puts paddlers and crew (except the Drummer facing forwards, looking at your goal
  • it teaches synchronicity, how to work in a cooperative way with others towards reaching a common goal
  • it encourages commitment to shared goals and encourages team focus
  • it exposes paddlers to fresh air, sunshine and the environment
  • it exposes paddlers to sunshine which contributes to Vit D synthesis
  • it helps the body clock and emotional clock reset itself and so helps with sleep and in fighteng depression
  • it requires mainly gross motor skills and so can be performed well by a person with tremor
  • it can be performed at a high level by a person with leg or foot injury
  • it facilitates interaction with other people hence increasing opportunities for personal feedback and improvement.
Maybe some other sports deliver the same possibilities. I'm sure that is likely. But I love dragonboat racing. Cold, warm, wet, dry .......I feel good when and after  I've been paddling.
I don't think mental health can actually be separated from anything, so integral is it to everything we do.