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Rediscovering Movement That Brings You Joy: Rafe Kelley on PYP 451

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Rafe Kelley teaches people how to “move like a human.”

Wait, what? Don't humans naturally move like humans?

Well, no. Just as you can use a knife as a flat head screwdriver, you can stick a human body at a desk, have it stare at a screen, push buttons on a keyboard, and interact with algorithms – but the knife will break, and the human will go a bit (or a lot) crazy.

In short, there's a profound mismatch between what we've evolved to do and be, and what we're actually rewarded for doing and being in our civilization.

And it's making us miserable, and sick, and weak. It allows us to destroy our planet. It creates the ground for convincing “alternative facts” and fake news and dangerous conspiracy theories.

The mismatch makes us unable to deal with real-world problems like climate destabilization, pandemics, and pollution.

Kelley isn't talking about exercise, or gym workouts. Instead, he wants to get back to natural human movement in relation to nature, embedded in the natural world, seeking joy and meaning rather than comfort and ease.

The first half of our conversation took an unexpected turn for me. We explored learning theory at a very deep level, looking at the work of academics like John Vervaeke, philosophers like Nietzsche, and motor learning practitioners like Nikolai Bernstein, as well as the 4E Cognition movement.

Kelley echoes the work of Barbara Tversky (listen to her episode here) by explaining that all cognition is based on metaphors of movement and location. In other words, if we aren't moving, and challenging ourselves through movement, we're really not learning in some quite profound ways.

Then we looked at health – individual, communal, and planetary – and the role that returning to forms of movement based on play and joy can have on our ability to thrive in the world.

What's wrong with our current culture of physical exercise: gyms, treadmills, weight machines, and so on? Kelley points out that they're based on highly toxic, highly ineffective motivators: shame at our out-of-shape bodies, and abstract ideas of health.

Even if those forms of movement were good for us – which they aren't – the emphasis on looking sexy and fit and/or avoiding disease is doing a terrible job of getting us to move at all. The key, according to Kelley, is to reconnect with joyful movement, the kind that all babies engage in automatically, and that our society punishes us for (“Sit still and pay attention, Howie!”).

All of us can take steps to reclaim our natural heritage of play – testing our edges and our limits, seeking frustration and discomfort in the service of growth and joy and deep belonging to our ecosystem and our planet.

Start simply and modestly, Kelley recommends, with a walk in nature. Listen to bird song. Feel your body feeling connected, and good. And take it from there.


Rafe Kelley on Instagram

Start learning with Rafe

John Vervaeke's YouTube series, “Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Free to Learn, by Peter Gray

The Secret of Our Success, by Joseph Heinrich

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, my team and I are studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, with the goal of introducing it into our health coaching training.

If you're interested in experiencing the magic of memory reconsolidation coaching with me or a member of my team trained in the process, click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab. Someone will get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


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