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Stillness and Balance

David Boehm, the brilliant Oxford physicist, defined stillness as “a special case of movement”. Boehm went on to explain that everything is always moving, at least on a quantum level. Stillness then would mean that something is moving in such a small amount that we can’t or don’t choose to measure it.

Why does this matter in terms of bodies? Any living body is constantly moving. I can lie still, but my breath continues, my circulation continues, and the estimated one septillion cellular processes continue unabated by my intention to not move.

On a muscular level, there is a lot more action that we might expect. If I am standing, my leg muscles are constantly adjusting. Watch anyone stand on one leg, and no matter how skilled they are, there is plenty of motion.

If I try to eliminate the motion, I actually become more unsteady. I will tighten muscles throughout my body and lose my ability to make discrete compensations. Instead, I will be committed to moving bigger portions of myself, thus toppling about.

When we breathe, we change the shape of our abdomen and thorax. This means that we move our center of gravity. The easiest way to maintain our position would be changing our shape throughout our bodies. If we resist, we place ourselves in a precarious state.

One of the keys to efficient balance is to allow small movements to constantly occur. When a new force affects me, I have the choice to respond at one joint, or to distribute the action over multiple joints. Stiffness at any joint forces larger movement at other joints. By making smaller corrections earlier, we can more easily balance ourselves.

Balancing means allowing ourselves to reshape to move our center of gravity to adjust to changing forces. This allowing is mostly done by reflexes. We interfere when we create excess tension and effort. By tracking down that effort and releasing those tensions we can learn to permit our reflexes to act unhampered. We become more graceful.

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October 29, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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