Are We Even?

I can confidently say that we are not even.   Nowhere close to it.   And thank goodness because if we were all even and balanced we would be dead.

It has been some time since I wrote about how our visceral and musculoskeletal systems are organized mechanically but the upshot of those posts was that the mechanical neutral of one is not in the same place as the mechanical neutral of the other. One of them is never at complete rest. One dominates and then the other but it’s a constant push-me pull-you arrangement. (Not the only ones we have in us but the largest in sheer size and strength)  The trick to having a comfortable life with this arrangement is in how well we slide back and forth between these intrinsic sets of forces in our organism. How are they bound together to each other and how can we exert the most efficient control over the generation and transfers of force to do what we want to do? Big questions for sure but I think important ones to consider if one wants to make life easier.

So let’s start with the easy stuff by looking at one concept underlying all this – Balance or more accurately – Imbalance.

 Photographer Taro Taylor

Photographer Taro Taylor

Consider a tightrope walker. Up on a thin wire that sways and twists our daredevil friend takes a step out and shifts and wiggles a little until she has balance – the forces to swing left are equal to the forces to swing right, the push of her weight down is equal to the push of the taut wire up on her feet and she rests quiet and still on the wire. But that will not get her any further. She is balanced but to move ahead she has to become imbalanced. She has to use her muscles to create pulls on her bones that are not countered equally by gravity pulling her foot down or by the resistance of the air in front of her leg so she can step forward. In doing so she shifts out of balance and puts new strains on the wire that she counters and matches to find a momentary balance from which to launch a new round of imbalances again and again until she reaches the firm platform on the other end of the wire that will be much more forgiving of her small imbalances. Like all of us, she has to consciously create and manipulate imbalance to move through space. The thin, movable wire gives her a narrow and unforgiving set of choices to work with to find the correct imbalance. Her control and mechanical ability to use her body to carry out her thinking for such a long time makes her feat so admirable.

Imbalance is how we move through space. Being even is not a good thing if you want to participate in the world. The key is being able to control our imbalances, selecting just enough force in the correct direction. This is linked to how well the mechanical structure in our body is able to carry out those selections accurately and effectively. The generation, control and implementation of our ideas that propel us through life depend on our ability to deal with imbalance.

Problems with our ability to move as we wish often stem from our inability to control the imbalances we need to create or deficits in our structure to generate the imbalances we need in the way we need them.  The Alexander Technique, which I have described over the last six posts, is one way of addressing how to deal with the control aspects of imbalance in a very effective manner. There are also many very effective ways of enhancing our ability to manipulate imbalance by improving the mechanical structure of the body. Over the next few weeks I will look at several techniques for improving the mechanical ability of the body to move. Some of them may be familiar to you by name but I want to look at how they can be used when seen through a lens of enhancing our ability to manipulate imbalance. I have found in my practice that sometimes I get very different results than would be expected once I change my reason for using a technique from restoring static mechanical balance to improving the ability to generate imbalance.