Start with Universe – Structure (Part 2)

Start with Universe – Structure (Part 2)

Jordan Terry

Part 1 of this series.

 

“Homeostasis represents a self-organized system derived from the many complex interacting dynamic equilibria necessary to maintain life. Stress initially drives this system toward chaos, but as with all self-organized systems it resists perturbation by generating either short-term compensations (if the initial stressor is resolved) or long-term compensations (if the stress is ongoing). These compensations result in either a return to normal homeostasis if the stressor is resolved, or the establishment of the compensated state of balanced imbalance if the stressor is ongoing. The compensated state of balanced imbalance, although within the homeostatic limits, is further from optimal homeostasis, and therefore it now requires more energy to maintain this compensated state. Furthermore, in order for this compensation to be maintained it must borrow energy from other systems within the body, creating states of imbalance in other systems.” -Charles T. Krebs Simply put, we function in dysfunction, and we do it almost all the time.

Utilization of these forces allows us to balance to the best of our abilities with the information that is provided to the brain and CNS at that point in time. As bipedal beings, balance is a crucial phenomenon since we have reduced our foundation to two points of regular contact with the Earth versus four…or more. The human body seems to be capable of handling slight discrepancies to being “off balance,” but continual imbalance is typically registered by pain or discomfort in the brain. What a great way to get someone’s attention?

Explaining pain is not for this manual, but simply understanding something my father taught me at a very young age that, “pain is a communication to the brain.” Recent research shows it is an interpretation that occurs in the brain, but the idea is, “the brain” decides, decodes. It is not desirable per se to most humans, but it is a great way to get someone’s attention for sure.

Opposing Muscle Theory: Blue balanced, Orange imbalanced (both feel tight)

 

So, in any dysfunction (for simplicity’s sake, we shall define this as lack of balance, a shift in homeostasis, a compensated state of balanced imbalance), there is a pair of opposing forces dualistically paired to help create balance. Touch For Health deems this the “Opposing Muscle Theory.” A majority of the time, the body will prefer to keep the eyes and ears level to the horizon for vision and balance, and the body will compensate under the cranium. Muscles on both sides of a joint will therefore both feel tight. This could be analogous to a tug of war battle where the body is doing its best to keep the balance, and it could be occurring in a multitude of overlapping fashions through many systems of one human body.

What has been found, and initially introduced to me through Neurokinetic Therapy, is that if a therapist releases the “wrong” side of a pair things could get worse. “Just because a muscle is tight does not mean it needs to be released,” was a common quote I heard in those days. If we can identify the muscle, joint, nerve ending or whatever structure within the body that needs to be addressed, and show that information to the brain, everything gets better. Balance is restored. As I have heard Gary Ward say, “the body is hardwired for connection,” and I would add that it is hardwired for disconnection, too. We need both: to be on and off, and to have access to both of these polarities.

[Defining “release” as anything done that brings the body back towards a more centered homeostasis. Nothing is actually let go of or removed, but a better balance found.]

This Tug-Of-War is yet another manifestation of Polarity. It is a push and pull, and a pairing of seemingly opposing forces seeking balance. It is a two dimensional component anchored in a three dimensional world by the Neuter, neutral pole and third leg. This creates the triangle, or as Applied Kinesiology states, “The Traumatic Triad” of dysfunction.

Square and triangle in tension

 

Architecturally, the triangle is the perfect structure for the human body and the tensegrity model of structure. It is also what Dr. Stone calls the Triune nature of polarity. It is the only flex cornered polygon that holds it shape in tension and compression. If one were to tie three straws together with a string through them to create a triangle, the straws would be capable of withstanding appropriate structural compression and keep their form when the string was pulled taught. This phenomenon would not hold true with a square or any other polygon.

Platonic Solids

 

Architecturally, the triangle is the perfect structure for the human body and the tensegrity model of structure. It is also what Dr. Stone calls the Triune nature of polarity. It is the only flex cornered polygon that holds it shape in tension and compression. If one were to tie three straws together with a string through them to create a triangle, the straws would be capable of withstanding appropriate structural compression and keep their form when the string was pulled taught. This phenomenon would not hold true with a square or any other polygon.

Tensegrity model of human torso

 

“Tensegrity geometry is a language I’ve used to interpret and represent anatomic form as a dynamic interplay of forces in four dimensions (bodies moving through time).” I love this statement in so many ways. For one, we must first recognize that we are using this as a language to communicate about the body, as symbols that we can agree upon to understand the meaning of the information being transmitted. Secondly, we must also recognize the recognition of the dynamic interplay of forces. We are always at play, dynamically inside and out throughout time. So each time we see a client, one must honor it will be a different occasion.

He then continues to say, “Tensegrities are all about tension and compression. Every structure, whether an artifact created by intelligence or a living form evolved by natural selection, is a balance between these two and only these two forces.” I would like to simplify that statement by extrapolating it to, “Every structure is a balance.” This model works so well for the interplay of dynamic forces that are in a continual state of flux throughout our world: compression and tension (Boom, Polarity). The human body specifically does its best to create balance by combining these two polar forces in a beautiful, mostly unconscious, symphony of compression and tension…sometimes not so beautiful, but it does its best.

 

Personally as an architect, I enjoy the previously mentioned analogy of buildings. A majority of buildings would not hold their integrity if placed in any other position than their original design, and we have all seen what happens when nature disrupts and destroys buildings. They are statically balanced, and therefore, they are non-dynamical. The human body is dynamic, as is our balance, and our propulsion through time and space.

 

Kenneth Snelson tensegrity sculpture

 

Flemons states that there are a minimum of three requirements to meet Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Snelson’s definintions of Tensegrity (the two attributed fathers of Tensegrity, an architect/engineer and a sculptor respectively).

 

 

The first requirement is “a continuous connective tensioned network supports discontinuous compression struts.” The continuous connective tensioned network would be our muscles, sinews and fascia-like tension wires. These in turn support the “discontinuous compression struts,” our bones. Our two hundred some bones are not continuous, but in a state of floating within the matrix connected by ligaments, tendons, bursae, capsules and all forms of connective tissue.

The second requirement is “all tensegrities are prestressed under tension; they are self–supporting and independent of gravity.” Once we are capable bipedal beings and walking upright, there is a tension that is maintained. We are prestressed, and hardwired to connect. Our human form and structure supports itself and there is nothing that can be added nor subtracted (perfect). We are self-supported in all angles of gravity, or removal of compressive earth forces whilst we hang from a tree branch. We are also prestressed by the rotational aspects of our planet and sun, as seen with altered astronauts that return from space. To me, this is a fascinating phenomenon of how connected we are to this earth as our prestressed nature is directly connected to our planet. What would our tensegrity system look like on Mars?

Tensegrity model for the neck

 

The third requirement Flemons states, “Tensegrities are self–contained non–redundant whole systems. All components are dynamically linked such that forces are translated instantly everywhere; a change in one part is reflected throughout.” It is all connected. A millimeter shift in the foot can equal a gigantic release in the pelvis, shoulder, or neck. As Flemons states, “the boat does not need the mast to maintain its integrity,” but our human integrity greatly changes when we fix, fuse or remove anything from the system. Every piece is critical and included.

 

So, in a simplified summary, it is all connected through tension and compression. As in the natural world, it is all connected through seemingly opposed fundamental dualistic principles, attraction and repulsion. To me, that’s just beautiful. Simply beautiful.

For those unable to wait for the next installment, the article in its entirety can be found here.

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