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Developmental Movement Project: The Organization of Awareness

The Organization of Awareness

Because the body is an architectural system in which muscles relate to body parts organized in the field of gravity, one of the most useful things we can do to bring about the natural working of the muscular system is to place the body in positions that will provide optimal advantage for muscles to let go and for the system to begin to work properly as a whole.

The simplest and most basic way to do this is to lie down in the semi-supine position, which provides almost complete body support while giving the neck, back, shoulders, and leg muscles a chance to lengthen and release. Keep in mind, however, that lying down this way must not be used as a relaxation exercise but as a way of bringing about tone and release in muscles that are habitually contracted. This requires energy and not collapse and, although it results in a lowered state of nervous energy, it must also be associated with a heightened state of alertness, muscle tone, and vitality. A corollary of this principle is that you must not lie on a cushy mattress or exercise mat, which encourages collapse, but on a fairly hard surface such as a carpeted floor which supports the body properly.

Five key areas of the body bear weight in the semi-supine position: the occiput, or back of the skull, the scapula and upper back, and the back of the pelvis. If we are lying on a fairly hard surface, the contact of these weight-bearing areas with the ground will help to stimulate the postural reflexes. The fixation of these points by gravity also enables us to let go of the muscles of the back, to untwist in the trunk, ribs, and neck, and to let go in the leg muscles.

But this will not happen immediately; we must wait patiently and give the muscles a chance to release. We've seen that, since muscles are meant to work elastically and we tend to shorten them, we have to think in such a way that the muscles let go and the parts go away from each other. But what do we mean by releasing muscles?

Virtually all methods for training, releasing, or stretching muscles attempt, in one way or another, to manipulate or regulate muscle tension, reflecting a belief that muscles are tight and need releasing or stretching, or relaxed and weak and need strengthening. But as we've seen all along, this belief, while based on some truth, is fundamentally wrong in one respect: we can't know how much we should tighten or relax muscles because their length is determined by the natural design of the musculoskeletal system.

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