What a Fetching Suit.



It can be quite a revelation to see the human body stripped of skin. Extra points for anybody who can name all of those numbered muscles.

Biology was always the 'girls' science' at school. Girls did it, it was the 'softer' science, while real men did physics and chemistry, and once upon a time even geology at the senior levels. (Well I'm told that happened, I'm yet to meet anybody who actually did geology at that level, which is a pity and probably why creationism makes inroads.) I did quite a bit of biology, but it wasn't until recently that I happened to be looking at some anatomical texts - not a euphemism for girlie mags - and was immediately struck by the muscle system. See the picture above.

When you learn about how muscles work at school, it's very often through the eyes of the physicist, with levers and fulcrums and mechanical advantage. So the muscles are usually looked at in pairs, with one stretching and one compressing, as if muscles literally are a set of simple machines (together with the bones). But when you look at a diagram of a skinned human, like the one above, you immediately think something is wrong with all that lever talk (well I did).

We are completely wrapped in muscle. So much so that anatomists say that it's sometimes impossible to figure out where one ends and another begins. There's not an empty space there anywhere, it's like rampant ivy on an old building.

I reckon meditating on that fact alone can change the way you move about in the world. You see many of us do things like walking by 'moving our legs' in a deliberative way, or sitting by 'holding' ourselves upright, etc. etc. (Been through that here before.) But when you realise that underneath that skin of yours is a complete suit of connected muscles, it's immediately obvious that you're not a whole set of different lever-pairs of muscles spread around your body. You're one continuous suit (or 'web', as David Gorman says) of muscles and connective tissues.

To use one of David's great analogies, it's as if your skeleton has been wrapped in a continuous piece of elastic trampoline material. There are no separate bits and pieces, it's one continuous, connected sheet of elastic tissue (muscle etc.). Whatever you move anywhere on your body will flow through to all of the rest of the sheet, over every inch of your body, unless you do something that stops that. (Which we usually do, as I've talked about here before - we try to move bits at a time, like walking 'with our legs').

Just sitting where you are right now, throw out that bits-and-pieces model and see if you can literally feel your body as a a skeleton wrapped in this single sheet of highly elastic and incredibly strong material. Your skeleton is stuck in the middle of an elastic web, and pushes into it as a set of spacers, and the web then supports you from every side and stops you from falling backwards or forwards. You might find this fundamentally changes the way you experience your body in space and everyday activity. Your activity, even just sitting, becomes entirely effortless - not just easier, but completely effortless. Zilch effort. Why would you need to do effort, where effort is always trying to control or move one part of you with another part of you, if you have this continuous elastic web without parts? Why would you need to do anything to hold yourself up, for example, if that elastic web is always just there, suspending you in space?

You might wonder how you then move, even while sitting, if this is true. Simple, you intend to move and you'll notice that the elastic web on the side of you that is facing where you want to go releases some of its elastic tension, all in one go, and you're literally sprung out in that direction by the now more elastic sheet on the other side of you (you can feel this directly, if you try it a few times.) You're released in the direction you want to go, like letting go of a taut rubber band. The same applies for smaller-scale movements, like raising your arm - sit it on the desk in front of you and raise it, but not by trying to 'lift' it but by instead changing the model so that the muscles in your arm and torso release their elastic energy to allow your arm to raise. As if sitting there on that table it's a tightly-wound spring just waiting to bounce up (which it is, again this isn't make-believe analogies). This is how levitation works in hypnosis by the way, by stopping you trying to lift that arm and letting it raise under its own elastic energy. Nothing mind-over-matter about it at all.

David Gorman has been documenting and teaching this process for a number of years now, and will soon release a thorough description in book form (which I would have just referred you to, except he seems to be working to an endlessly elastic deadline!). But even before David, Donald Ingber (also metioned here before - see link below) was realising that it's not just your muscles and skeleton that work like this, it's every piece of you, right down to the cells and the DNA and genes inside these cells. You're an elastic web at every scale.

And this isn't some far-fetched analogy or act of imagination. It's how you're actually built. You're a tensegrity structure, which I wrote about here, and here, and here, and here.

There's one element missing here, which I'll talk about next time. Namely where gravity fits in, and why what you're often taught about gravity is completely wrong.


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