Thursday, June 11, 2009

Volitional VS. Natural Support

TensegrityImage by Duo de Hale via Flickr

This section is the result of my own explorations and practices in Wujifa and Psychology, coupled with studies and reading, and this series of videos posted by Rick from

Everything we do in the world is a product of muscular action. Today before I did my practice, I watched a series of videos that Rick compiled about tensegrity and the fascial system. They basically explained that the body is, in its natural state, supported by the fascial system. As I was standing, I noticed many areas of gentle, connected stretch, a "soft stretch" that I've been looking at in my practice lately, and other areas in which there are muscular action feelings of tension which I experience as a kind of a rigidity, which do not feel integrated into the connected stretchy feeling through the rest of my body.

This got me thinking about the concept of Natural Support and Volitional Support. Naturally, our bodies support themselves through the interplay of structure, maintained by our bones, and the stretchy support of our fascial system. This interplay is called "Tensegrity". However, as I noticed the areas which felt tense and disconnected in my body, I noticed how I was attempting to support myself in those areas through muscular action, and was overriding the natural support that would be there with a volitional means of support.

Wilhelm Reich calls this unconscious, though still volitional, maintaining of tensions in the body "armoring", which is a way of using our mind to control our body in order to mediate our interactions with the outside world. In wujifa, we talk about freedom and control as poles on a spectrum. These armored areas in my body are areas in which I am currently insisting on maintaining control instead of allowing more natural support, which is the very thing I'm heading toward with Wujifa practice.

We only have so much energy, and muscular action uses it up. When we engage in volitional support, this is energy that is not available for use in our lives, and on top of that, the muscles which we are using will actively resist the smooth manifestation of our intention (if a metaphysical interpretation is throwing you off here, please consider this physical experiment: tighten your biceps muscle and then, holding the tension, attempt to stretch out your arm. Notice how much more effort it takes here on the part of the triceps muscle than when you extend your arm normally. This is the same process that is going on with every tight muscle in your and my body in relation to the rest of the muscles in our bodies.)

So this one cool thing about learning and practicing Wujifa, we get to free up our bodies toward a more natural support so that we fight ourselves less, and have more energy for living!

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  1. Tensegrity and the fascial system... YES what a nice concept...

    Tumescence is another, I don't mean that in the sexual way or normal way they define it... I suggest this word as a metaphor for the full feeling of expansion as one train with an open structure...

    Great posts here... I'm glad I check in often to read your insights... Thanks

  2. The Gate Keeper never hungers,
    Poised at the Edge of The Great River,
    The Watcher watches.
    Control, Blood in The Branches,
    Withers and dies,
    There is no remorse.

    The Principle of Compassion...
    The Giver is never hungry.