Rotational Motion for Meditation

The image is of a cyr wheel! Full quote: "Ordinary life offers few opportunities to experience rotational motion. (Never mind for the nonce that we live on a rotating object.) In contrast, translational motion is with us all the time, e.g. when riding a car. But in the days of Galileo & Co., finely controlled translational motion was rare in people’s experience; this may explain why dynamics and in particular the law of inertia took long to discover." —Tadashi Tokieda, mathematician

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The image is of someone using a cyr wheel. Some people make it look easy, but Tokieda is right, most of us don’t have that many opportunities to understand our rotational world!

Ordinary life offers few opportunities to experience rotational motion. (Never mind for the nonce that we live on a rotating object.) In contrast, translational motion is with us all the time, e.g. when riding a car. But in the days of Galileo & Co., finely controlled translational motion was rare in people’s experience; this may explain why dynamics and in particular the law of inertia took long to discover.

—Tadashi Tokieda, mathematician

Tokieda’s gift is in using toys to teach applied math. At Poised Meditation we explore our natural capacity for rotation as a way to clarify poised sitting. Notice, for example, that when you cross your legs, they can never be doing the exact same thing. Strange, right? The difference between right and left is already part of rotation. Think about your “handedness.” How do you know which is which? Notice that as you reach out with a hand there is a natural tendency to turn. To not do so feels robotic! Walking (or swinging through the trees…) is built on the principle of rotational motion. And so even as we sit still and centered, it is in play. To sit well doesn’t entail removing our tendency towards rotation, but being available for it. Stillness is potential!

The sufi whirling dervishes very explicitly tap into the meditative power of rotational motion to elicit stillness and focus.

Another great place in meditation to feel the spirals and rotation that are our natural condition is in standing up—fluidly and easily—after sitting. Which leg do you stand on first? Will you try to come right up the center, or can you allow your head to spiral up to one side? (That’s perhaps a lesson for another day!)

For a simple exploration of the power of exploring slight variations to either side, download and try the guided movement meditation below and feel how your knee and lower back rotate together, to one side and the other…

Release Your Knees & Lower Back

You don't have to fake bliss! What if your knees could rest easily and your lower-back balance without strain?

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