Module 6. Sliding the Spine (Resting and Pressing)

 

Sliding the Spine (58 minutes)

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Guided Movement Meditation: Pressing and Resting (21 minutes)

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The Spine Stacks and Presses Up

If you’ve ever been told to “sit up straight,” striven for it, and then found yourself slumping a few minutes later, you can either resign yourself to the futility of it all, or you can realize that this is not really how upright works. The length of our spine is meant to stack beautifully on top of itself, so that length emerges effortlessly from balance. It presses itself up from the bottom and then the structure of the shoulders and ribs can hang easily down from this.

Tensegrity model of the spine

A common bit of advice is to imagine a string holding you up from the top of the head. It’s a compelling image. The only problem is that it encourages a poor representation of how the spine actually works. There is no string outside of ourselves. We are not puppets!

The spine is instead more like a tensegrity structure, lifting and pressing itself up through a network of coordinated compressive and tensile relationships. You can hold it in place by straining (for a while, or even for a lifetime) but its more effective to let go of unnecessary strain and let it do its thing. The spine erects itself!

In these lessons, you will learn to let go of parasitic muscular effort, to allow the spine to slide up and down in gravity. In particular you will notice that your shoulders become free to hang and rest, instead of being used to pull or hold yourself up. Over time you’ll learn to distinguish between the sensations of holding and effort and those of easy balance and length.