The Power of Lightness

Every so often, a very sick person takes charge of his/her healing, recovers, and shares insights. Some took charge after being told that nothing else could be done. Basically, they were left to die. These people are rare explorers. They have been on a journey that few will experience (thankfully). They are the story-tellers and messengers who can tell us about unknown possibilities.

Lightness is a recurrent healing theme. Lightness means that we don’t feel our own body weight.

The gist is that while sick, the body felt heavy. Every move was strenuous. Nothing was easy. Arms and legs felt like lead weights. The path to recovery paralleled a commitment to feeling lighter.

It’s not scientifically known why lightness helped. Too few stories are available, and the story-tellers were not doctors or anatomists. Peer reviewed papers weren’t written. What we can do is borrow from practices that promote lightness in movement. Structural Integration, Self-healing, yoga, tai chi, and martial arts come to mind.

The good news is that developing lightness isn’t only for very sick people. It’s for everyone. Even extreme athletes can improve their game. Businessmen can work long days without tiring.

First, lightness is a symptom of overall balance. Whole body balance is the goal of Structural Integration (from the Rolf Institute). When the body is symmetrically aligned around an organizational plumb line, the result is a sense of weightlessness. It takes no effort to stand up. We all know that gravity pulls downward, but the plumb line seems to lift us.

Picture that organizational plumb line:

· Viewed from the side, the line begins at the top of the head, passes through the ear, bisects the shoulder, passes through the hip joint, travels through the knee, and passes through the ankle.

· Viewed from the front, the line divides the body into equal right and left sides.

Most medical or physical therapy textbooks contain diagrams of the plumb line.

Second, lightness at any joint indicates balanced muscles around that joint. That balance encourages relaxation. Each muscle operates in its proper span. Agonists and antagonists are toned but not tense. Muscles are not overly shortened or overly stretched. Movement around that joint has a floating feeling. Arms and legs feel weightless.

Martial artists strive for a balanced and relaxed body. Reflexes are faster when muscles are relaxed. If muscles must relax before moving, it wastes time. It’s an extra step. Although tremendous striking power is achieved, the body remains light and relaxed at all other times.

Lightness is a reward worth exploring.


Jack Menear