The Smart Choice / Move Through the Center
Your “center” physically corresponds to the center of gravity for your body. It’s located about 3 fingers below the belly button, and at the front of the spine. The Earth’s gravity “sees” all your weight as if it were located at the center of gravity. Rock balancers employ the center of gravity in their art form. Ice skaters twirl incredibly fast by bringing arm and legs inward (closer to the center).
Balancing movement around the center is the most efficient strategy. Less energy is wasted, muscular tension is minimized, and reaction times are faster. This is true, regardless of body structure. Want proof? Pick up a 15-pound weight with one hand. Compare holding the weight close to your body with holding it far from your body. Close to the body is much easier.
For centuries, the uniqueness of the center has been appreciated. For example, all martial artists try to fight from the center. Gymnasts flip and rotate around the center. The 90-year-old man who moves like a 20-year-old athlete is in touch with his center.
Movement from the center generates integrity. That is, we move like one unit. Everything coordinates. Legs, arms and head move with a single purpose. Walking uses a cross step: left arm forward and right leg forward, and vice versa. Hands and feet are aware of each other’s location, while everything in between also feels connected.
Don’t think of the center has a hard marble-sized ball. It’s an organizational point that feels every movement in the body and let’s movement flow through. Movement organizes itself around the center. Nothing is left behind. Muscle groups don’t fight each other.
Peripheral movement and central movement co-exist. With peripheral movement, we project movement intelligence to the fingertips and toes. But the center remains at the same place. It feels as if we were expanding outward from the center all the time.
The center is unique in another way. It’s the only place in the body where the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems intersect. When the center is properly integrated, there is an emotional sense of well-being plus a physical sense of strength. What a great place!
You can find your center with breath. Exhale strongly from the lower abdomen. Force all the air out; then relax. The last bit of exhaled air came from the center. Abdominal exhaling borrows from a Samurai’s yell on the battlefield to intensify his attack.
Once found, it is desirable to keep the center in awareness all the time.
Do yourself a favor. Learn to use the center. It’s well worth the effort.