March 27, 2019

I sat on the edge of the tub this morning, soaking my feet in Epsom Salts—yes, they are indeed a wonderful relaxant and detoxifier—enjoying the sensations of my feet beginning to tingle as their coldness adapted to and warmed in the hot water. It totally fascinated me in a way I’d not experienced before.

Then in my peripheral vision, something caught my eye. I noticed that there was a drop of water on the bottom of the hot water faucet handle from my wet hand having turned off the water. Another drop was on the bottom of the extension from the handle itself to the tile wall. I watched expectantly–which one would drop first? As it turns out, neither one dropped! They both kept being there, remaining just as they were, being drops on the bottom side of something, but not falling like they’re supposed to! Even after several minutes, they just stayed there. How?!

Something I learned in high school popped into my brain: surface tension. Surface tension is a wonderful quality of water. When you fill a glass with water to the brim, actually a tad beyond the brim, the water sits ever so slightly above the rim, yet doesn’t spill over—the force/weight of the water is less than the force of the surface tension. It’s why floating is possible—the object floating is lighter than the surface tension of the water. So those drops were the perfect size to simply sit there, the surface tension being stronger than their weight—i.e. gravity’s pull.

Those drops in their perfect balance reminded me of the body’s tensegrity—a word coined by Buckminster Fuller, 20thC. architect and theorist, who combined tension and integrity  to create the geodesic dome, a structure built by continuous and contiguous triangles, no columns or beams. Our body’s structure is likewise organized and maintained through principles of tensegrity, balanced tensions and compressions establishing integrity. Unlike the static balance of the geodesic dome, however, each of us is in dynamic balance of connective tissue, muscle, and bone. When we move one part, others shift in whatever ways necessary to maintain our dynamic balance. Muscles coordinate tensions with each other as needed for movement and for stillness. Fully organic, not mechanical. Tensegrity explains how our bodies stay upright, why we don’t collapse under our own weight, and why our feet don’t usually feel the full 110-200 pounds above them (despite what the scale reads). Such a brilliant self-regulating system!

“But wait!” you say. “What of those times I can barely lift my leg up the stairs and have to take the stairs one at a time?” “What about my stiff back?” Those times are indicators that something is impeding the innate dynamic balance. Some muscle or fascia has clenched and won’t give up its position to yield with the others. Something is tired, torn, or weak, so it can’t participate. Or the bone is a tiny bit misplaced. Or…any number of reasons can disrupt our innate balance. Over time, these can become chronic tensions, pains, or postures.

Engaging the body’s self-organizing intelligence, its tensegrity, we can often remedy the imbalance without knowing exactly what is causing it. What’s still working well? What isn’t? What’s moving freely? What isn’t? How can we invite support and cooperation when it’s disappeared?

So many thoughts sitting there on the side of the tub soaking my feet. And that was only the first 5 minutes! Okay, return the attention to sensations and my own tensegrity/dynamic balance to sit as comfortably as possible.

Meanwhile, if you’ve noticed you’re not as easy on your feet as you’d like to be, if parts of you feel out of kilter, enjoy an Epsom salts foot soak, and then please contact me. Together we can discover ways to restore your healthy dynamic balance.