It is in the 70’s here this morning. It’s the best time of year in Los Angeles because the sun makes a southerly arc that creates contrast and shadow and a sense of dimension to the world. In summer, when the sun’s arc is overhead, places and things—buildings, trees, cars, even people--appear flatter. But today, walking my familiar streets, I had a strong hit of the substance and texture of tree trunks, of the space between the lemons on a tree, and of my own physical presence passing through the leafy corridor of my favorite street. It was easy to stay present in my body, in my movement, easy to be friendly to strangers. I have just recently seen Wim Wenders’ film about Pina Bausch, in which 3D technology had been brilliantly employed to illuminate the relationship of the human body to space. So the combination of winter light and that film got me thinking about dimensionality in human movement. If I picture the choreography of the film as a whole, I see swirling, flinging, arcing, helical motion. When Pina’s dancers moved straight sideways or straight ahead, it was for dramatic emphasis or comic relief.
What I know—and teach—is that normal motion follows arcs. It’s preordained by the rounded shapes of our joint surfaces. Even walking: we move forward by a process of subtle rotation and counter-rotation through our feet, hips, pelvis and spine (to the degree that those joints are free of restriction). You can learn more about this in Lesson 7 of my DVD, Heal Your Posture: A 7-week Workshop. So when movement looks (or feels) stiff, it means that joints that should be moving aren’t.
The relationships between arcing motion and 3D space? Being present in our bodies involves awareness of our selves in space, in 3D. When that awareness is diminished (by over focusing on tasks, by hurrying, etc.) then we become flat, like LA in the summertime. And that flatness, by restricting normal motion of our joints, erases our capacity to experience grace.