The Natural Act of Movement
"All action begins in rest...this is the ultimate truth."--Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher
In all aspects of the universe we can see the same rhythmic pattern of expansion and contraction, whether in the cycles of day and night, waking and sleeping, high and low tides, or seasonal growth and decay. Oscillation between two phases exists at every level of reality. Just as sure as the natural cycle of the leaf that grows and eventually falls to the ground, humans “turn over” as well. Humans are in a constant state of evolution as we move in our growth.
In many ways life is about “going through the motions.” One of the unique characteristics of living creatures is their reciprocating motion. Throughout the animal kingdom from plankton to elephant to humans we find that reciprocating motion, or oscillating behavior prevails. Humans, as oscillating organisms means that our body movements range from rest to motion like a pendulum. Physicists refer to this as “simple harmonic motion.” Not only do we oscillate but as a result, we vibrate as well, which may explain why we’re all a little jittery. What often makes us humans “jittery” in the sense of feeling ill at ease, is when we note a change in what we have established as our natural movement. This bad case of the jitters, so to speak, describes a jolt to our comfort zone as characterized by our routines, our self-imposed limitations, our own qualifications as to how we see ourselves, and our habitual behaviors. We then sense an irregularity to what we consider our proper psychological rhythm. We feel the loss of our “simple harmonic motion” and as a result our life’s harmony, as we know it, has been affected.
For the pendulum’s swinging bob, gravity and friction has a lot to do with its movement. This effect is true for the human as well. Our movements are influenced by the strong attractions as well as the distractions that pull our attention. We are moved by the “gravity” of emotions and circumstances. For example, one of our greatest sources of friction is when there is disagreement. Not only with other people, but when our attitude is out of sorts with an opposing point of view. Or when we live a lifestyle that encounters an alternative way of life that we desire. Or when an event enters our lives that makes us uncomfortable. We then experience friction in our minds in much the same way as the mechanical force that resists relative motion between two bodies in contact. In our mind it’s the uncomfortable feeling we have for example, when faced with a dilemma which results when two bodies of thought are competing for our resolution. When we find ourselves on the “horns of the dilemma” we often respond with resistance and the result is we can’t make a mental move. This mental state can in fact affect us physically as well. Our bodies lack energy and we tire more easily for reasons that are directly related to our psychological state of mind. You can burn a lot of energy going nowhere fast! In this case we become not only the proverbial couch potato but the couch potato head as well. Our living system knows something is out of sorts. We find ourselves stuck in a rut or worse yet we begin a downward spiral by becoming depressed and apathetic. This makes us uncomfortable because we desire movement and we seek to be “moved” because of the sensation derived from it. Who hasn’t been “moved” by a certain experience? We have an insatiable appetite for sensation to quell our sensory nature.
Why is this a part of human nature? Because for the human, tangible reality exists for us when there is movement and when the movement stops reality becomes diffused and disappears(ref). We like to go to and fro, hither and yon, do this and then that, go over hill and over dale, revisit the past and think about the future. In other words, we have a hard enough time sitting still, let alone being inwardly still. It gives us the feeling of movement. You see there is a deeply ingrained primal fear that when the movement stops we’re then “laid to rest.” Movement makes us feel alive. It is this pendulum effect in humans between the movement and rest that holds an important key for our personal growth.
A secret that can be discovered in the motion of a pendulum can help us understand our lives in a different way. The motion of the pendulum serves as an example that our lives involve beginnings and endings. Furthermore, it becomes evident that momentarily they are one and the same. There is an instant of transition when the pendulum stops completely between the rest and the return to motion. This can be considered the turning point and it can represent the now. When we live in the present moment there are no beginnings and there are no endings. There is no past and there is no future, there is only now. This is freedom and freedom is found only in living in the now. When you live in the now you are always in the turning point. It represents your window of opportunity, it is the moment of truth, it is your opening to a new life!