Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A natural form of movement

A recent article in nature magazine sheds some new light on the nature of movement.

Lo and behold, it turns out that many–if not all–of our basic brain patterns, but most especially those that govern movement, arise in and emerge from rhythms. So movement and rhythm affect the brain; learning from this, most assuredly, we can understand that engaging the attention in rhythm and movement may change the way that the brain works.

In this model, rhythm is a naturally occurring phenomenon at the microbiological level. Rhythmic patterns in nature, governed by lawful mathematic relationships, give rise to a great deal of the structure we perceive and participate in. It turns out that our posture and are physical manifestations themselves are deeply linked to this phenomenon. So when Gurdjieff taught people movement, he was tapping in to the vast biological reservoirs that mankind has available to him to do his place in the evolutionary scheme.

The authors mention, “... the motor cortex is not the steering wheel, odometer, or speedometer representing real-world information. It is more like an engine, comprised of parts whose activities appear complicated in isolation, but cooperate in a lawful way as a whole to generate motion.” In an interesting way, this reflects the order that emerges in Gurdjieff's movements, when classes perform them. The authors go further to describe that “the entire neural population oscillates as one in a beautiful and lawfully coordinated way.” It might, under other conditions, be construed as a precise description of the impressions we get from the Gurdjieff movements. And it goes further: “each neuron behaves like a player in a band. When the rhythms of all the players are summed over the whole band, a cascade of fluid and accurate motion results.”

 Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that Gurdjieff's movements end up reflecting fundamental laws of the biosphere. What interests me is the emergence of a deep connection between the structures in the brain, the organization of neurons, and the outward expression of rhythm, music, and movement so prevalent in human societies.

The very existence of music, with its rhythmic order, seems to be an outward reflection of substantive organization in the brain. This type of organization in relationship, formed through oscillation (patterns), expressed in community, is a fundamental property of how organisms function. Because music and dance stimulate these parts of the brain in a mirrored action, and since they conform to predispositions in terms of neural structure, they form a feedback between the deepest parts of our brain structure and the outward structure of our societies.

Somehow, music and dance connect us in a very fundamental way to what it means to be human. Engaging in movement is more than an aesthetic form or a sports activity; it's an active exploration of how the brain works. Much of the satisfaction we derive from the use actions probably arises because of their close alignment to the fundamental premises of what we are, and how our bodies work.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.