Although we normally think of gravity as a force pulling us down, it also can be a powerful tool that enables us to sit, stand and move more easily, while reducting effort and tension.
The first step in learning to use the power of gravity is to to locate your center of gravity.
Start by standing up and placing the tip of your index finger just below your navel. The height of your center of gravity is three finger widths (about two inches) below that point. Move your index finger to that point. Then, using the index finger of your other hand, trace a line around one side of your torso at the same height until you come to the midpoint of your back. Your center of gravity is midway between between your two index fingers.When gravity applies its force on you it acts on your entire weight, concentrated at your center of gravity. Your individual body parts (head, arms, and legs, etc.) also have centers of gravity, and we’ll learn about them in later lessons.
Although there isn’t a physical marker for your center of gravity, such as a bone you can feel or joint you can move, it’s not difficult to find.
You can use some very simple mental imagery to do this and, as we’ll learn in later lessons, to actively use your center of gravity to bring greater ease to your body. Here are three images that are helpful
The first is the back-to-front line located at the height of your center of gravity, which we explored at the start of this lesson. As before, the height of your center of gravity is three finger widths below your navel. Place one index finger there. Place your other index finger at the same height on the center of your back. Using your two index fingers, draw an imaginary line connecting the two. Your center of gravity is in the middle of that line.
The second image, a side-to-side line, nicely complements the first. To locate it, start by placing an index finger three finger widths below your navel to locate the height of your center of gravity. Then, trace lines around your torso at the same level to your left and right sides and imagine a line going sideways through your body which connects those two points. Your center of gravity is in the middle of that line.
A third method is an imaginary circle going around your abdomen at the height of your center of gravity. Your center of gravity is at the center of that circle.
Of course these images are not real; there are no lines going through your body, but they help you access a point that acts as an important aid in helping you to function better.
Here’s an experiment you can perform with a partner that illustrates the power of simply being in touch with your center of gravity. Stand near your partner and, with advance warning, give him or her a little push forward or sideways in their shoulder area. Be sure it’s just a little push, enough to slightly and temporarily disrupt their equilibrium. Notice how far they move and how easily they recover their upright position.
Now, show them where their center of gravity is located and ask them to simply be conscious of it. Then give the same little push and see what happens. You might want to have them do the same to you.
What did you notice? Most people are far more stable when their attention is lightly placed on their center of gravity. Notice that this increased stability requires no physical work whatsoever – no stiffening, holding, or tensing – just an awareness of where your center of gravity is located.
As time passes, many students have a tendency to forget the location of their center of gravity, incorrectly shifting it upward. It’s very important to correct this and remember where your center of gravity is actually located – two inches below your navel.
Reminding yourself a few times a day of where your center of gravity is located can make a significant difference in how you function. The mental images I’ve suggested can greatly assist in that process. Simply placing the palm of one hand on your belly, centered about three finger widths below your navel, is another quick and easy way to do that.
In the Lesson 2, you’ll start exploring how to use those images to make active use of your center of gravity.
I’ve talked a great many students through this process, in person or over the phone, but this is the first time I’ve described the process in writing and I want to make the explanation as clear as possible. So please use the comments box to let me know how well my explanation has worked for you.
© 2012 Robert Rickover
Image credit: hfsimaging / 123RF Stock Photo