(From the New Book (Copyrighted Material)
Introduction to Section XI
Energy and Form
This section addresses the intersection of “internal energy” and biomechanics, and some of the ideas that will be presented are unquestionably controversial. For example, it will be discussed how a fighter’s ability to utilize “internal power” is not necessarily just a result of something that might be referred to as “energy,” but is also related to the use of efficient biomechanics. Other aspects of our conversation on the relationship between “energy” and “form” will focus on how a person’s morphology (body shape) influences access to power, conscious control over normally unconscious muscle groups, and an important principle of body suspension and support known as tensegrity.
When a person is said to have “strong energy” or an “energetic personality,” these characterizations could be referring to several different things. For example, it may be that the individual is perceived as charismatic, or socially engaging and positive. However, a person who projects a powerful sense of presence might also be characterized as having strong energy due to their posture, or the way that they move with effortless grace.
This section considers how posture and biomechanics contribute to the meaning of “internal energy.” Thus, in many of the cases that follow, it is difficult to distinguish what might be referred to as “energy” from efficient biomechanics. Consider, for example, the practice of holding one’s head upright in correct “suspended” posture. * This posture habit is known to promote clear thinking, improved confidence, and an increased sense of well-being. Should such a practice be considered a postural influence, a biophysical training method, a qigong exercise, or a combination of all three?
*Covered in Chapter 55
Another example of the relationship between posture and “energy” is found in John Diamond’s description of how the way one holds their chest influences the thymus and thymus function, which in turn contributes to the balance and flow of life energy. **
There are more than a few examples like the one just mentioned, where the influences of posture and other biomechanical processes become indistinguishable from qigong, meditation, and yoga “energy” practices. Here, we take a closer look at those grey lines between internal power, life energy practices, and biomechanics, giving consideration to the adage found in internal energy literature that “energy follows form.” This maxim is expressed through the masterful display of t’ai-chi, yoga, meditation, and numerous other disciplines, and the proceeding pages will examine the relationships between these practices and one’s “internal energy,” which can be expressed by the following two-way diagram:
** John Diamond’s description of the relationship between posture, the holding of the chest in relation to the thymus, and “internal energy” was covered in Section IX.
At this juncture, it is necessary to again consider the principal theme presented throughout the present work. Previous chapters have included suggestions that a definition for the term “internal energy” will one day be established, but, at present, a succinct definition is not available. While some suggested definitions describe the phenomenon to be electromagnetic, or a merger between various yet-to-be-defined electromagnetic-like interactions, other theories suggest that examples of “internal energy phenomenon” might be understood more accurately in terms of an individual’s ability to attain a kind of body-mind super efficiency or synchrony.
Other proposed definitions include a model of “internal energy” for both healing and martial arts, which might be explained in terms of an exchange of information between the practitioner and another person. However, when a reliable definition is forthcoming, the attributes associated with an individual’s “internal energy” will no doubt be understood in relation to the principle that:
“energy follows form”
It is easy to appreciate how good posture habits might lead an individual to be described as exuding strong and balanced “internal energy” and charisma. Based on my experience studying and teaching mind-body arts, and many years of working with athletes, pain patients, and my own continuing practice of self-healing following a debilitating back injury, I’ve learned an important lesson. It has to do with how attention to the mutual relationship between energy and form helps some individuals to succeed, others to recover from chronic pain, and, in the case of athletes, to realize their full potential.