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What is healing energy? Part 5: gravity, structure,
and e m o t i o n s
O 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Q O 0 0 0

J. k. Oschman
Abstract Gravity is one of the most significant yet least understood influences on the structure and function of living things. An appreciation of the ways the body is affected by gravity is important for virtually all bodywork and movementtherapies. Classic studies by Goldthwait concluded that chronic illness is a consequence of misalignment of the body with the vertical. Goldthwait's successful non-drag approach to chronic disorders provides a conceptual basis for a variety of modem therapeutic approaches. To Goldthwait, it was obvious that the vertical body is more efficient and energetic. A scientific basis for this concept isemerging from modem research on the properties of the support and movement systems of the body, which are responsible for maintaining verticality and for motion in the gravity field. The tensegrity concept of Buckminster Fuller explains how therapeutic approaches simultaneously interact with the biomechanical supporting systems and vibratory energy systems of the body. Ida Rolf developed anunderstanding of the plasticity of the body and explained how emotional states and structural balance continually interact. Young described how 'memories' of the ways the body has been used or abused form as patterns of connective tissue fibre deposition in response to stresses. Part B considers how some therapeutic approaches affect the gravity/movement/energy systems of the body.

James L. Oschman PhDNature's Own Research Association, PO Box 5101, Dover, NH 03821, USA

Correspondence to: J. L. Oschman, Tel: ++1 603 742 3789; Fax: ++1 603 742 2595; E-mail: JOschman @aol.com Received May 1997 Accepted June 1997

Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (1997) 1 (5), 297-309 © Pearson Professional Ltd 1997



IntroductionPrevious articles in this series have described the physiological and clinical importance of electricity and magnetism. Little has been said about gravity, even though it is arguably the most potent physical influence in any human life. Gravity pervades our bodies and our environment and affects our every activity. All of the structures around us, our homes, furniture, buildings, machinery,plants and animals, and our own bodies, are designed to function in a world dominated by gravity. The form of each bone, muscle and sinew tells a story of its particular role in maintaining and moving the body in the gravitational field. Many of the injuries faced in the therapeutic setting are consequences of falling down, or of habitual movement patterns that strain tissues. Hence therapists ofvirtually every tradition can benefit from an appreciation of the ways in which gravity interacts with structures, energy flows and emotions, and the clinical approaches that remedy 'gravitational traumas'.

Gravitational physiology
To introduce the therapeutic significance of gravity, we summarize the work of Joel E. Goldthwait and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School. Their clinical researchin the early part of this century laid an important but rarely cited foundation for modern bodywork and movement therapies. A surgeon in Boston and founder of the orthopaedic clinic at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Goldthwait developed a successful therapeutic approach to chronic disorders. The aim of his therapies was to get his patients to sit, stand and move with their bodies in a moreappropriate relationship with the vertical.

After years of treating patients with chronic problems, Goldthwait concluded that many of these problems arise because parts of the body become misaligned with respect to the vertical, and organ functions therefore become compromised. His therapeutic approach was based in part on observations made while performing surgery on such patients. Goldthwait...
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