Symmetry – Yes or No?
For the most part, animals (I’m all but certain you fall in that category if you’re on my mailing list) have a symmetrical form. Starfish are an exception. Of course, they do have 5 things you can more or less expect to be the same (though they never are.) Among animals, only the sponge has a form that is in no way symmetrical (please, try to tell as many people as possible about the asymmetrical sponges.)
The events that happen in an animal’s life alter its form in ways that leave it less and less symmetrical – this in spite of the organism’s DNA blueprint, which is mostly symmetrical. Like the rings of a tree, animal tissues – and therefore human tissues – alter and shrinkwrap to reflect every event, and especially every habit, that has occurred in a person’s life, making it easier for them to continue to be who they were and to continue their habits. But the process also makes it harder to establish new habits or become the “new person”.
Without continuous adaptation of your organism to your life circumstances, you would be dead (so in one sense, “YAY!”). But this makes things trickier if you decide that you don’t want to live or feel the way you have been. A body shrinkwrapped to the posture you had yesterday will have a harder time training for the Ironman today (I’m guessing that’s your plan.)
Have you ever waited for a friend? (I knew it!) Did you ever know it was them, even though they were too far away for you to recognize their features? Without knowing it, you have memorized their unique movement signature, the asymmetries of movement and rhythm that make them who they are. Unconscious observations are a big part of what identifies the people you know to you.
You could say that you know people by their imprinted habits and responses throughout life. You could say that the personality is the constitution plus acquired asymmetries. You could say that addressing asymmetry in your general form will give you a wider range for self-expression.
By the way, for the most part, you don’t consciously notice asymmetries. The (asymmetrical) brain corrects for symmetry visually. For example, extreme asymmetry is normal for people with severe scoliosis, but almost without exception, people don’t consciously notice it.
Observing deviations from symmetry helps a practitioner illuminate the past and present physical life of a client. It reveals
- – what they have spent a lot of time doing and feeling in their life.
- – what there is or has been injury
- – which muscles are over- or under-active
- – which areas are vulnerable to injury
- – the best points of access for improving function and reducing pain
One of the main axes of approach in the touch and movement fields is bringing a person into symmetry. But the true goal isn’t symmetry, it’s function and ease of movement. It may surprise you to know that a larger percentage of professional dancers and Olympic athletes have scoliosis than in the general public.