First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Equilibrium, breath and… Contest time!

Three points of contact at all times. That was Uncle Grant’s rule on the boat when we went fishing. It’s far too easy to lose one’s balance while standing in choppy waters. A third point of contact grounds our equilibrium.

Uncle Grant was a gunner in the Navy. He was in several naval battles in the Pacific before World War II was declared. A Kamikaze pilot once landed on his carrier. That’s right. Landed. Not crashed. The fellow was bolted in to his pilot’s seat. He didn’t want to die. Uncle Grant retired after 30 years in service. So, when he talked about boats, I listened. Three points of contact, yes sir!

I work with a few older folks who’ve lost a good deal of their confidence while bipedal. A walker provides additional context that informs their equilibrium.

I find a muskuloskeletal tensegrity structure in crisis. The rigging of the myofascial system has pulled the bones so out of place that it becomes increasingly difficult to compensate as the musculature fire asynchronously, still trying to hold balance.

A backwards breath pattern emerges, becoming labored as the accessory breathing muscles lift up the rib cage upon inhalation. The action of the diaphragm moves up, instead of down, creating less volume in the lungs. A full exhalation becomes difficult. Pleural fluid can build up to fill the space created by the slowly shrinking capacity of the lungs. This is last effort breathing, the last fight of the body for life. And, it can take months or years to finally expend all this energy.

The phrenic nerve innervates the diaphragm, cut off by the anterior slump of reduced thoracic outlet volume. This is a crumbling path of the balance of the body being slowly defeated by gravity. A teetering cervical spine if often seen, less able to bear the mass of an anteriorly shifted cranium.

These folks spend an increasing amount of time sitting and laying down as the seemingly simple gait of walking becomes more challenging. So, I get them up, if they’re able and they have a little fight in their spirit. I get ’em standing. In front of their walkers, if they need it. Or, a step or two away if they have the capability. Equilibrium is engaged by gentle swaying motions, feeling for the connective tensional pulls and guiding focus on breath into the belly and inferior rib cage. I’ve seen good things after this kinda bodywork.

Massage in Portland, Oregon
This tree at EWC predates the state of Oregon. Photography by Hamid Shibata Bennett

First of Nine’s Eleventh Post! Contest Time!

Another way to get really grounded and reinitialize your equilibrium, is to hug a tree! I talked about my experience hugging a tree the other day, and got a surprisingly lovely response. So, for our eleventh post, it’s contest time at First of Nine! Inspired by you!

Here’s the jiggy… Email me your name and a photo of you hugging a tree to be entered into the contest! Send to tensegrityblog (at)

I’ll pick the photo that make me smile most and post it here at First of Nine! If your photo is selected, I’ll mail you a compact disc of musical recordings by yours truly, spanning from my massage school days back in 1999 until this week. Yeah, I recorded a tune on the iPad 2 on my back deck the other night with GarageBand. I always get inspired to record after I break a string. I’ll ship anywhere in the world! If chosen, I’ll contact you to get your shipping address so I can send the CD. If you’re local to the Portland, Oregon area, I’ll also toss in a gift certificate for a free bodywork session from me! Deadline for the contest is September 30th, 2011.

This will be an original playlist that I’ll burn on the ol’ iMac. And, I’ll even handwrite a label on the compact disc in genuine black Magic Marker!

Update: The contest is now over! Thanks to everyone that entered! Keep checking back at First of Nine for more good times! Check out the winners of our tree hugger contest!

Bodywork should be fun, right? So should music. Here’s a sneak peak… one of my old late-night music recordings that will be on the cd. This is a really old ditty called Sunrise at the Graveyard, recorded years ago on my cassette multi-track. An ode to all my zombie friends… You know who ya be…

Hamid : )

7 comments on “Equilibrium, breath and… Contest time!

  1. OneLife Bodywork
    September 12, 2011

    Ah man, I love reading your posts. The picture you paint plays out as a soft dream in my mind’s eye and I can see your intention flooding the ebb and flow of your beautifully fluid work. Thanks as always. And darned if I don’t wish I had jumped the fence at the octopus tree to get a shot!

    • Where was this octopus tree?! Sounds freakin’ cool!

      • Melissa
        September 29, 2011

        Cape Meares! It’s amazing! Send my photo once I get home. Love, love, love hugging trees. Do it lots!

  2. Pingback: Myofascial Mechanorecptors | First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

  3. Pingback: First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

  4. Pamela Scully, LMT
    October 2, 2011

    I’m terrible with deadlines & had a picture to enter! 😦 Hope I catch the next ‘fun time’. I have now subscribed so I will stay in ‘touch’.

    • Pamela… First of Nine is just gettin’ started! We’ll have another contest soon! Thank you for reading! And, yeah… do stay in touch! Can you tell us about your practice?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Hamid Shibata Bennett, LMT, CAMT (OBMT #301)
Advanced massage therapy and bodywork
3810 SE Belmont ST
Portland, Oregon 97214

%d bloggers like this: