Computer programming has changed tremendously over the last two decades, but some ideas have stood the test of time. In Object Oriented Analysis and Design, first published in 1990, software architect Grady Booch noted:

“Modularity is the property of a system that has been decomposed into a set of cohesive and loosely coupled modules.”

Today, Booch’s ideas of loosely coupled design are embraced by programmers world-wide. In well-designed computer programs, each module does a small number of things well. There are specific and well-defined ways that a module talks with other modules. Modules are functionally independent; changes to one module will not affect other modules.

Contrast this with a tightly coupled machine. Parts in a tightly coupled machine are designed to run “like clockwork”. All the parts move in lock-step with each other.

A 19th century orrery: a model of our solar system with all its parts moving “like clockwork”.

There are problems designing programs with a tightly coupled design:

• The modules are large or everything is in one huge module.

• Changes to one module can change the behavior of other modules in unpredictable and undesired ways.

• As the computer program grows, it becomes increasingly difficult or impossible to have it behave correctly.

Our musculoskeletal structure is loosely coupled. Our bones don’t touch; there are no levers or fulcrums. We’re designed to move in a smooth and flowing fashion; we don’t move like a clock or any other tightly coupled machine.

If we are loosely coupled, why don’t we consistently move that way? And what does this have to do with Feldenkrais?

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Floating compression models are a funny thing. While they were invented in the late 1940s, they never ever caught the fancy of the public–or even science and engineering communities. Buckminster Fuller studied and wrote about these models extensively, but his studies of the geodesic dome were far more popular. Only in the decade have more than a few pioneers ever considered our bodies as a tensile network of floating bones. Even though Scientific American had an article about tensegrity back in 1998, the idea still hasn’t caught on.

In short, the body/mind workers here are learning one of the most geeked-out secrets of the 20th Century. And many of you know it far better than I do: you know this stuff in your bones.

There are vast dividends in working with this high-tech crowd into your classes and studios. These people are fascinated by technology. When they begin to realize the magic of controlling the tensional networks in their bodies, they can bring a fierce kind of loyalty to you and your studio. They’ll bring a special kind of enthusiasm to class, and they’ll think and discuss your teaching with their friends.

The trick is to be ready when they start to have questions.

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Welcome to the Floating Bones Journal! This blog/newsletter is about the relationship between floating compression models (also known as tensional integrity or tensegrity models) and our musculoskeletal anatomy.

We will also look at the link between floating compression and body/mind activities (e.g., Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, T’ai Chi, Martial Arts, Alexander Technique, Massage, Structural Integration, etc.). We’ll explore new ways to think about body/mind disciplines, including a new definition of this vast field of exploration, development and play. This newsletter is designed for three different groups:

  • Body/mind instructors who desire to bring this kind of thinking/language to their practice. As a rule of thumb, experienced body/mind instructors already have a strong intuitive grasp of floating compression, although they don’t currently discuss these concepts with their clients.
  • Body/mind enthusiasts who wish to understand the common-sense math and physics behind these disciplines.
  • Scientists and engineers who are interested floating compression models: material-efficient structures that are highly resilient, flexible, and mobile.

Most weeks, there will be multiple new entries to the Journal at www.FloatingBones.com . In the next few days, we’ll have a sign-up form for an e-mail that summarizes the new entries that week.

If you know or work with the leaders or pioneers of particular body/mind disciplines who are interested participating in this discussion, please have them get in touch with the Journal.

Please ask questions! While I have a variety of topics to talk about, I’m far more interested in discussing what you want to learn.

I’ll end by telling you the first principle of Floating Bones:

The bones float—whether we believe it or not.

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