Human architecture is based on a series of circles and triangles. These have the strength to carry considerable weight, yet keep your body flexible. You can think of your entire body as a pyramid, with a solid base and a much smaller apex. The three circles represent your head, torso and lower body. The tiny circles represent your neck and waist, supporting the structure while giving you the flexibility around which the larger spheres turn and roll.
Within the principal pyramid structure, your body takes the shape of three smaller pyramids stacked one above the other. As they descend, they are progressively heavier. The mechanical principle of the neck and waist can be clearly seen in this structural model: a spherical pivot, like a ball bearing, bears the weight of the larger spheres and the convergence of the pyramids. Zhan Zhuang trains you in the proper alignment of these structures.
This model shows not only your physical structure, but also the principal lines of your energetic geometry. It includes the physical connections between the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, as well as the relations between your three major Tan Tien energy centers.
The dotted lines at the top and bottom of the model indicate the opposing polarities of the energetic pulls experienced when you practice Zhan Zhuang. The white balloon between the knees is a reminder of the slight exertion you use to keep your knees properly aligned when standing in the postures.
A long loop from the shoulders goes down around the lower Tan Tien. This indicates the energetic stability of the whole structure. Your Chi is centered in your lower abdomen. This abdominal center of gravity is shown in popular dolls, known as Bei Tao Yung, literally "the old people who never fall down."
Contemporary science has revealed that underlying patterns of energy are entirely in accord with the earliest wisdom of Chinese naturalists who studied the subtle workings of the human body.
One of the most striking examples of structural energy is the geodesic dome. One of the best known is the 80 m (250 ft)-high sphere on the left, constructed for an international exposition in Montreal. The largest is about 23 times the volume of the dome on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
The dome's strength comes from a web of triangles and circles, two of nature's most resilient structures. The "omnitriangulated" dome is completely stable, yet flexible. In an early experiment, a dome made of 170 aluminium struts, weighing only 30 kg (65 lb) was able to support a total load of six tons - the equivalent of a canoe bearing the weight of an army tank.
The triangles and curves disperse tension outwards the way gas evenly expands the rubber skin of a balloon. In fact, the dome's compression struts can maintain the web of support even if they are not all physically touching. The pattern itself acts as an " energetic network" sustaining a firm structural pattern. Some physicists have concluded that these innovative structures may, in fact, be models of an atom's nuclear structure.
It is the same principle that enables a spider's web to float intact in hurricane force winds.
Some domes have been called "gossamer nets" while others have been described as "a single, finite, energetic embrace." The genius who invented the geodesic dome, Buckminster Fuller, said the structure performed according to the theories of Energetic Geometry, following the laws of the cosmos. He called these energetic patterns "the personal, regenerative energy" through which the universe works.
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