all this shade erases me

John Martone

Photo: Yoel Dvoriansky


If the principle of Central Equilibrium maintains energy, then the principle of Single-Weightedness maintains lightness by ensuring both full and empty are present all the time. Full supports empty and empty attends full. Then emptiness never collapses and fullness never hardens.
Lightness is a readiness to change.


The tension we house sullies our perceptions and conceptions to such a degree that the world we experience is no longer the real world but one largely of our own making. This means that nothing can be believed as true: our senses are flawed – biased – and our interpretations even more so. So how do we proceed? Softly. With a flexible feeling (for belief). We believe but set nothing in stone. We live now as best we can and leave analysis, generalization and philosophizing – all terribly idle occupations designed to give us an unfair advantage but really just giving us an excuse not to be present – behind us. The feeling is of seizing the moment the way the empty foot seizes the ground. This is what emptiness is: a readiness to fill; the same way that fullness is a readiness to empty.


Unburden yourself



Being too much in the mind and not enough in the body is a form of depression. It leads to a stoop – a depressed outlook. The mind keeps itself dominant by controlling the intake of oxygen – the fuel of the body – forcing shallow or thin breathing. The way out of this situation is to deepen and extend the breath.


Force is when things push against each other.


earthly paradise


Extending the in-breath opens the chest/heart.
Extending the out-breath strengthens the belly.

Don't cover the gullet with the epiglottis when breathing through the nose otherwise the throat becomes tense and the energy flattens.
True love – love that cannot discriminate – comes from an overflowing heart.



The only thing a teacher has are a few insights that may possibly enrich the student's life. There are millions of useful insights out there. Each teacher has just a few. He then builds a world of knowledge or energy using these as axioms or foundation. This is when he becomes an expert – blinkered and limited by his own magnificence. If he wishes to remain free he must be ready to shift his foundations and move into ever more humble dwellings until he is free even of foundation – a Bedouin in a simple tent in the shifting sands.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's there are few.


The first possibility the teacher needs to admit is that he may be wrong.


Ah sweet mother earth...
Softness makes the occasion multi-dimensional.
Strength resides in connexion not in energy or power.
Hardness is the rule of fear.


I have a student attended by angels. He is all heart.
It is my sincere and humble engagement with life's mundane practicalities that drives me deeper, not my elevated thoughts or spiritual wallowing.
To feel what is here rather than pine for what isn't.


When I stand I must penetrate the Earth with my root rather than sprawl upon its surface. This requires a special relaxation that empties the muscles and joints of tension but retains the conditioning of my discipline. Discipline tempers everything. It eradicates the taint of indulgence and allows the fierce heart a presence in every part.
The only true heartfelt desire is perfect union.


First believe. What this means is relax the heart and let its desire manifest. The thinking mind is then just a tool for materialization – a subordinate struggling for power which needs to be kept firmly in check. We do this with discipline. Discipline is the heart curbing indulgence. When discipline is imposed with the mind it creates hardness. Discipline should never be self-imposed suffering – martyrdom. It comes from the heart knowing better.


Feeling means allowing yourself to enjoy being alive.
My world and my body are always full, but especially so when my mind is empty.

Central Equilibrium

If I stand still it is because my legs are bending and straightening at the same time. For this the legs cannot be locked at any of the joints: ankle, knee, hip, sacro-iliac. Those ancilliary muscles that are in constant use to maintain balance must also be relaxed. So ultimately no joint in the body is locked and to stand upright and still requires intense internal peace.


Love must be impartial – unconditional – otherwise it is just another trap – security. Essentially there are no differences. Everything real I have is of my body in the same way that everything real that is is of the Earth. So if I love one part I love too the whole.


Ultimately there is only heart. Primarily too.
Don't think. Feel.


An abandoned state is one free of the stifling reassurances of ego. Think about it. Every action we make from the most trivial twitch to the most sweeping life change is absolutely loaded with expectation. And not just the expectation of habit or of planning but the expectation of suffering. Suffering is disconnexion, and disconnexion needs to be maintained because there are natural processes of connexion in play all the time bringing us together. When we abandon our suffering, our ego, our tendency to disconnect, then connexion is assured. But nothing else is.


Ego is maintained by suffering.
Hardness refuses to extend beyond itself.


The processes that keep each of us together as rational socially well-behaved individuals are precisely the forces that keep us disconnected from our true internal nature; and therefore disconnected from everything essential.


delicate task
exceptional nature

first sight
human face

sinuous lines
tangible signs

elegant restraint
graphic freedom

numerous guises
subtly blended

prolific forms
natural means

inextricably linked
supreme act



A relaxed state is one in which work can take place freely, openly and joyfully. Relaxation does not negate work – it allows work. So a relaxed muscle must be ready to tense and a tense muscle must be ready to relax. Relaxation and tension must learn to co-exist, and not as subsequent phases but as simultaneous conditions. This is central equilibrium – stillness without stiffness – stillness with energy.
Hardness forces its own result.



We all have intuition – inner knowledge – the body contains everything; yet few are able to distinguish it clearly from fear and desire.


Fear & hope

Rising up from the ground through the body there is a pedestal of tension upon which sits our self. We identify with this self and we cling to this pedestal – it is our strength – our rock – and if ever it should fall the ego would tumble and we would be left with nothing: precisely the nothing we strive for as spiritual beings. The pedestal must be laboriously dismantled piece by peace – there is no other way. This is why when tension releases in any part of the body a twinge is felt in the chest – a stab of fear from the ego and a leap of hope from the heart. Always two responses. We yearn for spiritual progress yet it threatens us enormously.


The hard cannot proceed without the certainty of success.

Photo: Chris Laver


When the mind stops and the ego drops then we enter the playful dance of the fascia.



The ego – our self-image – amounts to everything we have decided to hold onto. A monstrous edifice that glitters and gleams. It feeds on the anxiety induced by its contradictions: it must outshine but must also belong. It demands attendance and obedience from the mind body and spirit. The only part of us that knows its fraudulence and refuses to obey is the heart, so the ego seats itself in the chest – in front of the heart – blocking the heart's open communication with the world at large. Then anything that gets through to the heart is first censored by the ego, and anything that comes out of the heart passes first into the ego, and we have the mess of emotion we generally call feelings. In the realm of pure heart – unsullied by ego – there are no feelings – no refections – there is only heart – pure connexion.

Photo: Chris Laver


seafarers haunted by a world of spirits


Yielding is meeting energy or force with non-resistance so that it can either remain or become energy and not become or remain force. It is a natural process, and requires internal transformation. If something is perceived as hard (forceful) then we have not sufficiently yielded. In this sense, yielding is healing because it maintains an energetic system – keeps things in energetic equilibrium.

My nephew Harley (his father - my brother - is a motocycle mechanic) making the most of a dusting of snow in Stockport.
The usual sequence of events:
Spirit (intention) leaps.
Energy flows.
Flow meets resistance.
Resisted energy becomes forceful.
Force makes things move, or not.
Force is blocked energy.
Energy not force: the essence of Tai Chi.


Energy tends to life, and vice versa.
Softness isn't just lack of hardness – it is an energy; in the same way that cold isn't simply lack of heat – it is also an energy. And, for that matter, emptiness is an energy, but of a very different nature to that of fullness.


Accept what you sense as real.

John Upledger