Biotensegrity: “contrasts that ensure living integrity“
In my childhood, I often heard proverbs and prayers from my elders, especially my grandmother. One of them came to my mind a while before I wrote this article; “May God keep our unity and order!”. Even though I had an idea of what the word dirlik meant, I couldn’t help looking it up in the dictionary. This word, which comes from the root “alive”, means life, vitality. Order, on the other hand, means the laws and rules that ensure the existence and continuity of the universe as a whole, as well as the measured harmony and harmony between the parts of the whole. I kept thinking that it was not for nothing that our ancestors placed these two words together in their frequent prayers.
One morning I woke up with a word I learned a few years ago: “biotensegrity”. This word, which explains the mechanics of our bodies’ ability to stand and perform marvelous movements, is the transformation of “tensegrity”, derived by combining the English words “tension” and “integrity” in the field of engineering, into the field of life science. Tensegrity describes a system/wholeness formed by the combination of a group of parts that are in constant tension with another group of parts that are in constant compression. It is not only our bones, which are solid and very hard, and the muscles that bind them together, that are the reason we are able to stand. It is not only the simple union of the rigid and rigid and the flexible and soft, but also the wonderful harmony of parts with different directions of force when they form opposing forces.
In the formation of the body’s integrity, starting from the cell structure, opposing forces have come together and transformed into harmony within the same whole. We stand and move thanks to a harmonious set of contrasts in our skeletal and locomotor system, in which the inflexible and the inflexible, the forces that close and open joints, the forces that pull up and the forces that push down, under a perfect cover we call fascia, do their part for a common purpose, without a fight, without a fight. In fact, standing still is nothing compared to the achievements that result from training that increases the harmony of opposites working together (as in sports, art and dance). Harmony seems to me to be the most important concept here. While the harmony between opposites provides order in the whole, if the harmony is disrupted, for example, if one of the opposing muscle groups shortens or remains contracted all the time, the order is disrupted. The physical manifestation of this is disease. Immediately it occurred to me that we generally don’t like our opposites very much, you know. Could it be that our bones, muscles and fascia do not do so, and offer us a great opportunity of awareness on the consciousness of tawhid?
Biotensegrity also resonated in my mind as ‘the contrasts that ensure the integrity of life’. Years ago, when a friend pointed it out to me, I became aware of the relationship that etymology reveals between health and the whole. It was on this occasion that I learned that the root of the English word “health” meaning health is the word “whole” meaning whole. A couple of other words derived from the root “whole” are “holistic” meaning holistic and “holy” meaning sacred. We may wonder what is the wisdom of hearing the words whole, holistic, holistic, holistic with increasing frequency in recent years. In the development process of the human being, while our curiosity led us to dive deep and discover the smallest details, it seems to me that we left behind the awareness that what we were diving into was an ocean. Diving and finding the fine details was so enjoyable that we kept diving deeper and deeper at the risk of getting hit, and we couldn’t leave the excitement of digging for details. If we take the human body as an example, this diving started with the opening of the body and the display of the organs inside. The exciting adventure that started with the shape of organs continues today at the molecular level. On the other hand, we have become aware of the ocean we are diving into. In a sense, some of the details obtained led us to the awareness of the whole. For example, it was understood that the intestinal bacteria (microbiota), which we see as one of the “others” in our body, are actually “the only one beyond” as our teacher Cemâlnur Sargut said so beautifully. Our curiosity to dive has elevated them from being the others in us to being one of the organs that ensure the continuation of our existence. This new organ is also known as the second brain. What we eat and our habits affect gut bacteria and changes in them affect many bodily functions, including our mood.
The hierarchy of organs we establish also changes with our diving adventure. Some studies that started in the nineties point to a fact that in a sense dethrones the brain in our skull. Apart from the metaphorical second brain created by the bacteria in the intestine, it has been shown that the heart also has a brain. So I learned that the number of brains in our body is at least three, with amazement, my favorite emotion. It has been shown that the heart is not just an organ that pumps blood, but that more than half of its cells are similar to the cells of the brain in our skull and that they form a brain inside the heart. When neurophysiologists and cardiologists joined hands, even more astonishing data emerged: a mechanism of perception directly related to the heart outside the five senses, a recording of emotional memory and a marvelous collaboration with the brain in the skull. It seems to me to be a marvel of unity and order. These findings confirm the saying “I feel it in my heart”. It is not for nothing that in recent years the concept of body-mind-spirit unity has come up more and more frequently. I think it is the result of the awareness that organs and their functions are inseparable and should be treated as such.
Speaking of our moods, I would like to ask a question that may seem absurd at first glance in terms of moving the boundaries of the whole outside our bodies; could our moods be a variable that affects the population of birds? Asking the question naturally brings with it the expectation that the answer will be yes. The answer is indeed yes. Isn’t this answer astonishing too? People are increasingly taking antidepressant medication for psychological disorders, especially depression. This use has increased to such an extent that studies have shown that the excretion of these drugs into the water supply can cause decreased libido in birds as well as humans. I think we can conclude from this that we can contribute to unforeseen and unintended consequences without our direct intention, even when we are engaged in an innocent and reasonable endeavor such as health. I can’t help thinking that existence is so complete. The magnificent whole formed by the parts connected to each other by invisible bonds with harmony and order, macrocosm, âlem-î kebîr. People who choose to be a part that fits into the order of this whole have an easy job; otherwise it becomes difficult, like rowing against the current. Perhaps this is why the two English words for illness are derived from the negation of the words for order and ease: “dis-order” and “dis-ease”. From the layered wholes that transcend the limits of our bodies and the relationships between them, we can watch the greatest whole we can perceive being formed.