You and Me … & Your Seven.
by James Crader
Murmuration: The phenomenon that results when hundreds, upon thousands, of starlings fly in intricately woven patterns while swooping and soaring through the sky, liquidly changing directions at any moment.
Science has long been baffled by the act of murmuration. How do thousands of birds cohesively alter flight patterns in split seconds with limited, and densely whirring, vocalized information? When looking at a flock of starlings cover the sky it’s clear that there is no “leader.” The movement seems to emerge from a group think that sometimes serves the purpose of hunting, or avoiding being hunted … whatever the impetus it’s always mesmerizing. Often the shape molds and shifts for in-obvious reasons.
Here’s what we know for sure, according to a study by George F. Young and colleagues, starlings form an intimate relationship with, and pay attention to, a limited number of their neighbors (seven to be exact). Because of this relationship starlings are able to cohesively navigate in uncertainty by relying on and attending to their seven neighbors. Consequently due to this Rule of Seven starling flocks are able co-create a highly dynamic system with independently operating parts that form a whole … with emergent properties of sophisticated movement.
We can notice similar behavior elsewhere in nature: shoals of fish, herds of mammals, swarming insects … and human animals. Think of a busy sidewalk, maybe in New York. Or a mass of people exiting an arena or venue of some sort. We don’t usually ask and tell directions at the moment, we just move with the group. We can sense the flow by interpreting the movement of those around us, and uncertainty is quelled by the innate knowing that you are not alone within the movement. You supported by a larger body of people with the same goals.
I know it’s difficult to predict the benefit of something before it’s happened. Foresight is elusive. What will “it” be like? Will it be worth it? Should I go it ALONE? Uncertainty is scary. What I can guarantee is that Momentum Fest is founded on the idea of celebration and uplifting each other through movement. Being that we (most of us in attendance) are human animals (more or less, probably) we are subject to our own version of this Rule of Seven. Unconsciously we by and large rely on and attend to our neighbors in pursuit of a common goal … this June our common goal is to celebrate and uplift each other through movement. Simply.
I’ve been fascinated by murmurations for as long as I can remember. The experience of seeing a group of individuals exploring, playing, seeking, and thriving because of each other is awesome in the truest sense of the word. As a teacher it’s my goal to be less of a leader and more of a facilitator of an emergent experience … one in which you and your seven can co-create not only sophisticated movement but deeply personal bonds with each other (and your body) that last beyond our time together. Does that sound interesting to you?
Here’s to you joining the flock of curious movers in Colorado this June. We’re hoping you’ll bring your body’s wisdom and mind’s wonder to our party!
James Crader is a Movement Coach specializing in Pilates and John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Therapy, a CoreAlign Faculty Member, co-host of the Thinking Pilates Podcast, and owner of Evolved Body Studio in Sacramento, CA. Growing up he never thought anything fitness would be his calling. He was nerdy, enjoyed listening to and telling stories, and loved to experiment, create, and play with the shapes he could make while rolling around on the floor. He and his sister even practiced writing with their toes (just in case). All that made for a really weird kid, but an innovative movement educator. James began his Pilates training with Balanced Body, but has gone on to study with numerous teachers from many lineages of Pilates and beyond. James has contributed to movement and lifestyle conversations on podcasts, diverse blogs, Pilates Style magazine, the documentary A Movement of Movement, and recently Pilates Anytime. You can find out more about James and EB Studio at www.EvolvedBodyStudio.com, or follow his movement musings on Instagram @physicalthinking.