Tensegrity® is the modern version of the navigator’s way—practices and principles that support finding and traveling a path with heart—that don Juan Matus taught his four students: Carlos Castaneda, Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs. Don Juan was a Yaqui Indian seer and a leader of a group of men and women seers whose lineage begins in Mexico of ancient times.
To walk the full length of a path that one truly loves, don Juan said, one needs the passion, courage, imagination, vigilance, discipline, self-awareness, grace, strength, resourcefulness, efficiency, patience, adaptability, and humbleness of a navigator.
This is what the practitioners of Tensegrity aspire to: The spirit of the navigator, the being who makes the continuous commitment to travel the path of awareness every moment. The struggle of the navigator is not with one’s fellow men, don Juan said. Nor is it with oneself. And it’s ultimately not a struggle. Rather, it’s an acquiescence—to the energetic currents of the sea of awareness in the universe.
Don Juan said that the seers of his line maintained that the universe is a sea of energy—energy that is in constant change. And that the most functional thing one can do, rather than attempt to fight or resist that continuous change, is to join forces with it—an endeavor that takes a navigator’s discipline.
Carlos Castaneda saw Tensegrity as a very apt description of the navigator’s path in our times: a practice of interconnecting with oneself and the world. The word “tensegrity” (tension + integrity) was coined by visionary architect, innovator, engineer and navigator R. Buckminster Fuller. Fuller was inspired in his work by what he saw as nature’s way of doing the most with the least. He observed structures in nature (from atoms to cells, to trees, to solar systems, to galaxies) in which the solid parts are held together in a continuous web of more flexible parts, such as, for example, the way a cell is held together by its fluid and semi-permeable wall, or the way the planets and sun are held in a field of gravity. In such systems, any outside pressure is distributed evenly across the whole structure, giving it a resilient tone that helps it adapt and yet maintain its integrity, and ultimately, its interconnectivity.
Fuller pointed to that essential supporter of life on earth, the tree, as a wonderful example of a tensegrity structure in nature. Arising from a seed, earth, water, air and sunlight, a tree grows into a tensegrity structure with water and gases moving through interior channels, allowing it to be both flexible and resilient, as it sways and adapts to shifting winds and earth, and lifts minerals – bits of stardust – and water from earth to sky.1
And modern ecologists are now aware of the interconnectivity of each tree with the others, adjusting and adapting to the needs of the forest community.
It is this resilient integrity, interconnectivity and resourcefulness that the navigator seeks to embody, physically, emotionally, mentally, and energetically, Carlos Castaneda said. It is what one needs to make the continuous effort, regardless of its inconvenience, to stay on one’s chosen path—a path that is ever-evolving, and whose map is found through one’s heart.
Don Juan called the embodiment of this recognition the art of freedom—the freedom to perceive the energetic basis, and interconnected nature of everything—and to act from that perception. Our interactions in the daily world (at the office, the dinner table, the metro station, walking in the forest, etc.) then become the extraordinary arena for our awakening attention, an opportunity to respond to what is present, rather than react based on unexamined personal history.
As energetic beings, we perceive that the rocks, plants, animals, elements, planets and stars are sentient and form an interactive fabric of consciousness, of which we are part.
And we find that pervading or existing alongside our known world is another world of sentient being and consciousness called the sea of awareness, or the second attention—a world accessible to our complete selves—physical and energetic. And that world can give us vital information, help and guidance for navigating this one. As Carlos Castaneda said:
“If you enter a state of non-ordinary reality, it is only to draw from it what you need in order to see the miraculous character of ordinary reality. For me the way to live—the path with heart—is presence in the world.”2
To integrate our being in this way, don Juan said, one needs to be impeccable—meaning to use one’s energy wisely, giving more than one’s best to one’s endeavors, putting one’s attention in places that enhance rather than disperse one’s energy.
The interconnecting tools of Tensegrity® that can aid us in this quest include:
Tensegrity® movement, or Magical Passes®: The modern version of movements and positions of body and breath that were discovered by seers of ancient Mexico in states of awareness called dreaming, and which help to tune one’s energy body, and to restore healthy physical and energetic flow in one’s being. These are practiced in silence, or danced with music or sounds of nature.
Life review or recapitulation: Reviewing one’s life experiences, assumptions, beliefs and actions, with the aid of attention and breath. This is done to reclaim vital energy left behind in one’s interactions, and to take responsibility, without judgment, for one’s life.
Theater of Infinity™: Theater that is anchored in the Magical Passes, especially those that evoke the awareness of other life forms and their interactions in reality, such as the narwhal whale, the butterfly, the bird, or the wolf. As a practice of awareness, it is theater in which we enact, with the help of magical passes, and supportive fellow actor-witnesses, scenes from our own lives, imbuing those scenes with the more expanded consciousness that includes all those other sentient beings that inhabit the world we live in. This consciousness gives greater context to our own human experience, and helps to break our certainty and judgments about our assumed roles in life, as well as what we might assume the roles of others to be, bringing us deeper empathy and greater freedom of choice. (For more information)
The art of dreaming, the art of being present: The art of recognizing new possibilities, and working with one’s inner seer—our inner compass, connected to the intelligence of infinity—to bring those possibilities into being. This includes the practice of keeping a dream log, and participating in dream circles, aiding one to hone the dreaming attention to recognize that one is dreaming, in both sleeping and waking hours.
Inner silence: A daily practice of pausing, to sit or lie down to listen to one’s inner seer. This is aided by writing down the content of one’s inspirations as well as one’s inner dialogue, or monologue.
Practicing these tools, the navigator is guided by the premise: Love is the highest form of intelligence. Love of self, love of others, love of the extraordinary quality of this world. Love of this very moment.
1 Fuller’s description of this principle is found in: Buckminster Fuller: An Autobiographical Monologue/ Scenario, Documented & Edited by Robert Snyder, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980 pp. 46-7.
2 “Seeing Castaneda” Psychology Today, Sam Keen, 1972.