In the 1980's I studied Trager Psychophysical Integration, a form of movement re-education developed by Milton Trager M.D. Dr. Trager, now deceased, had worked in the 1940's with Sister Kenney, a pioneering nun who helped those paralyzed by the scourge of Infantile Paralysis, or polio. Remember, Polio is the disease which paralyzed President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Young people nowadays can scarcely imagine the fear of it held by their grandparents' generation.
I was born in 1944, and I can remember being forbidden by my parents from going to public swimming pools during the summer; their fear for children contracting this movement-stealing disease was profound. Some persons who contracted polio could not breathe and had to live for years in the contraptions known as "iron lungs," photos of which terrified both children and their parents.
Around the year 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk brought forward what was known as "the polio vaccine," which I remember getting in school. The fear of polio in this country seemingly vanished overnight, though many of those who had contracted it continued to suffer from what is known as "post-polio syndrome," continuing muscle weakness.
Dr. Trager's experiences working with polio survivors helped to shape his approach to movement re-education, which he began to teach after retirement from his medical practice. Hallmarks of Trager's thinking was the phrase he reiterated over and over, "Trying is effort, and effort is tension. DO or do not do." His way of work featured gentle rocking and shaking of the tissue, "reminding the mind in the tissue of the feeling of EASE," which is an experience many of us have forgotten. Yet this proprioceptive experience is KEY to free and easy movement, absoloutely luscious to feel.
I was hooked when I had my first Trager session. This was stuff I myself needed to learn! I was then a dedicated "tryer" with lots of "shoulds" in my mind and in my body. I thus started studying the approach and actually worked as a Trager Practitioner for seven years. I eventually parted ways with the official Trager program when I started studying CranioSacral Therapy, as Dr. Trager wanted his practitioners to do Trager work only. That simply wasn't my style -- but I shall ever honor and embody what I learned. Like riding a bicycle, one never forgets the feeling once the body memory has integrated it.
It was in a Trager class that I heard the story behind the words of the title of this article. The Instructor's first career was as an electrical engineer for NASA. As such, he helped to put John Glenn and the other first astronauts on the moon. He quipped about his job change, "I went from outer space to inner space."
Here's his story. He lay its groundwork by pointing out that the moon is 250,000 miles from the earth. This is the distance the astronauts had to travel, a quarter-million miles. Yet the lunar module landed just short of 1/8 of a mile away from its target destination. Thus, the "moral of the story": We were NEVER on course. The men were off a little this way, then a little that way, never on the exact course. Yet after a 250,000 mile trip, the astronauts landed less than one eighth of a mile from the target.
This is important because it reminds us of the importance of assessment, correction, the process of re-viewing and re-framing as we move through life. Balance or trajectory is NOT fixed. We're off a little this way, then off a little that way. It's a dynamic process. Recognizing this also helps us be more merciful with ourselves when we think we err. We're simply a little off-course, and we can re-direct.