movement, or muscle sense
The previous two senses observed the body’s boundaries, the
state and the space it takes up. The sense of movement, or of muscles,
enables you to perceive your body’s movements and posture.
Your body –
limbs, eyes, mouth, tongue, forehead, chest – is never still.
movements are perceived, and very accurately, too. You can perceive a
0.038 degree turn of the elbow. Not only do you perceive your
you are also aware of the exact position of your limbs and all the
moving parts of your body. At any given moment, you know exactly where
your arms and feet are. This is essential information; if you are going
to execute a new movement, you
have to know where the movement is to begin. You don’t even
have to think about this, the sense of
movement is always present.
The muscle sense is situated in spindle-shaped receptors in the
muscles, which measure the degree of
tension in the muscle fibres. There are similar receptors in the
tendons. The bending and
stretching of the limbs is perceived by receptors in the joint tendons
and in the surrounding tissue.
Your sense of movement is primarily focused on perceiving your own
body, but you often also use it to
observe things around you. In observing moving objects, your sense of
movement works together with
your sense of sight, so that you can see the type of movement taking
place and estimate the speed of the
moving object. In order to determine the object’s shape, your
eyes follow the outline of the object and
shift to and from details that attract your attention. Painters use
this roving habit of eyes to guide you
through their painting along a chosen course. The movements and shapes
are observed by the movement
sense in the eye muscles, but the eye itself only observes the colours.
You can also perceive the movement of a branch in a tree with your
muscle sense, by imitating the
movement with your arms. You could also imagine the movement, and
imagine how your eyes or arms
would likewise move. This is called sensorial fantasy or muscular
imagery, and you can apply it whenever
you want to observe and imitate shapes and movements. Think about: the
gait of a horse, how a cow or a
pig lies down, the motions of leaves, the arrangement of branches in
different trees, and so on.
Movement and feeling are connected. This is evident in our body
language: the welcome indicated by
open arms, the dismissal expressed by a throw-away wave of the hand,
and so on.
spindle: the muscle sense organ
Take a piece of paper and a pencil. Close your eyes, or ask someone to
blindfold you. Draw a house,
or a three-master. The first time, draw it as you would normally draw,
occasionally lifting your pencil
off the paper. Then draw it again, but keep the pencil on the paper all
the time. You could also do
this exercise on a blackboard, so that others can observe you as you
Ask someone to blindfold you and to put your arm in a certain position.
Describe the exact position
of your arm, which muscles are activated and which are not. Then let
someone change the position
of your arm just slightly. Again, describe the position of your arm and
the muscles used, and
describe the changes that you perceive in your arm.
Split into two groups. Form rows, facing each other, and put your hands
flat against the hands of
the person opposite you. Make circles and other movements with your
hands, varying the pressure
on the other’s hands. Describe what you feel: the pressure,
tension, relaxation and movements.
Describe the motion of a moving organism, either human or animal. What
is the motion like, which
parts of the organism are moving, could you imitate the movement?
Stand in front of a large object and observe it while someone else
observes your eyes. Ask this person
to describe your eye movements.