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Including Your Organs in Your Body Map!

Updated: Jun 21

I never gave my organs too much thought unless something was wrong. And when it

came to my flute playing, besides my lungs and breathing, I didn’t pay much attention to them. I started to pay more attention to them when I took my Franklin Method Educator Level 3 training on the organs. I learned that our organs are an essential part of our body map and that including them in our mapping has many benefits for our playing and singing.

The world of organs is foreign to most of us, but there are some easy ways to get

started that can help you become acquainted. I’d like to share with you some different ways of mapping our organs to improve awareness, breathing, movement, and our sense of three-dimensional space.

Mapping your organs by tapping:

One of my favorite ways to bring attention to my body is by tapping it with my fingers or the palms of my hands. Although we can’t directly feel our organs, we can tap their locations on our bodies and image where they are to bring them into focus. Using this picture as a guide, starting with your chest cavity, tap your lungs and heart.

Tap the outline of your diaphragm and start tapping your abdominal organs front, back, and sides. The liver, stomach, kidneys (not shown), pancreas (not shown), gall bladder (not shown), small intestines, bladder, and colon.

I like looking at 3D anatomy apps as well to get a sense of the size, shape, and function of each organ, and in relation to each other. When you’re finished tapping, notice if you have a more expansive, three-dimensional sense of your body. It’s always good to play/sing to notice any changes.

Mapping your organs and breathing:

There is no doubt that the lungs are the essential organ of respiration and that their

main function is to bring oxygen in and to take carbon dioxide out. Our other organs do participate in breathing in another way. Our organs are connected to our diaphragm above and below. That means when our diaphragm moves our organs move.

How can that make a difference to our breathing? When you map the organs as being part of the breathing movement and structures, your imaging becomes more complete and you may relieve tension, improve breathing capacity, and increase your awareness.

We can start with the lungs and heart in the thoracic cavity above the diaphragm. Our lungs are surrounded by pleura which attach to the diaphragm. Our heart is surrounded by the pericardium which is attached to the diaphragm. As you inhale map the lungs lengthening and expanding. Map the heart spiraling and stretching with every inhale. In exhalation, the lungs and heart do the opposite. Include the lungs and heart with the movement of your diaphragm and ribs to give more dimension to your breathing. See how it feels.

Include the lungs and heart with the movement of your diaphragm and ribs to give more dimension to your breathing.

Directly below our diaphragm in the abdominal cavity. The liver on the right and

stomach on the left are connected to the diaphragm. Our other abdominal organs are arranged below, and each one is connected in some way to the diaphragm. With each inhale the abdominal organs go down and out in the fluid, squishy environment that allows for movement. When we breathe out our organs are compelled up pushing against the diaphragm helping the diaphragm go up and our ribs go back down.

Put your hands on your abdomen and notice the movement of your organs as you

breathe in and out. Add the image of the movement of your abdominal organs as you breathe in and out. Slowly breathe in and image your organs as they slowly go down. Slowly breathe out imaging your organs going up slowly. Include this movement in your breathing along with your diaphragm and pelvic floor and notice if that enriches and improves your breathing.

The space between your diaphragm and your pelvic floor is bigger than most people

map. Put one hand at the level of your diaphragm and the other hand at the level of

your pelvic floor. Our organs occupy that space. Map all the organs closest to your

diaphragm, all the way down to your bladder and rectum, and everything in between.

See what it’s like Including that much three-dimensional space in your breathing.

Mapping your organs and movement:

Movement is good for your organs. It keeps them toned, keeps them from getting stuck in one position, and helps with overall function. Any kind of movement is good for your organs.

One way of enhancing the movement of our organs and our movement in general is by imaging organs as forming joint surfaces between other organs and other structures

One way of enhancing the movement of our organs and our movement in general is by imaging organs as forming joint surfaces between other organs and other structures. In the Franklin Method this is called orgokinematics. The heart forms a ball and socket joint with the lungs where the heart is the ball and the lungs the socket. The liver forms a joint with the diaphragm. There are many other examples.

Let’s see what that is like in practice. Your heart is located behind your sternum. Your

lungs are on either side. We can imagine the heart as a ball and the lungs as the sockets for a ball and socket joint. When you side-bend to your left, your right lung is

lengthening and sliding over the heart. Your left lung is being compressed. You can add to the image that your heart is rolling in the socket. After you side-bend 4-5 times on that side, notice if you feel a difference in your awareness of your heart and lungs in your body, more elastic breathing on the side you practiced, or more flexibility in your arms. You can do the same thing on the other side. Play or sing and notice if there is a change.

The liver also has several joint surfaces with other structures. We can look at the liver

as the ball relative to the diaphragm which is the socket. Your liver is located below your diaphragm on the right side and extends a little past the midline to the left. Map your liver and diaphragm by tapping on your body to remind you where they are. Bend slightly forward and imagine your diaphragm sliding over the liver. As you bend slightly back imagine your liver rolling forward. You can imagine the liver as a ball moving relative to the diaphragm, or the diaphragm as the socket relative to the liver. Notice any changes in awareness, breathing, ease, or movement. To balance yourself out, you can do the same thing with the stomach on your left side. You may be able to find other relationships with your organs to explore movement.

Whether you are new to Body Mapping or looking for some new ideas and tools, there are many ways we as musicians can benefit from mapping our organs. Once I started including my organs in my mapping and imaging, I noticed that there were many improvements in my playing. My breathing became fuller and less grippy and my movement flexibility improved. I had a greater sense of myself as a three-dimensional person and felt more at ease. But most of all I am enjoying the distinct and delightful sense of my whole body playing music. I hope by exploring mapping your organs in different ways and becoming more acquainted with them, you will notice changes for the better in your playing and singing.

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1 Comment

I loved this post, Ruth. A great reminder of how completely integrated we all are, and that the organs add another dimension to our understanding of how their movement is connected to the movements of other joints and tissues. Wholeness! I really enjoyed thinking of (and exploring) the feeling of the heart and lungs being "jointed" like a ball and socket and adding to the feeling of 3-dimensionality in the torso. Great ideas to play with in courses/workshops!

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