A blog by Dave Zvenyach

Compression and Release

A meditation


When Princess Leia Organa told Governor Tarkin that “[t]he more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers,” she was not making a threat. Instead, she was warning him.

When Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes, he used a surprisingly useful design principle that he called compression and release:

Wright abided by a design principle he referred to as “compression and release.” In his structures, before entering an open, spacious area, one must first pass through a narrow, constricting one… The change is so abrupt and surprising that you might blink, temporarily blinded by the difference in space and brightness. Then, a moment of relief, as if escaping a nightmare.

The tightening of the grip, and the slipping through the fingers. The compression, and the release.

In our lives, we will often see this tension, between compression and release. The fact of tension is not inherently good or bad. Sometimes the tension defeats our purposes. We overexert ourselves or impose on others, and we lose our grip. Sometimes the tension is intentional, to create beauty and inspiration.

Even though the tension is neither good nor bad, awareness of the tension can help us better approach our situation with the right intent.