Letting the Body Speak
Liberating the Body
LETTING YOUR BODY SPEAK
Spontaneous movement was natural to you as a baby. You moved arms and legs in ways that would develop muscles, express feelings and stimulate growth. Your emotions were vented directly and powerfully through such movements. You cried when you were upset, laughed when happy, and when the time was right practised all manner of sounds in preparation for speech. All this without the intervention of any planning or list of exercises to do. In this way you maintained your physical and psychological health. In a similar unselfconscious manner you were able to traverse formidable stages of physical and psychological growth.
Without formal lessons or given exercises you practised what was new from an inner-directed source. You learnt the lessons of language and walking quickly and persisted despite many failures. Without boredom you practised the same movements and sounds endlessly until you were capable in them and could move from them to extended skills. You took in the cultural and grammatical information around you and put it to work. Without sitting and concentratedly thinking about the mass of information presented, you found order in its chaos. Even as a baby your body and mind were incredibly resourceful in their own right without formal tuition. Nearly all this was a natural response to your environment. It occurred because you were letting your body and mind move spontaneously in response to your environment.
Regaining Youthful Abilities
Learning inner-directed movement is relearning how to trust your own innate capability and power again. To trust the life enhancing drives you felt in childhood. It is learning to trust the subtle urges your body has to move and feel, urges arising from the unconscious centre from which your growth and life emerged. Trust, because it takes self reliance to allow the new, the previously unknown and unplanned to emerge and be felt. We must learn to let ourself play and move without the deadening self criticism that can cripple expression in adult life. You also learn in some degree to stand outside the social conditioning you acquired as you grew up.
Learning to allow the same inner-directed movement and mental learning that operated in early childhood, is not done to replace your hard won conscious will, your reasoning and decision making. The more instinctive or intuitive source of growth and learning promotion that operated in childhood is a great addition to conscious will, not a replacement. In fact when the rational mind acts in a co-operative and monitoring way with the unconscious or intuitive self, a much greater efficiency occurs in both.
Through this co-operation you access resources that can lead to greater health, and an improvement in the functioning of the immune system. You can also meet your own creativity in a degree usually only glimpsed in the adventure and strangeness of dreams. One of the most significant aspects of inner-directed movement however, is its ability to continue the action of your psychological growth into greater maturity and freedom.
Letting-go and allowing your being to fulfil its own spontaneous needs is a thing of great simplicity. It is easy. It takes no effort or thought at all. It is even easier than attempting to relax. But because we have habits of constantly deciding or willing what to do – the feeling that nothing will happen unless we do it – you may need to take time to learn how to let-go in a way that allows action. In Eastern practices this is called action in non action. It is helpful to see it akin to holding yourself in a condition of sensitive balance, like the keys on a piano. A touch on a piano key causes it to move and the note to play, but as soon as the finger is removed the key springs back into place ready to move again if necessary. The difference between the piano key being moved and the action of inner-directed movement is that no external finger or force motivates you during inner-directed movement. The same sort of subtle but persuasive impulses that move your chest in breathing are allowed to flow into action and feeling.
If there is anything to be learnt, it is to feel and allow the flow and movement of these life impulses – to let them lead you into unanticipated and creative movement and self expression. You learn to meet and melt the subtle resistances causing you to hold back from wholeness, from bringing to awareness more of yourself. It is therefore helpful to explore and respond to some of these subtle feelings in yourself before attempting the full freedom of inner-directed movement.
Liberating the Body – Phase One
Warm-Up and Loosening Movements
It is useful, at least in the early days of learning inner-directed movement, to warm-up your body with some given movements. Below are listed some that are extremely helpful.
The series of movements were arrived at in a special way. After I had learnt to allow inner-directed movement and my body and mind felt expressive in it, I found the spontaneous movements would respond to a question. For example if I had a dream that puzzled me, I could ask what a particular figure in it represented, and my body would respond spontaneously in a descriptive mime. Because the information the mime presented often added to what I knew consciously, I felt the ‘answer’ that arose through movement was expressing unconscious insights.
One day I was experimenting with this question and response, and asked what would be a helpful way to bring the body and mind to harmony. I was astonished as an extremely long and detailed response flowed spontaneously from me. Movement after movement arose apparently from my unconscious, along with an understanding of how the movements influenced basic biological and psychological processes such as introversion and extroversion of energy and awareness. As I used these movements, I realised they are not simply exercises to make the body active and stimulated. For instance if I cannot breathe properly I am not functioning well. If my hips are locked in tension and my pelvis cannot express tender sexual feelings, or if my abdomen is tight and my internal organs cannot digest food properly, then the basic urges of life are being interfered with. The exercises loosen the body in a way to allow a more fuller expression of these basic life-movements – such as the expansion and contraction of the chest in relationship to the spine; the swinging pelvis expressing sexuality and its connection with the chest, neck and head. Tensions restricting the way life-processes expresses in movements such as breathing lie at the root of much physical and psychological illness.
The following movements are those I learnt that day. If you enjoy them and have time, by all means do the movements consecutively. They are excellent for health in themselves, but they are not inner-directed movement. They are given to warm your body and help mobilisation and internal balancing.
Use these movements at least three times over a period of a week or so, before going on to the next phase. Practice each movement for between one minute to three minutes, depending on your energy and time. Try doing them with music sometime to see if it aids the good feelings they can produce. Later suggestions for types of music are given in detail. At this point something fairly flowing without too much drama in it.
These are only warm-up movements, they are not inner-directed movement. Inner-directed movement, once learnt, can be used easily and for a few minutes. There is not a long list of ‘movements’ to use in the proper practice, although there are a variety of ways you can use it.
It is helpful to ‘meditate’ on some of the movements after performing them. This means that you try to recreate the feelings, or sensation of the movement again without allowing your body to make the movement. The idea is to exercise your inner awareness and feelings of energy movement. So in the third of the movements, the pelvic swing, you would create the feeling of the hips pushing forward and up, followed by the pulling back and down of the pelvis. This meditation exercise is important as it enables you to gain some control of your inner feelings. Often such feelings are stimulated by external events or unconscious worries. Your meditation is harmonising and balancing these feelings.
These movements take time, so if you are not able to do them all in sequence, do those you can within the time available and work through the other movements during future sessions. You need a reasonable space – something at least the size of a single blanket, so you can feel free to move without bumping into things.
Squatting and Rising
This first movement you start from a standing position. With feet slightly apart you take an in-breath, and as you reach the high point of inhalation you take head and arms backwards to really open up the chest. From that standing position with head back you then begin to breath out and bend the knees so that you can drop quickly into a squat. As you do so let the arms move forward and up so the hands come palms together near to the face. Meanwhile you drop into a squatting position expelling your breath fast as you go down. You rest there for a moment and then the movement carries on by breathing in and rising back up to the first position again. So you slowly stand as you breath in, then when standing expand the rib cage again by opening the arms slightly backwards and apart, and taking the head slightly back.
When you get used to the movement, going down into the squat position should be done fairly fast with the out-breath quite strong so there is an audible blowing of air out of the lungs. It can be done gently, but if possible, do it strongly as the body drops. Let the hips go down as far as you comfortably can, and let the head collapse down too so the body is relaxed. Some people need to put their heels on books to make squatting comfortable, so do that if necessary. The hands come forward in a scything movement until they meet just above the dropped head. If you cannot squat so low, use a stool or chair to sit on as you go down, so you only drop a short way.
At least two feeling states are involved in this movement. One is the standing erect and ‘open’ feeling. The other is the down, closed and relaxed feeling. When you feel fluid in the movement see if you can enhance these feeling changes as you move between the opposites of up and down. While down feel the relaxed letting-go feeling. While up feel the active, energetic feeling.
- In this first movement you start from a standing position, with feet slightly apart.
- Take an in-breath, and as you reach the high point of inhalation take head and arms slightly backwards to widen the chest.
- From the standing position you then begin to breathe out and bend the knees so that you can drop into a squat. Let your arms move forward and up so the hands come palms together near to the face and expel your breath while dropping into the squatting position .
- At this point you should be squatting with head relaxed forward. Rest there for a moment and then carry the movement on by breathing in and rising back to the first position again. This means you have slowly stood as you breathed-in, and expanded the rib cage again by opening the arms slightly backwards and apart, letting the head drop slightly back.
- Repeat the cycle of Squatting and rising in your own time.
- Now ‘meditate’ the movement for about a minute. This means standing or sitting with eyes closed and imagining doing the movement, but hardly moving your body. Try to reproduce the feelings of the movement. Feel the relaxed, down condition, then move into the up, dynamic feeling. This is an important exercise in becoming aware of the subtle feelings connected with movement, and learning to mobilise them.
Circling the Hips
Suggestions - To get the movement satisfyingly mobile, it is helpful to imagine yourself standing in the middle of a large barrel. The aim is then to run your hips around the inside of the barrel, touching it all the way around. This helps to get the full circling of the pelvis. So, as the hips are circling back the trunk is bent slightly forward, but still with the head high. The hips should go well out to the side, and as they swing to the front they should be far forward enough to cause the trunk to be inclined slightly backwards. If you cannot manage this at first, simply do what you can.
The knees and ankles should be kept relaxed, as should the hips themselves, so they adapt to the circling. The breathing should then also find its own rhythm. Generally it is out as the hips swing forward, and in as they swing backwards. This is because the chest is slightly compressed as the hips are forward if the head is floating erect.
1 Begin from a standing position as the first, but feet slightly farther apart, about shoulder width.
2 Keeping your head and shoulders more or less floating in the same position, circle the hips horizontally. The pelvis is taken gradually into a wide circle.
3 At half time rotate the hips in the opposite direction for the rest of the time.
4 Meditate the movement for about one minute. You can stand or sit to do this.
Suggestions - If you imagine a vertical circle – seen from one side of your body – and move the hips around it fluidly while letting the legs and trunk follow, that is the movement. Although simple this is an important movement as far as becoming aware of the subtler side of your own being is concerned.
The movement is similar to the backward and forward movement of sexual intercourse, except that it is circular and involves bending and straightening the legs. But it does still involve the pelvis swinging backwards and forwards. Do the movement until you can feel your body loosening and flowing more easily. Then, do the movement slowly, being aware of the different feelings of the pelvis being forward and backward. These feelings are quite subtle, but are strong enough to be easily noticed if the movement is done with awareness of the change.
1 Standing with your feet about a foot apart move your pelvis backwards – as if starting to sit down – to begin a circle. This half sitting position brings the head and trunk forward and bends the knees slightly .
2 Start to push the hips well forward. As you do so the knees are straightened again, and this completes the full circle with the hips in a way that describes or ‘draws’ a vertical circle.
3 Do the movement in a way that keeps the hips swinging in the circle in a continuous flow.
4 Meditate the movement while sitting or standing.
Suggestions - If possible let most of the movement occur from below the navel. You can keep your eyes looking ahead, your arms swinging in time with the hips as well to let the body move fully. But it is the lower back that is being worked here. The movement massages the lower internal organs as well, so you may get the stitch until you adapt to the exercise. Do the movement fairly vigorously. If you do get the stitch, don’t stop altogether, just slow down. The movement will then massage the area of discomfort.
1 Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width, with trunk bent forward and knees bent also. Your back should be reasonably straight although at an incline.
2 Now swing the hips from side to side, making the lowest part of the spine alternate to the left and right.
3 When finished meditate the movement.
Swinging the Trunk
Suggestions – Be careful to check how slippery your feet are on the floor surface. If you cannot easily maintain a feet wide position, it may help to stand with bare feet. The movement is an active one, with a light pause as you reach top and bottom. Some people like to allow their arms to extend in a wide arc as they come up. It feels more balanced. Also, as you come to the upright position with the in-breath, let the head drop back slightly, and arms extend sideways and back to increase the chest stretch. This balances the deep exhalation accomplished by dropping the trunk forward.
This is a very pleasing movement, and because it connects with the breath cycle, develops a particular rhythm. If you can manage it without becoming giddy, let the exhaling of breath as you go down be quite energetic.
1 Stand with the feet about twice shoulder width.
2 Let your head and trunk drop forward, and the arms hang relaxed, allowing the spine to be gently stretched.
3 When you feel your spine has adapted to the position, from an out-breath swing your head and trunk to the left, allowing it to roll over and up to the standing position as you breathe in.
4 Drop the trunk downwards in the mid-line again, breathing out – do it fairly fast – then roll head and trunk to the right as you come up and breathe-in again.
5 Continue the cycle with a slight pause at the high and low of each swing.
6 When finished meditate the movement, reproducing the relaxed drooping feeling, and the active, ‘up’ feeling.
This movement works the abdominal muscles quite strongly, and needs to be approached slowly until you feel confident and able in it. It is not primarily a physical exercise. It is an expression of letting-go of self, of surrendering. You start with feet about shoulder width apart. The aim of the movement is not to see how far backwards you can go. It is to express the feeling of letting go of self, of dropping control in a disciplined way. At first, when the head and shoulders are back, hold the position for a very short time, then recover to the upright stance. As you get used to the movement, you can stay in the surrendered position longer – just as long as is comfortable – then recover.
1 From an in- breath you drop your head slowly back and breathe out, allowing your head, shoulders and trunk to drop slightly backwards with the arms limp.
2 If you are comfortable in that breathe as normally as you can while your trunk is backwards.
3 Hold for a short time then return to the upright position.
4 Repeat several times.
5 Meditate on the movement, moving between the surrendered feeling and the taking control upright feeling.
This movement uses the legs a lot more, and introduces more spinal twist. Because you are reaching forwards with the opposite hand to the bent kneed, there is a common tendency for people to extend the whole trunk forward too, and that is unnecessary. The trunk curves upright from the trailing leg. The breathing sequence for this is out as you lunge, in as you centre again.
When you are reasonably capable at the movement try doing it as slowly as possible. Make the breath slow, and move in time with the breath – out as you lunge and in as you centre. This is a very powerful movement so don’t attempt too many repetitions at first.
1 You start with feet about a metre apart in a standing position, with the hands palms together in front of the chest.
2 Turn the left foot to point to the left and turn the trunk to face in that direction also.
3 Let the left knee bend until the hips drop right down near the left heel. To make this easier, let the left heel rise if necessary. In other words, don’t try to keep the foot flat on the floor unless this is easy. Meanwhile the right leg is trailing, forming an curve from the floor up along the spine. The right knee is on the floor but hardly bent.
4 As you lunge to the left, let the right hand reach forward in the direction you are lunging. The right arm stretches out backward toward the right foot – i.e., in the same direction as the right foot. This gives a slight spinal twist.
5 From the lunge position, using the strength of the left leg, push back into the upright position until the trunk faces forward, and bring the hands to the centred position in front of the chest again.
6 From the centred position you lunge to the right. Don’t forget that it is now the left arm you extend forwards – always the opposite hand.
7 Pause in the lunge, then, using the strength of the right leg push up and centre again.
8 With a slight pause at each lunge, and while ‘centred’, repeat the movement alternatively to left and right.
9 Meditate on the movement, remembering to get the ‘centred’ poised feeling between each imagined lunge.
This is more of a spinal twist, more so than the last. The arms are extended describing a wide arc, and coming to rest where you feel comfortable, but not floppy. The breath cycle is to complete exhalation as the spinal twist is complete, and to complete inhalation as you reach midpoint between the left and right twist. Like the previous exercise, if the breathing is united with the movement, it makes for a more satisfying experience. Once you have got the feel for integrating breathing and movement, perform this one fairly slowly and purposefully.
1 – Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width and with hands at your sides.
2 – Leading with the head, turn to the left, letting your arms describe a wide circle, and continuing their movement when head and trunk can turn no further. As the trunk turns to the left, let the feet and knees accommodate the twist, so when you have turned as far as you can to the left, your left knee is slightly bent in a semi lunge to allow the fullest twist, and your foot is pointing to the left.
3 - Now turn from there to the right, going round as far as you can, fairly slowly to let the feet and legs change.
4 - Continue this slow swing, making sure you allow a semi-lunge at the end of each swing. This gives a little more twist.
5 - |Meditate on the movement.
The Swinging Rib-cage
This exercise aims at mobilising the rib cage in one of its movements seldom made in everyday life. To make sure your movement is actually doing what it should, it is helpful at first to practice in front of a mirror. Keeping the hips still and rib-case centred, hold your index fingers about two inches away from each side of your lower ribs. Now see if you can swing the ribs sideways towards the extended but still finger without swaying the whole trunk and hips sideways as well. At first it might be that you do not know just what muscles to move to accomplish this, but with practise it becomes simple.
Like one of the earlier movements, this one may cause you to develop a `stitch’ if you do it fairly actively. This is because it strongly massages the internal organs, and this is a healthful stimulus to them. It may also cause an unusual bellows action with the lungs, causing a pumping of air in and out of the lungs without actually breathing. This is quite normal for the movement, and is not harmful. No need to meditate this one.
1 - Keeping the hips still, swing the lower ribs slightly sideways. If you do this with the right side of the rib-case, it causes the left shoulder to drop, and the right to rise. When you alternately swing to the right and left, the shoulders alternately rise and fall also.
2 - Therefore, if you lift and drop the shoulders alternately, this may help produce the extending of the rib-case, but not necessarily so. Many people move their shoulders thus, or swing their hips energetically, without their rib-case being mobilised at all.
3 - Swing alternatively left and right until you can do the movement easily.
Your attention has been moving up the body in this series of exercises, and so are concentrating more on the chest and shoulders at the moment. This exercise is primarily to mobilise the shoulders and rib-case in relationship to the spine. But it also brings the arms into action in more than a supporting role.
It helps if you imagine the hands are pulling backwards through water. Meanwhile, the head and hips should remain facing forward, so the shoulders swing around the steady spine. The movement can be done slowly but strongly, or fast and energetically. This is a wonderful movement to massage neck and lungs.
1 - Start by standing with feet about shoulder width apart.
2 - Be aware of the knees, and keep them very slightly bent and relaxed.
3 - Keeping your head and hips still make the swimming movements of the ‘crawl’ with your arms. This means the right arm swings up and forward above the head as the left arm is low and moving backwards. Then the left arm is up and forward as the right drops.
4 - The movement is a slow circling of the arms.
5 - Finish with the still meditation of the movement.
The Breath Meditation
This is more of a meditation than an exercise, but is important in mobilising inner feelings that lie behind movements. When you begin this meditation, do not be in a hurry to open the hands to let the feeling of pleasure radiate out. In fact, let the hands be as spontaneous in expressing what you feel as you can. It may be that your hands thereby move a great deal, or very little. If there is an urge to move the hands in other ways than suggested allow this to happen.
1 - Stand in a comfortable balanced position with the hands in front of the chest, palms together and eyes closed.
2 - Imagine that as you breathe-in, the air is fanning a small glowing coal inside the chest. The incoming air makes the coal glow gently, and you breathe slowly and with awareness. This coal is just a symbol of the subtle pleasure sensations generated by slow purposeful inhalation. If you can be directly aware of this pleasure, dispense with the image of the coal.
3 - In either case, let the hands indicate the amount of this glow or pleasure. Let them do this by moving apart, so if the pleasure is intense the hands reach wide. As you exhale and the glow fades, let the hands come together. But if there is little felt, then the hands remain unopened.
Playing With the Voice
If you have lots of time you can use this after the warming-up movements. Otherwise use it by itself, taking up to fifteen minutes. It may help to use music as a background. Something not too invading.
In this exercise you explore the use of sound. To make different sounds you need to move not only your throat, but also your trunk and even limbs in different ways. Sounds also evoke feelings and move or exercise them. Just as many of us do not move our body outside of certain restricted and habitual gestures and actions, so also your range of sounds may be quite small. So for several minutes you will explore making sounds.
As your sound production improves though, and you begin to enjoy it, in different sessions explore making all sorts of happy sounds; different sorts of laughter, proud, childish, funny, etc.; angry noises; animal and bird noises; sensual sounds; the sound of crying or sobbing; natural sounds such as wind, water, earthquakes; make the sounds of different languages and different situations such as a warriors chant, a mothers lullaby (without real words, just evocative sounds), a lover’s song, a hymn to Life, or even sounds about birth and death; and just plain nonsense noises. Don’t attempt to explore all these different types of sound at one session. Just choose one and explore it until you can feel yourself limbering up in it and getting past restricting feelings such as shyness or stupidness. Those are the walls of restriction.
1 - Start by taking a full breath and letting it out noisily with an AHHHH sound.
2 - Do this until you feel it resonating in your body. This may take one or two minutes.
3 - Change to a strong EEEEEEEEEE sound. Once more, continue for at least a minute.
3 - Now try MMMMMMMAAAAAA.
4 - If you are doing this exercise for the first time, that is sufficient for one session. If not, go on to use one of the themes suggested above.
The Yawning Exercise
Do not use this exercise until you have used the Warm-Up and Loosening Movements a few times, as well as the voice exercise.
One of the easiest ways to begin inner-directed movement is to use your body’s own urge to express spontaneous movement, as with yawning. To do this first take time to create the right setting for the practice. You need a reasonable space – something at least the size of a single blanket, so you can feel free to move without bumping into things. Play some music that is flowing, but without a strong beat. A strong rhythm grabs the body and feelings too much and so prevents creativity in your expression. Most of Kitaro’s music is useful for this. Try also – Moods, a collection of modern mood music – most of the Enyo music – Meditation by Thais, and some of the Vangelis albums. Music also ‘gives permission’ for easier self-expression in that you are less worried about making a noise or moving.
Do not go onto the other exercises described after the yawning exercise. Practice this one a few times on different days before attempting the next ones.
You need clothes suitable for easy movement, and about ten to twenty minutes during which time you can give yourself fully to whatever your body and feelings suggest. Do not take this suggestion of time rigidly though. If your session is shorter or longer follow your own needs.
1 - When ready, stand in the space, listen to the music and drop unnecessary tensions. Remind yourself that for the next few minutes you are going to let your body play. You are going to let it off the lead.
2 - Open your mouth wide with head slightly dropped back and simulate yawns. As you do so notice whether a natural yawn starts to make itself felt. If it does, allow it to take over and have a really luxurious yawn. Any following impulse to yawn again should be allowed.
3 - Let the yawns come one after the other if they want to. Without acting it out, let the impulse to yawn take over your body, not just your mouth and face. So if the urge to move includes the arms or elsewhere, let it happen.
4 - Give yourself over to the enjoyment of having time to really indulge your own natural feelings and body pleasure. If the yawning develops into other movements and stretches, let it. In the same way you would normally allow your body to express itself in a yawn, let it express itself in whatever other form of movement, postures or stretches arise. Maybe it will be noisy yawns, so allow whatever noises you want to make, however ‘silly’. If this flows into movements following the music, don’t hold yourself back. Or your movements might not follow the music, but have a direction of their own. This is play-time with your body, so enjoy it. What has gone before has simply been preparatory. Now you can do what you want.
5 - Until you feel ready to stop, simply enjoy or explore the movements and feelings that arise – even if what arises for you after the initial yawns is a desire to lie on the floor and rest. That also is you expressing your needs.
The yawning exercise is an excellent way to release tensions, especially those of the neck and face. It is also the beginning of inner-directed movement.
Fiona, a woman who allowed herself this liberation of the body for the first time, describes her experience as follows -
“I found a quiet moment, spread a rug on the floor, knelt down with my head touching my knees and started running my hands through my hair – I have always found this very comforting. Soon I noticed myself beginning to wobble and shake, and it seemed so funny I began to laugh. I laughed without stopping for twenty minutes, rolling about the floor, on my face; on my back kicking my legs in the air; on my knees beating my hands on the floor. The tears rolled down my face, my voice became cracked, my diaphragm began to ache with unaccustomed exercise and still I went on laughing. Eventually I ended up by going round and round on the rug on my knees and elbows, banging my elbows on the floor in joyous abandon, my head and arms muffled up in my jersey which had slipped off me at some time, singing a wordless song of joy and freedom. Absolutely nothing mattered.”
Experiencing Your Body’s Magic – The Relaxed Arm Test
This interesting test helps to experience the sensation of inner-directed movement in a playful way. Try it with your friends.
It is important to let go of effort and allow your body to have the ‘piano key’ poise when you relax your arm at the end of the experiment.
1 - Stand about a foot away from a wall, side on, so your right hand is near to a clear space on the wall.
2 - Lift your right arm sideways, keeping your arm straight, until the back of your hand is against the wall. Because you are near to the wall and your arm is straight you will only manage to lift your arm part of the way. So when the back of your hand touches the wall, press it hard against the wall as if trying to complete the movement of lifting the arm.
3 - Do not press the hand against the wall by leaning, but by keeping the arm straight and trying to complete the lifting motion. Using a reasonable amount of effort stay with the hand pressing against the wall for about twenty seconds.
4 - Now move so you face away from the wall, and with eyes closed relax and be aware of what happens.
5 – Try the experiment before reading on, and use the left arm afterwards. In fact try it a couple of times with each arm before reading the next paragraph.
What you have done is to attempt a movement. Because the wall prevented this, the body was not able to complete the movement you asked it to make. Therefore a muscular charge built up in your shoulder (deltoid) muscle. When you stepped away from the wall the arm, if relaxed, was free to complete the movement. So your arm may have risen from your side as if weightless, thus discharging its energy. Some people need several tries before they can find the right body feeling to allow the arm its movement. It is easy to prevent it moving because the impulse is quite a subtle one.
The technique enables you to learn how to give your body freedom to move under its own impulse. The way the arm moved, and the experience of an unwilled movement, is so similar to inner-directed movement you are thus provided with an experimental experience of the real thing. It is also an example of how the body self-regulates through spontaneous movement. It is therefore helpful either to practice the technique until you can do it, or use it a number of times to establish your relationship with the feeling of it. The sense of allowing movement can then be used in inner-directed movement itself.
It would be quite helpful to practice this experiment a few times though before moving on to the next.
Liberating the Body – Phase Two
In Phase One you began to learn the process of permitting your body to move in a way that allowed it more freedom of expression. Now this will be extended showing the beginnings of your own creativity.
Once more create an open space for yourself in which to allow not only freedom of movement, but also freedom to express yourself. The space is both physical and mental. You need to have enough space to stand or lie on. That is why a blanket size was mentioned. If you have more available space though, use it. Clear it of objects you might bump into, as you might like to practice with your eyes closed. Remove jewellery that might get caught or broken by free movement. Wear clothes – or be without clothes – allowing you to feel unrestricted.
Creating the Right Setting
The mental space you create for yourself might be even more important than the physical. This is because just physical space is not enough. You must be able to give yourself permission to express freely with your body, your feelings, and your voice. The restrictions in your mental space might be obstacles such as – wanting to know what it is you are going to do before you let yourself do it – worry about what someone might think if they knew or could hear what you are doing – the feeling there is nothing worthwhile in you to emerge anyway, so you are just acting the fool.
A man who had just started exploring inner-directed movement explained to me that certain requirements are very important to him. When he started the practice he found that although he was getting results he felt he was holding himself back. He took time to consider why this was and realised it was because, living on the first floor, he was anxious about the possibility of people seeing him. He closed the curtains and immediately had very full spontaneous movement. He explained it was also necessary for him to be alone. What he said referred to him personally, but shows the importance of setting.
To create the right mental setting it is necessary to decide that for at least half an hour, you have the complete luxury of being able to move and express yourself in any way pleasing you within the physical space you have prepared. What you do within that time doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to please anyone else. It does not have to produce anything. It can be quiet, active, noisy, sleepy, aggressive – because there is nobody but yourself involved, nobody to be judged by, and you are going to withhold judgement of yourself until the end of the session.
During the half hour any spontaneous movements that occur might come in waves of activity followed by waves of quietness. If there is quietness simply rest, holding the ‘piano key’ feeling in the body so it is ready to respond to any arising impulses. You do not have to be continually active. Give yourself this period of time in which you allow yourself this liberation. It means letting your being find its own way of resting, its own level of activity, its own path of healing and growth.
In speaking you seldom know beforehand the words you are going to use, except in a formal situation, but you do have a ‘felt sense’ of what you are going to say. This only becomes real to you when speak. Also, if you think of two friends, and move from one to the other in your thought, you have a feeling sense of how different each one is. You have these feeling responses regarding everybody you meet, everything you see. They underlie your whole life, but you may fail to notice them. It is this feeling sense you are going to use and exercise in the next form of movement.
With all our technology and scientific understanding we cannot create anything near the complexity and wonder of a living creature or a simple life form. Despite this, few modern human beings have much veneration for the process of life as it shows itself in their own body. There is certainly a growing attempt to work with the natural, but nearly always with readily formed techniques. As individuals we also frequently kill out what is natural or instinctive in us, perhaps even with our ideals of spirituality or environmental harmony. It is rare to find someone who will drop aside ready-made approaches, and listen to what their own being has to say. Such listening and learning is real respect. It is an admittance that the process of life sustaining us, in its experience of millions of years, in its creative struggle, its countless lives and deaths, has something of great value to show us. It is also an expression of trust that the unconscious secrets of Life’s experience are communicable to our listening consciousness.
Your Body Is a Moving Sea – Steps in Liberation
You will need about an hour to complete this session. The aim of ‘moving sea’ is to continue the development of body awareness and how you allow spontaneous movement. Once you have used the ‘water’ approach as suggested below, there is no need to go through the preparatory stages in future uses. For instance do not do the yawning and arm lifting . Go straight into exploring the water movements. These can be used over and over with enjoyment and gain.
1 - To start Phase Two, use again any three of the movements given to warm up.
2 - Remind yourself of the feeling of spontaneous movement by using the ‘arm against the wall’ exercise.
3 - Extend your awareness of how your body and feelings move spontaneously by simulating yawns and allowing them to develop into stretches or movements.
4 – Stand in the middle of your space and close your eyes. Lift your arms from your sides and take your hands high above your head. Do this a few times noticing the difference in feeling with hands high or low.
5 - Pause with hands by your sides. Now hold the idea of taking the hands up high again without consciously attempting the movement. Take your time, and be aware of how your hands and arms want to make the movement. This means watching to see if the sort of feelings that entered into your yawning and arm rising sideways exercises are in operation here. If this includes the rest of your body, or your arms go in another direction than above your head, that is fine.
6 - Stand in your space with eyes closed. Drop unnecessary tensions as you listen to the music. Hold in mind for a moment the idea that you are giving your body space to explore the expression of the quality of water. There is no need to think up what to do. Let your body explore. Trust it to find its own way to expressive movements. Allow yourself about 30 minutes for this.
7 - Let your experience of yawning and listening to how your arms wanted to move be used here. Take time to observe and allow the delicate motivations – magnetic pulls – directing your body to watery movement.
8 - You will find you have resources of imagination you did not suspect. Aspects of water you hadn’t consciously set out to explore will be expressed in your movements. If you are expressing deep still waters, you will actually feel a deep quietness and power. Or if it is the power of rushing rivers, then a feeling of power will surge through your body as you touch your resources of strength and healing. The flowing feelings that arise are actually healing.
As you learn to trust this process and allow it to grow in expression, you will find unexpected themes will arise. Even though you are expressing water, your expression will have in it feelings that are particular to yourself.
While recently leading a group practising inner-directed movement, I was struck again by how creative we all are if given an environment in which we can allow our originality. One woman in the group, exhausted from the demands of her job, experienced deep relaxation out of which enthusiasm and pleasurable energy arose, leading her to dance and bathe in her own joy. A man explored his relationship with love, and saw that he needed to gather to himself the love he received from others to call out his own resources of affection. A woman who worked as a nurse met the painful emotions arising from observing the difficulties of a mentally retarded patient. Her creative movements led her to find a way of accepting the reality of life’s difficulties. The pain cleared and she felt was ready to give a more flowing response to others in difficulty.
As with the woman mentioned above who found new enthusiasm in the midst of tiredness, you will find your creative movements deal with and heal personal situations. I believe this is because the self regulating or problem solving process that underlies dreams surfaces during inner-directed movement.
Using the ‘water movements’ has the benefit of toning the body. It brings harmony between the emotions and body. Your feelings are allowed to be active and thereby move to emotional well-being. Areas of your body and mind not usually allowed pleasure are bathed in it.