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Mind and Movement 4 – Opening the Doors of Mind and Body

There is a big difference between knowing about coex intellectually, and being ready and able to experience it. This is partly because coex is very real. Coex is connected with the dream process, and inherent in the experience of that process is:-

a] That we are deeply involved in what is produced. It is not simply something we consider at a remove – we are it!

b] It is ego-alien. It produces things we have not necessarily created already in our conscious ego. Therefore we have to realise that what we call ‘I’, the attitudes, beliefs, memories and reactions we associate as being ‘us’, is only an island in a large sea. It is only a reasonably small part of the many biological and psychological activities which together constitute our existence. In a sense it is one small room in a large and complex house. The walls of the room are the boundaries between ourselves and the other aspects of our existence. During our waking life we may seldom go beyond those boundaries. Perhaps ours is a square room, and some other people live in round, oblong or triangular rooms. If someone whose boundaries are thus different to ours – we might believe in God and they do not – questions our attitude or views, it might be upsetting, irritating or even frightening. Such fears and irritations make up the walls of the boundaries we place between ourselves and ‘otherness’. The forces of life in us, our own complete memories, and the sum total of what we compute from our entire experience, might be this very ‘other’.

 The following description by Ian is an example of this in the action of coex itself. He says:- “For some months, in my weekly work with coex, I had been experiencing movements which I felt were improving the health of my body. Many of the movements were unusual, ones which I could never have thought of. They seemed to be acting on parts of my body which felt painful or stiff. For instance for some time before starting coex I had what felt like a grumbling appendix. During my practice some of the movements which arose really massaged that area of my body. Subsequently the discomfort has disappeared. In this way my body was led to greater mobility. Then one week, without prior warning, something new arose. The session started with movements which were like setting up exercises – bending and squatting. A few moments of stillness followed, then suddenly I began to dance. No, that’s not quite right – I was danced from within, for I didn’t know the plan of the dance. I danced creation. With great sweeping movements I gathered material from the space around me. With mighty breath I blew upon what was being formed, and gradually a world was created. It was a great world which I then carried upon my shoulders like Atlas. But so mighty was this world I gradually fell beneath its weight, crushed and unable to rise. I lay there, trapped, but gradually a feeling arose that there was something within me from which strength could come if I struggled and did not give up. So, like a captive giant I strove against the ponderous weight of my own creation until the deeper strength rose from within me. With difficulty I lifted the world from off my back to my chest. Then gradually I rose. As if it were a ball on the end of a chain I swung the world around me, slowly at first, but then faster and faster. Then suddenly and with great relief I let go and the world was gone. Then I seemed to be standing before a bright and loving light. Although the world was gone, I still felt as if my hands were chained, and as spontaneously as the dance, words rose in me, asking the light to remove them. But the light replied, ‘Ian, I have never chained you, only you have bound yourself’. Although I didn’t understand in what way I had chained myself, the realisation of it being my own doing caused the chains to drop off and I lifted my hands to the light, bathing in its laughter and love. From a deep part of me a song was called, and I sang to the light my thanks and joy. Then came laughter, for I had been such a fool.

 “Slowly the powerful feelings ebbed away and I was left quiet but amazed at what had flowed through me. Being in some ways a shy person I had never before danced in my life. So to first do stretching exercises, then dance and sing because of the release and love I felt left me almost in a state of wonder. Where had it all come from? What did it mean?

 “It took almost three months for me to really begin to answer those questions. Then, one day when I was describing the experience to a friend I suddenly realised what it was saying. Before starting coex I had felt very ill, but also ill at ease with myself. At that time, although I had not been brought up in an actively religious family, I had lived by a strong religious code. I dealt with difficulties in my marriage and myself by applying the rigid morals I used to guide my life. I disciplined myself to live the sort of life I felt God called me to live. That was the world I had created. I had made a world so rigid and heavy to bear that it had crushed me and made me ill. Through coex I was beginning to throw off that old way of life and the restrictions I had placed upon myself. I had begin to develop a sense of meeting life face to face, instead of creating a God in the mould of my own narrow conceptions. I had begun to feel a communication with life itself within me, and truly it was saying -’Ian, I have never chained you.’”

 What Ian describes shows how he found something which was outside of and more complete than his usual personality. It has in it many of the conditions Freud stated as being relevant to dreams. So not only is Ian’s experience of coex apparently connected with the process underlying dreams, but it is more healing than most dreams, and enlarges his realm of experience. He found these things because he could allow the otherness that was himself to enter his waking life. So the recognition that coex will require us to allow other possibilities, other experiences, viewpoints and emotions than we usually allow ourselves, is basic. Also, this ‘allowing’ really means that we are letting ourselves experience things very fully, not just intellectually, but as one does in a dream, with personal involvement.

 The illness Ian mentions was pain in the chest, tiredness and depression. The chest pain was diagnosed as psychosomatic by his doctor, but was nevertheless a very real pain. This, his tiredness and depression gradually disappeared as he used the process of coex. But this only occurred because he took something to the process. What he took was regular practice over a period of years. Although there were highlights in what he experienced, as described above, there was only a gradual change to health in himself. Also he took agreement and his consent. Not only did he consent to the action of coex by continuing it, but when he was confronted by possible changes in his view of life as in his dance, when he realised what the dance meant, he agreed to take a chance on those changes suiting him. He did this by surrendering something of the rigid views by which he had previously lived. So, some degree of perseverance, agreement and surrender are necessary attitudes we need in the use of coex.

 If we remember that we are dealing with the dream process, and this process can create a spontaneous drama which can involve our whole being, then in the practice itself we need to ‘hang loose’. So apart from attitudes, the first step of practice is to learn a form of relaxation in which our body has dropped unnecessary tension, and is like a keyboard ready to be played. I find it helps if we create something of this feeling consciously, holding our body, our emotions, our sexuality, mind and memories as if they were keys upon which the inner dramatist can play. In a sense we are seeking to create a condition similar to sleep. As we fall asleep we let go of our control over what we think, what we do with our body, and what we fantasy. Our ‘I’, our decision making self has relaxed and left the stage free for the dream maker to create its realisations. So in approaching coex we need to take on a similar relaxed state without actually going to sleep. Dreams are not as healing as coex, mostly because we do not consciously co-operate and agree with the process. It therefore does not integrate as fully with our waking self.

Many people can easily hang loose, and so coex occurs freely. But in case this is not so, there are some things we can do to learn it. These are tools we can use which can help us define what it feels like to allow our body and mind to be loose enough for spontaneous expression. As such they need not be used once that is learnt.

 1] This is a simple and enjoyable technique which gives a direct experience of spontaneous movement. You need to stand about a foot away from a wall, side on. Start with your right side. You are going to lift your right arm sideways, but because you are near the wall you will only manage to lift it 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. Using a reasonable amount of effort stay with the hand pressing against the wall for about thirty seconds. Then move so you face away from the wall, and with eyes closed relax your arm and be aware of what happens. Try it before reading on, and use the left arm afterwards.

 What we have done is to attempt to make 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 the deltoid muscle. When you stepped away from the wall the arm, if relaxed, was then free to complete the movement. So possibly your arm rose 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 point of the exercise however, is to learn a relationship with oneself in which the subtle impulse can express. The movement the arm makes, and how it feels to experience an unwilled movement, is so similar to coex we are thus provided with an experimental experience of the real thing. Therefore it is 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. This sense of allowing movement can then be used in coex itself.

 2] For the next technique you need to work with a partner. One person needs to be the ‘subject’ and the other the ‘helper’. The subject can stand or lay down, and the helper should take their hands. The subject should close their eyes and be in a ‘hang loose’ feeling. The helper should give the subject a few moments to feel relaxed in the situation, then start slowly moving their arms in random movements. If there is noticeable tension or resistance to their arms being moved, the helper should attempt to help the subject be aware of such tensions or points of resistance. Sometimes the arms are so tense they will stay in any position they are placed. Then it is easy enough to point out to the subject how they are tensing their arms. Otherwise, perhaps the helper can manage to have the subject feel the areas where resistance occurs, and have them learn to go along with the movements with less effort. This is the aim of this technique. One is helping the subject feel what it is like to have their body moved by someone/something other than their own directions. As this is a learning process, this may need some practice.

 In some cases it will be noticed if you are the helper, that the subject is trying to help you make the movements of the arms. If so, while still moving their arms in a random way, gradually lessen your direction and let them take the lead. If you do this slowly the person will feel you are still directing the movements of their arms. As this point is reached, take your hands away gently and encourage the subject to let their hands and arms explore their own movements. This is a gentle and effective way for some people to be led into the experience of coex. Once they are making their own movements, with the attitude that ‘you’ are doing it, they have effectively learnt how to allow spontaneous fantasy to take place.

 In her article on coex which appeared in Harpers and Queen, Leslie Kenton describes a woman’s experience who was led into coex by the above method. She says, “I watched one woman who was using the technique for the first time, lie quietly breathing. She then found that her hands began to move gently as though she was exploring the texture and quality of space near her body. Crisp encouraged her to go with these fine movements. Gradually they developed into larger stroking gestures in the air around her. Her imaging facilities came into play as the physical movements continued and she sensed that she was in what she later described as a kind of womb. But instead of being dark it was permeated with light, immensely safe and beautiful. Then gradually her torso and shoulders began to move as well until slowly she emerged from this extraordinary womb world into clear air and more light. She began to weep quietly, stunned by the power and the beauty of an experience which had come quite spontaneously from within her. When she later began to try and make sense of the imagery which accompanied the movements she realised that her own feeling sense [which until then she had not even been aware of] had created for her a physical expression of the particular life situation she was in at the moment. She was on the verge of a new beginning as far as her work was concerned, and had been feeling rather unsettled and anxious about it. She found this coex experience enormously helpful because it made her realise that the career changes she had planned had not been motivated by some capricious wish but were very much in line with the direction her deepest self was leading her. She also discovered that she has a feeling sense which she can experience for herself and that if she listens to it, it will express a summary of her life situation at any particular time or help her work through whatever blocks or tensions she experiences.”


MOVEMENTS OF MEANING

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As already explained, our mind or feeling self is linked with our body through movement. It is sometimes clearer for us to observe this in other animals than in ourselves. The expression of sexual drive, for instance, and the follow up of parenting, can easily be seen as physical movements of an instinctive nature in the elaborate courtship rituals of some birds. The movements of these rituals, and the movements of nest making, are examples of spontaneously generated activity. If such movements were inhibited for some reason, the animal would undoubtedly experience physical tension and internal stress. A puppy I once owned demonstrated this to me after I had trained her to sit and wait while I put her food in her bowl. Her instinctive drive was to move to engulf the food. I had put an artificial block to that impulse by smacking her each time she did it. The result was that while she waited from me to give her permission to eat, her body exhibited enormous trembling. As soon as my block was removed and she could allow her movements, the trembling ceased.

 A dog can express its natural and impulsive drives to eat, to chase, bark, be aggressive and have sex more openly than most human beings. Because of our social training we have often built into ourselves quite enormous physical tensions to hold back our feelings and the movements which would express them. The action of coex is a means of releasing the tensions by allowing the body and feelings to express in a ‘safe’ environment without inhibition. But coex itself cannot function sometimes because the very tensions it would release are inhibiting its action. Therefore it is often helpful to begin releasing such tensions in another more structured way. This can be done by making some of the movements we might have made if the body were freely expressing. Note has been taken of typical movements different people make during coex, and these have been put together in a series of exercises. While these are only necessary prior to coex if we have difficulty in starting, they are pleasurable to do, and probably better for health than general physical movements. This is because each one expresses in some way an inner function such as sex, extroversion, introversion, taking, giving, etc. They therefore integrate body and mind more fully than a simple keep-fit exercise. Originally all movement was linked with a function or meaningful activity such as hunting, communicating, and so on. While these movements are not as powerful as either those directly expressing our needs, or those arising in coex, they are extremely helpful.

 1] This first movement we start from a standing position. With feet slightly apart we take an in-breath, and as we reach the high point of inhalation we 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.

 The going down into the squat position should be done fairly fast with the outbreath quite strong so that there is a WHHHHH, 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.

 The movement expresses in postures the two basic ways we deal with our energy – by exteriorising it, or interiorising it. The down position is introversion, and the up an extroversion. It is helpful to get something of the feeling of this as you do the movement. The exercise needs to be done for about a minute, and the aim of it is to get the body systems working, such as breath and circulations. But also it needs to be done over a period of time, as with the others, until it can be felt as a flowing expressive movement without kinks and blocks. As we are using the movements to help release tensions, they should be done even in the face of feeling very awkward or incapable in them. Such are the feelings tensions produce to resist our removal of them. After the exercise is done, sit or stand for a minute and simply ‘imagine’ that you are doing the movement. See if you can repeat within yourself the different feelings states – of being ‘up’ and ‘down’- that occurred while actually doing the exercise. If you cannot remember those feelings, do the movement to remind yourself.

 e next movement you begin in the same position as the first, but feet slightly further apart, about shoulder width. Then, keeping your head and shoulders more or less floating in the same position, circle the hips. The hips are taken gradually into a wide circle; so as the hips are circling back the trunk is slightly bent 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. As the hips rotate, if the pelvis is reasonably relaxed, it swings backwards and forwards with the movement. Don’t make the movement complicated by attempting to reproduce these finer points, they will come as your body loosens and the tensions melt. 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, that is, if the head is floating erect.

 The movement needs to be done for about a minute, and at half time rotate the hips in the opposite direction from which you started.  The last movement expressed movement of energy and so does this – the circulation of energy within us.

So after the movement is finished, stand or sit, and reproduce the feelings of the exercise without moving your body.

 3] This movement is the most important single exercise in the series. Still in the standing position, with the feet about six inches apart, this time we are swinging our pelvis backwards and forwards while rotating the hips from back to front. This may need some practice, so if you stand and imagine you are taking your hips backward to hollow the lower back and then swing them forward, that is the basis of the movement. As the pelvis swings backwards it hollows the lower back, and when forward it causes the chest/rib cage to slightly collapse.

 If you try, and find you can do that, it now needs to be developed into a wider movement. So I will describe the whole movement from the beginning carefully. From a standing position you tilt the hips backwards, hollowing the lower back, and continue this backward tilt as if you were going to sit down in a chair, allowing the knees to bend slightly to keep balance. Although it is necessary to describe this in sections, the movement needs to be a flowing one. But in this position the trunk is slightly forwards, the breath in and the rib cage expanded. At the end of the backwards swing let the hips begin to push forwards. At the same time begin to straighten the legs and breathe out. What this does is to bring the hips in a circling movement from back to front. Because the knees were bent as the hips went back, the circle is down and back, forwards and up, until you return to the standing position started from and continue the movement.

 Not only does the pelvis swing backwards and forwards in the movement, the legs bend and straighten, the chest is expanded and collapsed, and as you gain fluidity, a wave of movement runs up the spine. If the chest is kept rigid this will not happen. So the chest and neck need to kept loose and ready to respond to the hip movements. Sex in animals expresses as spontaneous movements. In human beings the hips are often so immobile it is impossible for this spontaneity to occur. But this exercise is much more than something to mobilise our sexual responsiveness. Because the spine is the main nerve trunk for our whole body, and because movement is life [i.e. the big difference between a dead and a live body is that the live one moves] the spinal waves created in the movement help the whole body to come alive in the sense of releasing energy from tensions and in mobility and expressive movement. Also, this movement, along with the one before it and the next one, are extremely helpful in easing or removing lower back pains caused by tension or back strain.

 This exercise expresses the giving and receiving, the yes and no of relationship. When you finish it, sit or stand and recreate the feelings of it by imagining the movement. You may find your breathing responds to what you are imagining. This is normal.

 4] This exercise can be called ‘roller skating’. You stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width and with trunk bent forward and knees bent also. The back should be reasonably straight although at an incline. You now swing the hips from side to side. If possible let most of the movement occur from below the navel. You can keep you 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 which is being worked here, although 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. After you have finished the exercise, imagine you are making the movements to recreate the feeling of it.

 5] In this exercise we need to stand with the feet as wide as we comfortably can. Be careful to check how slippery your feet are on the floor surface. If they are too slippery to easily maintain a feet wide position, it may help to take your stockings/socks off. From this position let your trunk drop and the arms to droop forward, allowing the spine to be gently stretched. When you feel your spine has adapted to the position, from an outbreath swing your spine and head to the left, allowing it to roll over and up to the standing position as you breathe in. You drop the trunk downwards in the middle again breathing out -do it fairly fast- then roll head and trunk to the right as you come up and breathe in again. 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 inbreath, 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. When the exercise is finished, imagine doing it while sitting or standing. Psychologically, this movement expresses energy up and down the spine. But it also has something of bowing before something, then standing energetically erect.

 6] 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. From an inbreath you drop your head slowly back and breathe out, allowing your head, shoulders and trunk to drop slightly backwards with the arms limp. If you are comfortable in that, allow your trunk to drop backwards while you breathe as you can. The point 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. This comes about because the top of the body is surrendered, but the lower part is highly organised to support that surrender. This is very much what coex is. So the dropping backwards need only be very slight unless your spine is flexible.

 When the head and shoulders are back, at first 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. The meditation of this movement is to create the sense of letting go, of surrender, without moving the body much. In this way we can create this feeling in ourselves when we come to use coex and need to let go of our muscular and emotional control. It is also important to recognise and create the feeling of recovery to the erect, self directing stance. coex is partly a way of learning how to direct the processes of our being more capably, and these two stances are important.

 7] This exercise uses the legs a lot more, and introduces more spinal twist. You start with feet about a metre apart in a standing position, and with the hands palms together in front of the chest. Turn the left foot to point to the left, and as you turn the trunk to face in that direction, let the left knee bend until the hips drop right down near the left heel. To make this easier, let the left heel rise. In other words, don’t try to keep the foot flat on the floor. Meanwhile the right leg is trailing right out behind you, forming an arc up from the floor along the spine. The right knee is on the floor but hardly bent.

 As this lunge to the left occurs, from the hands together position, let the right hand reach forward in the direction you are lunging, and the left arm stretch out backward toward the right foot – i.e. in the same direction. This gives a slight spinal twist, although the head should be facing front. Also, although you are reaching forwards with the right hand, 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.

 From the lunge position, using the strength of the left leg push back towards the upright position, bringing the hands back to be centred in front of the chest again. The breathing sequence for this being out as you lunge, in as you centre again. Then 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. Pause in the lunge then using the strength of the right leg push up and centre again.

 I find this movement one of the most enjoyable, and there is a way of doing it which makes it flowing and a unity between breathing, moving and meditation. But before that can be done, you need to practice the exercise until you can do it without too much thought. Then, do the movement slowly, as if it were an expression of the breath being unhurriedly expelled as you lunge. Hold the position for a pause, then slowly back on the inhale, once again pausing. The exhalation should be felt inwardly as a giving out of oneself, and the inhalation as a receiving. As you can probably now begin to see, the movements are thus expressing some of the basic energy/feeling states – introversion/extroversion; surrender/control; giving/receiving; relaxed/dynamic. So not only are the series designed to mobilise our body by taking it through its possible basic movements, they also mobilise our energy and feelings by calling on them to stretch and move. The still meditation of this exercise is a little more complex than the others, because of the complex body patterns, but try it while you sit or stand.

 8] This movement is a spinal twist, more so than the last. You start by standing with the feet a little wider than shoulder width and with the hands at the sides. Leading with the head, we 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 that when you have turned as far as you can to the left, your left knee is slightly bent in a lunge to allow the fullest turn. Now turn from there to the right, going round as far as you can, fairly slow to let the feet and legs change. 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 mid-point 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. End by imaging this one while sitting or standing in stillness.

9] This exercise is very difficult to describe in a book, but as it is important an attempt will be made to make it clear. It is a standing movement which aims at mobilising the rib cage in one of its movements we seldom make in everyday life. Keeping the hips still, it is possible for the lower ribs to swing slightly sideways. If we do this with the right side of the rib-case, it causes the left shoulder to drop, and the right to rise. When we alternately extend the right and left sides of the lower rib-case, the shoulders alternately rise and fall also. Therefore, if one lifts and drops 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. As the chest in general is highly expressive of emotions, as seen in crying and laughing, any such inability to move the rib-case suggests tensions or repressed emotions in the area.

 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 to do. 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, which 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. The movement should be ended by the still meditation.

 10] In a general sense we have 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 as heretofore. Start by standing with feet about shoulder width apart. Be aware of the knees, and keep them very slightly bent and relaxed. Keeping your head and hips still, bring the hands up to the breasts and take the elbows backwards and close to the trunk. Now, keeping the left elbow back, reach forward with the right hand until the right shoulder swings forward a little, and the left elbow pulls back a bit more. Meanwhile, the head and hips should remain facing forward, so that the shoulders swing around the steady spine. Now swing the left hand forward and the right back, bring the right elbow back and down as the left was. Then alternate the arms reaching and pulling back. The movement can be done slowly but strongly, or fast and energetically.

 The exercise expresses giving and taking, like the lunge, but more forcefully. If you feel any aggression in the movement, let it be expressed. Like the last movement, this too may cause air to be pumped in and out of the lungs. Finish with the still meditation of the movement.

 11] This is more of a meditation than an exercise, but is important in mobilising inner feelings which lay behind movements. Stand in a comfortable balanced position with the hands in front of the chest, palms together and eyes closed. 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. In either case, let the hands indicate the amount of this glow or pleasure. Let them do this by moving apart, so that 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. 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. At the end of this moving meditation, there is no need to repeat it as a still meditation.

 12] These exercises, and the meditations accompanying them, may have introduced you to the idea of mobilising ones internal energy flow and ones attitudes or feelings as well as releasing tension and stiffness in the body. Yet physical tension is only partly to do with not flexing ones limbs and spine enough. Such terms as stiff-necked, heavy handed, rigid, and no backbone, although apparently referring to the body are actually describing character traits. Even if such character traits do not cause physical stiffness, to live with them is perhaps even worse than not being able touch ones toes or turn ones head. A great deal of bloodshed in the world arises out of people living in such narrow political or religious beliefs that they are ready to kill others who do not share them. That may be an extreme, but most of us have some areas of stiffness or pain in our soul. This is mentioned because this exercise, although completely physical, confronts many people with either the narrowness of some of their attitudes or the stiffness of their feelings.

 In this exercise we explore the use of sound. To make different sounds we need to move not only our throat, but also our 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 our range of sounds may be quite small. So for several minutes explore making sounds. Start by taking a full breath and letting it out noisily with an AHHHH sound. Do this until you feel it resonating in your body and change to a strong EEEEEEEEEEE sound. Then try MMMMMMMAAAAAA.

 If you are doing this exercise for the first time, that is sufficient for one session. As your sound production improves though, and you begin to enjoy it, 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.

 Because the above exercises are excellent preparation, coex can be practised directly after them. I am not suggesting they should always precede coex, simply that having done the movements the use of coex is an excellent finish. If used in this way, a period of rest or relaxation at the end of coex would be useful.


THE SENSE OF NONSENSE

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In an unpublished manuscript I was fortunate enough to be loaned, Dr. Caron Kent describes how some of his patients found healing through working with the self-regulatory forces in themselves. More interesting still in regard to what we are considering here, he also describes how he first made contact with the process of coex in himself. He says that he had been feeling unwell for some time, and as a doctor recognised his condition was more psychological than physical. He felt he needed to discover the latent resources of his own being and so decided to regularly give time to be with himself and learn. He did this by sitting at his typewriter and writing whatever came into his feelings or thoughts. At first such writings were disjointed, meaningless and appeared to be of no help to him. But he persisted, and into his spontaneous writing began to emerge pieces of information and insights into his nature which started the process of change and healing. He later refined his technique and used it to help others, as described in his book THE PUZZLED BODY – Vision Press.

 Although this differs from Jung’s approach in techniques used, nevertheless the underlying principle is exactly the same. Jung suggests fantasying with the hands, Caron Kent used his typewriter. People have used an enormous variety of approaches to experience coex, but basically what underlies each is that they have trusted their own nature and dared to allow seemingly irrational parts of themselves expression. Their belief in the resources of their own being was a powerful demand directed to their inner process to produce something helpful. Continuance in the face of initial meaningless made their demand an organising and disciplining force to draw sense out of the original jumbled expression of their unconscious. Whether we are attempting to define a new and more useful view of the world, to ease aches in our soul, or to transcend the limitations we find in our art or love, some aims in our life are big enough to need persistence in the face of obstacles.

 We can consider our body, with its variety of faculties, as our typewriter, or equipment extraordinary. I know that people may already have defined a working relationship with coex through their activity in such things as painting, music, dancing, etc. Nevertheless I still believe it is worthwhile learning to relate to coex directly through ourselves. This need not in any way detract from other techniques we use. In fact I believe it can only add to them, for they are all extensions of our basic bodily and psychological functions. Also, this direct approach links with some of the ways our internal processes work.

 Although it has already been quoted in an earlier book, it helps to be clear about this point of allowing physical fantasy if one understands the way completely unconscious inner events gradually emerge into consciousness. W.V. Caldwell, writing about the way Van Rhijn has defined the levels of consciousness says there are four stages:-

1] The deeply unconscious physiological process, such as cell generation and digestion. Problems which cannot move more fully into consciousness and so are held at this level, become psychosomatic pains or illness. This becomes clearer if we consider human life in relationship with other life forms. A plant for instance might have some sort of bacterial illness, but would not be able to bring that to awareness. In a sense many things which occur to us, although they are very real and definite, never become a part of our conscious life, but always remain in the ‘plant’ level. If they are to move from ‘deeply unconscious physiological process’ to becoming known consciously, there are stages such events go through.

2] As the physiological or psychobiological process moves nearer consciousness, its next level of expression is postural or gestural. Thus we may express our deepest hidden feelings in an unconscious body posture or movement. Not only our feelings express in this way, but also our physical tone or health shows in our gestures and movements. Even the plant droops if it needs water.

3] Next, when something moves from the gestural to the next stage of expression it becomes a dream or a symbol, which although it may not be understood, is now entering the arena of awareness.

4] At this stage, what had been deeply unconscious, then symbolised, now becomes known enough to be verbalised or thought about and analysed. If one had attempted to verbalise something in level two it would have been so far outside of consciousness as to defy description. Also, when looking at these levels or stages, they suggest that the dream process is a means by which deeper stages can be portrayed to awareness in order to make them known. Therefore, by working with the dream process via coex, we can tap deeper levels of awareness and make them known.

 An interesting example of these four stages and how someone can work through them is given by Reich. When the abdominal tensions of a patient were released the man found his body making spontaneous movements. These were allowed and the movements gradually led the man to take on the posture of an animal – he and Reich both felt it to be a fish. This puzzled both of them as to it meaning, but as the movements continued the man first realised he felt like a fish caught on a hook and line, then suddenly, that was how he felt in regard to his mother.

 As can be plainly seen, the first level is seen in the example as the man’s unconscious abdominal tensions, built into his physical structure. When these are loosened and considered by the mans conscious attention, and the spontaneous self-regulatory/dream process is allowed to function, level two manifests as movement and gesture. This moves to level three where the movements are recognised as a symbol – the fish. Then the fourth level, insight and understanding are achieved when the man realises the fish represents previously unconscious feelings he has about his mother. At this point he can verbalise and analyse. I believe that being aware of such facts enables us more easily to open ourselves to the process of self-regulation and trust what it produces.


GIVING THE URGE TO HEALTH THE RIGHT SETTING

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Apart from this mental set, the physical and emotional environment we choose to practice in is important too. When I had been seeking coex for some time, my very first experience of it came while I was sitting in a local church relaxing. As I dropped tension my head began to be pulled backwards in spontaneous movement. I was excited by this and attempted to allow what was happening. Even so the movement disappeared within moments. Much later in the company of friends interested in coex, and in a room we were using for its practice, the movement appeared again. This time it continued and fully released in a re-enactment of having my tonsils out.

 The setting and its social and emotional environment are extremely important. The movements and sound I experienced in re-enacting my tonsil operation would have been highly unacceptable and difficult to explain in the setting of a country church. In the company of my friends however, I could relax and know that whatever was produced in my practice would be sympathetically assessed.  Setting therefore includes more than simply the room we use or the friends we keep. This is brought out clearly by the experience of Joy whose doctor diagnosed a muscular illness because of spasms in her arm muscles. She had lived under the shadow of this ‘illness’ for some years before she attended a coex group and saw that such spasms were a natural attempt on the part of her self regulatory process to release tension.

 The aspect of setting that Joy confronted is of course an integral part of our own nature in some degree. As already said, an easy relationship with the unconscious is not something our culture teaches or encourages. Therefore, in teaching people how to learn the process I have been asked certain questions over and over. People ask: “Is it dangerous. If I let go of the hold I have on my emotions, will I lose control or go mad?”….”Is this against my religion? When I leave myself open like this, will evil forces take hold of me?”….”Isn’t it bad to express your negative emotions? Surely it’s healthier to keep them in myself and not load them onto other people.”

 Because such ideas and feelings can stand in the way of allowing ones own urge to health a reasonable area of expression, they need careful thought. Although I am going to look at each of the questions, it is important that if you find these questions in yourself you need to take them seriously. They are standards you have been living by. As such you are using them now to assess the safeness or usefulness of something new. Such standards may have been given to you ready formed by your family, your culture, or a group you belong to. Any such standards which you accept as valid will decide the directions you choose in life. Therefore you need to check them thoroughly to see if they are based on anxiety or observable facts.

 COEX CODE OF PRACTICE

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IS IT DANGEROUS – WILL I GO MAD…….There are dangers attached to any undertaking. Most of us drive a car or ride in motorised transport despite the fact that tens of thousands of human beings die annually in such transport. But when we learn to drive a car we recognise that the dangers attached to it are lessened by learning certain rules applying to it, such as driving on a particular side of the road. In the use of coex it is largely a natural process which has its own built-in safety factors. Nevertheless there are certain things which are important to its use – rules of the road so to speak. These are as follows:-

1] If you have any history of being hospitalised for mental illness you should not practice coex. Jung sums this up when he writes, “In this way (by letting things happen), a new attitude is created, an attitude which accepts the irrational and the unbelievable, simply because it is what is happening. THIS ATTITUDE WOULD BE POISON FOR A PERSON WHO HAS ALREADY BEEN OVERWHELMED BY THINGS THAT JUST HAPPEN…” 

2] Because one is dealing with the dream process, some of what arises will be in symbol form. Such symbols, whether in the form of the danced story or feeling oneself like an animal, need to be gently enquired into. They need to be understood in reference to ones everyday life, as did the man who acted out being a fish. If this is not done some degree of unclarity or lack of integration occurs. In terms of the four stages of consciousness, our symbol level has not unified with our verbal intellectual self.

 Despite observing hundreds of people use coex I have not seen anyone ‘go mad’. I have seen one woman who had an undeclared history of hospitalisation for a manic condition – in which she flew so high into feelings of idealism and what she called love, that all practical issues such as the care of her child were forgotten – again enter those feelings and need the help of tablets to bring her down to earth once more. In her case coex had not caused her condition, it had only triggered it into operation again, as did other events in her life.

 What coex does do often though, is to bring people to a completely new and more relaxed relationship with their unconscious. People who had been afraid of their unconscious rising up and swallowing them in ‘madness’ learnt to meet it as a friend and ally. The irrational was seen not to be something crazy to guard against like an enemy within, but as a natural part of ones own being, also working for ones survival. A patient of Jung’s sent him the following letter describing her own feelings about this:-

 “Out of evil much good has come to me. By keeping quiet, repressing nothing, remaining attentive, and hand in hand with that, by accepting reality – taking things as they are, and not as I wanted them to be – by doing all this, rare knowledge has come to me, and rare powers as well, such as I could never have imagined before. I always thought that when we accept things, they overpower us in some way or another. Now this is not true at all, and it is only by accepting them that one can define an attitude toward them. So now I intend playing the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow that are forever shifting, and, in this way, also accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. What a fool I was! How I tried to force everything to go according to my idea!”

 IS IT AGAINST MY RELIGION…Commenting on the woman’s letter above, Jung writes; “We must never forget our historical premises. Only a little more than a thousand years ago we stumbled from the crudest beginnings of polytheism into the midst of a highly developed, oriental religion which lifted the imaginative minds of half-savages to a height which did not correspond to their degree of mental development. In order to keep to this height in some fashion or other, it was unavoidable that the sphere of the instincts should be thoroughly repressed. Therefore, religious practice and morality took on an outspokenly brutal, almost malicious, character. The repressed elements are naturally not developed, but vegetate further in the unconscious and in their original barbarism…….Only on the basis of such an attitude (as the woman’s acceptance of both sides of herself), which renounces nothing of the values won in the course of Christian development, but which, on the contrary, tries with Christian forbearance to accept the humblest things in oneself, will a higher level of consciousness and culture be possible. This attitude is religious in the truest sense, and therefore therapeutic, for all religions are therapies for the sorrows and disorders of the soul.”

 SHOULD I KEEP MY NEGATIVE FEELINGS IN…..Recent findings in regard to repressed emotions of grief or shock show how by holding back such emotions they can lead to serious illness such as cancer. Even ailments such as the common cold, which were once thought to be the result only of exposure to germs, are now known to also afflict us when our immune system is weakened by stress. When investigating why some people come through a period of stress such as bereavement in good health, and others develop serious illness, Dr. Peter Knapp, professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, came to the conclusion that, “The ones who stay healthy actively grieve. They think about what’s happened to them and gradually work it through. If you lock feelings away, it seems as if your body mourns for you by becoming sick.”

 I have met people who are convinced that if they express such feelings as anger, these negative emotions spread out into the world like an infection, and enter other peoples lives. Obviously, anything we express in word or deed in front of other people can influence them in some way. But what is usually overlooked is that repressed feelings are unconsciously influencing the way we deal with people anyway. I remember a young woman who used coex for the first time and expressed a lot of body movements and angry sounds. Afterwards she told me she had experienced the release of a lot of anger toward her younger sister. She then said, “I never understood before why I could never get close to my sister. Now it is so clear. I was so full of hidden anger I could never feel affection.” So coex practised in the right setting offers a safe and socially acceptable way of releasing emotions which can cause illness or difficult relationships if held inside.

 WILL COEX CURE ALL MY ILLS

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One should not think of using coex to replace the necessary skills of doctor, surgeon, psychiatrist or priest. It is a skill or tool we can use to enhance our life. Like any tool its uses are fairly specialised. A hammer is of no use to put a screw in properly. coex is useful mostly for people who already deal with their life reasonably successfully, but have particular tensions which need release, or who seek to further their creative ability and have a deeper experience of themselves. People who find it difficult to take responsibility for their own health in some degree, or find it foreign to think of their own life as something which can be improved and renovated like a house, need another approach. Taking these things into account, seeing it as a means of self help rather than a force outside oneself, coex has a place in society. Thousands of people feel an urge to transcend their present life situation. Doctors and therapists have neither the time nor the technique to deal with thousands of people at a time. Yet our present social climate screams out for forces of regeneration and positive change. If we cannot find means by which each person can take up this work themselves, using their own initiative and skill in connection with their own natural resources, then the future looks bleak. If we depend only on professional bodies and individuals, our turn may never come.

 Often there is no ready made answer to what we feel a need for in our life, we have to wrestle it out with ourselves, sculpt it out of our own nature. Perhaps others can support us in this, but it is still our work, our journey. Similarly, the answer to our world tension is still in the forming – and it is we who are forming it. For myself I often wonder how Faraday felt as he watched the laws of electricity reveal themselves in his experiments. What was in the heart of Stephenson when he was able to demonstrate the laws of steam? I believe that each of us, as we watch the unfoldment of one of the great forces of nature at work in us share something as fundamental and life changing as the discovery of magnetism or steam. Magnets in their everyday use now give us direction in the compass, electricity in the dynamo and sound in the loudspeaker. What – explored, researched and used – will this law of human potential breaking into consciousness lead to?

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved