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The Keyboard Condition
If we remember that we are dealing with the dream process, and this process arises from our core self and 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 our Core we need to take on a similar relaxed state without actually going to sleep. Dreams are not as healing as allowing the dream process to work consciously, mostly because we do not consciously co-operate and agree with the dreams. It therefore does not integrate as fully with our waking self.
Once when I was teaching this approach to a group of Quakers, a man assured me that if we gave our being so openly the devil would enter us. But such fears show that the ‘devil’ has already claimed the man, other wise he would be secure in his spirit.
Many people can easily hang loose, and so spontaneous waking dreams 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. See LifeStream
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 waking dreams, 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 waking dreaming that appeared in Harpers and Queen, Leslie Kenton describes a woman’s experience who was led into this 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.”