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Your Guru The Body – Part Two

This step builds on what you have already done. The aim of the first step was to explore what it was like to allow your body to express its own spontaneous movements. Although yawning can be controlled, it is one of the movements we make that is largely spontaneous. By using it we learned to listen to the urge toward movements that were not controlled by your own conscious decisions, and allow yourself to open to the yawning spreading to fuller movements than you usually allow. The results of this can be incredibly varied, so there is no right or wrong result.

The Relaxed Arm Test

The next technique to be suggested is called the Relaxed Arm Test. Whereas the yawning technique led to a type of movement you know from past experience, the relaxed arm test leads to something that may be quite different. It is used, as with the yawning technique, to help you learn to listen to your body and feelings in an open way. But more will be described about its possibilities after you have used it.

Something that is helpful though, is to hold your body in a way that might be called the ‘piano key’ feeling. This is 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. So the aim is to let your body and feelings be sensitive and relaxed, ready to be influenced by gentle internal urges. And of course, this was the reason for using the yawning experience. So just hold that feeling you allowed in letting yourself yawn.

So below is described how to use this step. Once more, approach it playfully. Enjoy it, and this helps what happens.

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 your arm by your side 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 what we are attempting to learn, that 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. That is, it discharges tension, or heals itself by its spontaneous movements and processes. 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 following the inner-directed movement you are learning.

It would be quite helpful to practice this experiment a few times though before moving on to the next.

An alternative way of doing this with a group is for one person to help another. This is done by the helper restraining the arms of the active person while they try to lift both arms sideways. After twenty seconds the helper tells the active person to relax their arms, and takes away their own hands.

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