Approaches to Liberation

Liberating the Body

Chapter Four


When you have used inner-directed movement to the point where you begin to feel your body and mind are mobile and fluid in it, many possibilities open for you. Details of how to use these different abilities and possibilities will now be explained. All of these approaches are purely supplemental to what has already been described in the earlier chapters. They are given not because they are necessary to do – the simplest, ‘open approach’ is the core of the whole practice – but in case you want to explore the possibilities of this new skill.

Seitai and the Healing Touch

Noguchi taught three approaches to the Japanese form of inner-directed movement he named Seitai. The first approach, katsugen-undo, is basically the same as what has been described as the open approach. My observation of it is that the only difference is the voice is not allowed so much freedom in Japan. In fact each approach produces slightly different results, due most likely to the cultural attitudes and group expectations and environment present.

There are three given movement/postures preceding katsugen-undo. In Japan these are performed from the position of sitting on ones heels. If this is difficult however, try them either from a kneeling position, or kneeling then sitting back onto a thick cushion or books. The movements are to produce a mixture of relaxation and tension after which one will have a desire to stretch and move.

Posture One

1 –        From the position of kneeling and sitting back on your heels, or onto some books or similar thing to take your weight off your heels, place

your finger tips on your upper abdomen. This is just above your navel. The aim is to be aware of whether you are tensing your abdomen and aid you to keep it relaxed during the movement.

2 –        Take a slow breath in and as you do so imagine you are filling your being not only with fresh air, but also with light and health. As much as possible feel the positive force of cleansing fill your body.

3 –        As you slowly breath out let your trunk drop forward toward the floor, feeling relaxed and keeping the abdomen free of tension. Also, imagine you are breathing out all darkness and ill health from your being.

4 –        As you inhale bring your trunk to the upright position again, once more imagining breathing in light and health. Continue this movement and breathing meditation until you feel satisfied with it and feel more relaxed. If there is any desire to yawn during these movements, allow it. This is much encouraged in Seitai.

Posture Two

1-         The aim of this next movement is to produce tension in the body. From the sitting position breathe in fairly quickly and lift your hips no more than three inches from your heels. As you do this twist your trunk and arms to the left.

2 –        Hold that tense position for a few moments then drop back into the sitting position with a quick out-breath.

3 –        Repeat this turning to the right, and continue twisting to alternate sides until you feel satisfied with the movement.

4 –        End by turning one last time to the right, to balance your starting turn.

Posture Three

1 –        Next comes the last of the preliminary posture/movements. This is only performed three times, at the end of which you relax and allow your body to stretch or move in any way it wishes. Allow the movements to continue for about twenty minutes or longer if you are inclined.

2 –        Place your thumbs across your palms toward your little fingers. Clasp your fingers around your thumbs tightly to form a fist.

3 –        Raise your arms so your hands and upper arms are vertical, and your lower arms are horizontal. Take an in-breath and pull your head and arms back slightly to create a tension between the shoulders and at the base of the neck.

4 –        Hold the tension for a few seconds then breath out in a gasp and relax. Do this three times and allow spontaneous movement.

Teachers of Seitai place a lot of stress upon relying on your own being’s internal healing functions. In the book Colds and Their Benefits Noguchi points out that people who are ill have often lost sensitivity to their body’s natural response. As examples he says that such people, on trying to relax actually tense their body. They are unaware of their natural feelings of tiredness, perhaps they bury them with artificial stimulants such as coffee. Their body does not expand and contract naturally, but is stiff and immobile. Their own healing processes have been denied again and again. The cure for this is to start allowing their spontaneous action again. Symptoms of illness must not be suppressed by drugs. Such symptoms are signs of the body trying to heal itself, so must be worked with rather than against. The aim is not to cure the symptom, such as a headache, but to heal the causes. Noguchi goes so far as to say that the really healthy person is always feeling slight feelings of illness because they are aware of their reactions to the environment, and are constantly adjusting to it.

Noguchi stresses that it is not the movements of Seitai which heal us. To do the movements mechanically as if they were the thing which healed, is to miss the whole point, and be a return to keep-fit. But once you have learnt to allow your body to heal itself more vigorously, you do not need to practise. It is co-operating with the process of your being’s own regulating and growth forces that is important. As you gain experience of this it becomes natural and automatic in your everyday life, so doesn’t need ‘practise’. Noguchi defines the use of Seitai as a movement to train the autonomic nervous system. So if your body’s capacity to order itself becomes sensitive, your body will naturally maintain itself in a normal, pleasurable condition. This might be like a windsurfer who is much more sensitive to the movements of the board than an inexperienced windsurfer. So the experienced windsurfer is always moving into balance, and their adjustments are much finer.

Noguchi teaches that an open and receptive state of mind is needed, and this he calls ‘tenshin’. Anybody who has watched animals such as a pet cat or bird, can see that occasionally the cat will do certain stretches or movements. This is not because they have read a book about what the best exercises are. They do them instinctively. Babies have this open state of mind also, and they can be seen to make a great many of these movements and sounds spontaneously. Therefore, if you have a relaxed state of mind in which your body is allowed free expression, katsugen undo will occur by itself. Maybe you will start to stretch, yawn, or even scratch without thinking about it or directing the process.

For those who are so out of balance they are not aware of their body’s needs, initial help from another practitioner is useful. To this end Seitai has an approach named yuki – pronounced rather like you-key. It means to touch.

Yuki – Touch Healing – Touch Play

In the Far East there is a concept concerning human energy or life force which they call Ki. In China it is called Chi, as in Tai Chi. Noguchi describes Ki as the force behind the form of the body and its processes. He says it is the Ki that directs cellular processes, and causes them to grow in the correct shape and size to form our human body. The movement of our heart, for instance, is not the same, Noguchi says, as a piece of chalk being moved around. Our movements come from within, directed by Ki. In its expression, Ki is felt as our motivations. From these motivations we move an arm or leg. But more important still, without motivations, as occurs with some people who retire and lose their motivations, their being loses its health. Therefore, Noguchi says that instead of treating the shell, the body, one ought in such cases to treat the Ki and to restore the quality of its positive motivations.

Most ancient cultures have developed explanations of this subtle energy field within and around the body. Western science and medicine is now beginning to be able to demonstrate it also. Dr. Dolores Krieger, who is a professor of nursing at New York University became interested in the subject after studying the work of Oscar Esteban, a Hungarian healer. After studying with Dora Kunz, Kreiger was able to work with the energy field in effective healing. She went on to teach ‘therapeutic touch’ to nurses in a master’s level course at New York University.

Valerie Hunt, a professor of kinesiology at UCLA has been able to demonstrate the presence and importance of the energy field using a electromyograph. This is an electronic device measuring electrical activity in the muscles.

The Japanese teach that when you place your hands on another persons body, you respond to it. You will feel the energy field if you take time to watch your sensations with awareness. Sometimes your hands feel cold, or there is the sensation of ants crawling on them. If there is a cold response, it may be that there is a lack of vitality in that part of their body. You must continue Yuki – that is, directing Ki energy – until the hands return to normal. They also say that you will gradually learn to work with these subtle feelings with greater discernment through practise. Noguchi says that on the part of the person receiving Yuki there are observable changes. Their pulse rate increases, they feel more relaxed and sometimes sleepy. The effects are 1) relaxation. 2) heightened sensitivity. 3) discharge. There is certainly a very real help from Yuki, and at present there is much research into how such techniques can be used in healing the sick.

The way I was taught yuki was very simple and without any theoretical background. It is as follows:

The Practice Of Yuki

Yuki is practised with two people. There can of course be many couples using yuki at the same time. One person is the receiver and one the giver. The Japanese who taught me did not limit themselves with ideas of the healthy healing the sick. They used yuki because it was fun to do. But it can be used to help someone who is below par.

1 –        The starting point is that the receiver can choose whether to lie down, sit or stand. They become quiet and receptive to the giver. The giver allows their own inner-directed movements, as occurs in katsugen-undo. But the giver holds in mind that what they are allowing is in response to the receiver. I have found a useful way to begin is to be about three feet away from the receiver and hold your hands out towards them as if warming your hands. From there follow the delicate urges to move. The idea is not to massage the person, but touch is allowed as you simply follow what your hands and body want to do.

2 –        The receiver can also allow their own movements in response to the contact with the giver. In watching the Japanese use yuki, there were all levels of response. Sometimes the receiver remains very quiet, even sleepy. Other times both partners move into a lovely dance of responsive spontaneous movement and contact – or a fast moving play with lots of laughter. The contact may be delicate or full. Very often the hands of the giver do not touch the receiver, but move at a distance from them.

3 –        The receiver is to be respected. In Western groups who were unfamiliar with ‘tenshin’ or waiting, on occasion I have seen the giver drop any openness to the needs of the receiver and consciously decide what ought to happen, and drag a receiver to their feet. The giver felt that was where they ought to go. The inner situation or movements of the receiver were thus completely ignored. This non respect for another person’s integrity is not the way to use yuki. The interaction between giver and receiver in yuki, if allowed to develop naturally, often shifts to a mutual giving and receiving.

The experience of yuki is one of the most delightful facets of inner-directed movement. Not only does it develop sensitivity in a relationship, but it also enables two people to discover a world of non verbal communication and meeting. It develops the sensitivity of responsiveness necessary in intimate relationships. Finding that the Japanese had developed this gentle way of strangers meeting and touching showed me an unsuspected side to their culture. Teaching it in the West people have sincerely thanked me for showing them how to discover their own beauty and flow in meeting another person.

Working With A Sick Person

The Japanese practitioners of Seitai say that yuki can be useful if a person is feeling unwell. If the person you are giving yuki to is actually ill, there need be no change in the way you give it. It is best if you have practised inner-directed movement for some time to feel easy with allowing spontaneous movement. It is enough to hold the sick person in mind and open yourself to what arises from within. It doesn’t even matter if physical contact is not made.

In Subud the movements (latihan) are sometimes allowed in the presence of a sick person. Unlike yuki, there is no attempt to touch the sick person. Members of Subud are not allowed to work with the opposite sex when giving healing or help with questions. This must be understood as being a culturally created difference. It is important to remember however that the different approaches demonstrate the significant fact that the process can work well in various settings and ways. The physical distance of thousands of miles in reality makes no difference. The biggest barrier is not distance or even degree of illness, it is the beliefs, convictions and limitations we live within.

Open to your inner-directed movements with the person in mind who needs support. It does not matter whether the person is near to you or many miles away.

Paths of Wonder and Joy

The dimensions of experience you can meet within yourself through inner-directed movement appear to be without limits. If you have tried the different approaches described above and in the earlier chapters, you will have seen that a slight shift of attitude or a different image or question held in mind focuses you in another experience. This means that as long as you have established yourself in the basic open and surrendered process, you can reach into many different areas of your own potential.

The pathways described below are not necessary to use in practising inner-directed movement. Although the simplest form of the practice – the ‘open approach’ – is the most profound, because you are unique and have your own special needs, it may be that you get special help from using these pathways. Opening your being to allowing spontaneous movement is still the basis of each pathway however.

The Pathways do have a great power of healing and personal growth. This is because you are not just a physical body. As described elsewhere, your internal nature can become stiff and aching through lack of activity, just as your body does. The Pathways are designed to take you through a series of experiences that mobilise your being in a way difficult to find outside an extraordinarily full and wide life. If you work through these Pathways you will emerge feeling a very different person, and in real ways reborn. To get to this point it is not enough to practise each path once. You will need to use each one until you feel easy and fluid in it. If you are using the first one ‘Contraction and Expansion’, being easy and fluid means that you can move easily between the opposites, and any tensions or hesitation within the practice have been worked through. This does not mean you have to stick with one path to the exclusion of the others until it is perfect. By all means move around in them to add variety.

The paths are great sources of healing and personal growth. They will bring about a remarkable change in your experience of life and relationships. They will open doors to aspects of your own talents and love not previously met. They will take you into an awareness of what was previously invisible within you.

Contraction and Expansion

This is similar to the ‘seed approach’. The only difference is that instead of taking the idea of a seed and allowing your being to explore it spontaneously, you take the idea first of contraction, then expansion.

This is to do with fundamental life processes. If you watch your chest for a while you will observe its contractions and expansions in breathing. Your heart too constantly contracts and expands. Sleeping and waking contract and expand consciousness. Life and death are an expansion and contraction. Perhaps even the universe goes through such a cycle.

1 –        Create and stand in your space – with or without music.

2 –        Observe for a minute or so the contraction and expansion of your chest. As you do so allow the feeling of letting yourself drop more fully into the contraction and emptiness. Contraction might also be defined as giving up, feeling empty of any urge to do anything, dropping out of social activity. Allow your body to find its own spontaneous expression of this in posture, movement, and even sound if there is an urge to do so.

3 –        If you find it difficult to find a spontaneous posture of contraction, try kneeling on the floor and going down into a heap or curling up in a ball. This is a position of contraction.

4 –        As you go into your expression of contraction hold in mind that you will wait in the contraction to see if any urge toward expansion occurs. This may take time, or not happen at all, so be willing to wait.

5 –        Explore how your body as a whole contracts. What does this mean as far as a posture or movement is concerned? What does it feel like inside? What does it mean in your life?

6 –        If movements and feelings arise leading to expansion, go along with them. Just observe and let yourself take in what arises.

7 –        If there are conflicts or painful memories holding you in one of the attitudes – contraction or expansion – these will be discharged during the practice

Using the pathway of expansion and contraction heals any area of your being locked in one or the other of these opposites. The practice enables you to learn to move easily in and out of these opposites that play such a big part in life. If you are stuck in an expansionary attitude, then the practice will balance you – or vice versa.

I Am

This is a very simple way of encouraging the flow of self expression. Although simple it can be very satisfying and interesting to do. Have plenty of space for this. You will need room to pace about without feeling restricted. So comfortable clothes are also important. The length of time can be anything from ten minutes at the minimum, to half an hour, depending on how absorbed you are in what arises.

1 –        Start by walking around your space. Aim to get an easy flowing pace without having to worry about where you are walking or having to change direction.

2 –        When you feel easy and relaxed in your pacing start repeating the words ‘I AM’. Keep repeating this as you pace and allow yourself to complete the sentence in any way that occurs. So you might simply keep on saying I AM, but the feeling of it might change. Or you might say, ‘I am bored of this’ – ‘I am feeling frustrated’ – I am always getting myself into arguments’ – ‘I am so happy’. Whatever comes to mind, whatever arises spontaneously, allow it to flow through into words and the pacing. This will probably mean that what you say and feel will change as time passes.

3 –        It is important to have something of the ‘piano key’ open feeling in yourself as you use this approach. Let whatever ridiculous, beautiful, painful or meaningful things you feel about yourself during the practice be stated as fully as you can in the pacing and the ‘I Am’ statements.

The I Am approach leads to a fuller realisation of who you are. It aids in easy self expression, and is enjoyable and interesting to do.

African Dancing

This might better be called ‘native dancing’. But the name is used because most of us have seen film of African villagers or tribes-people celebrating a dance. The movements are often very repetitive and powerful. The use of stamping is frequently used to beat out a rhythm. Movements of the pelvis are often a part of it. There is open expression of all the basic drives, from sex to awe of the divine. Suppression of our own earthy and divine feelings may lead to tension and depression. The use of African dancing is very invigorating and helpful in being more happily assertive or expressive.

The following description of African dance appeared in the magazine Mothering, Winter 1990, under the title African Dance & Childbirth. It was written by Amy Trussell.

“In Black Africa, many women traditionally pride themselves on being dancers and birthers – endeavours that require uncompromising physical strength, mental clarity, rhythmic integrity, and a direct link to forces greater than themselves. As dancers they give birth, bringing to the birth process the tremendous strength acquired over years of night long and sometimes week-long- ‘spirit dances’. Daily work, the honouring of womanhood, the deities, the ancestors, the darkness, and the celebration of birth itself are all depicted in the dance. And the dance is carried into the fibres of everyday life.”

1 –        There is no need to learn African dancing. Deep within us we all remember our ancient heritage. We are all descendants from our African ancestors, from our primeval forebears who danced. To start you may need a recording of native drumming, but even this is not essential. If you use a recording, stand in your space and let your body feel the drum beats.

2 –        Do not attempt to take control of your body to follow the sounds. Let your body find its own movement and its own theme to dance. If you stumble and get out of time, don’t let this stop you. This is not a dance competition. You are not trying to win a cup.

3 –        Let your feet, your body, your emotions and voice move with the drums. Allow your strength, your womanhood or manhood, to flow into the movements with exuberance. Be aware of the movement and bounce of your breasts, pelvis and genitals, and let pleasure flow from them.

4 –        If you wish, when you have used African dance a few times, dance out some big event in your life, like the death of your parent or baby, if such things have happened. Dance marriage, dance the struggle and wonder of growing up, dance your life!

African dance puts you in touch with the roots of life – with being a man or woman in the body – with the power of emotions and love, of loss and gain – with the divine joy of living. Through it you reclaim the so called primitive in you that links you with nature and the fundamental life drives. Through it the events of your individual life, its pains and joys, are allowed to connect with a greater whole that sustains you.

The Animal

This approach is quite playful and enjoyable. It might introduce you to movements and feelings you were not in touch with before.

To meet the animal in you is not only to contact the part of yourself stuck in fixed repertoires of response to people and situations. Such fixed responses – which might be as simple as only saying ‘Good morning’ to the people you meet in the street and never getting beyond that to deeper friendship – trap you. They are habits of behaviour that need reorganisation. But there is also the wonderful wisdom of your internal animal as well, with its deep understanding of relationships and body language. The meeting with your ‘animal’ can therefore be multi-faceted. It is in the mammals that playful behaviour developed and is very marked. Many humans have lost this easy physical contact and playfulness with each other, and this can be regained through meeting your ‘animal’. See Mammal Brain

The experience of your internal animals, or the traits you have gathered through love from animals you have known, may surface during your general practise of inner-directed movement. To touch it directly you can try this path to the animals.

1 –        After setting up your ‘space’ drop any arising thoughts as well as you can for about fifteen minutes. During this time hold your attention on your physical sensations and inner feelings.

2 –        Allow any movements and responses to external noises and environment to arise only from your physical sensations – sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing – and from feelings such as comfort, discomfort, pleasure, pain, restlessness, tiredness, but not from your thinking. Explore your environment from this basic level of yourself – comfort, discomfort and your feelings. Look for a comfortable place like a dog. Rub against the furniture like a cat. If you are with friends using this path, meet each other without speech, but through smell and physical contact.

3 –        As you enter into this allow your inner-directed movements to emerge, with the permission for your inner animal to express itself. Let it lead you along and show you its view of the world and its wisdom or its needs in your life.

4 –        When you begin to get the feel of this, start with the awareness of physical and feeling responses again while crawling or lying on the floor. From the feelings of an animal, sensitive to sound, feeling its own instinctive aliveness and desire to survive – its survival anxiety – take time to see if you can stand up. See if you can discover what it means to stand up with all your senses and feelings working.

5 –        Another approach is to start again from basic physical and sensory awareness. Move about in this for a while, then explore what it might have been like for the human animal to become self conscious, to realise its own body, to look at itself in water/mirror with a sense of ‘I’.

Giving permission for the animal within you to emerge enlarges your experience of yourself and the world. It can help heal the hurts and reactive fears this aspect of yourself feels, because it is the animal – i.e. the basic biological – that fears are felt. Passion for life can be regained, for it is the animal that feels honest and strong feelings about life. Your body can regain its natural pride and pleasure in movement, and the war between the intellect and the basic drives can be resolved. Through it you can gain new levels of perception of other people and society, and even find new abilities.

Being Born

In Seitai there is no exploration of the mental and emotional possibilities of the practice. For many people inner-directed movement is largely an enjoyment of their body’s activity with some accompanying shift of feelings as the movements are enjoyed. In fact there is no need to deeply explore the realms of the psyche to gain great enjoyment and benefits from its use. However, I would not be properly describing what is achievable through the technique, if I did not give a small introduction to what might be found within the enormous realms of your mind and memory. The approaches given below are therefore for those who wish to open the door to an exploration of their own interior world of experience.

There is a warning needs to be sounded here though. The experience of your own inner life is very real. It may put you in contact with areas of yourself you may not have met before as an adult. Therefore unless you already have experience of working therapeutically – as with psychotherapy – it is best to use these aspects of inner-directed movement only with a supportive group to start with. It is a bit like learning to swim. If you did use the approaches below successfully they might introduce you to the deep waters of your feelings. So, like swimming, until you gain confidence in dealing with the new environment, it is best to learn with others. Of course, if you have already worked in this way there is no problem. Or if you are a group leader working therapeutically, the approaches are gentle ways into personal growth.

The following approaches are described for those who wish to explore something of the psychologically therapeutic side of inner-directed movement. If you are content with your experience of the practice as it is, there is no need at all to explore the mental and emotional side of yourself.

Being born was one of the great moments of your life. Not only is it an important physical event, but it is also a truly powerful process psychologically. That unborn babies have rememberable experiences, and that birth itself leaves strong memories and influences, although not yet generally accepted, appears to be well documented. Thousands of people have now recovered memories of birth through various forms of therapy, meditation and hypnosis. Some of these areas of experience suggest consciousness is in some degree continuous throughout all levels of being. (See The Secret Life of The Unborn Child by Dr. Thomas Verny, MD., and John Kelly – Sphere Books Ltd., 1982. In USA by Summit Books 1981)

To take the path of birth in inner-directed movement may mean recovering memories of your own birth and how it influenced your development. Such memories are completely non verbal and are composed purely of physical and emotional experience and body postures and movements. Apart from personal memories though, you may discover the power of renewal and the urge to grow expressed in the symbol of birth. This symbolic way experiencing was described well by Judith – in chapter three – when she felt like a crocus flower, struggling to open. In this way you might touch resources within yourself that have the possibility for you of emerging from old and restricting emotions, habits and ways of life.

1 –        If possible do this with two or three friends who are supportive and used to the action of inner-directed movement. This is not because it is unsafe to do otherwise, but because with friends you can create an excellent ‘womb’ environment.

2 –        If with friends, create your ‘space’ with enough room for you all to occupy a place close together on a soft duvet or blanket on the floor. Sit together making contact through holding hands, and centre down into the mood of what you are doing. Imagine yourself slipping backwards to the time when you were in the womb. When ready break contact and take an appropriate position in the middle of the blanket. Try curling up, knees to chest. Your two or three friends should now make close physical contact and cover you with their bodies so you are comfortable but enclosed in the warmth of their physical contact.

3 –        Once this has been done relax and wait for inner-directed movements to arise. There is no need to concentrate on the theme of being born. It is enough for you to have thought about this at the beginning. Now you can let go of any thoughts and wait and watch.

4 –        Do not attempt to make anything happen, or perform something for your friends. If all you do is to lie there for half an hour without movement, just do that. It is a very rewarding experience just to be quiet and close to friends in this non-verbal way. But you will probably find that after a few minutes there are changes of feeling occurring within you, and waves of impulse leading to some sort of movement or expression of feelings. Let these waves roll through you. Any movements that occur will come in waves too, so drop into quiet resting between them, and let the process unfold.

5 –        If practising by yourself – or alone in a group – imagine yourself going back in time and size to the point where you are in the womb ready to be born. Take up a position on your blanket that expresses this as nearly as you can. Then allow inner-directed movement as described above in 3 & 4 above.

6 –        What emerges will be unique to yourself. But in general it may feel like a direct experience of your own birth and relationship with your mother. Or it may be felt as an experience of psychological birth – a leaving behind of past attitudes and ways of expressing yourself that you have outgrown. It might be that you realise that for much of your life you have hardly been alive, and at last you are born and are living.

7 –        Perhaps what happened was incomplete, and you will need to use the path again to carry it further. Birth is such a major feature, you will need to come back to this theme anyway to really find the treasure of insights and energy dormant in it.

8 –        Whatever has arisen it is helpful to write it down and consider if you can see any relevance to your everyday life. For instance Joe, who used this path in his forties, experienced a difficult birth. He discovered a strong feeling of not wanting to be born, of a desire to avoid life by staying in the womb. He found this of great help in understanding the way he felt about life. His birth had been two months premature, so he could understand the feelings of not being ready to be involved in life. He had always had strong feelings of not wanting to participate in what other people were doing, of wanting to withdraw at social gatherings. On practising the ‘birth’ pathway again the feeling of withdrawal gradually receded and was replaced by a readiness to be involved in life. This made an observable difference to the way he met other people and was ready to be a part of activities.

If you practised with friends or within a group, share your experience with them and talk over what relevance you feel there might be with your everyday life. Also, ask for their comments on what they felt or observed. It is important to clarify for yourself what habits of feeling or attitude your birth has left, and how you wish to change these. For instance Joe was left with the habit of withdrawing from involvement with others.

The Pathway of birth offers the discovery of change in the amount of yourself you can bring to expression in relationship and work. It develops the ability to drop the past and to leave what is outgrown behind. Facets of yourself that were never really alive before can be born and live.

The Baby and Child

One of the tragedies of adult life is that you may have forgotten your childhood. You may still remember events and dates, but the intensity of feelings, the real insight into the world of childhood may be lost.

Can you remember how it was to live before time began for instance? The sense of time is learnt. Prior to being able to speak, and previous to your concept of time, you lived in eternity. Days lasted forever. A week was infinite in its multitude of impressions and experience.

Can you remember your first love affair – with your mother or father? Being your first, its wonder or devastation has coloured all your love since. But if you can’t remember then you are living out the wonder or pain without awareness.

Discovering your internal baby and child is to find some of the great secrets of your life. Many of the decisions you make about work or sexual partners have their roots there. What may appear as destiny often starts from deeply felt experiences in your childhood. Who you consider yourself to be is not an immutable reality. Your genetic inheritance gave you a foundation, but what was built upon that was due to the events of your childhood. If you are not entirely satisfied with the results, a lot of DIY alterations can take place.

1 –        You are going back along the time track of your life. Leaving behind the many things you have collected as you moved into the adult years – bank accounts, bills, mortgage, work, family responsibilities, dependants, the car, the musts and shoulds and should nots.

2 –        Although you can target a particular time of your childhood simply by thinking about it for a few moments, leave it open. Stand in your space, with or without music, and allow

whatever movements and emotions arise. Do not be in a hurry. Sometimes it takes quite a time to gradually build the inner change necessary to recreate childhood feeling states. Remember that many years of childhood were without refined language. This means the experiences of that period were wholly physical sensation, movement and emotions. That is not to say you didn’t have a mind, but its perceptions were very immediate and not filtered through words and past associations. Give yourself time and opportunity to drop the top layers of yourself and your present habits of experiencing the world.

3 –        Do not get confused by thinking that you have to act like a child to make this a successful experience. What you are doing is to give yourself time and opportunity to have an inner experience of your child self. So it does not matter that externally you do not act or speak like a child.

4 –        The likely response is that you will experience some feelings, some event from childhood, that is important in your life because of its effect. As childhood is such a vulnerable period, to get to free flowing feelings on this Pathway may take time. The clearing of hurt emotions and attitudes might be necessary first. Nevertheless, this is an extremely worthwhile process.

5 –        Many of your important habits were formed during your childhood. As an example – if you were an only child and had to spend much time alone, you may have got into the habit of suppressing your desire for company. If this habit persists it becomes felt as normal. In fact it is neither normal or abnormal, it is simply the way you have shaped yourself. In adult life you might therefore find it strange or difficult to be with groups of people. If this becomes a nuisance, and you want to change, it would be helpful to see this character trait as a habit rather than an immutable part of yourself. If you identify with it as yourself, there will be some resistance to change.

6 –        It is important to consider what you experience in your childhood Pathway in the light of what habits it has formed. Many habits are very supportive, we might then call them a skill, such as language.

The baby and childhood pathway allows some of the most permanent and importantly positive life changes to occur through clearing the accumulation of emotional debris built up during early growth. Resistance to positive change often has its roots in this area. This is not only because of ‘emotional debris‘but some of the most durable and defended habits were put into operation or developed in this period of your growth. The reason we generated these habits was nearly always out of necessity at the time. The habits helped us to survive – THEN – but may be self defeating and undermining today. Once their rationale is seen it becomes easier to change these habits.

Dowsing – Releasing the Unconscious Wisdom

Every movement we make is an expression of our feelings, of what we think and will to do, of our unconscious emotions and ideas. Very often our movements express habits, such as when we are walking along a road and without thought take the turning for home when we really want to go to the shop. Through movement we show what we may not yet have fully thought or understood. And it is because of this aspect of it, especially as it arises through spontaneous movement, that such practices as dowsing are possible.

In various forms dowsing has been known throughout history and the world. In early European history dowsing became associated with a rod or forked stick, and was used to help find water, precious metals in the soil, coal, and lost objects. Despite the scientific scepticism of our times dowsing is still widely used even by government departments – because it works.

But people tend to think it is the magic stick that through its movements can indicate water or other searched for things. But if you fastened the forked stick that had performed well in the hands of a dowser on the front of a wheelbarrow or push chair nothing would happen. Because the ‘magic’ is not in the stick but in the persons body handling the stick.

Dowsing is not always connected with a stick or rod though. Navaho Indians in the United States practise what they call ‘trembling hands’. After a simple ritual they allow their hands to move spontaneously. From these movements they understand questions asked of them.

The American anthropologist Dr. Clyde Kluckhohn and his wife investigated a practitioner on a Navaho reservation. Mrs. Kluckhohn had lost her handbag three days previously so asked the practitioner, Gregorio, if he could find it. Standing in the open air on a hill, and after rubbing corn pollen on his hands, Gregorio was able to tell them the location of the handbag. This was later confirmed.

Dr. Paul Brunton, in his book Search in Secret India, tells of meeting an Indian ascetic who used his arms to answer questions. He would allow his arms to move spontaneously, and from their movements could give a yes or no response. Indian dowsers do not use a rod, but experience powerful changes of sensation in their body, and are thus able to detect sources of water and minerals.

While investigating the intuitive faculties of Australian Aborigines, Ronald Rose tells of a more refined form of body dowsing. In his book Living Magic (Chatto and Windus, 1957) he says that the tribesmen he lived with used different areas of their body to represent relatives. So their father might be represented by their right forearm, their mother by their left forearm, their first uncle by their right bicep, and so on. In this way, if an unaccountable pain or sensation developed in a part of the body, they were able to tell which relative was hurt or needed help. Rose witnessed this in action and describes it as extremely accurate and reliable.

All these forms of dowsing, even when a rod is used, depend upon the involuntary responses acting through the body in answer to a question. Taken overall they demonstrate the wide range of ways such responses can be sought or experienced. All are ways to call upon the information we have perhaps unknowingly gathered in our unconscious, or upon our intuition. It is now understood that the most fundamental way information or feelings not yet conscious are expressed is through gestures or body movements. The next level of expression for unconscious content is through symbolic behaviour such as mime or drama. Freud demonstrated that slips of the tongue were another way we let our inmost but inhibited feelings show. This explains how knowledge we cannot yet vocalise clearly can be expressed through subtle body movements such as dowsers experience.

Within the practice of Subud there is a technique which synthesises all these approaches. It is called ‘testing’. In testing it is accepted that clear and helpful information can be gained by allowing inner-directed movement to arise in response to a question. Members of Subud often use this method to clarify the suitability of a new member to the practice, or to find what may help a sick member. It can be used to explore any question though.

Enhancing Your Intuition

Dreams and imagination are a multifaceted way of sensing things. If you consider an early human being, prior to the emergence of complex speech and the ability to think in the abstract symbols we call words, all their thought would most likely have been in images like a waking dream. A human couple in the dawn of our history, standing in wild terrain and seeing dust on the horizon, would need to know very quickly whether the dust was a sign of food to eat or an enemy to run from.

Without the tool of thought using words, they would have relied upon their emotional response, and their unconscious scanning of experience and instincts, to aid them. The result would have been experienced as urges to movement and emotion, and as mental imagery. I believe it is because of this long period in our past history, when our ancestors relied on what we might now call intuition – this rapid scanning of information beneath conscious awareness – that we have this latent ability of insight without reasoning.

You can reclaim something of these lost abilities through the use of inner-directed movement. The amplification of the intuitive link between your conscious self and your unconscious, occurs because body dowsing – I will refer to it as Inquiring or Inquiry from here on – allows the basic forms of internal communication described above to be operative. Movement, emotions, sound and imagery are all freed to be used as means of expressing unconscious content or intuitive insights.

The general use of inner-directed movement opens again the door between your conscious self and your connection with your unconscious through your intuition. Inquiry enables this connection to be used to access the practical and spiritual resources you need. Inquiry works because it relies on the fundamental ways your conscious self receives information from within.

Communicating With Your Inner Guide

It is important to connect with the best in you, with the mass of unconscious life experience and intuition you hold within, with the shoreless sea of life of which you are a part. It is not like fortune telling or Ouija boards or a party trick. It is a meeting with the extra stores of wisdom in yourself. But do not think of the information or insight you gain as if it were an oracle, or prophecy. You are the creator of your life. You ask for inner help to gain more insight, more information from which to make wise decisions – not to search for something to hand decisions over to.

The possible uses for Inquiry are:

Help to understand life problems.

Unravelling the meaning of a dream.

Information about illness and what might be done to help.

Fresh insights into any research project.

Suggestions for creative ideas about work.

Finding lost objects.

Help in making difficult decisions.

Deeper understanding of a person you are dealing with in your work or in your relationships.

Insight into your spiritual life and growth.

At first you may be ‘stiff’ in your response, but even so you will usually get a direct reaction. A more fluid or subtle response – one in which greater detail or insight arises – comes with practise. The following steps are designed to help even the least intuitive of people find greater access to their own wider awareness. If you find your experience of inner-directed movement is very fluid, has full emotional response and leads to insights, these first stages are not necessary. Move on the section on Advanced Options of Extending Your Awareness

First Steps in Extending Your Awareness

Imagine you are going to communicate with a part of yourself that has an unlimited amount of information and influence to share with you. What this dimension of yourself gives you will be in direct response to what you ask. So the question you ask will be the factor shaping the response. Therefore it is occasionally worth asking what is the right question to get effective help. Remember that all you receive has to pass through your own body, your emotions and your mind. YOU are the instrument that transforms the communication into understandable experience. If your body is full of tensions and drugs there will obviously be interference. If your emotions are taut with anxiety, flooded with disbelief, there will be blockages. If your mind is rigid in its opinions, locked into habits of thought, you will need to practise listening and receiving. Even if you can be ready to drop these for a few moments the channel can clear.

One of the basic actions of inner-directed movement is to make your body and psyche more mobile. This mobility gradually produces a greater intuitive link with your unconscious, and thus the collective experience and creative impulse of your life.

1 –        Because the basic level of your intuitive sense tends to express itself as body movements and symbols, it brings a quicker response if you use these from the start, and gradually drop them as your ability refines.

2 –           Get into the responsive ‘piano key’ feeling. I find it helps if we create something of this feeling consciously, by 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 our intuitive sense to create its realisations. So in approaching our question we need to take on a similar relaxed state without actually going to sleep.

Now mentally ask the question how your body will give you a ‘no’ signal. Each person has a different way of signalling ‘no’. So your signal may be head shaking, a particular movement of a hand or some other part of your body.

3 –        Getting this ‘no’ response is the first step in a growing communication between your conscious self and your unconscious faculties. It is your practise area of having a to and fro ‘conversation’. Try it a few times until you are clear about the signal. If there is any uncertainty ask your unconscious for clarification.


Always remember – every part of you is vitally alive and full of intelligence. Your body and mind will respond and communicate if you can listen.

6 –        Now ask for the ‘yes’ response. Your body will move and give another movement to signify a positive response.

4 –        Although the yes and no response is very basic, it has enormous uses, and many questions you need clarification on can be explored deeply by investigating in this way. All the amazing processes of computers are founded on series of yes and no responses. Investigating a health question for instance, you could ask if your diet was okay in general. If there was a yes response, you could ask if there was a particular aspect of diet that was at fault. Depending on whether there was a yes or no response, you could frame further questions.

5 –        When you have practised using this yes and no response, you can enlarge the vocabulary used in the communication. Your unconscious will readily accept or even suggest symbols or symbolic movement. This means you could set up a sort of ‘keyboard’ representing aspects of the question you want to pursue.

I watched a very capable and impressive dowser work, and was struck by the excellent system he had for communicating with his unconscious source of information. He found water by allowing a series of movements with his wand, so at that stage the movements and their strength were the symbols he worked with. Once he had found the site however, he tested for depth. He did this by simply calling out a depth and watching the reaction. So he called out “20 feet – 30 feet – 40 feet” until the agreed reaction occurred.


This is rather like the yes/no reaction already dealt with, but it has a difference. The reaction has already been agreed, so he does not have to go through a lot of yes/no questions.

6 –        I have found some useful ways of putting this into practise. You can create a visual or imaginary symbolic map on the floor. A very elementary one would be a straight line. If you stood on the straight line stretching to your right and left, behind you could represent the past, and ahead of you the future. Behind you could represent your inner world, in front of you the external world. Your movements in relationship to this line would describe what area of experience – past/future, inner/outer – you were exploring.

7 –      Symbolic movements such as turning to face backwards or reaching forwards could equally well be used to represent these same concepts. Or you can ask what body movements represent the various aspects of the question you are exploring. Thus if you were exploring a business question and calling on your innate experience and intuition to look at a problem, you could create a map of the different areas such as manufacture; finance; work force; etc. Or you could ask what movements represented these before you started.

Although this may sound clumsy, and it certainly is less streamlined than the more accomplished ways of enhancing insight, it is amazing how much information can be gained in this way with practise. Also, for people who think they completely lack the intuitive faculty, these stages are ways to make accessible what appeared unobtainable.

Advanced Options of Extending Your Intuition

As with many skills the basics of Inquiry are easily learnt, but the adept phases take more discipline to acquire. Your own body, your emotions and mind are the instruments being used. Therefore the ability to amplify, to create or focus on certain states of mind and body are necessary for expertise. Your own wishes and fantasies can easily shift or shape what emerges in your awareness. Doubts about your ability to reach into the unlimited dimension of mind can shut the door completely to any result. So being able to reasonably quieten your mind is essential for the more refined and extended intuitive perception. But a quiet mind does not mean one held so tight and immobile no impressions can arise in it.

Similarly the emotions and body need to be held in a receptive state – what has already been called the ‘piano key‘ condition. Both these are fundamental to the practice of inner-directed movement anyway, but they need to be worked with even more consciously for extended perception. You need to develop the attitude of an observer without fixed opinions – both on allowing a response to the question, and also in connection with whatever may be received. This freedom from opinion needs to be something you can take on when you choose to, and as with quietness of mind, does not need to be something rigid.

The state of mind or consciousness that we call normal is simply the one we experience most. In terms of evolution and education it is the one which has arisen because it offers the most survival value, or is culturally created – that is, it enables us to survive in or fit society. None of these factors make normal awareness anything more than one of many possibilities. There is no reason we should maintain this habitual state simply because circumstances have induced it.

It’s value is in preventing you from taking the information received and accepting it as infallible – to see the information received as infallible would be to have an opinion in regard to it. By considering what emerges in a non opinionated way, you can more readily assess its usefulness and relatedness in connection with the original question.

Learning From Your Wholeness

To get a good response from Inquiry at a level more subtle than physical movement you will need to have practised inner-directed movement for some months. Then the subtle responses of your mind and energy will be ready to receive the delicate impressions from your wider unconscious.

Using Inquiry is not a strange or unconventional practise. Your being is always responding to the people you meet, the events you live through in subtle feeling responses and intuitions. You have these things occurring in yourself now. Inquiry is simply taking time to listen to what is already happening inside you, and learning to improve your skill in becoming more aware of this facet of your life. As your experience of inner-directed movement grows, there will be a developing subtlety in what arises. Gradually your interior feeling senses will operate more fluidly. Your voice will be exercised and used spontaneously as with the body. So you will be able to speak, sing, cry the depths of your being. In this way, when you make an Inquiry, you will not depend just on physical mime, but may receive through mental imagery and insight, through shifts in your subtle feelings and sensations, or through the spontaneous expression of your voice.

Here are the useful stages of approach to Inquiry.

1 –        If you are very fluid using inner-directed movement you will not need a special setting in which to use Inquiry, you could do it walking along a busy street talking with a friend. It is only when you are in the early stages you may need exterior help. For instance some people using their intuition need cards, or to look at someone’s hands. So if this is the first time you are using Inquiry set your environment as with the ‘open approach’ to inner-directed movement.

2 –        Clarify what your question is. The wider awareness you are approaching responds most fully when you have a sincere need.

3 –        Ask the question and open your being to respond as fully as you are able. Be ready for the response to move you physically, sexually, emotionally, mentally and vocally. In other words, allow your whole being to be receptive. Observe what arises in a similar manner to watching a television screen when viewing a good film – that is, let the story, the plot, or the information, explain itself. Do not at this stage try to shape or question it.

There are many forms of communication – mime, drama, emotions, words, imagery and fantasy, and combinations of these. The more you can allow your body, voice, emotions and mind to freely express, the more this dialogue, this exchange, can take place.


4 –        Note what you receive by writing it down or talking it into a tape recorder. Once the response has unfolded its theme – the mime of the body movements; the story of the fantasy; the statement of your vocalisation – then work with the response, asking questions to clarify the subject until you are clear in your understanding of what is being received.

5 –        Consider what you have received and weigh it against practical observation. See if there is something you can learn from it and apply. Test it wherever practical. Do not be afraid to doubt it and try it against the world. If you are not accessing the best in yourself you need to know it. This avoids the trap of wanting intuition to work at any cost. Intuition is a valid way of gaining information, just as your senses are, or your ability to read. But your senses and your ability to read can also be ways in which false information is taken in. So your discrimination is needed when using your intuition as it is in everyday life. The more you use it the more sharp your faculty will become. But discrimination must not act as a source of doubt that blocks your ability to receive spontaneous movements and impressions.

Link to Chapter five – Link to Chapter List


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