Steps Toward YourSelf

Step One – Yawning Technique

The steps that are going to be described are based on two basic principles or assumptions. The first is that the way our body functions when we do not interfere with it, is an expression of the Reality of Life. If you can also agree that our planet and all the life on it do not exist outside the processes of the greater cosmos, then what happens in our body is an expression of cosmic processes.  The large percentage of our bodily functions are, however, unconscious. So in this first step we aim to become more aware of things that lie near the surface of our awareness, but that we may not have given much attention to previously.

The second principle or assumption is that, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ (Mathew 18:20).  This is suggested as it has been found again and again that when two or more people work with the principles to be outlined in a sympathetic way, dimensions of experience open that are usually denied to individuals or to groups with closed minds and hearts.

You need an environment in which you feel at ease and can express yourself in any way without being judged, either by others or yourself. It is helpful if you can have enough space around you to easily move your arms without bumping against anything. Quiet non-obtrusive music may help you to flow into what arises.  Set aside ten or more minutes during which you can explore the technique in an unhurried way.

1 –    Stand in your space and drop unnecessary tensions. Remind yourself that for the next few minutes you are going explore something you may not have done before. So let your body play. Drop the usual social controls we all keep our body restrained by. Let your body take the lead – give it free reign.

2 –    Open your mouth wide with head slightly dropped back and simulate yawns. As you do so notice whether a natural yawn starts to make itself felt. If it does, allow it to take over and have a really luxurious yawn. Any following impulse to yawn again should be allowed.

3 –    Let the yawns come one after the other if they want to. Without acting it out, let the impulse to yawn take over your body, not just your mouth and face. So if the urge to move includes the arms or elsewhere, or if the yawn develops into a stretch, twist, or grunt, just let it happen.

4 –    “Body:following its own   impulses” “Spontaneous Movement”Give yourself over to the enjoyment of having time to really indulge your own natural feelings and body pleasure. In the same way you would normally allow your body to express itself in a yawn, let it express itself in whatever other form of movement, postures or stretches arise. Maybe it will be noisy yawns, so allow whatever noises you want to make, however ‘silly’. If this flows into movements that either follow the music or have a direction of their own, don’t hold yourself back. This is playtime with your body, so enjoy it. You can do whatever your body wants to do.

5 –    Until the movements taper down and you feel ready to stop, simply enjoy or explore the movements and feelings that arise – even if what arises for you after the initial yawns is a desire to lie on the floor and rest. That also is you expressing your needs.

Practise this several times over a number of days until you feel at ease with it. It is very useful to keep a journal of what you experience, and record any changes or new developments during the practice of these steps.

Step Two – Relaxed Arm Test

The aim of the first step was to explore what it was like to allow your body to express its own spontaneous movements. By using it we learned to listen to our body’s urge toward movement, and left ourselves open to the yawning spreading to fuller movements than we usually allow. The results of this can be incredibly varied, so there is no right or wrong result.

Something that is helpful though, is to hold your body in a way that is what 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 both be sensitive and relaxed, ready to be influenced by gentle internal urges.

Approach this step playfully. Enjoyment helps what happens.

1 –    Stand in the centre of a doorway, facing in or out, with your arms toward the doorposts.

2 –    Lift your arms sideways, keeping your arms straight, until the back of your hands press against the doorposts. Try to lift your arms higher, pressing harder against the doorposts as if trying to complete the movement of lifting the arm.

3 –    Using a reasonable amount of effort, stay with the hand pressing against the wall for about twenty seconds.

4 –    Now drop your arms and move out of the doorway, and with eyes closed relax and be aware of what happens.

5 – Try the experiment before reading on.  In fact try it a couple of times before reading the next paragraph.

What you have done is to attempt a movement. Because the doorposts 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 doorpost the arms, if relaxed, were free to complete the movement. So your arms 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 arms 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. It is also an example of how the body self-regulates through spontaneous movement. It is therefore helpful either to practice the technique until you can do it, or use it a number of times to establish your relationship with the feeling of it. The sense of allowing movement can then be used in inner-directed movement itself.

Step Three – Moving Sea

It is rare to find someone who will drop aside ready-made approaches, and listen to what their own being has to say. Such listening and learning is real respect for oneself, an admittance that the process of life sustains us.  It is also an expression of trust that the unconscious secrets of Life’s experience are communicable to our listening consciousness.

It is natural for your body to move spontaneously, breathing is an example. The only reason it doesn’t do so more often is that we restrain it. In most social settings we usually restrain everything except what may be acceptable to others, expedient in the situation, or judged as correct. This means that we may not give ourselves the freedom elsewhere to allow our own creative imagination, allow our body to discharge tension through movement, experience our intuitive process, and experience our full range of feeling responses. We gradually diminish ourselves, blocking out much of ourselves that we consider not of immediate use in everyday affairs.

You will need up to an hour to complete this step.

1.  If you want to, play music that does not grab your attention.  Stand in your space for a while and be aware of your breath. Every so often hold your breath out for a while and notice what it feels like as your body wants to make the movement to breathe in. Unless you hold your breath for a long time, the urge is quite subtle. Have the same keyboard feeling in your body as you had with the previous steps. Do this for about five minutes.

2.  Simulate yawns and allow them to develop into stretches or movements.

3.  Then stand in the middle of your space and close your eyes. Lift your arms from your sides and take your hands high above your head. Do this a few times noticing the difference in feeling between having the hands high or low. Do this before reading on.

4.  Now relax with hands by your sides. Hold the idea of taking the hands up high again, but do not consciously attempt the movement. Take your time. Be aware of how your hands and arms want to make the movement. Or perhaps there is no urge at all to move your arms. The point is to avoid making a mechanical movement, and be aware of your feelings and motivations. If this includes the rest of your body, or your arms go in another direction than above your head, or do not move at all, that’s fine. Explore this before reading the next paragraph.

5.  Stand in your space with eyes closed. Drop unnecessary tensions as you listen to the music. Hold in mind for a moment the idea that you are giving your body space to explore how it would express the quality of water. There is no need to think about what to do. Let your body explore by itself. Trust it to find its own way to expressive movements. It is important to be patient, to wait for something to arise by itself.  Allow yourself about 15 minutes for this. It is okay if nothing in particular happens.

6.  Take time to observe and allow the delicate motivations (magnetic pulls) directing your body to watery movement.

7.  You may find you have resources of imagination you did not suspect. Aspects of water you hadn’t consciously set out to explore will be expressed in your movements. If you are expressing deep still waters, you will actually feel a deep quietness and power. Or if it is the power of rushing rivers, then a feeling of power will surge through your body as you touch your resources of strength and healing. The flowing feelings that arise are actually healing

As you learn to trust this process and allow it to grow in expression, you will find unexpected themes will arise. Even though you are expressing water, your expression may have in it feelings that are particular to yourself.

Use this step several times before moving on to the next step. If you have experiences satisfying spontaneous movements the first time, there is no need to use the warming up stages first. Go straight into the exploration of water.

Using the ‘water movements’ has the benefit of toning the body. It brings harmony between the emotions and body. Your feelings are allowed to be active and to move towards emotional well-being. Areas of your body and mind not usually allowed pleasure are bathed in it. You can practice the ‘moving sea’ as many times as you wish.

Step Four – The Open Door

If you have practised the previous steps until you can really experience spontaneous and creative movement, and perhaps feelings arising, then you are ready for an approach that is as ancient as humankind. The open approach is an access to your whole self. Because much of yourself still awaits discovery, is still unknown to you, it is impossible to know just where to look to find your own wholeness and health. You are unique. You have personal and particular life experiences and different personal qualities of mind and body that make your needs distinctive. Allowing your being freedom of expression during inner-directed movement empowers your ability to work at and express your own special needs from your core self.

Despite the fact that virtually all the healing or helping professionsXE “Helping Professions” or techniques attempt to apply cures or methods to us, it is obvious that we know our own needs better than anyone else does and that we are largely self-righting or self-regulating. Expressed in its simplest form, if you are hungry you have an urge to eat. Beliefs or fears may degrade that pure urge into other forms. Worries about weight gain; ideas about what is healthy food; habitXE “Habit”s perverted by trying to be ‘one of the boys – or girls’ – at business / club dinners, may achieve this degrading process.

By opening to what is innately within you and consenting to it expressing itself spontaneously without structuring it,XE “Inner-Directed Movement:without structure” you allow your being to gradually shed such degradations and return to an expression and recognition of your real needs. Because you are always feeling your own personal needsXE “Personal Needs” (e.g. Hunger) the open approach to inner-directed movement helps you drop preconceived ideas and social pressures. There may even be a process of clearing out the habitXE “Habit”s, fears and pains that have stood in the way of your own healthy self. Then comes the experience of meeting and accepting the real you. The ‘you’ that is both ordinary and extraordinary. XE “Sel Acceptance”

During the following practice, if there are changes in pace, allow them. The range of possible movements and forms of expression are enormous. They include all tones of feeling from angry to loving and exalted; all vocal expressions from deep crying XE “Crying “to imitation of the sound and feeling of foreign languages; all types of movement from the most exquisite stillness to frantic tribal dancingXE “Tribal Dancing”. These are some of the spectrum of inner qualities you are capable of as a healthy and whole human being. Only whole human beings are capable of a wide range of expression that they can choose to end at any moment. It is the unhealthy person who is locked into compulsive and limited patterns of behaviour. Liberation is a sign of health. You are a keyboard, why not have all your keys available?

1.  Prepare your environment of space, clothing, mood and music.

2.  If you need it, put on some music that has energy but does not grab your attention too much. Use a couple of warm up movements to get your circulation more active and your body loosened. This step, as all the others, can be used alone or with others. In a group, this approach is sometimes greatly enhanced.

3.  Stand in the middle of your space with feet about shoulder width apart. For a few moments hold the thought and feeling that for the next half hour you are giving up your own conscious efforts. You are allowing your being to express its own needs in its own way by opening to the WHOLE you.

4.  Get the ‘keyboard’ feeling in yourself. In other words give yourself permission to allow spontaneous or unexpected movements of body and mind – don’t forget to leave yourself open to vocal expression too.

5.  Start by slowly circling the arms. Make the circles cross the front of the body. This will mean the right hand will cross in front of your pelvis as it moves left and upwards above your head.

6.  When you have the arms moving with ease, become aware of the shapes your fingertips are carving in space. Stay with this observation for a few moments, then notice whether your hands and fingers have any urge to create their own shapes in space. It may feel as if delicate magnetic pulls are directing your hands. If so, follow these delicate urges by letting your arms be moved by them, just as you did in the previous step. Let your hands and arms discover any movements or speed that satisfies you. Permit your whole body and voice to become involved if there is a tendency toward this.

7.  When you are ready to finish the session, stop the movements and relax on the floor or in an easy chair for a few minutes. There is often a natural sense of an end of any theme XE “Themes”that has arisen.

Using the open approach you will experience movements, themesXE “Themes”, emotional expression and insights particular to your personal bodily, mental and spiritual needs. The more fully you express the more you learn to command the whole of your being. These are movements towards wholeness.

Step Five – Playing With the Voice

The Open Approach is one of the fundamental methods of listening to your body – or I should say – the body-mind. Therefore it is suggested that you use the open approach at least once each week, for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.

In essence there are three things that arise over a period of time. They are Cleansing, Growth, and Union.

The Cleansing phase is a discharge of the many traumas, hurts, confusions and negative habit patterns you have taken in from events, parents and your culture. This is sometimes uncomfortable as these past hurts and patterns are washed out of your body and consciousness. It may take many periods of practice to properly clear particular things within you.

The Growth phase is what happens each time a negative trait or attitude is cleared – your awareness and horizons of experience expand, and you become capable of a fuller perception and of easier relationships. This too can be uncomfortable at times, like being stretched. The narrow boundaries of awareness that previously held you captive and against which you struggled are gradually thinned, crossed, and moved beyond.

Union emerges at first as a growing sense of touching a transcendent or wonderful otherness. You sense something immense and full of love. You gradually realise yourself as existing beyond time and space in a transcendent bliss. Walls you lived within fall away, and you sense immense and unlimited consciousness stretching away from you in all directions. It may take years to arrive at in any fullness, but it is touched at any time in your opening to the inner process.

Take up to fifteen minutes with this practice. It may help to use music as a background – something not too invading.  Prepare to explore the use of sound. To make different sounds you need to move not only your throat, but also your trunk and even limbs in different ways. Sounds also evoke feelings and move or exercise your emotions. Just as some people do not move their body outside of certain restricted and habitual gestures and actions, so also our range of sounds may be quite small.

1.  For several minutes explore making sounds:  Different happy sounds, types 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.

2.  Then move on by taking a full breath and letting it out noisily with an AHHHH sound.  Do this until you feel it resonating in your body. This may take one or two minutes.

3.  Change to a strong EEEEEEEEEE sound. Once more, continue for at least a minute.

4.  Now try MMMMMMMAAAAAA.

5.  If you are doing this exercise for the first time, that is sufficient for one session.

It is important to understand the power of your setting for these steps.  To create the right mental setting it is necessary to decide that for at least half an hour, you have the complete luxury of being able to move and express yourself in any way pleasing you within the physical space you have prepared. What you do within that time doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to please anyone else. It does not have to produce anything. It can be quiet, active, noisy, sleepy, or aggressive. There is nobody but yourself involved, nobody to be judged by, and you need to withhold judgement of yourself until the end of the session.   Do not judge the process, judge the fruit, the results of the exercises.

During the practice period any spontaneous movements that occur might come in waves of activity followed by waves of quietness. If there is quietness simply rest, holding the ‘piano key’ feeling in the body so you are ready to respond to any arising impulses. You do not have to ‘do’ something.  Let your being find your own way of resting, your own level of activity, your own path of healing and growth.

Part of the pleasure of inner-directed movement is sharing it with others. Because it is a pleasure, and because there is support and a more powerful atmosphere or ‘holding space’ created when sharing, it is worth exercising with friends.

Step Six – The Waiting Seed

There are many ways to explain what happens when your conscious mind becomes receptive to the subconscious mind or body-mind and you allow the sort of movement you have explored. Basically they are:

•  The influence arises from a transcendent source and cleanses and uplifts the practitioner.

•  The influence is an expression of the fundamental self-regulatory processes of body and mind,

•  The influence is a natural release of unconscious material.

We do this by learning to quieten the constant chatter that goes on in our mind and by making our conscious mind and body receptive. When we do this a current of influence works on us. Aurobindo said, “The surest way toward this integral fulfilment is to … open ourselves constantly to the Divine Power … Wisdom and Love, and trust it to effect the conversion.” This brings about a “conversion or transformation through the descent and working of the higher still concealed supramental principle.”

The problem with quieting the mind is that it is so difficult and tricky. Even having a goal such as quietness during a meditative practice is an activity of mind. Allowing spontaneous movement and expression is a way past that difficulty. When the spontaneous arises we can watch it with our conscious mind much as when one watches someone dance or mime. This is sufficient quietness to allow the mysteries of your life process to express itself.

During the first steps it might be that you only experienced movement. If you carry on, feelings and vocalisation follow. The feelings open the doorway to an enormously enlarged world. Then gradually the mind itself becomes more fluid and receptive. Visual mobility arises. A greater intuitive perception opens. Atrophied intuition takes time to reach a state of fluidity and grace.

Remember that all the miraculous and mysterious forces of life express as movement. Life breathes us. We might interfere with it, but even a baby without self-consciousness or will breathes. So who is making the movement? Life laughs and loves through us in the movements we make. Crying, having a baby, making love, feeling joy, all express as movement and sounds. Becoming receptive to these more subtle movements is a way of learning from the greatest teacher of all – Life.

It is important that you are purposely not imagining a specific movement for your body to follow. You are only holding an idea, an outline, and to follow it your body and feelings must move into the unknown and play creatively. So let your body feel its way slowly into finding its posture or movement. Don’t get frustrated if little happens during this first practise. Remember that inner-directed movements are a learnt skill.  You can consider it a success if some aspect of what arises is spontaneous or unexpected. So at first it doesn’t matter if the session feels mechanical and contrived. Having those feelings mean you are sensing what is happening, and you can thereby refine your technique with their help. By letting go of the controlling urge, you can let the spontaneous and creative part of you express itself.

Prepare your environment, with sufficient space, clothing allowing mobility – loose and soft if possible, without tight undergarments. If you use music, it should not grab the attention and have it playing quite softly.

1 – Stand in the centre of your space and raise your arms above your head. Hold them so they are quite extended but slightly apart.

2 – With eyes closed, bring to mind the idea or image of an unplanted seed. It can be any sort of seed.

3 – Notice whether your body in its present posture feels as if it is expressing the form and condition of the seed. The aim is to consider how you and your body feel in relationship to the idea and sense you have of the seed. Many people find, for instance, that having the arms extended does not ‘feel’ like an unplanted seed. Don’t struggle with this. It is just an experiment, play with it, have fun.

4 – Once more follow the subtle urges of your being. Play with the feelings of what it would be like to be a seed, waiting for the right conditions for your potential to be unleashed – to germinate, grow, flower, bear fruit. Let your body play with these ideas or feelings. Use your body and feelings, even if this is a new for you. Explore in this way until you feel you have found a position that is satisfying. Take your time. Notice whether the arms and head are right. Would a seed that is not growing feel alert, sleeping, or waiting? See if you can find an inner mood that for you feels like a seed. Do not attempt to think the whole thing out or consider it scientifically. Let whatever feeling sense you have guide you.

5 – Take your time with this. As the dry seed, are you asleep, are you waiting, what does it feel like inside you? Dwell in these feelings. Notice whether, once you find an inner mood that feels right, your body expresses this. Wriggle or move into what feels right.

Use this step several times during the week until you feel at ease with it. It only need take a few minutes each time.

Inner-directed movements, occurring as they do when you relax deeply, arise from the unconscious processes that control your existence and growth. It is a fuller expression of what lies behind the growth of your body and mind. It is what enables you to maintain a stable existence amidst the ever-moving forces of your environment. It holds all the systems of your being integrated in common purpose and is the foundation of consciousness. It is not something distant or separate from you, but is innately in everything you are and do.

Step Seven – The Growing Seed

First there is our personality or awareness that offers itself and is acted upon.  Then there is that which acts upon it.  These two are really one.  Sri Aurobindo says: ‘One commences in a method, but the work is taken up by a Grace from above, from that to which one aspires.’

The energies of this higher consciousness in man and woman operate through natural processes. It is as natural as the arrival of teeth in the child, or sexuality in adolescence. In fact it is a continuation of the same process. But it seems as if this process of growth which extrudes the body and brings about human consciousness and personality, washes many folk up onto a seashore from the ocean of Life processes. Why?  It appears that we must consent to and co-operate with life and allow the energies to guide us.

How do we do this? First you have to recognise clearly that some process, some force, causes you to exist. Next recognise that this process causes changes in your life, and is apparent as growth and maturing. It does this by integrating your life with everyday experience. Next, surrender to the process and go along with it. Offer yourself just as you presently are to it. Let things happen – allow changes to take place. You will be shown the way.

This path does not attempt to crush or destroy or kill the ego, the appetites, or the instincts. Rather, it hands them over as living entities so that they can be transformed and empowered for higher, purer, more sublime levels of expression, and help you reach fuller self-realisation in everyday life. So this opening, this ability to allow things to happen, is what we are aiming for, even if it is just during the time of the exercise for now.

•  Find a position and feeling that expresses a dried seed planted in warm moist soil.  What this means is that as the dried seed you wait with the open, keyboard feeling that you have been practising. Don’t make things happen. Surrender your effort. It doesn’t matter if no movements occur. The waiting and openness are the important things.

•  Express your reaction to and interaction with water, soil, darkness, and heat and how your husk swells, softens and your kernel bulges as it becomes alive.  Then you germinate and begin to grow upwards and downwards. Continue expressing the anchoring roots, the upward snaking stem, sprouting leaves, blossoms, flowers and fruit.

•  It might be that as the seed you feel very strongly you do not want to grow. In which case remain in the form of the seed until you feel a change and an urge to grow, or until your session time is finished.

•  When you sense the experience has finished, rest quietly for about five minutes before getting up or leaving.

The seed approach deals specifically with your growth as a person. It is a meditation in growing toward your own potential, and in doing so growing beyond any darkness and pain within you.  It helps you work out, through creative movement, any restriction in expressing your potential and your physical energy. People who have not lived out their own inner needs, or are inexpressive physically, will find this particularly helpful..

Step Eight

Being able to move, and being alive are tightly bound together. All the life processes in us express as movement of one sort or another. To breathe, to laugh, to make love, to feel anger or joy, is to move. When any important life-movements such as those taking place in the intestines, the heart, the genitals are inhibited, then we are less alive, less healthy. Every emotion we feel has its corresponding movement in action, in a body posture or in subtle changes in our muscles. When powerful emotions such as love or anger are not expressed they become ‘held-back-movement’. We usually call this tension. As such tension deepens it becomes psychosomatic illness – pain without apparent physical malfunction. In its worse form it becomes actual illness. Some of the most common ‘movements’ we hold back are those connected with love, sex, anger, fear, crying, emotional pain and sometimes even laughter and joy. In our dreams we often attempt to express movements that are suppressed during our waking life. Unfortunately our habits of tension are so deep we may not manage to find release even while asleep. (From Dreams and Dreaming by Tony Crisp)

In the previous seven steps, the fundamental secrets of how to follow the thread of your subtle life processes have been given. Life is movement. In its movement Life laughs and cries, it sings. Life also dances, and it explores the wonders of its own sentience through imagination, imagery, the rousing of memories and creative fantasy.

So if you have followed the seven steps you may have begun to experience this dance of life, this song. Perhaps you have even experienced some leap of imagination or flight of consciousness into its huge ocean of possibilities. But of course there is more, much more, to experience. And to find this you need to come again and again to the listening, to the growth of the seed or the dance of your body in its movements or struggles.

Therefore, rather than give another approach to use, time will be taken to explain a little bit about what you are doing, and what you are opening to within yourself.

In allowing spontaneous movements, and in trying to understand the wide range of experience you may meet, consider how you might see yourself if a film were made of you like those showing speeded-up plant growth. On such films you see the plant moving and growing with incredible vigour. Its leaves and flowers open with powerful movement. If the film showed you from conception onwards, you would see amazing change and expansion. An extraordinary process would be seen causing your body and mind to unfold. You would observe incredible amounts of movement, many of them spontaneous. The movements in the womb, in babyhood and even in your adult sleep, you would see as inner-directed, and powerful. You would notice that as you gradually matured, conscious control of movement became more prevalent. But still your sleep movements, breathing, yawning, stretching, laughter and tears kept you in touch with the incredibly wise process which directed your overall growth and survival. It is this often forgotten, but very real process underlying your original growth and continued existence that you allow into a new level of expression when you relax fully.

However, to do nothing and wait, to be patient with ones own internal creative process is not a quality highly developed in many of us in today’s world. Yet this is vital if you wish to work with this miraculous process of growth and integration within yourself.

The Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, called this process the ‘transcendent function’. He named it this because he witnessed it enabling people to grow beyond problems that crippled them, problems that had appeared insoluble. Writing about this he says, ‘Here and there it happened in my practice that a patient grew beyond the dark possibilities within himself, and the observation of the fact was an experience of the foremost importance to me. …. I therefore asked myself whether this possibility of outgrowing, or further psychic development, was not normal, while to remain caught in a conflict was something pathological. Everyone must posses that higher level [of possible growth], at least in embryonic form, and in favourable circumstances, must be able to develop the possibility.

Jung goes on to say, ‘What then did these people do in order to achieve the progress which freed them? As far as I could see they did nothing but let things happen… The art of letting things happen, action in non action, letting go of oneself, as taught by Master Eckhart, became a key for me… The key is this: we must be able to let things happen in the psyche. For us, this becomes a real art of which few people know anything. Consciousness is forever interfering, helping, correcting, and negating, and never leaving the simple growth of the psychic processes in peace. It would be a simple enough thing to do if only simplicity were not the most difficult of all things.’ (Quoted from Secret of the Golden Flower by Wilhelm and Jung)

Yes, simplicity and letting things happen is difficult. We do keep interfering. We rationalise what is happening and explain it away. We erect goals because of something we have read or heard, and strive in a direction other than our own internal process moves toward. We think we know best and so ignore the incredible overall viewpoint our internal awareness has.

Another viewpoint of the process is stated by J. A. Hadfield, a psychiatrist who specialised in working with dreams. He says, ‘There is in the psyche an automatic movement toward readjustment, towards an equilibrium, toward a restoration of the balance of our personality. This automatic adaptation of the organism is one of the main functions of the dream as indeed it is of bodily functions and of the personality as a whole. This idea need not cause us much concern for this automatic self-regulating process is a well-known phenomenon in Physics and Physiology. The function of compensation which Jung has emphasised appears to be one of the means by which this automatic adaptation takes place, for the expression of repressed tendencies has the effect of getting rid of conflict in the personality. For the time being, it is true, the release may make the conflict more acute as the repressed emotions emerge, and we have violent dreams from which we wake with a start. But by this means, the balance of our personality is restored.’ (Quoted from Dreams and Nightmares by J. A. Hadfield) See The Secret Power for more information about self-regulation.

Step Nine – Seed Group

When using the starting point of the seed you are giving the unconscious a ready-made structure to work with. Because you may be unfamiliar with a completely unstructured approach to your inner processes, such a structure gives at least some sense of familiarity and confidence. Even so, some people find they want everything fully described, scripted or choreographed. The very point of using this approach, however, is to begin moving beyond the known in yourself, towards creative newness and the unexpected. If you cannot do this, you will not be able to discover what is presently unknown in your unconscious. So even if some anxiety is felt, it is helpful if you can gradually move beyond such resistant feelings.

To use this approach a few extra things need to be learned. This is because the group action is an integrated one, and needs some structure to help it in the early stages. So if you are working with a group of three or four, and one of the group is the seed, the other two or three can be in the roles of earth and water to the seed. The aim is to support the growth of whoever is the seed by physical and emotional contact.

1.  Whoever is the Seed starts by standing in the middle of the others, who take time to make contact with her/him. They allow time to find an attitude that enables them to get closer physically and emotionally than in usual social roles. So without forcing or acting mechanically, the members touch and draw near to the Seed.

2.  As a guide to this, it is helpful to consider in human terms, if you are in the water role, how you would penetrate the seed to stimulate its growth process? If you are in the earth role, again in human terms, how would you relate to the seed to give it a medium in which or from which to grow? If you are in the seed role, then you allow your spontaneous reaction to this. Allow yourself to move in any way that arises, just as occurred in the ‘seed alone’ approach. Do this without considering what you should do. Trust your inner process. You do not need to hold on to the roles rigidly. If you find you are being led into a spontaneous response, allow it. But remember, it is the Seed’s time, not yours. Do not take over the action, but support that of the Seed.

3.  When this is established the Seed curls up on a prepared space – with blanket or cushions – on the floor. The members draw near and make contact again. Get close, cover the Seed’s body with yours, penetrate with your touch, as earth and water does with a seed.

The group is an intimate one. It has many dimensions of experience possible. Not only is it a meeting of people in a way not usually possible socially, but it is also a place to learn human contact, how to give caring and support to another human being, and how to communicate with others non-verbally. The support it gives can allow a very deep release of inner feelings, of creative spontaneity, of self-discovery.

Each group becomes self-initiating, each person taking it in turn to be the Seed, and to be supported by the others. Whoever is the Seed, it is up to them to determine how long to be in the middle. Obviously this depends to some extent on available time, but also on the dynamics of what they experience. It might take quite a long time for what is unfolding to complete itself. It might be short. So the Seed needs to occasionally tell their supporters what is happening, just to keep them in touch. The Seed also needs to decide when to finish. When this is done sit up and relax for a while, and share the experience by perhaps telling what happened more fully, and what it was like to be in the supporting role.

Everything good is costly, and the development of personality is one of the most costly of all things. It is a question of yea-saying to oneself, of taking the self as the most serious of tasks, keeping conscious of everything done, and keeping it constantly before one’s eyes in all its dubious aspects–truly a task that touches us to the core. Carl Jung, in Secret of the Golden Flower

Step Ten

The Freedom To Be Yourself

One of the first person’s I taught inner-directed movement to was Maria, a woman in her sixties. Maria was married, had a lovely country cottage, but had not been outdoors for months. She was suffering from aches and pains in her arms, felt life had lost its interest, and asked for help. Maria quickly learned to relax enough to allow her body freedom to express without inhibiting self-criticism. Her movements were slow and tentative at first but soon included her whole body, producing feelings of pleasure. To allow such movements Maria had to learn how to give her body and feelings time in which to explore unplanned movement – movement arising from her own subtle body impulses. Such subtle urges are often overlooked, or are crowded out by ones thoughts of what one ought to be doing, or what is appropriate in the circumstances. So Maria created a mood, and gave herself time, in which she could allow irrational movement – movement that had not been thought-out beforehand, or given by someone else. Such movements are usually quite different to the sort of things one finds recommended in exercise books. The reason being that they are often unique mixtures of exercise, dance, mime, and generally letting oneself go enough to do what might have otherwise be seen as ridiculous. Nevertheless, such irrational expression is very satisfying. In Maria’s case she started with slow arm movements. Gradually the rest of her body was included in an expression of pleasure and sensual enjoyment in which she rolled and squirmed on the floor – movements and feelings that surprised Maria.

Within three weeks Maria went out with her husband, and bought new clothes, something she hadn’t done for years. She told me she realised she had been holding back all her pleasure, all her positive drive and feelings. In fact Maria had unconsciously been holding back HERSELF. In liberating her body and emotions she had liberated herself from the prison of her own depression. Frequently depression or lack of enthusiasm for life occurs through the suppression of our own feelings – the stagnation of our urge to move and live.

The freedom and release which arises from inner-directed movement is also evident in what happened to Jim. A group using inner-directed movement started in Bristol, UK. Jim, an unmarried gas fitter, bored with his work and life, joined the group. Within a couple of weeks Jim had learned to give his body and feelings freedom to move. He was amazed at how fertile an imagination he had when he stopped holding himself back. His movements were creative and deeply felt. Less than two months had passed before Jim had given up his job, found a woman whom he married, and together they started working in a Steiner School for children. Jim also had been holding himself back.

Both of these examples show that inner-directed movement is basically a way of allowing what is already innate in you to be expressed more fully or easily. Put in the simplest of terms, by restraining the way you express in movement and voice, you may be inhibiting important parts of your physical or psychological nature.

Finding Yourself Anew

Leslie Kenton, the author of many books on self-help with diet and exercise, in writing about inner directed movement, says:

Often, as a result of trauma, life stress and social or family situations that are not naturally supportive of individual growth and development, we become separated from our own feeling sense or we tend to relegate it to the level of insignificance. When this happens, one’s life tends to become strongly habitual, mechanical, and eventually largely unsatisfying, no matter what kind of worldly success, excitement and glitter it may contain. For any real sense of joy, satisfaction or meaning can only come when the inner and outer being are linked up and when what Crisp calls the feeling sense is allowed the freedom to regulate both physiological and psychological processes.

Sometimes the experience of inner-directed movement can be enormously joyous, particularly when the energy is flowing freely. At other times it can be very difficult. That occurs where there is some kind of energy block – when one’s vitality is temporarily trapped into some internal conflict or there are chronic areas of tension in the body that have not yet been resolved. But what is remarkable about the technique is that by going with the individual physical movements which occur, such tensions are not only gradually worked out, leaving your body stronger, straighter and more alive than before, but also the imagery and memories which occur in the process can bring exceptional insight.

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 that 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 life was concerned, and had been feeling rather unsettled and anxious about it. She found this 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 in which her deepest self was leading her. She also discovered through this experience that she does indeed have 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.

Taking time to listen to the needs of your own being is truly one of the most important, and most nourishing of things we can do. Whether you use the ‘open approach’ or the ‘seed’ doesn’t matter. What matters is that you create time and an environment allowing your own potential to express and become known.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved