This is a book I wrote about 1976 but  never published. I present it here because it was my early thoughts about SR what is now LifeStream. Obviously some of it appeared in later works, and it was published in Japan. It was serialised in the Japanese magazine BIOENERGY in 1983. If you want to purchase a copy of this book click on USA or UK


By Tony Crisp


Published by DreamHawk

ISBN: 9781092688420


To Monika Makuszewska

And all of you who share the pain and pleasure of the journey with me



C O N T E N T S  


The Power That Transforms Lives

Explains how a natural principle of body and psyche showed itself in my life. Shows how this healing activity is all the time working in us but usually suppressed.



There is a self-regulating, healing activity behind all physical and psychological processes. As humans we have the possibility of releasing this process into far greater effectiveness than can animals. Why this is so and how it works is shown in detail.


Ways In

Full descriptions of methods usable alone or by groups to release this self-regulating activity into consciousness. This includes tension release, the use of dreams, group work and meditation.


Working Alone and Together

For most people the experience of a spontaneous healing action is completely new. Therefore ways of working with the action are looked at, along with types of setting.



Self-regulation, when it is released from dreams into waking consciousness is not a cure-all but it does deal with our problems. It enlarges the possibilities of finding health, but it has to be learnt, often with difficulty. The problems of resistance, fear, motivations are looked at. Also the difficulties which may occur in marriage, or due to age, are analysed.



There is a time when we are ripe for learning to walk or talk; or ripe for marriage. Likewise many of us are not ripe for the powerful breakthrough of deep self healing gives in life. We can, however, help ourselves towards greater ripeness if we understand it. Means are given to aid ripeness, with an in-depth consideration of this process of ripening.


Past and Present

Releasing the powerful life-forces into consciousness is not a new process. Throughout history people have worked with this process. We can see it in the past, use of religion, yoga, Mesmerism and tribal ritual. Today it is seen in Reichian therapy, Subud, Primal Therapy and some forms of modern yoga. These ways of using self-regulation are reviewed to help in understanding a personal approach.


Footprints on the Way

People who have released into consciousness this fundamental activity here describe what has happened to them. Their passion their fears, their sexual longing and love of God are shared.


Growing Up

One of the most fundamental of life processes we experiences is growth.  To grow we must survive.  To survive we must grow.  Sometimes we attempt to remain at a certain level of growth, or regress there because of stress, or because we could deal with things well behaving in that way.


The Symbol and the Fact

Explains a little know fact of how we tend to symbolise memories of events which we find too painful to realise directly.

Chapter one

The Power That Transforms Lives

I write this book because I have something to share. It is something which brought me from emotional and physical ill health to – not super health – but to feeling adequate and functioning. It has done the same for many other people also. It is not an easy thing or a quick way, and few will no doubt be unable to apply it. But for those who can, I want to explain it. But let me start at the beginning of my story.

Forty years ago I didn’t exist. Thirty nine years ago, my world was that of the womb, and from sperm and ovum, my body weight increased as much as twenty seven million times as I grew within my mother’s Thirty nine years ago, I was born prematurely, four pounds in weight, given up for dead, but resuscitated by my grandmother. Thirty six years ago, after numerous illnesses I was placed in a convalescent hospital by my mother. Thirty three years ago, I went into hospital and had my tonsils removed.

Twenty six years ago, I began to masturbate in earnest and went through a difficult puberty. Twenty years ago, I went out with my first girl friend. Seventeen years ago, I got married. Twelve years ago, I started to feel physically and psychologically ill. Eight years ago, I began to believe there must be something a human being could do which would heal him. Six years ago I began to realise there was an underlying activity in each human being, which if we could release it, would bring mental and physical healing. But how could we contact it? I read all I could on the subject, and began to daily practice a method of opening consciousness to what I believed was a transforming principle of my being.

Four years ago, the illness reached its height and I withdrew from most activities. I felt continually dizzy, and physically exhausted at the slightest effort. My chest and back hurt almost continuously and in the background of my feelings I hoped for death to release me from the burden of myself.

Three and a half years ago, while with friends at my home exploring group interactions, I began to tremble. We had started by thinking about a seed, and wondering what we had in common with it. As we talked, the trembling increased, but I held it back thinking it was nervousness or my body was cold.

During the following week I experienced a tremendous tension in the back of my neck. As I lay in bed dropping off to sleep, the tension was so intense my head gradually pulled back painfully and I had to consciously relax it to ease the discomfort. Then while getting into bed from going to the toilet I heard a disembodied voice say, “You asked how God touches the human soul. Now watch closely.”

The group of us met again to explore mentally and physically the seed and human experience. Once again my body began to tremble. This week I had purposely put on a jersey. I was not cold. Was I nervous? This too seemed to be no explanation. I was with friends I had known and felt easy with for some time. But my study of the healing processes in the body and mind, had introduced me to the fact that there was something in us which could spontaneously produce body movements and emotion in the process of healing.

My friends were discussing some point together, unaware of what I was experiencing. We were sitting on the floor. I lay back and gave way to the trembling. It immediately became much more forceful as if my body were very cold. The tension in my neck increased and my head pulled back and back; my mouth opened and stayed as if it were clamped wide. I could have stopped this at any moment simply by tensing and holding off the movements. Instead I chose to let them happen, and they arose quite spontaneously, giving me the feeling of standing back and watching something develop. With the same powerful spontaneity, the movements now led to the vocalisation of sounds. Whimpers and cries arose, then real shouts of child pain as I screamed for my mother.

I was aware of the sudden silence on the part of my friends. They told me afterwards they thought I was going mad or having a fit. At the time, I did not want to interrupt what was happening to me, it was too incredible. I knew they had read along the same lines as I, and I hoped this would enable them to cope with the situation. They stayed, without interfering. I could not have hoped for better companions.

The noise of screaming for my mother increased, and my body felt as if it were held down, yet was flailing and struggling, head still back, mouth open wide. I realised I was living through the time I had my tonsils out. I was reliving it, yet although my body was in violent movement, head full of pain, and screams of fear roaring out of me, ‘I’ seemed to be standing back inside myself quietly watching it all.

In a few words it is difficult to explain what damage I could see had been done to me by that small medical operation. An event in ones life is not separate; it is bound and conditioned by countless factors. In my case, the prior experience of being put in a convalescent hospital at three, had so devastated me and caused terror of being deserted and unwanted by my parents, that the mere fact of once more being left in a hospital by them was an agony in itself. Add to this a light anaesthetic and a barbarous operation on a frightened child, and fear and loneliness are planted in ones being for perhaps the rest of life, crippling relations with others and with self. My head, held against the softness of a nurse’s body, promised the protection of womanhood and mother, yet at the same time an attack of horror was made on my throat. How could a woman’s body ever again provide joy and harbour for my own, with such an association of physical pain, wounded sexuality, and a desertion by parents?

For twenty nine years following that operation I had suffered frequent bouts of loneliness and feelings of being unloved and unwanted. Often I had walked the streets of London looking for someone, anyone, to fill the ache of being alone. Yet no companion could take the ache away, for it was buried deep in the pain of my own child self.

Four years ago, in the presence of two friends, that ache was taken from me. I had been touched by the power which transforms a human life. The pain and aloneness of a six year old boy had been healed.

I have described the events dramatically. That is because it was dramatic. It began unexpectedly; it exploded out, and was followed immediately by two other past events. being relived. One, the being given an anal anaesthetic forcibly and during violent protest on my part prior to another minor operation; and the reliving of what appeared to be a sexual attack on me. There can be few things as dramatic as the eruption and reliving of childhood agony by an adult. It lasted four hours with only a short pause between the emergence of the three events. I lost four pounds in weight that day.

Such is one of the ways the power of transformation can show itself in one’s life. But if we believe this is the only way it shows itself in a life, we will miss most of the important facts. The countdown given of my life was not only to give a quick background to the emergence of my illness and the healing of part of it. It is in itself a demonstration of the power of transformation which is always at work. Every single one of us who survived even to birth has such a countdown. Even the failure to survive birth is itself an example of something so amazing, so fundamental, so enormous, people fail to see it. Perhaps we fail to see it because it is the most primal thing in human animal, plant and even mineral existence.

It is so important I am not going to hurry its explanation. Instead, I will explain two things which helped me to see it. One was very simple and all of us have seen it at some time. Often I had watched films of plant growth from seed to flowering where the whole process is speeded up. In a few minutes we see the whole cycle of the plant unfold before us. If we are sensitive to what we see, we cannot help but have a deep impression of a tremendous power expressing there before us. Tremendous energy, coupled with something which directs and unifies that energy into becoming an actual and unique plant is at work.

To put it in a few words: Something expresses itself purposefully! What is that something? What is behind all that explosion of emergence, growth, struggle for survival, feeding from earth and sun, flowering, seeding and withering?

That was the experience and those the questions which first gave me a tentative glimpse of the most fundamental function of all living experience. The second thing occurred when I was thirty one. A friend was undergoing analysis with a psychiatrist who was licensed to use LSD. As I was trying to be of help in my friend’s healing, it was suggested by him and the psychiatrist that I might gain insight by sharing an LSD session with him. In my studies of the transforming influence in human experience, I had read a fair amount regarding LSD, and agreed to the experiment. The event pertaining to what I am describing was that during the LSD session I began to experience a rapid regression through the whole course of my life. I felt myself rapidly go back through memory after memory, getting younger and younger until at last I was curled up and felt myself to be in a womb-like condition. I understood it was not a reliving of a pest event, not an experience of being in my mother’s womb, but the return to the most basic level of human consciousness. Just as the mother’s womb, and the experience of our infant body in it, is our primal or fundamental physical experience of self, so this condition I was experiencing was the primal state of consciousness. It was a state of open, non-striving, pleasurable yet personal awareness.

It has to be stressed that I had arrived at this state of consciousness not, as I understood it then, and as I still see it now with many years of finding this fundamental state of consciousness, because of the drug. The drug had released the spontaneous action, but the regression, the movement of experience from stage to stage, had only been able to take place because I had consciously surrendered myself to the process.

Now I realised, while in this womb of consciousness, that if I let the process carry me further back, a stage would be arrived at where ‘I’, my sense of being an individual, would cease to exist. The power of the drug only made one more aware of the possibilities of the use of will. But here I was, faced by the original question – to be or not to be – and I had a choice. Years of working with dreams, practising relaxation and meditation techniques aided me to make the decision. Whatever lay beyond my personal existence, I had no need to fear it. In sleep we drop into it every night. Conception and birth bring us on a journey not only from primal physical and personal awareness in the womb, but conception itself is a journey from what lies behind and always underlies personal existence, and which we face again in death.

It was life itself, I need not fear it. To do so would be to fear myself. I surrendered myself to the current carrying me back. I dropped into what lay beyond myself.

It was like space, without stars or planets – like nothingness. Yet this was what underlay everything. This nothing, this absence of all movement, form and desire, was yet the drive and desire behind my own existence. As I surrendered and dropped into the nothingness, I was caught, held, and then, from the void itself came the energy and purposeful drive of my existence. Completely surrendered to the nothing, the energy of life erupted in me and I began to grow like a seed, not only a plant seed, but a human seed. As I unfolded in body and consciousness from the primal condition, the qualities of humanness, latent in the void, opened and developed in me. Telescoped into a short period of time I experienced the whole miracle of growth from the fundamental state of void, through conception, birth, babyhood, youth, puberty, to the threshold of manhood. With awe I realised that all the time, in every second of our life, in every department and function of our being, this tremendous directing and regulating power of life was always at work. Not only was it the power to grow, but also the wisdom and restraint which gave boundaries to growth, and thus gave distinct shape, functions, individuality, and not just a formless mass of expanding cells. As with a plant, something expresses itself purposefully, and takes us as a human being, through a whole dynamic cycle of expansion, growth, maturing, decay and death.

As I went through the experience I had a tremendous sense of watching life at work in me, of being in direct contact with that which caused and manifested as my existence. I was experiencing the source of my being, and a communication between cause and caused took place. I understood that most people become dangerously out of contact with what is really their own fundamental nature and source. The very root energies of their body and consciousness are blocked or denied. Because real human existence brings choice, decision and the use of will, we can decide, and often do so unconsciously, whether or not to co-operate and go along with our own being whether or not to acknowledge and integrate ourselves with what lies beyond personal consciousness, beyond personal existence in our being. Present education, intellectual cynicism, childhood fears, and a ridiculous view of human personality as existing in some way cut off and separate from the rest of life’s processes, put a wall not between man and God, or man and Nature, but man and his own being. I understood that if I came each and every day to the point of opening and surrendering my conscious self to that part of my being lying in the void, this miracle of life’s action on and in me and could continue its work less hampered by my blocks, fears, intellectual doubts, education and will.

We do not need LSD to give us a deep experience of the forces of life emerging from our own source. Each one of us has already had many profound and moving experiences of the source of our existence. All we need to do is to sit quietly sometime and recall or look at the countdown of our own lifetime. If we telescope our own lifetime into an hour or so or consideration, we too will see the tremendous and amazing power at work in us. It has brought us through the many miracles of profound physical changes in the womb. From birth it led not only through the hazards of infancy, and childhood growth of body, but also it was the power behind the gradual yet dynamic changes in consciousness. It transformed the delicate processes in our body and soul at puberty, and whole new worlds of experience, creativity, sexuality and relationships were ours. To just exist, in sickness or health, is an expression of this greatest mystery, the process of life. If, as suggested, we telescope our life, we would see this mystery at work as a tremendous power, a power which has transformed our body and consciousness so many times, it would be unbelievable if we ourselves were not the ones who had experienced it all. Yet perhaps, in our sickness, in our love, in our creativity, or in our search for life’s meaning, we forget this most fundamental principle of our own existence. Or even if we remember, maybe we believe the release of it into our conscious experience is in some way connected with or belongs to some particular religious group; or to a clever form of psychotherapy; or to the power of some great teacher or healer; or to the influence of a drug or medicine; or to a special form of inner discipline. But no, this power which transforms a life, as you can see by looking upon your own growth from conception onwards, is already in us. It is a principle of nature. It belongs to no one and everyone.

At this point, while it may be agreed that there is obviously something inherent in each of us which lies behind our own physical and psychological growth, there may be some argument as to whether this is the same process which led to my experience of being healed of the shock caused by my tonsil operation. Countless people all over the world, in every period of time, and in every culture and race, have found something which has healed them of serious mental or physical sickness. Or else their contact with this aspect of their wider experience has transformed them as a person1 or delivered to them an important inspiration, or given life meaning, or brought peace. People have found this thing in numberless ways, and sometimes these ways of making contact have become a religion, or a cult, or a ‘new’ method of healing. Sometimes it is explained that the transformation is due to the natural physical processes within. Sometimes it is said to be due to spirits, gods, supernatural forces, or God. Each new group has a different name or a different explanation, and often charge money an built a business with it. But putting all these names and explanations and ways of achieving it to one side, the basic fact remains that it is possible for a man, woman or child, to contact something which transforms them.

Obviously our very growth from infancy to maturity through to old age is a continual process of transformation. But is there not in some people’s lives a growth, a change, a degree of joy in life, or a creativity which has come upon them through some transforming influence altering them? We can explain its cause how we wish, but can we deny it? The change in Saul on the road to Damascus, transforming him to Paul, is paralleled throughout history, before, within and outside Christianity.

Looking through the annals of religion, hypnotism, shamanism, psychotherapy, drug use and the many other ways of seeking transformation, another fundamental can be seen. It is that the person who achieves a lasting transformation is usually ripe in a special sense, and makes contact with the transforming influence by letting go of themselves, or surrendering self through shock, injury, drug, long practised discipline, or special technique such as breath control, opening themselves, or another person or group’s influence. Ripeness and surrender are two important issues if we are to understand what the power of transformation is, and how we may use it constructively in our life. In the LSD experience mentioned, the surrender of self to a spontaneous activity arising from other than conscious volition can be seen as a crucial factor if the experience was to develop. See Keyboard Condition

This is so important I will enlarge upon it. My readiness to surrender, as already mentioned, was the result of many years work with dreams, self analysis and wide reading. My ability to do so was due to even more years of practising relaxation techniques. There was both a degree of ripeness and surrender. On the other hand, another aspect of the dual session struck me so deeply I have never forgotten the lesson. My friend was, in that session, experiencing about his two hundredth LSD session with professional guidance. Despite this, he could still not experience the area of contact with himself I found in that one session. The long remembered lesson was that it was not the drug which led to the experience of oneself in depth, but the qualities one brought to it. The drug might release a process, like the beginning of regression, or the facing death of self, but unless we brought with us the qualities of self trust, perseverance, and surrender, the life process could not lead us anywhere.  See Opening to Life

This so impressed me that the three years between the drug experience and the spontaneous drug free healing of the tonsil operation time was spent in learning to relate more patiently and trustingly to my own deep self. I saw that if one brought these qualities of self trust, daily opening to the hidden centre of self, and patience to life in oneself, the release the drug produced would occur spontaneously. In fact, the drug only stood in the place of these qualities.

One took such a drug because one did not have those qualities. And as saw my friend helpless and hopeless in his two hundredth session, I knew that the drug was no substitute for them. While we are still controlled by fear, mistrust, impatience in regard to our own life process, no drug can help us. With those fears gone, we do not need the drug. Those fears act like a great thick wall between the forces of transformation within us, and our consciousness self. My years of deepening this trust in the transforming energies, thinned this wall, enabling the process to break through into consciousness.

It would not be fair to leave the subject of drug use at that point however. There is a very positive aspect of usage. It is that in cases where there is ripeness, enormous help toward new insights and experience can arise.

I realise that none of these things are new, and have not been ‘discovered’ by myself. Every past culture, and many modern ones, explain all these things to us. I only use my own life story to make the points more related to actual experience. The understanding of this principle in us doesn’t come suddenly. It grows. Explaining it little by little as I myself came to it, perhaps allows this same process of slow realisation. To make the description easier from here on, the indefinable something which lies behind our own growth and existence, the power of which can be glimpsed in telescoping our life, I will call the Core or Self. The process it gives rise to which controls all the activities in our body and consciousness I will call LifeStream. Both will be explained more fully as we proceed.

At the time of reliving my tonsil operation, the only ways I knew of releasing this activity of the ‘Core’ into consciousness was through a drug, or through long years of deepening relationship with the Self, until self-regulation such as I had experienced in reliving the three episodes, occurred; but I opened to the process weekly for years after. I saw these years of preparation as something which deepened the surrender of the ego enough to break through the ‘wall’ of resistances. But certain things gave a clue to other ways of making the contact. First of all, the powerful trembling and jerking I had experienced. What caused it?

Some years previous to this event I had owned a puppy bitch. Like all puppies, she loved her food and would leap in the dish as I tried to put food in it. I therefore trained her to sit and wait while I filled her bowl. If she moved forward too soon I smacked her until she sat. She quickly learned to wait, but it produced a curious result, she trembled. This was the only time she trembled heavily like that. In watching her and trying to understand this, I soon sensed what I felt to be the cause. Here was a living creature experiencing one of the moat powerful drives – to eat. This drive was in fact an energy which when healthy expressed itself as movement; namely, the moving to the food, the moving of mouth, and the swallowing of the food. By my threat of punishment, a block to the fulfilment of the drive and its movements had been set up. The drive was still there, saying, as it were ‘YES’, but my training had set up a ‘NO’. Therefore, a vacillation between the Yes and No; between the release and blocking of energy was occurring. This vacillation was the trembling. I therefore conceived of a simple formula. Blocked life energy or drives we experience as muscular tension. The tension occurs because at some time a counter command was received through pain, social training or ridicule, repeated failure, or fear of some sort. If this tension is released there is first a wavering between release of the energy and continuance of blocking. This wavering is experienced as trembling or violent shaking, or simply not being able to proceed – a resistance.

This was very obvious in my own case. The tension in the neck was strongly felt prior to the release, and was the first movement apart from the shaking. The blocked movement was here the attempt to pull back the head from the surgeon. What disturbs most people in allowing this principle of release is the connection between past and present, willed and unwilled, usual and unusual. Spontaneous body movement is so normal we do not even notice it. The Core leads our body to breathe, heart to beat, intestines to move, to sneeze and we accept this almost as if it does not exist. People are so unconscious of these movements, they seldom ever realise that all the time there is a powerful action arising which comes from outside their own volition. Because of this attitude, if someone experiences a body movement other than ‘normal’ which they have not willed, they sometimes experience dreadful fear or apprehension.

Dr. Wilhelm Reich has clearly described these aspects of human experience in such books as The Function of The Orgasm. He gives detailed descriptions of the muscular tensions and how to release them to allow LifeStream to take place. But he writes as a psychotherapist and psychiatrist who believes no one should have this experience outside of a clinical environment and professional psychotherapeutic direction. For many years, I have taught relaxation to groups and individuals and had tried to use his principles in a non-clinical manner, without success. After my own experience, however, a woman came to me for help who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Because of what I had learned, I tried a much simpler technique than given by Reich. I had found in past years while working with groups and testing for relaxation or surrender, that if the arm of a relaxed person were gently moved, in many cases very marked tensions were discovered. Despite the person being, as they felt, relaxed, their arms were frequently so tense it caused the arm to remain upraised if lifted and let go. The relaxing subject was often quite unconscious of these tensions. Now, because I bad been able to realise the simple formula of tension being blocked energy, I was able to take a further step. Reich’s work helped me understand this.

When the woman came, I asked her to stand and relax as well as she was able without slumping. Then I tested her arms for tension by slowly moving them through their range of movement. Both arms ‘blocked’ and remained suspended without my support at a point about a foot away from the leg to the side. I then asked her to be aware of what was happening with the arms without trying either to relax the tension or to produce it if it disappeared by itself. In the past I had never kept anybody suspended in their unconscious tensions before, but had led them to relax them. I had realised, however, that by consciously relaxing such a tension, we are in fact not removing it, but only pushing it back into unconsciousness.

When such a tension is allowed to express in our muscular system, this is the first step to allowing the energy which has been blocked and made unconscious to release into consciousness. If the person now becomes aware of the tension but does not interfere, the next step is taken to conscious release. The third step is to wait, allowing the tension to remain.

At this first session, standing with arms remaining in tension, the whole half hour produced only slight tremors in the arms. In the second session, a week later, she again stood, the tensions were found, the arms remained in tension, and we waited quietly. This time the trembling in the arms became more noticeable. Slowly the tremors became jerks, moving the arms jerkily to the abdomen, but nothing more.


When we open to this self-regulating activity, it is a process of learning how to relate more deeply with oneself. I use the word ‘oneself’ because after all it is our own feelings, fears, realisations and energies we are open to discover. In the first two sessions, the woman was learning to relate more easily and trustingly to this process of release. Like riding a bicycle or learning to walk, it is something that happens in our body and feelings, and words play little part in it. So in the third session, the jerks in the arms came quickly and more strongly, and I suggested the woman lay down. The arms now jerked to the abdomen and made tentative jerks toward the genital area. These were very suggestive of a blocked desire to masturbate, and I knew she was living alone at that time, so might have such an urge. I mention this to show how, in this form of relating to ourselves, such interpretations of behaviour, which have been the stock in the trade of psychotherapy for so long, could actually block the process. As it happened, I did not interfere too much. The movements did not develop further.

At the fourth session, the movements began exactly as before, from trembling in the arms, progressed to arms jerking to abdomen, but this time something else emerged. With hands still on the abdomen the legs drew up and apart, she being on her back. Now the abdomen gradually domed up, and with cries and grunts, spasms occurred exactly as if she were giving birth.

Throughout these sessions, apart from a preliminary explanation and to answer questions, my role was that of silent support. During this drama I remained quiet and waiting. Slowly the body movements and sounds subsided and after a period of what seemed like reverie she sat up. “That was incredible”, she said. “It was as if it was all happening. I saw the people’s faces just as if they were here.” Then she began to explain what she had experienced. She told me that years before she had parted from her husband and gone to live abroad, taking her children with her. There she had an affair with a man and had become pregnant. She did not wish to marry the man, and because she was supporting her children alone decided not to have the baby, so had an abortion.

She went on to say “Just now it was as if I were pregnant again with that baby. Then it was as though I saw what I had done to life in me. Through the abortion I had hurt it. I seemed to understand that I had cut life off in the middle of its growth. Then I went on and the baby grew in me and I gave birth to it. And in that way, the life I had cut off in me was able to fulfil itself and I was healed of its hurt.”

This was, I feel, her most pressing problem healed. Her threatened breakdown did not emerge. Although she had many other problems that she chose not to deal with at that time, she was able to meet very difficult life events in the next couple of years. For me it was the first experience of helping somebody else find the spontaneous power of transformation in a simple way.

So far I have tried to outline as clearly as I know how, a principle of human nature so fundamental it is usually overlooked. It is also not understood what this law of nature can do if we learn to co-co-operate with it consciously. We all know that something causes our growth. We all experience this same powerful force at work expanding the boundaries of our awareness, capabilities and body during puberty. We all know some very definite principle leads every man and woman as far as it can along the road of birth, growth, maturity, old age and death. But with nearly everybody, this knowledge is never brought powerfully into the gaze of their conscious analysis and awareness. It is a knowledge always there but vague, not meaning very much, or no real value. It is just common experience. But think about it now. Whatever lies behind the growth of your body, the unification of the body’s functions, the emergence of self-consciousness and your personality, is the most important thing in your entire world of experience. Can anyone feel it is so unimportant as to barely notice it or pass it lightly by? Obviously, yes! But suppose we turned our attention to it, tried to co-operate with it, watched its workings in our being, tried to learn from it, what would happen?

Let us look at two very simple things many of us have experienced. Most of us have eaten something which our body has tried to reject. Our being has its own integrity which it tries to protect. Integrity is like the word integrate, to bring into unity, or hold united. Our being has to have this integrity or integration or else it could not survive. Cells would go on growing as they do in cancer where this integrity has been disturbed. So when something poisonous is eaten, the self-regulatory process guarding this integrity tries to get rid of the poison. A powerful spontaneous movement occurs leading us to vomit. This can be a painful thing and we may thus try to block the movement. Here, the movement arising from the self-regulatory action is blocked because our conscious self dislikes the discomfort or indignity of vomiting. Or else we may co-operate and even drink plenty of water to flush the stomach as we vomit.

You see, that principle of self-regulation which has brought about our growth of body and consciousness is not inactive outside the spheres of growth. It is also active every moment of existence to preserve what is developed. No wonder the Hindus have said the three qualities of the Self are creation, preservation and destruction. In the example of discharging poison, we see that:-

  1. The process of self-regulation is spontaneous.
  2. It leads to powerful physical movements to get rid of harmful substances.
  3. This may be painful, but is for the general good and well being. Not permitting this temporary discomfort and indignity it can lead to much greater pain or even death.
  4. We can choose whether to co-operate or not.

The other common experience is that of pregnancy and childbirth. In this, a spontaneous developmental process goes on inside the body. The process goes through definite stages. When those stages are complete, powerful spontaneous physical movements begin, leading to the discharge of the baby from the uterus.

In this case, we see more clearly that the self-regulatory principle at work is consistent and works over a long period of time to achieve a goal or end. Each stage of action integrates with the aspects of the whole being, and when ready the body is led to very powerful movements of an unusual kind. That is, they may never have been experienced before. Hearing of other people having experienced them however, the mother-to-be accepts them and does not feel fear of them in the sense of their being unknown, strange or alien. Like the vomiting however, she may consciously or unconsciously set herself against them and block them. There can thus be a conflict between the conscious self and the life process – the result is pain.

Many important facts can be derived from these examples. Firstly, it is a basic act on the part of self-regulation to discharge what is poisonous, not only from the body but also from the psyche or soul. The reliving of the tonsil operation and the woman’s re-experiencing of her abortion can both be seen as a similar process. This discharge of physical or psychological poison is a way of protecting the well being of our wholeness, even if it brings temporary pain and upset. Because of this element of disturbance, most people choose, in the realm of the mind or personality, to block the action of discharge. This is done by blocking the actual physical movements the self-regulatory process gives rise to. In vomiting, the movement of the oesophagus is blocked. In the psychological discharge, the blocked muscles may be anywhere in the system. This is why the formula of tension being blocked movement, and the release of such tension, is one of the surest ways into contact with the action of LifeStream. It is almost certain a self-regulatory impulse lies behind the tension. When this is released, powerful movements of body, emotions and energy occur. See LifeStream

This brings us to the second example, of pregnancy. Men have not in general, apart from vomiting, experienced a powerful eruption into consciousness of unusual emotions and physical movements or activities. The urge to masturbate may have something of this in it, but most of the dynamic self-regulatory activities have been experienced from birth onwards, and are unconsciously accepted in a large degree. I mean such things as breathing, urinating, defecating, crying, sleep and eating. The difference between these and childbirth is that the conscious personality with its preferences, fears and ideas, grew up with the experience of such things as defecating and breathing, but not with childbirth. It is an unusual movement and experience. The same holds true of menstruation occurring to a girl who has never been warned it might occur, or had it explained. She may, because she has no preconception of the event, experience awful terror and the feeling she is dying. If I do not make myself clear, imagine an adult who had never before experienced sleep or shitting, suddenly being led by powerful body movements or inner urges to shit or to sleep. These activities, when looked at from this view are highly unusual, maybe terrifying. In one, a part of our body falls away, and in the other consciousness, our will, the world, is taken over by unconsciousness. It is only because we have grown up with these things; because they occurred before our conscious ego formed, that we accept them so easily. But in fact, many people still have problems with then.

Many people who experience the unusual spontaneous movements or emotions of LifeStream for the first time in adulthood, such as the trembling and cries I experienced, without prior explanation, often believe they are terribly ill, fear they are dying, or think they are going mad. They resort to muscular tension and, with the help of a doctor who does not understand the self-regulatory process, gives them sedatives or anti depressant.

The other important point illustrated by pregnancy, but also true psychologically is that of the long term goal. This has already been pointed out but needs to be brought home strongly here. In telescoping our life, as suggested earlier, it becomes obvious that from even before conception the life process – LifeStream – is forward looking. The tremendous journey made by the sperm in search of the ovum shows already the energetic movement towards a distant goal. Then, from conception, the whole unfoldment of the human being takes place. Not only does the self-regulatory/homeostatic process work towards this goal during the nine months of life in the womb, but also throughout the enormously longer period of years and years following birth.

In his book Diagnosis of Man, Kenneth Walker writes on this point of purposiveness as a scientist. He says, “The old idea of an occult life principle which added to matter brought it to life, is now abandoned.” He goes on to say, that, “Life acts as though it desired to maintain itself. It is, above all, this element of purposive intention that distinguishes the animate from the inanimate. A cell sets out to maintain itself as though acting in accordance with some design to which it subscribes. A stone that falls to the ground, a magnet that attracts iron filings, an iron that expands on heating cannot be regarded as desiring to fall, to attract, or to swell, but a cell works as though it desired to work. It is purposeful and resourceful.”

When a sperm and ovum unite, the purpose and resourcefulness they hold in store is that which will gradually accomplish the amazing intricacy of the human being, body and consciousness, and the wisdom of the timing of the many stages of their growth.

Nevertheless, it is easy to overlook or forget this purposefulness, this resourcefulness and wisdom innate in our being. Or perhaps it is just generally underestimated.

Whatever the case may be, when we set out to consciously release the action of self-regulation, when we set ourselves to consciously and consistently co-operate with the process, a truly astounding thing is revealed. It is that whole realms of further development and resources have remained ‘locked up’ in our being and now begins to be released, even though we are a healthy, well-developed and a mature person. If we imagine that puberty could not have developed in us unless we consciously and persistently co-operated with the self-regulating process lying behind our growth, we may gain an idea of this. It is not a good analogy, but imagines it being normal not to know the completely different world of extended relationships, sexuality, and self-aware appreciation of art, music, work and play, available through the changes in body and soul in puberty. Imagine also, that through conscious co-operation with one’s life process, puberty took place.

In the world in general, in the West in particular, it is believed there are no further stages of growth beyond what is loosely thought of as maturity following puberty. We are aware of ourselves and the world in quite a different way before puberty than afterwards, and in quite a different way at birth than before puberty. Yet despite this tremendous change and development, the stage or type of awareness and life relationship we reach after puberty is usually considered to be reasonably unchanging. But the very act of conscious co-operation with ones own being is itself transforming, and enters us into quite a different relationship; with, and awareness of, self and the world.

I will try to explain this, again in terms of personal experience. Having studied other people’s experience of this further stage of human development, I was able to avoid several major pitfalls when self-regulation broke through into consciousness. Many people have experienced a similar breakthrough. In general, however, laymen, doctors and therapists consider such an event in the light vomiting has been mentioned. That is, it is an automatic and isolated reaction on the part of the organism to rid itself of harmful contents or pressures, and with no long term aims. Such an event, they believe, is not a part of a great broad and integrated plan of action.

Imagine a wise person who can speak, but for most of their life has had their mouth blocked, and then for a few minutes only we take away the blockage. Because their mouth and organs of speech have for so long been blocked they will start to make awkward and sloppy movements of the mouth, even spilling saliva. Perhaps with awful effort they make some silly noise, or stammer “The…. the….,. the …… the ……” before again we block their mouth. Viewing this display from the viewpoint most people have of their own Self, of their life process, we would no doubt come to the conclusion the man was incapable of anything but sloppy movements and unintelligible noises.

This is what we have done to our Core. It has been stifled all our adult life and perhaps throughout most of our childhood too. Of course it will seem unintelligent, clumsy or dumb at first. And remember that I sat before this stuttering, seemingly dumb life process daily for three years before it broke into consciousness in any fullness. Then, feeling there was more to come, and because of the example of some who had experienced this before me, I came to this opening of self to my Core weekly. Each week the process continued, dealing with other problems, and it was like finding the end of a thread which I was now gathering up and following. It led deeper and wider into myself.

Soon after the first experience I relived choking as a baby because of mucous in the throat. In other weeks I went through the injury to my left eye sustained as a teenager.

One of the big landmarks of those early weeks which were lengthening into months was when I relived again the experience of my birth. Surrendered to the physical movements and changes of inner feelings and energy I was led to curl up in a foetal position. My thumb went into my mouth and there was the delight of comfort and the spectrum of wonderful pleasures of mouth and tongue. Then a shock hit my body, causing it to tighten and push with the legs. These shocks and responses kept coming at intervals, and the conscious watching me understood them to be contractions of my mother’s uterus. But I was surprised to notice how as a baby I pushed with the legs as the contractions clamped down. This leg pushing was, I felt, an escape response, an attempt to get away from the pressure and discomfort. And all the time, the thumb sucking went on. It was a balance against the shocks sustained, and the problem which then developed. My head became pushed over on one side and acted as a block. But after some time the head seemed to get in the right position. A long sliding movement occurred, legs pushed again, and the body sensation like an all over gentle orgasm was felt as my body slipped out of my mother. For a while I lay still and gasping after the struggle. Then a strong new impulse flowed through me – the desire to suckle the breast. I knew how much new-born babies needed to be held, and how much sucking and being loved mean to them; through this I understood and loved my own children more deeply.

During the mounting months, shock after shook, event after event, came into consciousness, and I realised as never before in my life how enormous and deep was my store of pain in body and soul. I began to look into the faces of people I met or passed on the street. I saw I was not alone in what I carried inside myself. My own share of human experience as hard as it was, compared not at all to the awful burden so many carried. And I saw that because virtually everybody I met had this inner burden of sick energies and pained memories locked up in them, our whole society with its institutions and ways of working was ill too. But we do not need to go through our own pain to see that. All we have to do is to look long and deep at the people on any street. See the engraved expression of emptiness, anger, baby longing or pain. Look at how they walk, or stand or sit. See how all they say and do arises out of these inner difficulties and not out of joy or love or well-being at all.

So far, all these experiences could be explained as the simple release of long held emotional pressure. That is almost a primitive law of physics, and nothing to do with the wisdom of a purposive life process. Pressurise gas or water or anything volatile, then make an opening and it pours out. But already something struck me as it does almost anybody who comes to this experience. It was that no matter what I consciously expected to emerge in a session, no matter whether I firmly believed a particular thing had been dealt with, a definite line of events quite apart from my conscious wishes or judgements occurred. Sometimes, because one can only give a certain amount of time to allowing this process to take place, one has to stop in the middle of some sequence emerging. Yet time after time, at the next session it carried on exactly from where it left off, almost like a tape recording switched off at a point in the sequence and now permitted to continue. Or sometimes several weeks would go by in which what emerged seemed random and inconclusive. Then suddenly one week the whole thing came together and the random movements made a whole, and became understood. One week for instance, the thing that had been emerging had finished. For almost an hour I lay motionless awaiting the spontaneous action. This was something I had learnt in the years of waiting, to not seek, not consciously try to make something happen, or to start something myself, awaiting the real healing action of self-regulation. Then, when the session was almost due to finish a slight tremor began in the right arm. Gradually the tremor became a jerk. The jerking developed and the arm moved upwards – I was lying on the floor – to my chest, then flopped back. This movement to the chest continued for a while and the session then finished. When I began the next week the tremor started and quickly led to the arm jerking up to the chest. But then it developed into real body shaking thumps, and then the gates of emotion opened, and tremendous self-hatred welled up and flowed into the punches. I hated myself. I wanted to kill myself, and only later sessions revealed why.

This ordered sequence of development is impressive, and shows that a very definite principle is at work directing what arises into consciousness. But by itself it may convince us of nothing more than a sequential release of inner pressures. This is perhaps why most therapists have failed to see the amazing purposefulness and resourcefulness of the self-regulating principle. They are so busy employing their hard-learnt techniques, so busy consciously directing what should happen, or analysing what has, the principle of self-regulation is not allowed to unfold its many-sidedness and range of influence in our being.

As I went on, one week something completely new suddenly emerged. As it developed, it made me begin to see that the healing release of past traumas and pent-up feelings was in itself only a preparatory stage, just a step on the way to something quite different. And because most therapists and doctors have been so engrossed in sickness, they have missed seeing that physical and psychological health are only a base camp to something else. The self-regulatory action clears out the inner sickness, not just as a release of pent-up tensions and emotions, but because the ground has to be cleared, the energies and emotions released to be used for the further unfoldment of the human potential. And it is the purposive aim of further development which lies behind the early phase of healing psychological problems.

What emerged suddenly and new was just plain physical movement. It was very strange at first because it had no psychological background of problem attached to it. The first week it was simply shoulder movements like rowing. This continued week after week, gradually extending to flowing movements of the whole body. The analogy of the wise person with their mouth stuffed is no fool idiom. The person would first have to mobilise their mouth before they could speak. then speech itself would slowly come. So first of all, our conscious contact with cur own Core, with the hidden process of our own being, cannot express because of the turgid muck of inner problems and pain. Like a great wall, it blocks communication with ones own deeper nature. When a breach is made something else begins, although perhaps, as in my case, there was still much of problems to be dealt with. Nevertheless, the conversation with Self can begin.

So my body was led to greater mobility. But this in itself was only a further stage on the way, a preparation for something else, for the purposefulness of the self had begun to emerge. Then one week when the body was fairly mobile, without prior warning; or expectation, the next thing arose. I started that session by being led into various movements like setting up exercises, bending and squatting. A moment of stillness followed, then suddenly I began to dance. No, that is incorrect. I did not dance; I was danced from within, for I did not know the plan of the dance. Nor did I understand it for many weeks afterwards. But now I will describe it with the understanding which came later.

I danced Creation. With great sweeping movements I gathered up material. With mighty breath I blew upon what was being gathered, and gradually a world was created. It was a great world which now, like Atlas, I carried upon my shoulders. But so mighty was this world I gradually fell beneath its weight, crushed and ‘unable to rise. Yet there was something I must call upon, something which would give strength if I but struggled hard enough and did not give up. So, like a trapped giant I struggled against the ponderous weight of my own creation until all of my resolve came together and released strength previously untapped. With mighty struggle, I lifted the world from off my back to my chest. Then gradually I rose. Like a ball on the end of a chain I swung the world, at first slowly, but faster and faster. Suddenly and with relief I let go and the world was gone.

It was the world of my own religious ideas, beliefs, aims, opinions, pains and memories under which I had lain sick and defeated. The new strength was the release of the life energies causing self-regulation.

And then it was as if I stood before the light of my own being; the cause of my own existence. Now I stood facing the Light, hands together at the level. I felt my wrists were chained, and I held them up the Light, to be freed.

It was then as if the Light said, “Tony, I love you. You hold up your arms to be freed, but you have never been chained – only by yourself.”

Chains which had held my hands fell off and I lifted them to the light. Such a light, full of love and laughter. And a song of love burst from me spontaneously. It was love of life, of my Cause. Then laughter, for I had been such a fool, to crush myself with my own emotions and strength. We were all fools, to crush ourselves with our own worlds, to chain ourselves with our own fears. But I laughed not just at myself, but with myself, for life was such joy, such pleasure, how could laughter not tumble from me?

As I went along this spontaneous journey of self-discovery, and experienced and realised the things I have outlined, I knew I had discovered as had many before me, something wonderful. How did Faraday feel when he watched the laws of electricity reveal themselves in his experiments? What was in the heart of Stephenson when he was able to demonstrate the laws of steam, or Marconi hearing the transmitted voice carried through space?

Watching this principle at work in my own life and in the lives of others I knew I was witnessing one of the great and universal laws of Nature. Here is something as basic and life-changing as the discovery of electricity end how to apply it. Here is a natural law as basic as magnetism, and mankind still not tapping the tremendous potential of its use. Magnets in their everyday use give direction in the compass, electricity in the dynamo, sound in the loudspeaker, with all the variety of experience these give rise to. What, explored, researched, used, will this law of human potential breaking into, consciousness lead to? In what way can we use it to transform ourselves and the world?

Chapter Two


If the self regulatory processes of your being ceased action you would be dead in a very short time. Even a brisk walk causes such enormous changes in the body it would kill you without the action of the self regulatory processes The production of lactic acid would, unless checked, destroy the system. The drop in blood sugar, unless balanced by release of glucose from the storage in tissues and liver, would produce collapse.

The level after level of safety factors built into our being are nothing short of incredible. Our blood pressure, for adequate functioning, needs to be at about 110 to 120 (i.e. it displaces 110 millimetres of mercury). It can drop to 70-80 before a critical situation arises in which tissue may die because blood is not reaching them. If we lose a lot of blood, even as much as 30 or 40 per cent, the self regulatory process maintains adequate blood pressure by constricting the blood vessels. This action is. controlled by a part of the brain. If that brain area is injured or destroyed, other centres take control. If they are eliminated, ganglia in the sympathetic nervous system direct the action. And if these arc, in experiments, also eliminated, the walls of the arteries and veins themselves regulate their. own activity.

Such functions are usually mentioned under the heading of homeostasis. The word means to ‘keep level during change.’ The ball-cock in a toilet is an excellent example of mechanical homeostasis. As soon as we pull the toilet chain the ball-cock descends and allows water to pour into the cistern When the water reaches a certain height the entering water is stopped.. Thus a level is maintained despite change. To quote from Anthony’s Textbook of Anatomy and Physiology (Mosby) “The principle of homeostasis is one of the most fundamental of all physiological principles. It may be stated in this way: the body must maintain relative constancy of its chemicals and processes in order to survive. Or stated even more briefly: health and survival depend upon the body’s maintaining or quickly restoring homeostasis.”

In 1885 the Belgian physiologist Leon Fredericq described it this way: “The living being is an agency of such sort that each disturbing influence induces by itself the calling forth of compensatory activity to neutralise or repair the disturbance. The higher in the scale of living beings, the more numerous, the more perfect and the more complicated do these regulatory agencies become. They tend to free the organism completely from the unfavourable influences and changes occurring in the environment.”

The last point is particularly important and I shall come back to it later. But in 1900 Charles Richet a French physiologist went further by saying: ‘The living being is stable. It must be so in order not to be destroyed, dissolved or disintegrated by the colossal forces, often adverse, which surround it. By an apparent contradiction it maintains its stability only if it is excitable and capable of modifying itself according to external stimuli and adjusting its response to the stimulation. In a sense it is stable because it is modifiable – the slight instability is the necessary condition for the true stability of the organism.”

In 1933 Walter B. Cannon published his remarkable book The Wisdom of the Body (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trench Co. Ltd.) Through years of research and experiment he added enormously to the understanding of homeostasis. He points out that the self regulatory process does not only have to adapt the body to outer influences, “There is also resistance to disturbances from within. for example, the heat produced in minimal muscular effort, continued for twenty minutes, would be so great that, if it were not properly dissipated, it would cause some of the albuminous substances of the body to become stiff, like a hard boiled egg.” He points out that such a process is not originally given naturally, but are slowly developed by organisms as they evolve. Thus the frog cannot prevent free evaporation of water from its body, so cannot be long free of its home pond. Nor can it effectively regulate its temperature, and so becomes torpid and sluggish in cold weather.

This helps us to understand what Fredericq meant in saying the self-regulatory agencies… free the organism completely from the unfavourable influences and changes occurring in the environment.” Obviously this is only partly true, and man has much greater freedom from environment than the frog. Nevertheless he cannot survive in anything except small changes of temperature, outside or inside, but must use special equipment in extremes of heat or cold. Also, in the airlessness of space, and while immersed in water, he must use special adaptive clothing. These things are created by his mental ingenuity. Therefore we can say that self-regulation is not a fixed ability, and our conscious use of intelligence and experience are also aspects of the self regulatory process. Through expanding ability to adapt to outer and inner environment we have expanding freedom, if our ability to adapt lessens, then our freedom lessens also.  

This learning process even takes place in such major homeostatic features as heat control and regulation of blood sugar level. During this century it was found that for quite a long period after birth babies have little control of temperature regulation. When exposed to cold their temperature drops with hardly any reaction to prevent it, rather like a frog. There are also much greater swings in a baby’s blood sugar level than in an adult. Only gradually does the baby ‘learn’ to regulate these new features of inner and outer change after the steady temperature and blood sugar of its pre-natal life in the internal sea of its mother.

We could perhaps say the baby learnt such regulation unconsciously, or without conscious deliberation. Nevertheless, even the baby is faced by the need to learn, to be free. But the unconscious wisdom which enables it to learn complicated bodily adaptations also operates in other ways. Walter Cannon describes this as follows:

Many years ago Murphy and I observed with the X rays a curious phenomenon after the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum) had been cut across and sewed together again. Although peristaltic waves were passing routinely over the stomach, the sphincter at the outlet (the pyloric sphincter) held tight against them, and only after about five hours did it relax and permit the gastric contents to enter the injured gut. The interest here lies in the relation of the delay to the process of healing; according to surgical observations, about four hours are required after an intestinal suture for a plastic exudate to form and make a tight joint. It was after the proper time had elapsed for that process to come to completion, therefore, that the chyme from the stomach was allowed to advance. Similar results were obtained when the section and suture were mode further along the alimentary canal.”

Instinctive drives are expressions of this inner wisdom and are all part of our self-regulatory processes. The urge to eat and drink, to work, play and learn, the longing to hold someone and to be held, to have sex, to feel loved and cared for, to sleep and wake, all keep the balance of our nature. If any of these are severely curtailed, our nature may become crippled in its ability to freely extend itself outwardly and inwardly.

Caron Kent adds to the usually mentioned instincts what he rightly sees as perhaps the most fundamental of all – the urge to grow. Right from conception this urge is powerfully manifest. Not only is it an energetic urge, but one with such detailed controls that the miracle of a human being can result from it. This comes about by stage after stage of formative forces acting in the construction of our being. As an egg and sperm, we are like an amoeba. The next two stages of development as the cells increase resemble the activities found in many lower living things, both plants and animal. The twenty day old embryo develops four brachial grooves, which in the embryo of a fish develop into gills. At this point the formative forces which produce a fish are active in the human being, as were the formative forces of plants at an earlier stage. These are then supplanted by the formative forces which bring about humanness. As one textbook puts it, ‘A human being is not constructed like a modern office building, as cheaply, quickly and efficiently as possible… but rather like an ancient historic edifice to which wings and sections were added at different times and which was not modernised until it was almost completed.’

It may be easy to see how we can frustrate the instinct to eat, to love, or to express, but many may feel the growth instinct cannot be put in the same category. But, in 1967 four child specialists at the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, carried out an experiment. Twelve children, ranging; in age from three to eleven had been placed in their care because all of them were only half the average height of children their age. On investigation they were all found to come from unhappy, quarrelling, disturbed families. They were then placed in a convalescent home with a peaceful environment, and then grew rapidly. In a year one seven year old grew 12 inches. Some of the children returned home and despite their abnormally large appetites, their growth stopped. Tests on growth hormones showed that within a few days of returning home the growth hormones ceased to circulate.

This, more than most things, shows how body and soul are one. (Throughout the book I use the word soul and psyche to mean personal consciousness, but more particularly the personal memories, feelings, and urges which mark us as distinct from others.  Therefore soul as I use it means awareness of being a distinct and unique person with unique personal memories. The very kernel of the soul being the sense of having an ‘I’, of being as individual.  If we lose soul, we have lost our sense of being a person, an individual, as occurs in some illnesses.) In our language body and soul are spoken of being separate, or separable, but it is better to consider them as different areas of our being.  It is ridiculous to think of them either as being separate or inseparable. Although our hands are an integral part of us, we can consider them as separate and distinct from our legs, and can even lose our hands in an accident.  Similarly the body can be in a state where consciousness as – we usually experience it – and certainly self-awareness, the kernel of the soul or consciousness, is absent.  Many people live in such a state of coma for years, only the vegetative functions of their body remaining, without awareness or expression of personality. To all intents and purposes they are not exhibiting a soul. And if we think of coma as a zero point of soul realisation, we postulate that there are degrees of soul growth or expression, and like the body, maybe the soul or psyche can been inhibited in its growth.  Just as the children mentioned above had been physically frozen in an age group other than their present one, so our soul may also be frozen in an age group other than our age in years. Considering that both are frustrations of a powerful instinct, and may be involved in the frustration of other powerful instincts, if we are in this situation we may feel a tremendous lack of fulfillment leading to depression, because the homeostatic functions of our being have not been allowed to complete themselves Basically the result is that we do not feel whole.

Although we cannot properly understand human nature unless we see ourselves as a unity of body, soul and spirit (Self), as I have pointed out, we can consider the soul separately. In fact if we are to properly meet the action of self-regulation we must understand not only the unity of body and soul, but also some of the homeostatic features peculiar only to consciousness.

Dr. J. A. Hadfield, in his book Dreams and Nightmares (Penguin) describes one of the basic homeostatic processes of the soul. “There is in the psyche an automatic movement toward readjustment, towards an equilibrium, towards 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 unnecessarily concern us, for this automatic self-regulating process is a well known phenomenon in Physics and Physiology. ‘The function of compensation which Jung so emphasised appears to be one of the many 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 (of insecurity, fear, rage) 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.”

To make it more understandable that the dream is the main process of homeostasis in the soul, let us remember some of the main physiological processes. Richet said ‘instability is the necessary condition for true stability, and our being must be able to modify itself in relationship to the external stimuli. In a very simplistic sense this means that if we are overcome by fear we must be capable of feeling courage to compensate. Without this compensation we remain paralysed with fear. If our psyche is not ‘unstable’ or mobile enough, this compensatory release cannot occur.

Freud showed modern man that apart from their everyday waking life, they also had an obscure or hidden inner life taking place unconsciously. He showed that people had tendencies or desires they would not admit even to themselves. These desires or impulses were held back or repressed from conscious recognition and expression, and dreams portrayed some of these hidden longings. These longings were mostly childhood urges that were natural at the time, and expressive of the stage of development the child was going through. They had never been fulfilled because the child had gained the impression from adults that such things were either wrong, would cause people to withdraw love or support, or were very injurious. As an example, a mother might withdraw love every time the child sucked its thumb, or be terribly shocked on finding the child masturbates. Thus, the drives to gain pleasure in the thumb, or to fulfil the need to release a sexual tension, would be repressed. As further growth can only arise out of the fulfilled activity of early growth processes, and as such drives are parts of physical and psychological growth, further growth is thereby blocked. Dreams would show, by the energy drive – to masturbate – and the factor that blocked it – the fear of disapproval or being un-whole. The self-regulatory process of energy release is thereby stopped, and degrees of illness in body and soul would be experienced.

Freud also brought to light that the emotions of an earlier injury, such as being nearly drowned, or bitten by a dog, could be repressed and cause present illness or neurotic behaviour. But Freud never seemed to clearly express the self-regulatory aspect of dreams of what caused dreams. As Caron Kent says, “In Freudian analysis the emphasis is still placed on the ego and its conflicts. It is held that the ego is in conflict with its instincts or some other obscure forces. That the unconscious itself was a spontaneous source, from which the ego as well as the organism unfolded, was not conceived. Freud did not see that before man can say “I am” – “I will” – “I think” – he has to grow, to breath, to digest and to metabolise. The mysterious force in our being is the growth force.”

In modern times, Jung has been the great explorer of this side of human nature in regard to the dream, and Wilhelm Reich in regard to the body. Through long years of study, Jung showed that dreams do not simply express the conflict between our conscious self and our instincts. They are also an expression, capable of being recognised by consciousness, as the wisdom underlying our existence. The wisdom which forms a baby, which holds the stomach sphincter closed while the intestine heals, which unfolds human personality, pre-exists our ego. This wisdom, expressing as it does in the growth forces, and the self-regulatory process of everyday life, lies deeper than our soul (personal awareness), existed before it, and communicates with it. It is from this source the compensatory and growth forces of our being emerge, and if we have cut them off, our ability to meet our inner and outer life, our freedom, is diminished. This deep centre of our being, from which our body, its structure, its functioning and our conscious ego or soul arise, Jung named the ‘Self’. In past ages it has been called Spirit or Atman. Writing of this, and the way dreams express it, Von Franz says in Man and His Symbols, “Thus our dream life creates a meandering pattern in which, individual strands or tendencies become visible, then vanish and then return again. If one watches this meandering design over a long period of time, one can observe a sort of hidden regulating or directing tendency at work, creating a slow, imperceptible process of psychic growth – the process of individuation.

‘Gradually a wider and more mature personality emerges and, by degrees becomes effective and even visible to others. Since this psychic growth cannot be brought about by conscious effort of will power, but happens involuntarily and naturally, it is in dreams frequently symbolised by the tree whose slow, powerful, involuntary growth fulfils a definite pattern.

“But this creative nucleus of the psychic growth – the Self – can only come into play when the ego gets rid of purposive and wishful aims, and tries to go to a deeper, more basic form of existence. The ego must be able to listen attentively and to give itself, without any desire or purpose, to that inner urge toward growth.”

Von Franz, here explaining the Jungian attitude expresses one polarity of our relationship with our own source – that of surrender to it.  Other schools express the other polarity of making the ego so strong and defended it can dominate its source and instincts.  There is a middle way, but before commenting on this, what has been said of body and soul is brought into clear relief by recent research into sleep and dreams.

It was found that “every normal adult and child over a certain, as yet undetermined, but very tender, age, have hallucinatory experiences of dreaming, as a regular, repetitive concomitant of natural sleep.”  That is, every person tested, dreams, and dreams in cycles throughout sleep. “This nightly pattern is as universal as sleep – and as regular as the motions of the planetary bodies. At first one falls into a deep dreamless sleep.   After about sixty or seventy minutes there is a rising up toward waking consciousness and one dreams for about nine minute.  Down into dreamless sleep again, but not as deep.  After ninety minutes, up toward waking consciousness again, and about nineteen minutes of dreaming. Now a shallower trough of dreamless sleep for another ninety minutes, up, and this time twenty four minutes dreaming.  Down, and up after ninety minutes for twenty-eight minutes.  The fifth period of dreaming then continues until fully waking.

People who were woken as dreams began, and thus were prevented from dreaming, after a few days showed signs of mental’. and physical breakdown. This was possible because every period of dreaming is accompanied by rapid eye movements (REM) and as each period of these was experienced, the subjects were woken. “At the beginning of each of these cycles unmistakable bursts of energy have been measured. These invade the visual cortex where the millions of retinal impulses are transformed into perceptions. However, the extraordinary brainwave patterns noted as a result of this invasion are not initiated by the eyes, by mental images, or indeed by the visual brain itself but by the brain stem, about eight times a second. The brain temperature leaps up at the beginning of each period, and, noting that the ‘hot brain of the dreamer suggests a high rate of brain metabolism, rapid conversion and use of energy’.

Segal and Luce realised that “these pattern of’ dreaming reveals immense potentials for individuals in the exploitation of their own selves.”

What most researchers have failed to note the significance of is that these periods of tremendous energy release only occur after a period of dreamless sleep.

In the first chapter I described my experience of consciously dropping into the nothingness beyond my self awareness, and the tremendous energy release which followed. The experience gave me the certainty that I had touched the very foundations of my being. This and other waking and sleeping experiences mentioned in the last chapter led me to believe that the cycle is only secondary to the experience of dreamless sleep. That in dreamless sleep we again make contact with the central energies, growth forces and essence of our being. These emerge but meet with inhibiting factors. The conflict of the emerging meets the inhibition which we experience as dreams. If the inhibiting factors are removed even temporarily, we no longer dream, but have a direct experience of the forces, whether sexual, bioenergetic, compensatory or repressed, which are arising from our central being. If this is so, and I do not have a mass of experience to support it, symbolic or image dreams are a sign of a union between the conscious self and its source of being. If this split is repaired, the image dream disappears.

This gives us three levels of consciousness – the daily experience

1) Waking consciousness

2) Dreaming sleep

3) Dreamless sleep

The latter is a condition, if we consider our experience of dreamless sleep, in which there is a loss of self awareness and time; our body awareness lessens or disappears, and thoughts and thought images are absent also.

These findings help us understand what Jung and others have meant when referring to a nucleus of our being from which our physical and soul growth arises. It helps us to bring the idea of the Self – our central core – out of the realm of theory and philosophising into the realm of every day experience. Every time we sleep we experience the dreamless state. Certainly, because it is an absence of our sense of self, time, thoughts and images, it is difficult for us to grasp, but we can look back and recognise we have been there. Just as we return to the primordial slime and single celled creatures in sexual intercourse and reproduction, and grow through stages to humanness, so in sleep perhaps, we return to the primordial level of consciousness and begin to restore ourselves and keep in touch with the origina1 energy of our nature.  In a very real way we die every time we sleep, for we return to our primordial self which is death.

In animals living in their natural state there seems to be very little difference between what emerges from their core and what they live. This may lead us to have the idea that there is a simple solution to the split between our own core and our personality. In the past the solution has been – get rid of the ego and live in the unconditioned (egoless, timeless, thoughtless) state.

In the West we word it differently – align the personality with the self, live in harmony with nature and with oneself and the problem will right itself. In other words the ego and the self can live together, because the ego can be constantly transformed.

Unfortunately both these solutions are only partly true because they have an element of truth, however, many have accepted them wholly and tried to live by them. The many cults, East and West, testify to this, and also to the fact that some very important factors have been overlooked for the sake of a simple solution to life’s difficulties. Whether we name that simple and quick solution Divine Light, Krishna Consciousness, Communism, Primal Therapy or Self-Regulation, it will not work when approached in that way. However, there are answers, although not simple or quick ones, or else I would not write this book. But they are not final answers, only tools to use as far as we can and discard for better ones as humans always have. But one important point stands out, self-regulation and the direct self experience arises out of the imageless, non thinking ‘dreamless’ state of consciousness, whether asleep or awake.

Some years ago I became interested in the cases in which babies had actually been lost and brought up by animals such as wolves, bears or deer.  There are many such cases even in modern times   Even in Europe they were at one time quite frequent. Studies of these cases show a certain pattern.  The children, when ‘rescued’ from their animal foster parents are uneducatable if they have passed babyhood (i.e. if they lived as a baby with their animal parents, and were now in youth or teenage). They all lacked an awareness of self or ego as we know it.   They had little or no sense of time, end were very much at-one with animals or nature.   Because they could not learn or be educated, they never in any large degree adapted to life among people. One young man did learn elementary social functioning and was very good with animals, but most pine and die as did the modern wolf girls in India.   They remained, in fact, animals with human form. They lived in a timeless, egoless, guiltless world, but without any sense of ‘I’ to enjoy it. See Programmed 

These facts come as a shock to those who believe that complete surrender of the ego naturally makes man spiritual, and solves all problems. Perhaps all it does is to return him to an animal level of existence. What then is a human being?

Helen Keller helps us understand the problem. As a young child of nearly two she suffered an illness which made her deaf, dumb and blind. She existed in this state of being out of communication with the world until she was twelve, when a personal tutor, Anne Sullivan began an attempt to reach her and teach her sign language. Helen was truly like a little animal and was very difficult to help. Anne began to teach her the deaf and dumb alphabet using the hands. Helen Keller says that one day she suddenly understood that Anne was communicating a word to her. It flashed into memory that just prior to her illness she had learnt and understood one word. It was as if the memory of that one word enabled her to learn what Ann was doing. For Helen, it was as if a door opened, and she was no longer trapped in the blackness and unconsciousness of her previous existence. Suddenly the path to becoming a human being was open before her. At seventeen she entered college and later took her degree in literature, history and philosophy at Harvard.

The word! Is that the key to human ability, to humanness itself? Certainly none of the animal fostered children could understand human speech, none of them had or could learn it. Some milestone had been passed in their early years which, without human speech marked them forever as animals. Perhaps every person too, without that one learnt word in infancy, might never have made the transition. If the spech is the key to having an ego and to human ability (what monkey can drive a car or knit a jersey? The animal children could only perform very simple tasks despite their adequate brain and body) then this above all should be sacred in education. Without really defining and understanding the words we use, we live in an impoverished human condition.

Nevertheless here is our conflict. Without human culture or the spoken word, we have no sense of our identity, no time sense. We have an easier life of our instincts, but is that happiness? The animal can have a neurosis. The book In the Shadow of Man shows a very disturbed chimpanzee in its natural jungles. Its neurosis arose because its mother died while it was young. It never matured properly, and died at an early age. The natural state chimpanzee is in touch with its instinctive self, yet the self-regulatory processes still cannot cure it of its neurosis.

There are other problems too.

It is believed that a long time ago in the African history, a type of deer lived in jungles and trees. The jungles being their place of safety, so their instinct was to avoid the open grassland. But over time the jungles diminished and the deer could not change their instinct to remain in the forest quickly enough, so died out.

(A large part of this chapter become scrambled and unreadable. There I have included a large quote from Lysergic acid & Ritalin in the treatment of neurosis)

“Findings do not suggest that any pioneer such as Freud, Adler, Jung, Melanie Klein, or Pavlov was always right in his or her respective emphasis, while at the same time the study of each case shows the importance of unconscious feelings and ex­periences in early life as being of paramount importance. In these cases it is apparent that of all factors, a secure mother-child relationship is the most important forerunner of mental health and inner harmony in later life, and its absence the basis of life-long neurosis.”

On the physiological side, Cannon (2) brought the holistic view of the organism into the situation and recognised that “anxiety may be produced by a variety of events, which have one common element. There is always a discrepancy between the individual’s capacities and the demands made on him which make self-realization impossible.” Cannon did outstanding work in the field of homeostasis and more recently other writers have enlarged our concepts although clearly there is marked discrepancy between their basic philosophies except for the recognition of the supreme importance of emotional factors in human adjustment.

On a more anthropological basis, Sullivan (5) viewed the human being as an integral part of his culture, so that anxiety is seen as arising from a threat to the individual’s security in interpersonal re­lationships. Horney (6,7) who has contributed widely in this field has stressed most convincingly that anxiety is the dynamic core of neurosis.

Melanie Klein (8) has also clarified our outlook by stressing the importance of identification with the parents which is carried into adult life. At every stage the ability to identify makes possible the happiness of being able to admire the character or achievements of others. The ability to admire another person’s achievements is one of the factors making successful team work possible. Klein’s work with children has shown that even from babyhood onwards the mother, and soon other people in the child’s surroundings are taken into the self, and this is the basis of a variety of identifications, favourable and unfavourable.

Any attempt to stress the nature of anxiety must incorporate the contention that anxiety is a natural phenomenon which the individual experiences when values essential to his existence, his sense of being and his identity are threatened. It is to be distinguished from fear in which the threat is peripheral, the intactness of the sense of being is not being threatened, the danger is objective and the individual can evaluate it and can act either in terms of flight or fight in coping with it.

Even more essential is it to distinguish normal anxiety and healthy involvement in anxiety from neurotic anxiety and neurotic involvement in anxiety. We experience normal anxiety whenever we move from the old to the new, from the certain into the new unknown and uncertain. From this it follows that life in our culture, which is changing and fiercely competitive, is an inevitable part of living and that it is only in cases where anxiety and its multiple manifestations are a source of real unhappiness, that medical intervention is indicated.

Carstairs (9) has summarized the importance of the mother-child relationship in the early weeks and the influence of cultural habits. Carstairs writes as follows:— “Shortly after the second world war, a survey was carried out of all babies born in England and Wales—some 14,000 in all. At only eight weeks after their birth, nearly half of these babies were found already to be exclusively bottle fed. What consequences result from this first experience? In the light of Dr. Goldman Eisler’s findings, we would expect these children to grow up with a definite bias towards pessimism, and this indeed is the impres­sion which we tend to give to visitors from other more exuberant societies.

Another basic experience in infancy is toilet training. Different societies, and different communities within our own society, vary widely in the degree of concern which attends this aspect of baby care. Some societies, including our own, seem to place an exag­gerated emphasis upon the baby being clean and dry as soon as possible. I say exaggerated emphasis, because most infants are not physiologically capable of this degree of control until they are well over a year old. If the mother fusses over it, the whole business of being clean assumes an undue importance. Where this has happened, the child may grow up to be cautious, meticulous, over conscientious, strict with himself and with those under his authority, perhaps parsimonious; in extreme degree, this can re­sult in an obsessive compulsive neurosis.

A majority of mothers in Britain still believe that toilet training should begin in the first months, and should be completed within the first year. They are doomed to disappointment, of course. In practice, they find themselves fighting a losing battle with so-called naughty children who are unable to conform to their ex­pectations. An interesting corollary to this is finding that in Britain there appears to be little belief in the inherent goodness of children. Instead, parents attribute all sorts of malign and unruly tendencies to their growing infants; and they are prompted to do this, I believe, by their own unconscious conflicts. Their own early surrender to discipline has left unsatisfied a good many unruly impulses which find indirect expression in their anticipation of rebelliousness in their own children. It has other disadva­tages also. We in Britain often congratulate ourselves on our patience and self control—as exemplified in the orderly queues which we are so accustomed to join, but this docility may be won at the cost of surrendering a good deal of spontaneity and drive.

These basic features of child-rearing can be observed in any society, and have been incorporated in many culture and personality studies, including my own. When I lived for over two years in villages in the Anarli hills in India, I became familiar with patterns of child care quite different from our own. Indian parents show none of our anxious concern for babies to be clean and dry as soon as possible; that part of a child’s training is attended to without fuss and allowed to take its time. According to Freudian theory, this should be associated with an easy going disregard for punctuality or precision over matters of detail and that is what I found. My Hindu friends were aware of this difference between their ways and mine; at times they reproached themselves for their unreliability, at other times they teased me for my typically British habit of living by the clock.

Hindu babies have always enjoyed demand feeding. They are seldom far from their mother’s side, and whenever they begin to fret, their mothers nurse them. It was only after my return to live in a block of flats in London that I realized how infrequently one hears a baby crying in India, how frequently in Britain.

I have already suggested that the early weaning of our babies may he responsible for the slight bias towards pessimism which colours our outlook. Among the Hindus whom I studied, the opposite bias prevailed; they seemed to live in constant expectation of a stroke of good fortune. Each new acquaintance was scanned hopefully as if he might be the agent of their material and spiritual salvation; and in spite of many disappointments, these hopes would rise again.

Pessimism is closely allied to anxiety and clinically these two character traits merge into one another. It is not suggested that basic anxiety and its multiple psychosomatic manifestations are the direct sequence of our breast feeding habits but that cultural patterns in infant care contribute towards the tension and anxiety which is frequently accentuated by their experiences and by parental attitudes.”

Mere abreaction is of no lasting value, unless the associated emotion is also released, “digested” and accepted by the patient. This is the reason why in many cases the repressed traumatic family relationship or experiences has to be brought up a number of times before it is fully integrated.

It is an understandable fact that throughout all anthropological studies man has been found to look for an answer and meaning to life and to escape from or adapt to hostile internal or external environ­ment with the aid of drugs.

Throughout the many thousands of years of evolution, a number of adaptations had to be made in order to allow man to integrate the various stimuli and to develop a system which would enable him to remain alive and reproduce himself and to function as a social unit.

New areas of the brain had to be developed not only to integrate, but also to inhibit primitive, survival-orientated impulses and to enable him to store stimuli and act on them later. It is this ability to de­fer action and to act in a purposeful and objective rather than in an instinctive way that distinguishes the well-integrated human from the child, the primitive human or the neurotic.

As man’s awareness of himself as a separate character developed, new problems arose out of the need to identify, without which he could not sense the needs of others, and without which he could not feel personal guilt. The awareness of oneself as a separate individual and the creation of anxiety which had to be coped with rationally, created the need of a secondary process by which the individual can learn to cope effectively with internal and external threats. Thus we can reconcile the idea of the ego-formation and the physical idea of inhibition.

The end of the quote from Lysergic Acid & Ritalin by THOMAS M. LING, M.A., and JOHN BUCKMAN 

The second aspect of recordings or memory is the Inner Child. This is the recording of all the feelings attached to past events. These past recordings may have tied our feelings up in particular ways. Due to our parents fighting, or Dad leaving home, we may have felt unwanted and afraid. Because the memories have never been evaluated, we go on feeling the same way in situations even remotely similar.

The third aspect of the recordings is called the Adult. As the child matures a new ability begins to develop, it is the ability to evaluate and reach independent decisions and understandings. This is at first only a tentative activity, and some people never develop it. But the Adult is like a computer. It arrives at independent conclusions from the information available from its senses, from its memories (Parent) would from its feelings (Child). It can reassess, make decisions and defer action, which, as Ling and Buckman pointed out, the child, primitive and neurotic, cannot do.

  1. This is possible because the core is allowed free rein; yet waking consciousness intently watches the action, evaluating it.
  2. Much of a child’s experiences are non verbal, and thus unfocussed, never having become clear concepts or conscious realisations. The first step for these to become integrated into conceptual understanding is via a symbol. “I am a fish – a tiger – an iceberg”. These symbols then yield their content to understanding. In this we see the dream action of the Self united with the analytical power and concept forming ability of the conscious soul.
  3. This is how dreams work, for unfocussed mind becomes more focussed using images gathered through life experience.

An example of this was when I was recently asked by a man who had given no thought to dreams how on earth you could extract any meaning from them. He was wearing a fairly old T-shirt, so I said, “OK, let’s imagine you dreamt of your T-shirt, what would you make of that?”

After a while he said, “I don’t know that I would make anything of it.”

My response was to say, “Right, but now tell me where you bought the T-shirt, and what memories it has for you.” Whereupon he told me, with some hesitation his memories of being in the USA, and that the shirt was part of memories that he didn’t want to walk about – I felt he had an affair while in America. Not only did he realise he had very powerful associations with the T-Shirt, but he wanted to hide them. The important point is that everything we see and deal with, every person, every imagined scene, has such a background of feelings and perhaps memories. It is exactly this background of feelings and information that the dream weaves its story from. It is these associations that are the language of our dreams. To understand them you need to become aware of the usually unconscious feeling responses you have in connection with every thing, place, person and animal you fill your dreams with.



Ways In

In describing my first spontaneous experience of self-regulation, I mentioned that myself and two friends “had started by thinking about a seed, and wondering what we had in common with it”.  This was the beginning of the technique of the Seed Group.  Mike Tanner, Sheila Johns and myself explored and defined what gradually proved to be one of the most powerful methods of releasing self-regulation working as a group.

Since that tentative beginning I have used this method with many groups of people. Whether the group is very large – a hundred people or more – or very small – three people – it remains an efficient method for helping people make a deeper contact with themselves.  It releases the whole range of self-regulatory phenomena, but reaches out into other areas of learning experiences in relationships.

People, in whom self-regulation has been difficult to release, experience it in such a group. But there is so much else as well; such as learning to express oneself individually or in a group; meeting the results of being touched or touching a stranger; coping with pent-up sexuality; releasing the growth energies; experimentally meeting birth and death; experiencing one’s actual birth; learning to let go, and much else.

There are two main ways of using the Seed Group process, the first for a group just starting to work with it, and the second for a group established in its use.  In the second instance, even people who have never before been involved in such work can be directly brought in without the introductions.  But wherever possible the introductory work should be done first.

Before using these powerful techniques, one must be aware of the potential effects on individuals.  If a person is not coping with everyday life too well, is very nervous, is or has experienced a nervous breakdown, they should be especially aware of what entry into this type of group means. It will frequently throw them into deep depression or worse.  They need the help of an established group who have met their own problems deeply.  The methods described in this book, and this method in particular, are for people who are coping fairly well in life, even though they have problems.  For these, such methods can bring transformation.  Jung says in The Secret of The Golden Flower, “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.”

The way to use self-regulation positively is to have the humanity to admit what we are at present.  It might be that a really frank assessment of oneself from the records of one’s past performance may show that we need to develop a lot more will, stability, relatedness and perseverance before we face the big waves.  This can be done by patiently using the methods to be explained in a later chapter, “Ripeness.”  I myself had to use these aids for ten years before I could face the big release of inner fears.  Be patient – but persevering. What are a few years to give in exchange for the release from a lifetime’s burden?


Session OneStarting

Whoever is leading the group need not have already experienced what is going to be done.  They need only act as co-ordinator, guide and common explorer. If the group understands the leader is exploring the technique with them this is an acceptable position.

First, the group should have a basic idea of why they are going to do.  The things the group will do are first of all to develop personal self-initiative.  Most groups are run on the basis of a leader telling the group what to do or what to think.  In these groups a leader with special knowledge tells or shows others how to copy it or reproduce it with their own talents.  Thus a French teacher acts as a guide and model that the students can copy.  Thus they learn to copy or reproduce the pronunciation and sentence formation.  In classes teaching physical exercises or postures, the group is shown by the teacher how to do it.

The seed group does not work on this principle.  When its fundamental techniques are introduced to an otherwise stable and co-operative group, there are usually several people who refuse point blank, or are generally unwilling to do them.  This is because they have to initiate their own activity and express their own feelings instead of merely copying somebody else.  Quite a measure of embarrassment often arises because people have been taken out of their usual social slot of copiers without the aid of drugs such as alcohol.

These techniques aid us in self expression, decision making, finding our own imagination, contacting our growth energies, our unconscious and emotions, learning to make deeper contact with people, and releasing repressed pain and joy.

The very first step after explanation is to have the group stand with enough space to move around a little.  It is best done without shoes, with loose clothing on a carpeted floor or blanket.  Each person should stand with eyes closed, relaxed, perhaps even with unobtrusive music as a background.  But it must not be music with a strong rhythm, or else it will impose its beat on the rhythm of the individuals.  It must be understood by the group they should take their time. Now each person should hold the idea of a dried up seed and let their body find its way into expressing the idea in a posture.  If this is difficult they should move their limbs and trunk about experimentally to see what positions feel like or unlike their idea or feelings of a dried up seed.  Even when a position which feels right is found, they should experiment with it.  Is the head right, the limbs, is it just a very intellectual thing or does it feel right too?  Can the seed remain in it?

When the physical position is satisfying, then the person should wonder what it feels like to be a seed.  Is it asleep?  Does it have longings?  Is it happy or lonely?  Whatever each person considers the seed to feel, they should then dwell in that feeling as well as they can.

After some minutes of being the seed the group should then sit up and discuss their experience.  They should also consider in what way humans are similar to seeds.  After this discussion, go through being a seed again and note any differences, and then perhaps once more.

Session Two

If this is a group that meets weekly, the amount given above is quite sufficient for the first week.  If it is a whole day, or weekend seminar, then the group should gradually, not too superficially, work through this whole first series of sessions.  The second lot of sessions should only be used once the group has worked through the difficulties of these first sessions, and developed the abilities arising from them.  Many things cannot be hurried, so time must be left for people to digest and grow into what has come.

In this second session, consider the idea of earth in the same way as the idea of a dried seed was worked on.  Find a posture or movements that express being the earth.  What is the earthy part of not only a human body, but of human personality?  Experiment, discuss, experiment.  The group should understand that from the beginning of this session onwards movement and sound is permissible if it is an expression of being earth.  It is best if each person finds a posture and a movement, or movements.

Session Three

In the same way as above, experiment with water as posture, movement and sound.  If there is time left, go back over the past subjects, i.e. seed and earth.

Session Four

In the same way as the previous sessions consider air.  The group will by now be feeling easier in each other’s presence, and be learning to express feelings and imagination more easily.  Discussion can now include what people notice about difficulties and pleasures of expressing.

Session Five

In the same way as before now experiment with sun, or fire.  What is fire or sun as part of our body and personality?  What is it for us as a posture and movements?

Session Six

Something different.  The group must now understand that they can take the whole, or most of the time allotted to the session, if need be, or complete it quickly if that is how it comes for them.  They can use any of the things already experienced – postures, movements, sound. Each person stands with eyes closed.  Slowly they feel their way into being the seed. But now it is in warm moist soil.  The growth process of the seed is triggered. Each person in their own way and time explores and expresses the whole cycle of putting down roots, pushing up stem, opening leaves, taking up earth, receiving the sun, blossoming, being fertilised, forming seeds, withering away.  When complete discuss it.  If there is time, do it again, or this time be a human seed in the womb.  Grow and go through the whole cycle of birth, growth, puberty, maturity, old age, death.

Make it clear that if there is no urge to grow, or they only grow to a certain point that is okay and they must not push themselves to do the whole cycle of growth.

Example: Judith, who teaches a yoga class, describes her first use of the Seed approach.

“….I felt as if I were the bud of a crocus. I seemed to be slowly unfolding with difficulty. Not until I fully opened did I feel a great relief. The results of this have made me feel very positive in my outlook, and far happier…..I am a trainee yoga teacher and have been teaching for three years. I have a small class of fourteen students who are keen and attend regularly. I decided to have my students try the seed to see how they would react. I explained it as well as I could, and the feedback I got was:- A man in his thirties said, ‘I felt I was in a womb. It was very comfortable, cosy and dark. I wanted to stay there. I didn’t want to come away – it was so peaceful. I have never experienced anything like it before.’ He was very impressed.

A woman in her thirties felt like throwing her arms around and kicking her legs.  ‘I felt I wanted to give birth and was about to deliver.’ She didn’t fling herself about, but held back. I think it was a pity she didn’t let go. Perhaps I didn’t explain the whole procedure clearly enough for them to understand that it was entirely free movements. The majority acted out being flowers.  Only one in the class thought it was a lot of ‘bloody rubbish’, her words. She didn’t even try. She thought she would feel stupid acting out a seed. I personally was surprised at the outcome, that so much should happen first time.”

Session Seven

Go through growing as the seed again as plant, then as human.

Discuss these, and also discuss what has happened so far to each person. How have the sessions influenced them?

Session Eight

Start off by being the seed.  Each person can choose whether to be plant or human.  When this is complete, do not discuss, but form groups of three people. In a large area any number of people can do this.  Put one’s blankets or mats on the floor if it is not carpeted.  In each group one person can choose to be the seed.  It must be a plant seed at this stage.  Taking their time they should start from the standing position and feel their way into being a seed.  The other two people should decide who is going to be earth and who water.  When the seed is well into itself, they must feel their way into relating to that seed as water would, or earth would, to a seed.  How will they permeate and spark the growth of the seed?  How will earth provide grounding and sustenance?

The seed waits to be stimulated into life.  It might be that what occurs in relationship with the earth and water does not stimulate, but drowns, rots, or buries.  Or maybe the seed doesn’t wish to grow.  But if it does, then the seed in the group relationship, grows and goes through the stages of growth and decay. End with discussion.

Session Nine

Form into groups of three.  Any odd numbers can join a group.  i.e. groups can be larger than three.  Different people should be seeds this time and go through the process of growth and decay in the group.  In whatever way arises, involve the earth and water in growth in ways a seed might.  Or at least, express the feeling of it in a group involvement.  If sexual feelings arise, don’t be afraid of them, but don’t let it become distracting.  Stick strictly to the theme of growing and dying, involving the feelings in this cycle.

If there is time for a second seed’, let another person be the seed.

Session Ten

Follow the same pattern as before until each person has had at least three turns at being the seed.  Talk as frankly as possible about any difficulties arising, or positive results.  To enable each person to have another three seedings, take as many further sessions as necessary.

Sessions Onwards

from here on, people will begin to go into self-regulation.  Before this time, self-regulation should be held off, because the group as a whole is not mature enough together to take the powerful emotions which will release.  But if the group is run by a leader who has long experience of personal self-regulation and dealing with groups, then it could be released wherever it appeared.  But as a training group, best to approach it slowly.  Whatever members of the group have come this far together though, can learn to carry on from here.  What happens with some groups is that the energies released break up the group.  If often then reform at a later date with different people in a different, more cohesive way.  But there are many groups which right from the start nave a natural leader capable of meeting and dealing with what happens with increasing skill.  Or the group itself has the will to find transformation despite all setbacks.

In the following sessions allow a change to occur.  Each person can decide whether they still wish to grow as a seed, or open to self-regulation.  There is an enormous amount to learn as a seed.  Nobody should be pushed.  Also, people should be allowed to remain supporters even though it is their turn to be a seed.

The next step, if it is chosen, is to adopt a different policy as seed and supporters.  The seed should feel their way into the position, but then wait. Do not initiate any pattern of growth.  Wait for it to happen.  Go along with any sense of falling, feelings of dizziness or being afraid.  As the seed, simply lay there as if you are going to meet any feelings, such as’ falling, dizziness, fear or body aches.  Let yourself sleep.  The supporters should come near and form a surrounding cocoon.  The seed should have no aim, but simply sink into the experience of people being near, with nothing to do but enter into it for the next half hour or more.  Just lie and enjoy it, but if anything happens, let it.

If the seed is still, the supporters simply remain close and quiet, just like a heap of people going to sleep.  If the seed starts entering self-regulation, follow your feelings as to their needs.  Do not start trying to console or sympathise with words or actions.  The seed generally only needs your presence. Sometimes they need someone to hold on to; sometimes someone to resist them a bit, but usually only a presence and witness.

Experience as seed and supporter grows as one goes through the action a number of times.  In some sessions a seed may feel as if everything suddenly gets dark.  Next time they may start to shiver.  The following session the shivering is more intense and suddenly they start crying and then scream at their mother or sister or brother or just letting out intense feelings.  Gradually, the depth of the experience grows.  There is no need to hurry it.  After a while people will find that self-regulation can begin even without being the seed. Then they can decide if they wish to carry on being seed and supporter, or release alone.  Individual release and seed groups can then run together.  Or the group can gradually swing over to another way of working.


Once a group has gained experience of working together and transforming the released emotions into connections, usable energy and health, another way of working can be used.

Probably many people reading these techniques may wish to rush straight into using these later methods hoping for quicker results.  There is, however, so much to gain from starting at the beginning, a great deal will be missed by impatience.  The first techniques add depth and the capability to respond more fully to these techniques now to be explained.  To hurry would be a bit like trying to build a window in a house before the wall has gone up to support it.  It could be done, but some sort of scaffold would nave to hold the window in place until the wall supported it.

This experienced seed group work is based upon, and is a simple extension of what has been described in the preceding sections.  The only change is that right from the beginning; self-regulation can be aimed for and dealt with.  If a group has worked through the previous techniques they will have begun to acquire skill in handling people’s heavy releases of pain, tears and anger.  They will no longer be shaken to the core, or embarrassed, frightened or rushing to quell a person’s emotions every time somebody shouts or cries.  If they have not worked through this – or if there is not someone in each small group who has experience, great confusion or blocks may occur.

In this method the group needs to be at least five or six in. size.  This is to be capable of handling the physical side of the techniques.  These preliminary methods are to quickly open the person up so they can release what is there to be released.  The group starts by having the person who has chosen to be the seed standing in the centre.  The rest of the group stand in a circle fairly close around them.  If the floor is wooden it is best to be without shoes and socks, and without blanket or unfixed carpet underfoot.  This is because of the possibility of slipping and being injured.  Also, before the group begins, a comfortable nest of blankets should be made to plant the seed in.

The seed in the centre now closes their eyes and relaxes as much as they can, but maintaining enough leg strength to support themselves in what follows. They must hand themselves over to the group as fully as possible once action begins.

At this point most groups I have worked with nave found it an instinctive action to make physical contact with each other by closing up tight around the seed for just a few seconds.  This unifies and centres the group on what they are about to do.  The group then opens out and pushes the seed aggressively from one to another of the group.  There must be a good circle around the seed to catch them as they are shoved and pushed back.

The group here rejects and pushes the seed away, fairly violently.  The seed often automatically shouts out or cries or reacts in some way to this. The group should nevertheless not stop too soon.  At least thirty seconds should be given to this rough handling.  It immediately triggers childhood feelings of loneliness, misunderstanding and rejection.  But whatever is happening to the seed, except if they are really fiercely struggling, the group makes a shoulder to shoulder circle and now tenderly, one by one, takes the seed in their arms and passes them to the next in the circle, still standing.  Please be aware of any remaining rejection and drop it,  I have seen time and time again members of the circle not take the seed in their arms but simply push them around to the next person.

The seed group gives as much to the supporters as to the seed.  Here we are faced by our own compulsive rejection.  Break through it, take the person in your arms.  If you are the one being passed around your whole sensory impressions explode.  Each person who holds you is a whole world of experience and knowledge.  Their skin, their touch, their smell, their drawing you into them, or their hesitancy and rejection, are as tangible as the bark of a tree.

As the seed falls deeply into this world of sensory, emotional and moving relationships, their legs may begin to buckle under them.  As this then may become too much dead-weight for the group to handle, gently, one of the group should quietly say to the seed, “Keep just enough strength in your legs to help us support you.”

Do not hurry this passing the seed around the circle.  They may moan or cry, shiver or jerk, but carry on gently until you feel they are well relaxed and into themselves.  Then the group lifts the seed from the ground by standing on each side, arms under their legs, hips, chest, and supporting the head.  Put their arms on their body to prevent dangling or the seed being uncomfortable.

Now the group gently rocks backwards and forwards with the seed supported between them, like a baby being rocked.  The seed should drop all aims as to what to do, where to get, and simply sink deeply into what is happening, some seeds insist on telling everyone else what to do, or spring brightly up and direct operations.  These are people who may have a fear of letting their own deep feelings emerge uncontrolled. They should be gently told not to interfere or disturb what they are experiencing.  If they say, ‘But nothing is happening’, then tell them to be content with sinking into the nothing.  Let nothing happen.

The group carries on this rocking for a minute or so, then slowly lowers the seed to the blankets already placed in position.

From the point of view of the seed, once you are on the ground, you can assume any position you like: curled up, open, on back or front.  There is no need to attempt a ‘seed position’ as in the early sessions.  All that has gone before was aimed at helping you to open up to the self regulatory action and to achieve purposelessness.  In other words, have no aim in particular.  Lay back as if you have all day with nothing to do but be with yourself and these people.  So you can lay for half an hour or an hour without saying a word or moving.  No need to speak to anybody.  But if you feel a need to move, move.  If someone is irritating you by what they are doing, stop them.  This can be done by putting a restraining hand on them, or telling them you don’t need what they are doing.  But if the action of self-regulation begins in shivering, fear, tears, let it happen. The group is there to help and support.

Once the group has put the seed down, they now touch the seed gently all over.  This is not an attempt to massage, just to have each part of the body be felt and relaxed by being touched.  Then the group gets into close physical contact with the seed, covering with their bodies.  Don’t forget the feet and head.  Gentle fingers touching face and-feet very much deepen the seed’s entry into self.  Be close without getting in the way of what the seed needs to do and feel.

The only problems I have found occurring are in members of the group not knowing quite how such stimulus, closeness or quietness the seed needs. Sometimes the supporters are carried away by their own feelings, the needs of the seed are forgotten.  The seed may then be embraced or forcibly restrained in their movements.  Sometimes the seed does seek to be  embraced, does need someone to restrain them or fight against, but it is only interference if it’s not what they need at that time,  The seed usually makes their needs known quite plainly. If they need to be held tightly they start holding on tight.  If they need warm emotion, they become warmly emotional.  If they need a struggle, they start struggling.  And in resisting their struggle be like an elastic band, not a block on their movement but just riding the movement with them.

In most cases all the seed needs is someone near to touch, to feel physical warmth, to witness what is released, and to talk it over afterwards.  If a seed screams out something like “No-one loves me” or “Help, help” there is no need for everyone to rush over and assure them they are loved or are being helped. If any encouragement is to be given, it should be to allow them to sink even further into the feeling of being unloved or of needing help.  In this way they will get to the roots of the problem and clear it.  Acting out being loved or being helped will not cure the situation at all, only alleviate it for a while.

When the seed has been put down, there is only need for about three people to stay, unless the seed is going through tremendous physical movement, in which case it helps them to slightly resist their movements.  This allows them to expend and experience their energy without hurting hands and feet on the floor. If the floor is well padded however, all they need is to be given space to move.

Therefore, if there are a number of groups, once the seeds are down, two or three can leave and form another group.  But never leave a seed alone or with just one person.  I have seen a whole group walk off from a seed.  She was just on the verge of going into her own birth experience-, but because she was so quiet the group felt she did not need them.  Fortunately three people immediately went to her and stayed with her through her birth experience.

Any therapy group which is used to working together could easily begin to use the seed group method.  If they were used to working as an Encounter group, or active aggressive group, however, they might hit certain problems which are worth pointing out.  The seed group does not push a person into abreaction, it merely helps them if that is where they need or choose to go.  Seed groups have very long periods of silent waiting.  I know from long experience that the body and psyche are self-regulating.  We do not have to pull problems out of someone through clever insights, aggressiveness or techniques.  All we need do is provide an environment in which the spontaneous healing activities of our being are ACKNOWLEDGED! in a setting which shows TRUST in those natural forces, and waits on their NATURAL FUNCTION.  

Many groups will not have the real belief that without clever techniques something very real can happen.  How can anything come of just lying still in silence, without exchange of biting comments, active love, or therapeutic methodology?  How?  Simply because our being is a self-regulating one, and given half a chance and a little co-operation will begin to function in an amazing manner.

David Boadella, editor of Energy and Character, writing to me about this theme, said that one of the important points in therapy is to pay close attention to what is happening to oneself. To quote,  “not in a gestalt ways, so much as a deeper way of sinking into their own excitation, and letting themselves be moved from within. This seems close to what you are seeking in the work with self-regulation. In this it is tremendously important not to put a premium on trauma, catharsis, primal scream, because the organism must always be free to choose between cathartic and formative; between abreaction and harmonisation; between storms and quietude; expression or experience.”

Many group leaders have a feeling of failure unless ‘something has happened’. It is important to see that just lying close to a number of people, not having to struggle to get somewhere, to release something, scream something, is for most of us an enormous happening. If no one at all experienced abreaction, the seed group in silence is an enormous event. Whole areas of my life transformed simply by doing the seed group, without abreaction. This is why I say the first sessions are so important.

A woman who felt she got nothing from being the seed, a couple of years later told me that just being held quietly taught her so much, that now as she was nursing elderly patients she felt easy about being able to hold and comfort them

The seed group can therefore be run as a one-off thing, used as part of a group’s working together.  It can be used weekly, leading toward self-regulation; or it can be used as I frequently teach it, as a week-end seminar.  Used for a whole week-end it is a powerful occasional stimulus for those working on themselves in other ways, or to aid breakthroughs. When used for two or more days consecutively the group as a whole develops very particular dynamics.  If it is used in this way the group leader should already have worked through it thoroughly for much shorter periods, and themselves been the seed many times.  Only then will they understand and be capable of meeting the various results of extensive group work.  For individuals will tend to need aloneness at certain times in order to digest what has happened.  Others will be on the verge of an experience and need to be a seed in order to release what has been rising. Sometimes a powerful group lethargy develops, which is a resistance to meeting some of the arising problems, and the group leader needs the strength to keep the group together in purpose to break through the resistance to the pleasure of release and transformation.

To bring some understanding of these many dimensions of activity within such a group, I will quote the description of a woman who attended a two day seed group.


“This group had a very powerful effect on me and during the weeks since then I have realised just how much I learned about myself.  I had come feeling calm but, I think, realising that I needed to come at that particular time. I had been feeling good for about a month, which had- been preceded by three months of quite severe depression.  The week before the group I was ill and this really upset me – the possibility of not being able to come was more than I could bear.

“On the Friday evening at the SR session I experienced a great deal of anger – which has been surfacing for several months.  This is generally a very diffuse feeling about my childhood, directed at nothing in particular, but on this occasion I found myself repeating over and over, ‘how could you, how could you?’ and realised this was directed at my mother who had left my sister and I when she was about nine months old and I was about four and a half.

“When we began the seed group on Saturday morning, then, I was already primed, so to speak.  In my first group the seed was a young girl, who we learned later had not done anything like this before.  My feeling towards her was that she needed to be made safe and comfortable so that if anything came she could experience it, but if not, would not be troubled.  My chief concern became, as it was to become in all my groups, to make my physical presence strong and comfortable without going over the edge to make it intrusive, pressurising and perhaps threatening.  I realised that this is in fact what I am striving for constantly in my relationships with others.  I find more and more people do come and talk to me – not necessarily when they have specific problems but perhaps more often when they want to explore.  I am often aware when having a perfectly ordinary conversation that there is a kind of tentative undercurrent, trying to move onto a different level and that the balance between making it easy and frightening someone off is a very delicate one.  Perhaps everyone has these feelings – but I have certainly only become aware of them during the last year or two and find it easier to articulate them having experienced the physical parallel in the group.  The seed said afterwards she hadn’t known what to expect and that she felt her problem was trying to know and understand in her head rather than by simply experiencing – which sounds all too familiar!

“The next seed was Len, a young American.  Nothing earth shattering here, a few tears – but the freedom to ask for whatever he felt he needed.  ‘Ask and it shall be given unto you!’  Oh, how I hate to ask.  Yet when I am asked, when Len asked, I give freely, willingly – so why do I fear others will not give willingly to me?  When someone asks me for something, they assume I have something to give – and that feels good, it seems reasonable that others may feel the same – most of us have egos which need to feel good sometimes whether we like it or not.

“By this stage the opening to others’ experience was beginning to have its effect, and during the latter part of Len’s seeding, my main concern became the prevention of the trembling I was now experiencing being transmitted to him and the rest of the group.  Afterwards as we sat talking I felt very tired and somewhat detached from others.  I bent forward and rested my head on the floor.

A few moments later I felt Tony’s hand on my head and the control started to go. I had not been aware that the fact my mother had once been so enraged by a child’s crying that she killed it, was anywhere on the horizon until it jumped into my mind – or rather straight into my mouth as I told Tony about it.  It was something I had discovered at the time of the court case, when I must have been about 7 or 8 and which I had been totally unable to speak about until I eventually told my husband when we had been married 10 years – nearly 25 years of silence!  I had since mentioned it to one or two people, quite dispassionately – after all, it’s nothing to do with me!  Yet as we talked I was able to say what I could not think.  I had discovered in myself an underground well of anger and I was afraid of it – what it might do to others, whether it would blow me apart. Then we put the hand-brake on and had lunch (though the engine was still ticking over).

“After lunch I was to be a seed.  Immediately the pushing started I felt myself falling into darkness and Tony asked me to keep enough tension so they could push a bit more.  As soon as I was on the floor I lost all sense of where I was, and felt as though I was breaking up.  I felt as though I was disintegrating and found myself struggling and thinking – no, no, no – which was eventually spoken aloud and louder.  Was I struggling against the experience? It didn’t really feel as if I was resisting what was coming.  It was almost as though I was fighting to get through to it – no, I’m not going to be a good girl and be quiet, no I’m not going to keep it back.  I have always done that, I’ve always tried to please, to be what I thought others wanted me to be, not causing any trouble or embarrassment.  Well, I’m not going to do that now – I’m going to be myself, do what I need to do.  Then the tears, the self pitying child, then the anger building.

At first a sort of childish tantrum but gradually building to rage – not directed to anyone but rather at life, the process itself.  It’s not fair.  I want a second chance.  I want to go back to the beginning, and you’ve got to love me this time!  Voices saying we love you.  God, they love me.!  Oh, the comfort, the peace, the rest, so much love I have that I feel it spilling out into the group.  Peace, I was back in the world, exchanged a few words and closed my eyes.  The trembling again, I’m too tired now to take anymore but it seems I must go along with it.  Struggle again.  Oh, what now? Gathering in my solar plexus is a knot, it’s dark, black, it hurts, it’s ugly, evil, I must get rid of it – it is poisoning me.  I grit my teeth and start pushing, my whole body fighting to get rid of this thing.  I tell it to get out, louder and louder, stronger and stronger ‘GET OUT!   Then frustration, for I know I can’t do it.  My efforts and commands get weaker.  I can’t.  It won’t be forced, it will come when it’s ready.  I accept and feel peace again.  The love is still there.  Thank you… thank you …….thank you.

“So I had dipped into the pool of anger and people still loved me….

“I sat out the last group of the day, alone but not really alone, aware of all that was happening in the room yet separate from it.  Later I went for a walk to the beach with some others.  I felt at peace, cleansed, able to feel fairly comfortable in the world.

“Sunday Morning:  Long, long session with Helen as the seed.  I feel especially ‘with’ her.  Is it because I have cleared some of my own rubbish I have more room for others?  Although there is some struggle, some tears, Helen’s experience seems a very positive one.  Her body moves easily, smoothly, rhythmically.  There are wave-like movements through her whole body and I feel her movement in mine.  I don’t think my body moves much, if at all, but there is a kind of resonance which I have not experienced before – a kind of physical empathy, harmony.  During this time I experienced a kind of split in myself for though I did not feel less with Helen I became aware of Sally undergoing a very traumatic birth experience in another group.  She talked more than most, and the picture she presented was very vivid.  By the time Helen was ready to sit up it was time for tea and someone brought her a cup.  We sat for a while and then moved out to join the others.  As we went out I noticed Sally, wrapped in a blanket on the floor.

“Another major lesson for me – though’ it was several weeks afterwards before I realised just how important.  Not only anger to be afraid of, but loving as Well.  I had long realised that I vas afraid of loving but gradually I have begun to explore and found that I could do it and it doesn’t hurt.  But this was the first time that I was so clearly aware that loving was the only possible response in the situation I was in, and though there escape routes available I made a conscious choice not to use them. There are nearly always escape routes available if we want to avoid something-even love.

“A few moments later Sally came out of the room and as she approached I asked if she was alright and touched her on the shoulder.  She put her arms around my neck and began to cry.  Joan joined me and together we held her as she became more and more distressed.  She kept saying that it was such a shock.  We took her back into the seed room.  I was rather afraid at this point, I doubted my capacity to cope and I considered asking Tony or someone more experienced than I to help.  It then occurred to me that all she needed was love, that love was all anybody could give her and ‘that I was as capable of giving it as anyone in that room – if I wasn’t afraid to give it.  So I gave it and eventually Sally became quiet, peaceful.  She thanked us for caring – we hadn’t even been in her group!’ I said that we are all in the same group and not only inside the room.”

“Then Joan was the seed.  This was special.  Joan came to my class as a new pupil to me as a new teacher, she is now a teacher herself.  We have grown together, shared many experiences.  She witnessed some of my outbursts in self-regulation, and this seemed to trigger something in her.  I know something of her personal circumstances, some of the pressures and tensions, and have watched her own opening up. Almost before we pushed her she started crying “Don’t touch me!  don’t push me!”  My feelings were that she must be pushed. Again, on the floor she started to struggle and my feeling was to exert some pressure to hold her down.  I felt that if there was no pressure she wouldn’t fight, if there was too much she would give up.  I felt she needed to fight, that there was a great deal of fight in her and that once she gains experience and confidence she will do so.  She is equal to the struggle.  I never thought about her in this way until that moment and realised the right degree of pressure can be helpful.  Throughout the whole thing I felt that things were stirring but were as yet unfocussed – indeed they were being diffused in order that this should not happen.

Lastly, Keith was the seed and I found this group rather distressing and disturbing.  Keith was extremely tense and I felt that I must be very gentle and tender with him.  I felt that in all probability he would not be able to give himself up on this occasion and that he might need repeated experiences of gentleness and love before he could do this.  There was, however, one member of the group who was determined to make something happen, by force if necessary.  Pressure used indiscriminately and without sensitivity. I tried to be even more gentle but found instead I was reacting to the other person with tension and hostility, so that I not only closed up to her but to Keith too.  My capacity for love was not strong enough to carry on regardless in the face of difficulty it seems.  In a very real sense I withdrew from that group although I did not actually get up and go away.  One member did leave the room for a few minutes and when he came back he sat behind me rather than re-enter the group.

‘On reading through I realise I have left out something which I feel is important.  It was not confined to any one moment but grew during the weekend. It concerns the action of pushing the ‘seed’ in the circle. Some of the seeds, and other pushers, were considerably heavier than I and it seemed a strong possibility at some point I might be pushed backwards and might experience some difficulty in maintaining my balance.  I was somewhat surprised to find this did not happen but rather I came gradually to feel my feet planted firmly on the floor and great strength flowing from them, up through my body and along my arms.  I was sometimes pushed backwards but was able to go with the movement, remaining completely stable and my strength never failing me. The strength and stability I felt physically in the group I know is real in every aspect of my person.”

Such group work, as can be seen, can have very special significance for a person, and reveal them to themselves very deeply.  But it must be remembered in considering these several techniques I have described, that the real work is taking place in our own person.  What we do as an individual or in a group may aid or block the source and energies of our own being, but we must never forget that what is thus done is only a gross physical expression of the most important and most subtle fact of all.  Our own relationship with ourselves is so subtle and to start, invisible to us, we may need to act it out in the visible world in order to see just what we are doing to the energies of our hunger, sex, love and thought.  But if we can simplify this way of learning a new relationship with self, all the better, even if it means discarding all the techniques and doctrines ever written.  For self-regulation is a very simple thing.  All it needs is that we do not stand in our own way; that we let our own being be what it is. If we can learn to do this without exterior aids or groups all the better.

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

Chapter Four

Facing Problems

Whatever a man or woman is or does, there are always problems.  Even as children problems faced us in growing and learning.  When we begin life we do not have the ability to speak, write, walk, or relate capably with our surroundings.  All these are problems we usually overcome and incorporate into our being.  Thus a problem not overcome – and some people never learn speech or writing or walking – means less survival ability.  But a problem met and incorporated gives us much greater survival ability and freedom.

It would be ridiculous for a baby or a young child to attempt learning to drive a car.  We can all see they have not yet developed the faculties, physically, mentally or emotionally, which will enable them to overcome and incorporate the problem.  We would not say the baby or child were failures, only that they did not yet have what was needed to do that particular thing.  But if a number of adults attempt to learn to drive and some cannot do it, – there is – usually a sense of being a failure or incompetence.

The same applies when people cannot meet the problems involved in relationships, work, marriage, sex, social adaptation and the other things we meet in becoming adults; when we cannot do these things adequately, we may either think of ourselves as a failure, or as some of us do, blame it all on society, parents, school or civilisation.  In these cases, because there is an inability to relate sexually or socially, the person might feel women, men, society, are all worthless, of no account, and to be avoided.  But there is another view that can be constructive instead of destructive.  It is that we simply have not yet acquired or released the factors that will enable us to meet and incorporate those problems.  The testimony of the people who have been quoted so far is already sufficient to show that you can change!

Things, qualities, strengths you didn’t have before, can be released.  Then problems you could not meet and transform into abilities and pleasures can be incorporated.  My own life, health and happiness has transformed to a sufficient degree for me to be able to state that positively.  From a condition of almost continual dizziness, depression, desire to die and physical pain and exhaustion, my being has been transformed to the point where the desire to die, the dizziness, the exhaustion and depression have all gone.  My relationships, sexual and otherwise, are richer and deeper.  From a sometimes brutal and usually irritable parent, I have become a father my children and I can begin to be happy about myself. I am not saying my life, health or happiness is ideal.  There is still so much I am learning from opening to my Self, and trusting it to teach and grow me, that I am sure I have a lot more to discover in becoming a person alive in all my being.  But I want to share the fact one can be transformed.  It is not easy, but it can be done.

So, what are the problems in our transformation?  Well, mainly they are basic human problems such as pain, fear, a sense of failure, and not trusting your own being.  I can’t change that.  They are there to meet and you must meet them.  But what I can hope to do is to show you in more detail what shadows some of these things are, you have fled from all your life, and what treasure lies beyond them if you will but face them.

Perhaps we can state the whole problem in the words: “I don’t know how to.” For example, when I was ill my being was all the time trying to heal itself, but I didn’t know how to co-operate.  My unconscious and self regulatory forces were even then at work, sending messages, dreams, signs, to consciousness, but I didn’t know how to receive and understand them.  I didn’t know how to face my pain.  I didn’t know how to release my blocks or overcome my resistances to my own healing.

Isn’t that the problem we all meet, though, and overcome?  We didn’t know how to crawl, walk, talk, read, write–but we learnt.  It took months to crawl and walk, years to speak well, more years to read and write, but we kept at it and succeeded.  Some people will learn co-operation with self-regulation in a few moments, others will take years, but that is like all the other problems we face in life.  The question is, do we want to learn badly enough?

After not knowing how, Motivation is the next problem.  Without the motivation of interest and desire to transform your life you would not even be reading this series of articles.  If the motivation of desire or desperation is strong enough. you will start using what has been outlined.  If it is motivation based on real need and real understanding of that need, you will break through all the fears and pains and resistances right through to health.

If you are the unwilling possessor of a fluctuating motivation, it is worth looking at the problem deeply before proceeding with any practice of self-regulation.  Ask the questions of yourself – why do I need to use self-regulation?  Why do I want to?  What things might cause me to turn back? How could I deal with those things?  Write down your conclusions and keep them. If you cannot stick at anything for long, self-regulation is not the thing to start out on sticking to.  Try something simpler first.

The question of motivation is not just a matter of whether it is strong or weak.  It is also a question of whether, even if very powerful, it is realistic.  Some religious groups, for example, which utilise self-regulatory practices in some ways, paint a glowing, mysterious and metaphysical picture of a process that actually faces one with one’s own fears and pain.  Many people, who are ready for such experiences, do find the healing benefits they seek.  Other people, however, come expecting to be lifted from their pain immediately into heaven.  When more pain and a flood of unconscious distorted emotions pour into consciousness, they are completely unprepared.  Physical or psychological breakdown may result, or even suicide.

In my own work, and in the work of groups using self-regulation as I present it here, there have been no cases of suicide or breakdown.  This is simply because each person is made very aware of what that will face their own fears and pains.  Nevertheless, the illusory aims of becoming a mental giant, spiritual superman, or a chosen one are very real problems, and must be seen for what they usually are–ways of defending ourselves against our own vulnerability and pain.  Dr. Caron Kent says, in regard to introducing someone to the self-regulatory process, “It is not a question of maturation and growth, it is rather a question of how to introduce a human being who is already suffering from a breakdown of his human faculties, to a mew form of suffering, i.e. to the pains and sensations which are experienced on the way to becoming alive again.”

In his unpublished book, The Enigma of Your Body, Dr. Kent explains something of what this new form of suffering is.  He gives the case of ‘Agatha’, who was a young woman of 23 who was suffering constant exhaustion, lump in her throat preventing her swallowing, severe abdominal pains, neglect of her baby girl, loss of love for her husband, and repulsion towards sex.

These were the problems she came to him with.  His treatment aimed at releasing the self-regulatory and growth forces.  As this began to occur for Agatha her original problems began to disappear, but temporarily, new ones appeared. She had, apart from the above symptoms, always suffered constipation and sparse and painful periods.  But now, “Agatha was shocked by her elimination during her menstrual period of offensive smelling clotted waste; frightened by her copious bowel action; bewildered by vomiting which seemed out of all proportion to the small amount of food she had eaten.  She experienced discharges from eyes, ears and nose.  At one point her throat became so sore she had to avoid swallowing any hard or rough food; her gums began to bleed, lumps formed on her palate.”

The released energies in her being were discharging in every possible way the accumulated toxins of a lifetime.  Gradually these difficult results passed, and “in every part of her body – her head, neck, chest, abdominal and urinary and genital regions, hands and feet – she seemed to develop a new up surging vitality which resolved the negative sensations and allowed the vital expanding factors to take charge of each of these areas.  The waves of pulsating energy swept through her body as a whole, indicating that she was beginning to overcome the state of fragmentation and disorientation from which she had suffered.

In the process of her long course of treatment I saw her negative patterns of behaviour disappear. She became positive and accepting.  She overcame her fear of leaving the house, and eventually became a really popular, well liked young woman in her own locality.  She actually attracted the attention of a television producer and took part with enthusiasm and enjoyment in the programme – a really amazing achievement for a young woman who had been unable to even do her own shopping. Agatha also became warmly involved with her baby daughter again, and re-found her love and sexual enjoyment with her husband.  But to get to her health she had first to regress and experience her own sickness.

In Agatha’s case she did not undertake the journey alone or alone in a group.  She had neither the motivation nor perhaps the ego strength to do that. She felt sure there was nothing wrong with her, often had to be tricked into thinking it was her husband who was going to treatment, and was at the point, unknown to her, of being committed to a mental hospital.  She needed help to meet herself, but she came through.

In Agatha’s case we can see another problem illustrated, “There is nothing wrong with me.” That is frequently one of the things, as in Agatha’s case, which blocked motivation.  In Alcoholics Anonymous their first step toward cure is for the person to admit they are an alcoholic, which is amazingly difficult. Similarly it is very difficult for many of us to really admit we have things in us which are not well.  It helps if we recognise our basic underlying wholeness, and see that our sickness, as Ron Hubbard has said, not a slur on us but merely a covering to be removed.  A man who is covered in mud can wash it off. Underneath he is as clean as ever.

Agatha also, like most of us, felt there was nothing in herself which could help anyway.  This lack of trust in the integrity and wholeness of our basic being, with its constant attempt to heal us, prevents us from even considering co-operation with ourselves.  Because of this lack of self trust we project the power of our own healing energies onto someone or something else. Thus we may feel sure a certain technique such as SR or Primal Therapy or Zen will cure us; or a certain person, such as a therapist, yogi or doctor can help or wipe away the problem.  Or else the projection settles on diet, vitamins, acupuncture or meditation.  In fact none of these can truly help while we are still looking outside ourselves for the cure.  But any or all can help if we use them to melt the restrictive fears and ideas which are holding back our own healing energies.

Dr. Kent, talking about Agatha, says “As I have repeatedly emphasised, the key to solving the problems of a patient like Agatha lies in making contact with her own unconscious and stimulating there the buried, misdirected power of growth.  Agatha first began to believe such a process was possible by actually experiencing sensations physically.  That is, redevelopment began on the physical level before intellectually and consciously Agatha was able to believe such a thing was possible.  It was the physical evidence of her own body that made her able to accept that something was indeed happening.  And she began to believe this was possible and to be willing to co-operate.

It is this co-operation with our own being, perhaps after a lifetime of unknowing conflict, this new relationship, which is the very core of transformation through self-regulation.  If the person has not consciously learned how to contact the healing, regulating and growth energies, to contact and be in union with the self, the task is not complete.  It is only complete when they no longer need the therapist, the group and the techniques to put them in deep contact with themselves.

However, here we are back to the point of admitting our ‘mud’ and trying to make deeper contact with the cleansing agent.  Even if we admit our pain and fear, Hubbard points out that there are a variety of ways we can relate to it.  He likens the problem to a black panther sitting halfway up our stairs. We are down in the living room and wish to get up to the bedroom, and there are five ways of reacting to the panther.  We could attack the panther – flee from it – avoid it by going up a ladder outside the house – we could ignore reality and say there wasn’t really a black panther there – or act dead.

Let us create another analogy.  Let us suppose two men went into a cinema while a film was on.  One man was born into our society and understood the film was issued from a projector, but the other man was from a tribe who knew nothing of Western technology, films, projections or cinemas.  The first man, even if he enters while a murder is being enacted, sits down and watches.  The second man may be petrified by the awful murder taking place and may run to help, hide, run out in terror.  It could happen that the sight haunts him the rest of his life – or else in his fear he runs out and is killed under a car.

The man who was haunted, in terror, killed by seeing the cinema film, was so only because he took as reality what was a play of light and shadow. Breakdowns and suicides sometimes occur when tribesmen who knew nothing of the technology of human consciousness, and ran from the shadows of the film-show of their own mind which they had entered.  The shadows cannot hurt you. The fear of them and belief in their reality can.  That, in a nutshell, is the greatest danger of self-regulation.  It releases the film show of the unconscious directly into consciousness.  Just as it is best to acquaint the aborigine slowly to our culture, so also, because Western man is in fact a savage in relationship to his own inner life, it is best to gradually acquaint oneself with it.

Just as people sometimes make the mistake of approaching self-regulation too idealistically, so there is also the mistake of approaching it too intellectually. An intellectual understanding of our past will not, by itself result in transformation.  Transformation, as far as I have been able to define it at present, only occurs in the presence of two factors.  One is the release of the self-regulatory activities, and the other is the presence of a keen thinking mind.  With just one or the other there is not a complete and satisfying transformation.  The emotions and energies need to be released or else we are left with understanding minus the energies to heal or make life worth while. The keen mind is necessary because without it we may be locked in an unquestioning acceptance of feelings and drives without understanding what they are about.

The intellectual makes the mistake of believing they already know but in fact they only think.  I had always remembered the details of my tonsil operation.  I say this because many times people have said to me, “But I remember all about the time I got lost – or mother left us – or how I hated my sister.”  They say this because there is a popular idea that anything traumatic or problematical is automatically repressed into unconsciousness.

This is not so.  What is most often forgotten or repressed is not the events, but the whole mass of emotion and horror we wouldn’t let ourselves, or couldn’t let ourselves feel at the time. Also repressed is the real insight into what we are doing to ourselves is given, remembered, situations.  For instance, we might easily remember the rather intense reaction of repulsion toward someone of the opposite sex for no apparent reason.  What is repressed is not the incident but the emotion and insight that the person was trying to smother, our real feelings, or cling to us, just like mother was doing to us as a child. We hate it in them just as we hated it in mother, so experienced repulsion.

Obviously that is just an example, and will probably be quite meaningless or seem far fetched to those who have not looked beneath the surface of their behaviour.  Even though I remembered my tonsil operation it did not cure me of loneliness and feelings of being unloved until I relived and released the emotional agony surrounding the event.  The intellectual approach underestimates the power and importance of emotions and energy.  They do not realise that the emotional intensity of dreams, in self-regulation can be experienced by the waking self.  The rigid intellectual is well advised to tread slowly into the meeting of their own emotions.

One of the great difficulties in beginning and even proceeding in self-regulation is meeting our defences or resistances.  Hubbard’s black panther is an example.  If we have been attacked by a black panther in the past, it is simple survival to avoid black panthers in the future.  But it is not of survival value to avoid meeting our own terror stimulated by the original event. To avoid it and keep it locked up in unconsciousness means the terror is constant.  A part of us is screaming all the time, causing so much inner noise and fear that we cannot attend to daily needs, think clearly, or even leave the house.  Instead of black panther we cam of course say car accident, traumatic birth, being left by mother.  They amount to the same.  If however, during self-regulation we begin to release the memory of the original event, and thus at last allow the fear and scream to be dispersed, the survival defence comes in.  The memory is treated in the sane way as the original event.  That is, we must avoid it at all costs to survive.  Thus a terrific battle may ensue.  To not release the memory is anti-survival; to find the memory also feels like anti-survival.  Result: conflict.

In her book Myself and I, Constance Newland gives two excellent examples of defences, or as it is often called, resistances.  Describing a treatment session she says “I started to speak …… and found that I could only stutter. I tried harder to speak …….. and found that I could not talk at all.  That vocal paralysis began to spread to the rest of my body …….. two parts of me …… became involved in a grim and silent struggle.  As I watched, I knew that this was a fight to the death between my neurosis which was determined to stay alive – versus my desire to kill it off.  Which side would win?”

In other sessions she experienced different aspects of her defences against meeting and seeing her own problems.  One time she woke so late she nearly missed her appointment; and she often ‘forgot’ important things to tell the therapist.  She says, “Once with Dr. M, however, I found myself all unconsciously retreating behind my several defences; I literally forgot what it was I had decided to do: I became reluctant, then incapable of thinking; and once again it became impossible for me to speak even if I had something to say.  At length I sank into a delicious lethargy almost mystical in essence, where my personal problems seemed absurdly unimportant.  When at length Dr. M. informed me that this beatitude was merely a new kind of resistance, I grew angry enough with him (or with myself?) to dismiss it.  Almost immediately I was assailed by those tensions in my arms, so painful I began to cry.”

Here we see a whole range of defences guarding against the meeting of pain and insight.  As soon as the defences are dropped there comes an immediate experience of the underlying problem.  Freud said, – “Every step of the treatment is accompanied by resistance; every single thought, every mental act of the patients must pay toll to the resistance and represents a compromise between forces urging toward a cure and those gathered to oppose it…  He says, “a violent battle goes on in the soul of the patient.”

Defences can take almost any form, and as one enters more deeply into oneself, the more subtle they become.  When we are working on someone’s muscular tensions, for instance, we are attempting to make the subject aware of some very physical defences.  As and if these are dropped, the underlying emotions and energies can be released.  Some other commonly used defence methods are fantasy, looking away, tics, drinking alcohol, smoking, overeating, taking drugs, constant social parties and seeking amusements, rigid use of disciplines such as sport, religion, meditation, and moral principles, or compulsive anti-social behaviour.  But all these defences use tremendous energy to stop us experiencing our own real feelings!  That energy can be used positively instead of against ourselves.

As we begin to melt our defences they become more subtle.  Sometimes the very technique of release is often now made into a system of defence. Just as Constance Newland experienced a state of beatitude, many meditators or people using self-regulation come to an experience of deep mystical peace and well being.  Their feelings are that they have at last found their wholeness, God, Nirvana, the void, and need seek no longer.  Sometimes they may be stuck in this state for only a short time, but some people for a lifetime.

I have already mentioned the difficulty of the intellectual.  The use of thinking is one of the most powerful defence systems people use.  Everything is explained away by this type of defence.  Nothing will be entered into because it is ‘already understood’.  Or else the person erects a complex or rigid system of philosophy, religion or ethics which they use to bold off the reality of their own feelings.  Janov says, “Those individuals who have developed layers of subtle, intellectual defences (who have fled to their ‘head’) are the most difficult to cure.”

Intellectual or otherwise, our defences had been vital to survival in some past circumstances, and it is easy to see why we hold on so desperately to our defences.  Yet, to let them drop is the way to greater unity and well being in ourselves, even though it causes temporary emotional turbulence. Understanding something of the development of ourselves as child helps us to see this problem from yet another viewpoint, and introduces us to another problem.  In the womb and after birth, the baby is almost totally experiencing a feeling of not having separate existence from the mother.  Gradually, over the years, a tentative ego, or sense of individuality and separateness develops in the healthy child.  This can be seen in the child’s growing ability to be separated from the mother and family, and eventually to actually leave home. These are difficult points in life.  As this delicate separateness arises, the child frequently feels invaded by the being of the mother, father and others. Invaded in the sense that its own will, desires, feelings, are swamped by those of mother or father.  Very often, in finding these feelings during dreams or self-regulation, the image of a vampire, werewolf, witch, dragon or devouring monster or swamp arises to describe this aspect of our early relationship with our parents.

Because these defences are used to guard us against a very deep union with another person, felt at the time as invasion, when an adult attempt at the deep union of a loving sexual relationship is undertaken, if these feelings are unresolved they will still stand in the way.  At first there may be no sign of them, but as the relationship deepens they will appear.  This is one of the reasons some people go from person to person seeking love. At first the relationship may be ideal, but the old repugnance, feelings of being possessed, anger, will arise, and be projected on to the partner.  For love and sex means to be united in as deep a way as the baby was with the mother, and yet still be ourselves, capable of separate existence.

This brings us to the problem of our ego.  As can be seen, to gain a sense of, and the ability to love and feel as an individual person may not be easy.  It may be gained at great cost.  It may be gained only partially.  It may be gained not at all.  Some of us are never really independent of our parents.  Their death is then a terrific and crushing blow to our well being.  Or else we are independent only by the strategy of aggressiveness, hatred or contempt directed toward them, which is not real separateness at all.  In the sane ways people attempt individuation from society, religion, or other powerful influences in their life.

The point is, our ego may have gained its independence hardly at all by means of strategies – or to the point of ease and with ability to merge and emerge easily.  Maturity in life, love, sex, work, society, is shown in this ability to merge or unite with people, society, work, without being threatened or possessed, and thus being able to emerge at will.  If we are not at this enviable level of development, but any union presents a threat to our own integrity (we often hear people say a regular job, relationship or society, is like selling their soul, or like being swallowed) we need to admit this to ourselves frankly. Virtually all of us are in fact in this stage in greater or lesser degree.

I mention all this because an important issue is so easily overlooked. It is that opening to union with ourselves is just as much an act of relationship as is sex; love and work.  When we begin to let the action of self-regulation take place, for many people this feels like a loss of self, surrender to union-with mother, a being overwhelmed by an alien force or entity.  The fear, the anger, the vomiting, the repugnance we use to defend against union with mother, society and our own instincts, arises again.  If one is working with a therapist, these feelings are often aimed at them.

I have found that working in the way I have outlined and not pushing people past their defences, produces a growth action first.  The person with an easily threatened ego releases first those energies and activities which produce an ego more capable of merging into wider experience without threat.  This is a much more applicable method than either drug therapy or an attack on the person’s defences.  It means that many more people can benefit from treatment.  As an example, if a person with an easily threatened ego undergoes the tension release method, they may either clam up more tightly, or else experience a release of emotions and images which they feel so threatened by they retreat quickly from treatment.  Such people have to gradually learn, say through dream work or meditation, a more benign contact with themselves.  Trust must be allowed to develop, and a new relationship with themselves.


There are many problems we face.  I have not hesitated to portray them clearly.  If I were afraid they were insurmountable, I would not have written of them.  Instead, like some other writers about growth practices, I would paint a beautiful picture of peace and uplift.  That is unreal.  Life is not like that, nor the journey to one’s wholeness.  But life is not hopeless either, nor wholly dark or unyielding.  When a person learns to trust the timing and pace of their own inner processes, transformation can and does take place. It probably will involve looking-back to painful experiences, but also can be a powerful release of forward-looking energies and strengths, the discovery of one’s Core.


Chapter  five

Footprints on the way

What is it like to start on an adventure which could last the rest of your life?   And what experiences and landmarks might we discover on the way?   Perhaps, like explorers of old, we might find ancient cities, treasures we can bring back, new lands or ideas – or we might get lost! To be an adventurer you need to be made of the right stuff, and you need to go prepared.  Like Daniel Boone, maybe that preparation was an inner condition which early life and temperament had forged in him – a different breed of men.

The adventure before us can be that of journeying through and exploring our own vast reaches of consciousness.  The treasures we bring back are the transformation of our body and soul, and the newness this releases into our relationships, work, pleasure and to the world.

In my own, and in other people’s words, I am going to relate something of this adventure and exploration.   As you read, remember that this is an account, not the account.  It is a way, not the way.   The continent of you and me is so vast, and the starting points so varied, that your way may be quite different to all others.  These accounts are therefore given only as an encouragement to show how ordinary men and women, opening to their own life process in SR, can find transformation and the adventure of self discovery. I have not used people’s actual names, even where they gave permission, to avoid embarrassment to members of family not involved in SR.


There may be a point in time where either we begin to consciously allow self-regulation to occur, or where it begins to appear without at first understanding what it is.  Such a point in time is, however, usually seen later as only one of the days on which we became aware of an influence which, in fact, had always been at work in our life, even though we did not know it for what it was.   It is seen also, that the fact we actually began conscious SR could not have occurred at that moment in time if it had not been for many past experiences and events which readied us for it.  Or perhaps we push ourselves into it by relating so painfully to our own life process it is either the experience of it or bust.

Carol, a married woman with children, explains it in this way.  “I once said to you I was off the human race, that and also I was, but now I feel it was because I didn’t like myself and how I had become over the years.  I knew that if I didn’t find some help I would need medical care soon.  I was living completely within myself, but thoughts, my fantasies, hates, tensions that one long conversation going on in my head; and I use to get so annoyed if this was interrupted by someone talking to me.”

There are so many reasons with which we explain how and why the beginning, but the underlying one is usually that unconsciously we realise whole areas of our being had been brought to a condition of deadness or pain.  Life in us through whatever means, ideas, feelings, longings, can express leads us to seek an awareness of healing this deadness and agony and t can lead into.  Life in us lies wounded, pleading, dead but alive.  Its cries echo up into consciousness and filter through the mass of ideas, or justifications, and hopes we have been buried alive under.  Perhaps only slowly we begin to listen to the voice that calls for help.  If we do, then a particular day stands out as the one on which we rolled away the stone which blocked the tomb we had buried our life in.  That day, and experience on it will be different for each of us, but this is how Win describes it.

“When Tony came to explain SR to the group, I had just reached the point of despair with my marriage a few days before, but had taken the first step towards breaking it.  But my experience of this was wisdom itself, correctly or indirectly leading into my outer life.  It was never a separate thing going on inside only.

I was hoping Tony might show me the way because I had heard about him and read his book Yoga and Relaxation.  My feeling about him was that he was the only person at that time he might be able to help me with my search.

He explained to us about letting whatever was coming, come.  I did not understand too well, but lay down with the others, but he came to each of us briefly, bustled with the arms, and left us lying.  Perhaps two minutes had passed when I felt a distinct twitching around my brow, which was repeated, and then it spread down my face, a downward pressing movement. My face was involved then in a big muscular movement, pressing down, seeming to flatten the face, and then spread down the body towards the feet. Gradually my whole body became involved in big waves of pressing movement which flowed down, lifting and tossing my legs, so that my heels were banging on the floor. Wave succeeded wave. I did as he said, and let it happen, using the skills to relax which I had learnt in practice. I wasn’t frightened, although I couldn’t imagine what was happening to me. Instead, I felt happy and elated, warmed through.

‘I knew I had found something of great significance, but it was many months before I could put words to it. It remained an in­triguing mystery, like a dropping away of chains, or a touching of promise, while I passed through the pain of divorce. I feel that my experience that day released considerable energy. It did not break my marriage – that would have happened anyway. But I received strength which I used for my needs at that time. Months later it came to me with the force of revelation, that I had been born that day.’

My opening occurred then, by the action from below, but grown from the darkness as the light penetrates, of which Sri Aurobindo speaks.

I was unsteady for many months and Tony suggested only very quiet openings and forms of practice.  At last I seem strong enough to try SR.  Looking back, I probably was not.  But in among the painful experiences came such beautiful, confirming ones, I cannot wish I had done otherwise.

Many other sessions were neutral, in that they involved movements that passed me by but purposeful at the time, but which were later seen to be preparatory.  Such sessions involved me in a little emotional expenditure; I merely allowed them to happen.”

Win’s description give something of the intense feeling of meeting something wonderful, it may show what wisdom and strangeness we have in our life process.

Carol gives a slightly different picture.

“When I started I already had a lot of emotional upheaval behind me, but as I went into it, it seemed to bring me even more.  I remember feeling very together in a meditation kind of way, by reorganise, especially since meeting Barbara and doing hatha yoga.  It seems to bring out all the best qualities to begin with.  And my medication was going well to and I thought I had been through all the worst bits.  There was still this incredible perfume of cologne from the spring and the certainty of God very close.  As I went into SR I had the impression it was a kind of meditation, and since I was going in this direction that seemed good to try it.  We started out I remember with lots of sucking noises and mouth noises and then I began to feel my shoulders trembling very strongly.  I seemed to spend a lot of time opening my mouth as wide as I could which are related to the dentist but I was never sure why this movement and later when I got a lot of tension of the sides of the neck, this open mouth movement developed into a very forceful sucking in of the air through the gullet.  This got rid of the lot of tension.

Around this time all my togetherness fell apart.  SR seemed to release a lot of fear, just my fear of being out there in the street, of who I was, or how did other people see me, but dogs – I was sure dogs could feel the vibration, the animal of the sessions, and they would follow me and bark at me.”

I was especially struck by the sentence, “Don’t enter self regulation unless you are prepared to enter into a fully and are prepared to be part of the long process” I had undergone what at the time was a frightening experience for me – leaving my body – it was while I was very ill in hospital, so I had apprehensions that similar things might happen again.

I was reassured.  Indeed they might happen again but it would be in a position to learn from them rather than for them.  I pondered for a while.  I was in a fairly depressed state really.  I badly needed help.  More than anything I wanted to help myself.  I decided to give it a try.  It was a serious decision, not made lightly, and I was prepared to commit myself as fully as I was able at the time to the process but I felt very apprehensive.

My attitude to SR then changed.  I thought, yes, this is it.  It can’t be faked.  It is possible for someone to pretend its happening but they would know they were pretending.  I had been afraid I was acting and pretending.  But when it came it very definitely wasn’t that.

To people coming into LifeStream/SR I would say not to base their expectations on anything you have been told or read about it.  It is very individual.  It is easy to be discouraged if you have been with very noisy people, and your experiences are not noisy.  It would be easy thing to believe, ‘I’m not having the real thing.’ This may be linked with me because it happened when I had given up.  I stopped expecting anything to happen, because after three months of, to me, nothing happening, but my lying there for ninety minutes listening to other people making a noise.  But in a way a lot happened because my feelings and thoughts had changed considerably in those three months.  I had gone through fear, contempt, attempting to cut it down to size, saying it wasn’t a valid experience for those people.  I was very much the outsider for a long time.  Then, when I had given up any hope something happening, it happened to me.”

Realising and clearing out of the negative past is only a step on the way.  So throughout SR there comes the repetition of a conscious awareness or unity with the nature of energy or life in us.  This becomes clearer as the negative aspects are dealt with, but contact with it does not mean we have cleared all problems.  It may come right near the start as Ursula’s did, and arise again after each new descent and cleansing occurs in the muck of the unconscious.  We can say we have consciousness, an unconscious and a core.  The more we clear the unconscious the more easily aware of our core or Self we are.

Another aspect already covered in the other sections is the changes in body which occur as energy blocks are removed.  Ursula experienced this as an immediate change in posture.  During SR sessions we are often led into pure movement which does link with past psychological problems.  We may, as described in Shaktipat, be led to exercise, stretch and dance very energetically in ways we would not have attempted outside SR. This I believe is our energy gradually moving throughout our being and rejoicing in its potential and vehicle.  John, a 54 year old, says of this process:

“The body postures and movements were near miraculous to me because during the previous nine years, two serious accidents and a disease had resulted in five separate spinal fractures. For a period I had been encased from hips to jaw in a metal and leather support harness; for years I had endured great pain, and never in my prayers for help had I really hoped for the return of mobility of movement which was now shown in my childlike SR play movements.

The return of mobility is the only one of the blessings I have enjoyed since beginning self-regulation.  For many years I had experienced consistently poor health; a lifetime of asthma, compounded by TB in both lungs, and poor digestion with its attendant consequences had all produced a dismal attenuation of minimal well being with serious illness.  In the first four weeks of my SR I felt great draughts of air pouring into my lungs.  At the end of eighteen months my chest had expanded by four inches, which I discovered when I bought new underwear.  My spine was moving more freely than it had for years; my indigestion, with its accompanying constipation, had disappeared.  I am fitter than I have been for the previous forty five years.”

Ann explains some of these changes in more detail.  I do not feel that such changes are open to everybody practising SR.  Many cannot learn to usefully apply this technique, but for those who can, Ann’s experiences are fairly typical.

“After practising the action of self regulation for nearly 2 years there are considerable physical changes which I am aware of in myself. They are not dramatic in the sense of “pick up thy bed and walk” but have come about gradually.

I was always a very cold person – I felt shrivelled up with cold, and wore numerous jerseys to keep warm.  I ached with cold, and being thin I felt these keenly.  Now however I haven’t worn a vest for a year, I am far more often warm than cold, and feel so much more alive because of this; my feet were usually cold, now I always wear sandals and they are warm – as are my hands.  I feel so much more energy and joy in living.  I feel it flow through me.

I was often sick with diarrhoea for 48 hours – several times during the year – but not since I began SR because I feel that the sickness and diarrhoea was a form of tension release for me, which I no longer need in this form.

My throat was permanently sore and red inside, sometimes it hurt a lot, other times not so much.  There seemed to be no cure for it.  Now the soreness and redness has gradually disappeared.  This also I feel was a great tension area for me because I was afraid to speak my mind.  Now if my throat feels sore and tight I am being told that I am withholding my speech. A lot of my painful throat tension was due to being very verbally suppressed as a child.

As I released my feelings in words through sessions, this tension gradually drained away, and I was often led into singing and chanting quite clearly and strongly in sessions.  I felt my throat to be much freer and purer sound could come forth.  I am not completely free in this area yet, but this will take time. My voice is already lower and more relaxed than it was.

I had a habit of tilting my head on one side when I sat still- many people noticed this, more than I did.  This has vanished now, of its own accord. I believe that I always leaned my head to the left because I was so strongly emotionally motivated – that as I began to develop the capacity for receiving insight into my behaviour patterns – that as I grew in confidence – and I was more able to talk and discuss things, that I became more balanced and my head straightened.

I used to keep my shoulders permanently raised, accompanied by breath-holding.  This became my natural position especially in times of stress. Gradually over the two years my shoulders have dropped and my breathing is freer.  Yet I do not consciously remember this change taking place.  Now, when I raise my shoulders and my breath on purpose, I am amazed to realise that I used to live like that most of the time.

In watching myself more closely over the year I notice that I have dropped another habit of keeping my hands clenched.  Again I didn’t especially notice that I stopped doing this, but I have.  It was another ‘holding on’ tension.  “Keeping a grip on myself”.  I no longer need to do this, so my hands remain open.

In none of these examples did I set out to ‘try to stop doing them, or deliberately alter my physical pattern.  These changes occurred ad I opened more to myself in SR.

I have always suffered from constipation since childhood.  It has been a great inconvenience, and in recent years I resorted to using suppositories to assist elimination.  This was coupled with a lot of ‘wind’ and internal discomfort.  Now I do not suffer from these troubles.  I find that I can digest raw vegetables and fruit skins easily, and because of this I eat and enjoy more useful foods – it is a circle now which has self-regulated, from being a tense viscous circle before to a freer, more open circle.  Yet again it happened over two years – which perhaps is not really slowly, when I had been suffering for nearly 30 years as my memory recalls.  I was literally ‘tied up’ inside – full of nervous tension and ‘holding back from life’.

My eyes used to water, and feel weak often, especially in times of stress, also a long-standing habit, now they are getting stronger as I am ‘seeing’ myself more clearly.

I considered myself to be a ‘normally functioning person’ two years ago – not a freak.  Probably few people would have noticed anything amiss.  I had perfected excellent camouflage, and I handled myself well.  Now I can look back and am amazed at how strong human beings are.  How I could have gone on year after year, imposing such strains on my system.  But I did, as many of us do.  It was not until I had self regulated for two and a half years that I begun to understand fully what real living is.  Not being manipulated by fears and tensions ’not pushing on’ myself in the morning – dropping those many ‘Self’s.  The ‘coping self’ – there are so many – and then the let-down when it didn’t always work out – when things went wrong.

None of these tensions are necessary.  Now that I live more fully from what I call my intuitive centre, I find that increasingly I self regulate in situations.  I instinctively know what is needed and follow this.

Sometimes I find myself ‘off centre’ but I know when this is happening so can watch to see why – this may take a few days or weeks if a big block is coming up. Best of all is MYSELF which is so wonderful.’”

Some SR experiences are not simply movements to mobilise the body, or sounds to mobilise expressions of feelings and thought.  For some there are sessions in which they express in voice, inner feelings and body movements, being a Negro, an Indian, an Oriental, European or Arab.  Or else there arises very clear feelings of being a dog, lion, pre-historic man, snake, etc. Sometimes these are definitely linked with a problem such as is seen with Reich’s patient being a fish, but that is not always so.  Mark describes one of these sessions like this:

“Started this session very quickly, singing in some foreign language, and foot stamping.  The song wasn’t really coming out very well, but my right arm began to swing round and round, and this seemed to lead through bark-like sounds to full African singing.  I don’t think I have ever sung as noisily or as lustily as I did in this session.  Gradually the singing chant became more and more forceful and fluent.  Now I was surrendered into it deeply, and a torrent of words and chant poured out.  I really felt like an African Chief chanting to a great crowd of people, not only in the sounds, but in my feelings flowing.  The chant became even more forceful, filling the hall with sound, and finally in a tremendous roar or bellow, I called out, just as if warriors had been roused up and up, and the roar sent them on their way to battle.”

These experiences seem to be a way in which the many facets of our energy and feelings move into a fuller, freer expression of themselves.  They certainly feel like exercises of the soul through its full range of movement.  Jung says our psyche is both male and female.  The man, he shows, also has a female side to his psyche.  The woman likewise has a male side.  It seems possible that although we may be born a white male, or a black female, we also have within us the characteristics not only of the opposite sex, but also of the other racial types, animals, plants, and minerals.

Spiritualist mediums of today and in the pest, allow these secondary aspects of the psyche to dominate consciousness, saying they have a Red Indian or Negro 1guide’.  But in SR one experiences the same situation, yet recognises these powerful influences in our unconscious, simply as aspects of our own energy needing integration, expression or recognition.

Of course, another simpler explanation may be correct.  The unconscious is so open to suggestion it may simply reproduce energetically ideas and images which have entered it.  But there is a little evidence to suggest a more complex situation.  Many people who have never read or heard of other people’s SR experiences are often led spontaneously into certain movements or experiences other than psycho-therapeutic ones.  One of the most common is the spinning movement while standing.  This seems to accomplish a disorientation of the ego se the core can express more easily.

The fuller release of our internal energy also brings other experiences which are in one sense much more easily understood, yet also have an area of not being defined.  This is no doubt because our culture has so little experience with them.

Tom has had very clear experiences of this energy at work.  He had always since youth, been interested in keeping his body healthy and mobile.  About a year before he started SR he had this experience.  He says, ‘I had a peculiar conscious and semi conscious experience without dream images.  I cannot remember ever having had it before.  My hips and pubic area vibrated.  Moved is not the right word, nor shook, as the movement was as quick as that produced by an electric vibrator.  I have seen this movement, or something like it, on a buck rabbit during mating.  Not really a backward or forward movement, but a very rapid vibration.  This occurred with me quite spontaneously and I relaxed and let it happen.  There was no erection.  It happened for a fairly long periods four or five times, then as I became more conscious and disappeared.”

Many people experience this vibratory energy during SR, but as Tom’s experiences are fairly clear I will continue to quote him.  After about two years of SR the experience came back. Tom’s description of his experiences says:

“Recently my body has been vibrating more consciously than ever before, i.e. even in waking it has remained.  Also, some nights it feels as if it is flowing deeply into P’s (his wife) being.  Sometimes she is aware of this too.”

Gradually this condition of body vibration occurred very frequently for Tom, he says, “Sometimes I am aware of my whole body vibrating for many nights consecutively.  This is not simply my own impression, as my wife can actually feel the physical vibration.  Also it sometimes occurs that I experience this as an energy reaching out to P. and weaving in with her own energy.  This too is a shared experience, though not always.  As this has gradually developed I can’t help wondering what the further stages of its development will lead to. Sometimes in deep sleep I am aware of what this energy is doing in my being, how it is flowing and where blocked.  But for long periods I then lose any awareness of it.”

Janov points out that his ‘post primal’ patients experience a different, more conscious sleep.  This is my own findings in self-regulation.  Gradually a different experience of sleeping occurs.  Sometimes one wakes up in sleep. That is, like Tom, although deep asleep, there is an awareness of what is occurring in ones being.  How far this can develop I have no means of knowing, but there seems from the evidence I have typified from Tom’s experience, that the conscious release and experience of one’s core energy as we contact it in sleep and waking SR, leads to quite a different sort of relationship between the opposite and same sexes than we generally know.

This came home to me recently when attending a weekend where most of the people practised SR I noticed a very different sort of relationship operated between some of the people.  I will quote Tom again to explain.

“I was talking to R. who I had never met before.  We were alone in the small hall as the others were outside eating.  It seemed like an ordinary conversation but suddenly my body began to vibrate and then to shake heavily.  R. could accept this so I did not stop it as I could have done.  I sat holding  R’s hand and it seemed to me as if my central being wanted to express something to R.  It seemed quite beyond verbal expression.”

Gradually this expression from the core defines for people.  It is as if our own released energy reaches out and calls up the other person’s life energy.  If this happens it may not be pleasant to be near the person.  For our own energy to move in great excitation may be very painful because our past agonies have not been cleared.  One woman said of such a contact, ‘It made me realise how I has thrown the beauty of my life away along with the rubbish.  This was so painful I felt on the verge of tears all the next day. And when Andrew spoke to me I couldn’t hole it back any longer.”

I remember I was sitting alone during a break in leading a group activity and young woman came into the room I was in and sat near me. She wanted to ask me a question, but both of us began to experience our body vibrating. The woman said, slightly panicky, “What are you doing to me?” I had only once before experienced such a strong reaction, so said “I don’t know.” Where upon she got up and left.

I personally feel that we had unconsciously linked in a deep way and it was a way if initiating something from or wider self.

Another person describes it as follows:

‘The worst day for me was undoubtedly the one where A. letting that other part of himself flow out to me, pushed me into the appalling realisation that I’d been shutting life out and still was.  And for the rest of that awful day and the ones to follow there was nowhere to hide, nowhere to go.”

One can only wonder what, in marriage, as a parent with children, with friends and animals, it is really like to contact each other Core to Core.

Chapter  Six

Sex Marriage and Children

Self regulatory experiences do not come neatly packaged into areas of our life such as sex, God, growth and childhood.  Anything we experience in one area is very much to do with every other area.  When Ursula released the hold her mother had on her, this enabled her to realise more of her pleasure and for her posture to change.  Mark, in his thirteen year old struggle with masturbation and its resolution, not only radically changed his ability to feel deep sexual longing, but also his whole philosophical view of life shifted. In my own re-evaluation of the anaesthetic as a child, my body changed in that constipation disappeared.  My energy changed because greater genital sensitivity could arise which had been locked up in the anus.  My relationships changed because women ceased to be a threat of death.  My religious feelings changed because I realised I was not God in the way I had felt myself to be.

Usually, however, we meet with experiences in SR which very directly relate to our sexuality.  Most people at some point in their journey into self-regulation find, if they remain open, they are led to masturbate.  Few of us have in the prevailing attitudes of our culture, properly fulfilled the urge to masturbate when it arose in childhood and youth.  As this urge arises and is fulfilled, and the problem attending it worked out, a new feeling grows in us.  It appears as a strong feeling of independence.  The pleasure in fully released masturbation is so intense and complete we realise we do not need anybody else to fulfil us sexually. Out of this sense of independence a lot of compulsive dependence upon others falls away.  In its place comes a desire to share our intense pleasure with someone of our choice.  We see this in Mark’s experience where the melting longing feeling arose after his desire to masturbate.  The desire to share and give pleasure is quite different to the need for someone else to give us pleasure.

For some people this process is a great struggle and not over quickly. Just to permit sexual feeling to flow more fully is difficult.  Ann says of an early phase of her self-regulation:  “At first the new energy took the form of tremendous sexual feelings.  For three months I was engulfed in my own sexuality.  I felt the need to masturbate several times a day.  I was quite overwhelmed by the strength of these feelings.  It was a relief when it died away, because I was not really ready to deal with my whole sexuality. However, by permitting the masturbation I was allowing my sexual feelings to come through and leaving the door open for what might follow.”

The lengthy persistence of Ann’s urge to masturbate is not typical.  We might understand it by remembering Rita’s insights into her ascending – into compulsive eating – or descending – into compulsive sexual – energy.  There is a world of difference between basic sexual need and compulsive sexual desire. Rita had begun to find that it was not simply a case of letting herself to eat or have sex to find satisfaction and self-regulation.  The self-regulation had exposed her compulsion not her need.  Until she recognised it for what it was, the problem behind it could not be felt.

This is one of the most basic things to remember when using self-regulation.  What emerges is often our problems and illusions.  Unless we pay attention and recognise them for what they are, we will accept our illusion as truth.  As Rita realised her sexual and oral need was compulsive, and let herself feel these desires, and did not suppress or act on them, they began to uncover their source, – the need for mother.

A good illustration of this is provided by a woman who ate compulsively. Her means of coping with it had been either complete denial or giving in to it. I suggested she let herself fully feel the craving yet not act on it.  In a few days she wrote:

“I did what you said, and it produced the most pure mother hunger primal imaginable.”  Perhaps Ann could have dealt with her desire to masturbate in a similar way.  The same of course applies to the compulsive need to wash, meditate, go to the toilet, sleep, go to church, the races, the pub, etc.

One of the most difficult things for us to permit ourselves to experience is not the accidents or injuries we had as a baby or child, but what we are really doing in our relationships and why.  The whole sorry mess of why a relationship goes sour or becomes destructive is a very tangled theme.  It is woven of threads arising out of our longing and rage for parents, the way our feelings were killed and turned inwards later in life, and all the bitterness and attempts at survival we make.

Mark, after the latent homosexuality and his desire and hatred for his father had cleared, found SR leading him into how he was relating to his wife. He says: “It exploded like a volcano that I was killing my wife.  I wanted to kill her; I have killed her frequently in the past.  So much suppressed rage and hate was there, but it has all expressed underhandedly.  There had been no physical violence, only the subtle undermining of her womanhood by the way I kept becoming emotionally attracted to other women.  I had always excused myself saying – to myself – my wife wasn’t attractive, these other people had so much more to offer.  Now I was really shaken because I could see directly into my own motivations as they all rose to consciousness.

In future sessions the terrific knottedness of the problems came up and untangled.  I went through a real explosion of a session where I roared out my hate for my mother.  My God, what a relief to have that out of my system, not only the hate but the murder. I killed her with all the violence a child is capable of.  Not that my mother was a bad mother, but both of us were human beings, and I guess most of us have got a lot of desire to kill Mum and Dad (and if you have any brothers and sisters these too) stored up inside us.  But that really was why I was killing my wife.  Underneath I had been working her into the role of my mother.  It’s was so easy, just one of the largely overlooked difficulties we face in growing up.  There we are, a largely helpless child, or a youth trying to face the real threat of leaving home and doing it all for ourselves.  And to guard against the crushing feelings of inadequacy we are full up with the idealism or aggressiveness or both.  But underneath is this tremendous emotional magnetic pull holding us to parents. Or in the communal cultures it is the village, the clan, the tribe which is like mother – which it is so awful to leave.  All that power of dependence feels like an awful threat to our independent existence and will.  That’s how I felt it for my wife in the role of mother.  Because of you I can’t do what ‘I’ want to, I can’t love who my feelings reach out to, I can’t come and go as I please – All because of you.

That’s the catch you see, the way we feel it inside.  We do not say, ‘because of my feelings of dependence upon you I cannot dare to express my own feelings and will’, instead we say ‘you are not letting me be myself, and the only way to be me is to leave you or kill you.’  Of course, if we leave our wife, husband, mother, before we have really worked out these feelings, we only set up the same situation with the next person we get close to.

So unconsciously, I was killing my mother so I would become me in my own rights.  The other women were like teenage girlfriends who I was showing to ‘mum’ and saying ‘see, I don’t need you anymore.  I’m independent.”  But of course, wasn’t.

Then I had a whole series of sessions about how my energy had really got smashed because of this Mum/other girl conflict.  I saw how in the end I had just killed my real vital self to avoid the pain and conflict, and how this had led me to get really sick.  I have loved F… at one time and had killed the feelings, and this love energy can never really be killed, so it had become agony inside of me, like a living dead thing.  It came up in a session that killed love is agony. The problem was it had been so compulsive and it would have taken me away from my children who I didn’t want to hurt, so I killed it.  I couldn’t deal with it at that time and only in SR because I was willing to really see and feel things, no matter how bloody awful, instead of acting them out compulsively, could I deal with it now.

Example: My complete and total need as a barely surviving baby – I was born two months premature before intense child care came about, so my body was thrown aside by the doctor – wasn’t met. My mother was young and frightened of my vulnerability. She fed me, but she couldn’t – I felt – respond to the enormity of my all-consuming emotional need. What I felt and understood as I experienced this was that I learned to equate such deep passionate need with failure.

So, my shouting of ‘you fucking bitch’ was a complex mixture of feelings. It expressed the most primitive wanting and needing. It expressed the intensity of connection and relatedness that comes from wanting so fully and primitively. But it also had in it the past pain in connection with such intimate union and mutual desire.

This was complex and I had to gradually unravel the threads and sources if it. Basically it came about because my wanting wasn’t met by my mother. But it was complicated because my mother was feeding me physically, but not emotionally. So, as a tiny being I felt completely alone, completely isolated, struggling by myself against death trying to claim my body – this because of my difficulty with breathing and digesting and living in the world physically. But this emotional need was met by my grandmother who carried my infant body that the doctor had thrown aside and revived me. She touched my feelings right deep in me by – as I felt – knowing what I was experiencing, and not being afraid of death or life. But my grandmother didn’t feed me from her tits. So, I was getting emotional nourishment from my grandmother, and physical nourishment from my mother. Somehow, in the intensity of this mixture I learned that to want a single person deeply is failure. Partly this was because my grandmother died when I was eighteen months old. Partly it was out of feeling I had to be a parasite with my mother to get my needs. In other words she didn’t get anything, any satisfaction, from me. So, I was stealing. I was a failure.

Well, as it all came up in the sessions I really have begun to find the true independence of being myself.  This means I no longer have to compulsively attempt to leave my wife and grab other women.  I have the freedom to stay.  But it also means I can feel my real affection for other people more fully, without an overload of guilt or using it to get at or punish mother.

I still feel there is a lot more to discover about relationships. Seeing the changes that have come I can’t but think I am only a newcomer to what it’s like to really grow up.  Also SR is full of surprises, and new parts of your nature pop out every now and then to add a new thing to the way you experience life.

For instance, one of the things that came up as I began to meet my wife more fully happened just after having sex.  I lay in bed in the dark feeling I had done something terrible.  I just lay there letting the feeling come like you do in SR, and it got stronger.  In the end I had to get out of bed and wash my penis, I felt so unclean.  Then it all came clear what it was about. I had been using my wife like she was a fucking machine.  Where I used to work years ago they called this a no-handed-wank.  You used a woman’s body to masturbate, without feeling anything for her.  It was so bloody awful to feel, not just think it in the head that I was trying to wash it away.  All this stuff we read about being moral and loving our marriage partner dutifully is shit. Underneath all that dutiful fucking is this awful unclean thing, the unfeeling acting out of love.

Where I am at the moment in SR and marriage is the realisation that all my life I have been yearning for a deep contact with a real person.  All the arguments and aggressiveness I have shown at times to my wife I can see now were because underneath I felt there was a great brick wall through which I must burst to get the real person, the real contact.  The problem was also that to meet a real person deeply I had to become real myself, and that’s bloody hard.  Yet all of us really long for this meeting.  But as the ears pass I have slowly learnt other great lessons – see Archetype of the AnimaArchetype of the Animus

I don’t know if I can describe what that real meeting is like because I am only on the verge of finding it.  But a few days ago I drove my wife and children to a shopping centre.  We bickered all the way.  Then as I parked the car she couldn’t operate the lever which let the seat forward for the children to get out.  I explained several times and usually she takes such as criticism.  But this time she looked up at me and instead of the huge wall of defence which her feeling of being hurt so many times in the past and feeling inadequate and stupid, she cried with the pain of it.  And all my irritation melted.  I loved her so much because she had let me in to sharing who she really was – a woman who could feel pain, and love, and be could often not work mechanical things.  But that’s who she is, and that’s who I could love.

Marks wife Helen, also practices SR and at the time Mark was experiencing the above she had a very vivid dream after a session.  In the dream she had twelve potted plants.  She knew the plants were herself and because they had never been put in a garden their roots and growth could never be fully expressed. It was as if they were alive yet constantly dying or dead.  She lie awake most of that night, crying, realising with a depth and clarity she had not previously known, how her feeling and emotions had never developed their full depth and expressiveness. That was why the depth of contact was so difficult.

Real loving sexuality – not just a ‘no handed wank’ on the part of men and women – that leads to feeling contact with our children or involvement in our chosen work, means we must be able to not only feel deeply, but to let those feelings flow through us spontaneously.  We can act this out, just as every advertisement and TV commercial portrays someone who is acting out pleasure, or promising it, but this fools only ourselves or others who are also acting out pleasure.  Underneath we are still deeply restless and unsatisfied, so our search for pleasure is either compulsive or denied.

Tom shows us another side of this in one of his sessions.

“I had woken that morning with a headache.  This was very unusual so I knew another lump of pain was ready to come up.   For some weeks my sessions had all been centred on being a tiny baby left to cry.

As soon as I had an opportunity I had a session.  I had been sitting in with a friend while she had a session, and now we swapped roles.  As I lay down and opened to SR the pain in the head increased. I felt sick and dizzy.  My body began to jerk and it was like words being forcefully squeezed out of my body.  It feels as if those words, and the emotions pouring out with them, were literally in the body, like juice is in an apple, and the process of SR, squeezes out this painful juice.

At first the words were just a jumble of noise being pushed out as my body cramped up and squeezed.  Then I was shouting out ‘I’ve got VD  I’ve got VD’  Then every so often I would gasp out ‘A father…s father…’

I didn’t understand at this point what it was meaning, but I knew from the past it would explain itself if I let it come, and there was no need to analyse or think it out.

Now the body contractions became deeper and I could feel some real deep emotion in my chest just beginning to come up. ‘Dirty, I’m dirty,’ I was shouting.  ‘I’m a father and I’m dirty’.  Then my body just gave a big heave like I was having a baby or something, or a tooth out, and I was just one frozen block of pain, and a great moan of pain came out.  I was sobbing and moaning about my children.  Hardly able to say it because of the pain and sobbing, nevertheless the words squeezed out of me ‘D…. Duh …Does.. a… Does a father…’  I just couldn’t go on for a while.  My body contorted up with this inner emotional pain again, and a sort of bellow of it came up from deep down.  Then the words came again.  ‘Does a father…Does a father kill his children?’

I couldn’t take it.  I just wept.  I knew that’s what I had been doing for years.  That’s what most of us are doing, only we can’t and won’t see it. But even though we hide from it, the pain of it is there like poison juice in our body.  Now mine was being squeezed out and the words were like pips forcing out of my mouth.

There was more to the session which explained how I’d got poisoned and why I killed.  I had died, killed myself as a baby.  Nobody had come when I had wanted them with all my being, and it was so painful to want anything that much and not get it, I had died Inside.  This dead baby in me caused all the energy, sex energy, its whole life, energy, to be diseased, pain dealing, poisoning, infecting other lives I entered into.  Not only had I infected my children but as babies and children they too couldn’t help – at first – wanting me with all their being.  But how could I respond to their want and their love when deep down I was dead?  How could I let that pleasure flow through me like silk from a mother’s breast when I would have felt the agony again I had felt as a baby, so I couldn’t, I gradually killed them by undermining, hurting, shouting away, beating away their own yearning, their sexual desire, their man and woman growing inside them.  I killed their baby like I had killed mine, and I felt their death, as their father, with as much pain as I felt my own.  Thank God it can be squeezed out so we can come alive again.”

Consciousness, to be aware as humans is a most awful agony and a great splendour.  In most of us, it is a tremendous achievement to just survive as a conscious individual.  When, as in SR, we choose to widen awareness, to stand naked, we begin to discover what depths of struggle and pain a man or woman absorbs to survive as a conscious being.  In stripping off the protective layers we needed to survive, gradually we come to that point where we face without protection the immensity of uncertainty and vulnerability only a human consciousness can know, and we see too that we are life, which despite its blind unknowing struggle, despite forever not knowing what it is, despite its vulnerability, has survived all defeat, and knows its very essence in you.  When that happens, life, in man, stands alone yet with its unimaginable depths and heights of feeling bared.  All the symbols have been removed.  Life knows itself in man – man knows itself in Life.

Modern man laughs at his ancestor’s religiosity, saying he does not need religion.  Yet, to keep reality a pace or two away he uses nicotine, sedatives by the ton, alcohol, gambling, illness of mind and body and world wars.  In living religion at least, there is a healthy working out symbolically of ones problems.  Mark could start entering more fully into communal life after even a symbolic cleansing of hands.  Perhaps the laugh should be at us. See Parenting/Motherhood is a spiritual path

Chapter  Seven

God and Pleasure

You cannot experience deep self-regulation and not feel directly in contact with the moving, living process which is one’s being.  There arises at the same time the feeling and realisation that this principle is universal.  It is at work everywhere and in everything.  The self-regulating force is everywhere alive, even in Sun, planets and rocks,  No wonder Mesmer felt the influence behind his ‘cures’ was the same power which moved the planets.  Reich also very positively stated orgone to be a cosmic energy. See Life’s Basic Functions

Tom has just stated, if we put it in a few words, that our original childlike state is one of total feeling and longing.  This totality does not separate body from feelings, feelings from sexuality, others from self, self from life; if this total self is injured it goes around injuring others. The life energy if it cannot go directly into its basic functions turns back on itself and literally  screws up our feelings, sexual urges, love, parenthood and awareness of its Source. Literally Tom’s life process expressed this as a sort of emotional VD which passes to all we relate to.

Reich called it the Emotional Plague.  Both suggest infection of others.

Earlier on Mark explained how his inner feelings had been split off late into symbolical expression.  This, he said, was because his life energy, not allowed to flow in its natural channels through pain, diverted and inflated ideas which expressed its condition.  A balloon is small and inert until we blow it up. Then it enlarges, and if we let go can fly about the room exhausting its energy.

Once exhausted it is small and inert again.  Similarly some of the ideas or symbols in our memory becomes inflated with our diverted life energy and appear huge, meaningful and living realities.  Reich describes this by saying the mystical experience – of God, supernatural events, spiritual realities – is due to the “blocking of direct body sensations, of total feeling.

This might very well be an over-simplification, but nevertheless, it does apply to so much of SR it must never be ignored.  Our inner energy pours out, inflating a symbol as it comes, and we take the symbol for the life energy; the illusion for the truth.  Yet truth and illusion are very much the same.  The only way we may be able to prick our balloons is by constantly seeking to directly and deeply experience; to directly and deeply transform.

In the process of self-regulation, religious experience plays a very big part for many people.  Religious symbols of all the world’s faiths arise with tremendous power and impact.  I believe this is because the person behind each great religion was very often living out of their core.  Their words and actions expressed this central life energy.  The way they sat, the things they did, are therefore meaningful to the core in us.  As ideas or symbols, such as virgin birth, death and rebirth, they touch on the vital processes of our being.  Such symbols or ideas therefore lend themselves extremely well to be known symbolically, not directly, expressing what is happening to our own life process.  They are thus frequently taken up by the self-regulatory action, pumped full of life energy, and experienced as realities.  That is, one may actually live through crucifixion, being a messiah, or meeting the Devil.  I have attempted to express the experience of this in my book Yield.

Mark described his sessions where he faced his desire to kill his mother, and where he says how he had killed his own love.  He said ‘killed love is agony’.

Two sessions which preceded these will show something of religious feeling of God, symbolism and pleasure.  These are quotes from Mark’s notebook with his added comments.

“There was a pause and a different sort of singing began. I started calling out ‘eroakerby’ I couldn’t understand what it meant. It came out over and over.  Then it started being called in many different tones of voices, mocking, cajoling, questioning, miming and so on.

Suddenly a change came into the calling and I realised it was a name, Iro Akerby, or ‘Ero Akerby.  I began to say the name in an angry way. ‘Ero Akerby.  Ero Akerby all the time.  Ero Akerby,  Ero bloody Akerby, that’s all one  ‘ears.’  There was on underlying anger and jealousy expressed in this.  I began to spit at the name, jeer and belittle it. Then lifting my hands in a menacing way I said something like ‘If I get ‘old of ‘Ero Akerby….’

There was a slight pause and now the action was different.  The desire had been acted upon.  With shock I lifted my hands and looked at them and began to speak.  ‘Why did I do it?  I bloody killed him.  Oh God why did I do it? Why did I ‘have to kill ‘im…?  This got more intense.  I lifted my hands.

‘Ero Akerby the Bugger, I killed ‘im.  But why kill the bugger? God, I killed a man. I bloody murdered ‘im.’’

These things were repeated many times as if trying to understand them, as if I had to know what could lead me to do it.  This led to the next phase. ‘God, what did I do?  How do I do it?  I killed a man…It’s not the action. It’s not the action, that doesn’t matter, but I’m bloody proud of it.  I’m proud I killed ‘im.  I’m still proud I killed ‘im.  I’ve got bloody bands. My hands are dirty.  God, what do I do?  How do I do it?  I’m proud I killed a men.’

I was very deeply involved in all this and really cried at what I had done.  Yet the feeling of pride was so pronounced I could not feel sorry.

‘God, what can I do?’ I cried.  ‘I’ve got bloody hands.  We’ve all got dirty hands, unclean mouths, filthy pricks.  God, how can we come before you?’

I now lost myself even more deeply in the experience.  ‘I can see something. Wait, I see something. It is a hill.  It is a hill.  I see a hill of blood. But how can a hill of blood help me?  I’ve got dirty hands.  How can it help me when I’m proud of it?’

I kept lifting my hands and dropping them.  Then I held my hands to my head and wept at my degradation before God; at my spirit of pride, at my inability to feel remorse over my action of murdering a man.

I’m a bloody unclean, but I can hear something.  I hear something.  Something is calling me.  It’s calling me, me, with unclean hands.’  Something calls me and calls me but I won’t answer.  I won’t answer because I’ve got unclean hands. It’s been calling me all my life.  It’s called and called but I never answer. It’s calling me and calling me but I won’t answer.  I won’t.’

Here the session ended.

“The next session I was trembling as I began.  Quickly I began to call out something like ‘zuzz’ or ‘thus’.   This developed into ‘Those…those…those… Lord.  I believe this referred to my unclean hands, and there was a feeling God had cleaned them.  I was trembling and moving about in the hall haphazardly, but this suddenly defined itself and my right hand reached up and moved as if I were drawing back a curtain.  Then the left hand did the same.  I had my eyes closed and it was as if I were seeing something.  The curtains had been drawn and the night sky was revealed, blazing with stars.

Then I saw a great and wonderful star.  It was a star of wonder.  I really felt this wonder as I looked at it.  The star seemed to direct me to my right and I followed this direction, although physically I did not move.  I realised afterwards I had actually turned to face the East.  What the star directed me to was a baby lying on or near the floor.  It was the Christ child, and I was experiencing being one of the wise men or shepherds.  I has been calling ‘Rabbonai’, Rabbonai’ before tie curtains had been drawn, and thanking God for the cleansing of my hands.  Now I was experiencing the birth of the divine upon Earth.  I kept saying ‘Abebi….a bebi.  …a bebi..’ It was said with such a deep feeling of awe and wonder that the whole night sky, all of God, could become a baby.  I went down on my knees before this wonderful child.  My feelings were so intense I began to sob uncontrollably, calling out ‘Abba, Abba’ over and over. But as I did so a realisation came to me, that it wasn’t just a single historical baby that was holy, but every baby born, including me. The flowing emotions and the opened intuitive sense informed me that what I knelt before in tears was not a particular child. It was every baby ever born. For the first time I had been allowed to experience the enormity of birth, the holiness of every baby.

The intensity of the emotions was because God had given this wonderful gift to all of us, and had allowed me to know it.  I was so overcome I prostrated myself before God, calling out in thanks.  My sobbing and calling were the only ways I could express the depth of my feelings.

Gradually the sobbing subsided and I was moved to stand up.  There was a pause.  Then words came and a conversation with God arose.  “Thank you Father for cleaning my hands.  What would you have me do with them?”

‘You have killed.  Now you will give life with your hands.’

“Do you mean life to the dead body or the dead soul?’”  Here it was as if God smiled.  There was no face, just the feeling of laughter”.  ‘You will stretch forth your hands to the multitude.’

“To heal?”

‘Whatsoever you shall ask it shall be done.  By the power of the Spirit it shall be done.’

It was such a deeply moving experience I am probably not remembering the right order of this.  But now it seemed as if I stood on a roadside.  It was lined with a few people.  My hands stretched out in front of me.  Suddenly I saw Christ standing before me.  He placed his hands around mine.  I cried out almost in agony the experience was so deep.  Then he drew me to him.  I couldn’t bear it and cried out ‘Oh Christ, no!’  I cried this out because I wasn’t worthy; because it was more than I could ever hope for; because it was too piercingly joyful for me to take it. He had made me a disciple.

Then he was gone.  I was crying and saying ‘He touched my hands’.  Then I was sobbing over and over again.  ‘Thank you God, thank you God, thank you.’

Again it was as if God spoke to me.  ‘My power will be in your hands and by this you will heal, or stretch forth your hands and what you shall say will be done.’

Now my hands reached above my head.  It literally felt as if heat from a fire was touching them, like holding them to warm before a fire.  Then they came down and rested upon my chest, where the pain is.  God seemed to say, ‘I know there is doubt in you as to whether you will do the things promised.  And this is given as a sign for you, that you shall be healed of your pain by the power expressed by your hands.’

The magic of what had happened came upon me.  Christ had touched my hands. In some wonderful way the presence of Christ was thus in my hands.  It was like touching something with a powerful and beautiful perfume.  One could now touch other things and the perfume would pass on with the touch.  I wanted to share this wonder, and felt urged to put my hands on each person in the group.  To each in turn I went and put my hands on them, saying, ‘He touched my hands.’  But by the time I was near the last few, I was crying so much I couldn’t say anything.

The session ended here.”

That happened to me over two years ago.  I had not thought of it for some time, until Tony asked me to write out something about religious experience in SR.  For months afterwards I could not talk about that experience without becoming very emotional again.  But I did not realise until writing it out that even after two years the feeling is just as deep as ever.  Being asked what it all means has helped me a great deal though, and I will try to put into words how I now see it. But I don’t think I can do this well without being both technical and feelingful.  So be patient with me as I try to explain.

Reading through my notebooks again, and seeing the sessions in sequence and from a distance, I can see so clearly now how they all fit together and flow into each other.  Many of the experiences are like living dreams.  My meeting with Christ is like that, and my killing of ‘Ero Akerby/Hero Ackerby.  They are waking dreams or visions.  If they are not seen as such they will be misunderstood, and all the potential healing in them lost or misdirected.  And there seem to be two extremes in regard to this type of experience.  People either do not know how, or do not permit themselves this type of experience, or else they get possessed by it. In SR, an incredible new dimension of approach opens up.  We can learn how to work with this dynamic activity in our being, yet maintain a questioning attitude. This ability to let dreams happen while we are wide awake, and experience the intense emotions and themes released, increases our ability to let healing occur in ourselves to a very great extent.  There are people who cannot learn to do this, but an amazing number of ordinary people are capable of it quite quickly. For these people a new plane of health and self discovery lies in wait.

But like myself they may have very symbolical experiences, or very religious ones; how can they best meet them? First of all by permitting them, and only afterwards considering their meaning.

At the time I experienced having bloody hands, I just could not see how it applied to this life.  I thought it was yet another ‘past life’ experience. Nevertheless it did have a very real result in my outer life.  Up until then I had been refusing to get involved in using my ability to work with other people.  For some unknown reason I would not get involved.  But after those two sessions I felt able to move in that direction.  I mean immediately afterwards. Gradually, in further sessions I went beyond the symbols and can now look back and easily see what it meant.

‘Ero Akerby was me.  I had killed myself.  ‘Ero Akerby/Hero Ackerby was the manful, swaggering joyful me I killed out of pride and jealousy.  I had loved F. deeply at a time when I had begun to come alive.  But another part of me, full of moral judgement, pride, jealously of other people’s pleasure, had turned against that open, loving me and killed it.  I had the blood and pain of my own death on my hands. In fact I had killed the living Christ within me by the fight I had with my sexual nature.

That sounds so nicely packaged doesn’t it?  But do you know what it’s like to be dead inside?  Life is empty of meaning.  The days stretch ahead threateningly, empty, and you want to finish off the death by killing yourself on the outside too.

What about Christ, who raises the dead back to life? Who himself went through death and resurrected? Well we all know about Christ, because we are living the story inside ourselves.  Christ is that living, loving, boasting life in us which we kill.  He’s ‘Ero Akerby we strangle, or nail down, or bury, or spit on.  He’s life which was born in us when we were a baby.  As with me, when we meet life travelling through us, we feel the agony of that meeting, the joy of it, the mystery, the life of it, and we see how we make our experience of life so painful with our rigid morals, pride, rules and fears.  Life is love, but we are frightened of love, it is too all-engulfing.  and the devil is only Christ turned inside out – life buggered up.

The pain in my chest is where I murdered and buried my love.  Life when killed in us becomes physical and emotional pain.  When I killed my love for F. I got a pain in the chest.  Yes, life in me can heal it, is healing it. Not in a magical religious way; but certainly in a mysterious life way, because life is a mysterious and religious, and practical, and mechanical, and chemical and divine, and any of the other sort of definitions you want to give it.

But meeting Christ is only a symbol.  That experience in SR was only symbolising a process which was actually taking place in me, just as a dream does.  If I lived in a different part of the world I would have met Krishna, or Mohammed, or seen a burning bush, or spoken to the spirit of my ancestor. They all symbolise the actual meeting with our own life process – God -Allah – Yahweh – the Void.

Gradually the symbols have dropped away, and I begin to experience my own being directly.  And that means knowing what it feels like to be alive, to have all the feelings of pleasure and pain, vulnerability and strength to be a man, to be a collection of tissues who can be smeared on the road by a passing car, and yet also to be life.  I can feel life in me and go along with its needs, its pains and its pleasures.  And also, I can still cry when I remember meeting Christ on the roadside.  After all, living is a deeply moving experience.”

In SR God gradually becomes no longer something outside us, but the core of our own being.  And religion is not something we do in a church but the everyday experience of being a living creature in which Life knows itself.  The result is pleasure.  And the deepest religious practice of all is to stop killing ourselves, our children, the creatures and the planet around us, and permit the life within to flower and discover itself.  That is pleasure.

“Thinking about religion makes me think how people go about getting real sex.  People buy books on how to do it, and how to get joy, and they act it all out, because the real thing and the real joy come from within.  But Rita, in finding more of herself, and talking about it seems to express a religious attitude and an awareness of the central fact behind life without in any way trying to be religious.

“In most every part of me I have felt energy stirring or moving.  I look different now.  When I look in the mirror I see I am a different shape. I am much stronger than I was.  I think this is because I am not wasting energy now.  I am also less afraid of my feelings.  I was a very passionate person and would get into arguments about everything.  Now I can be more detached.  I never thought I would be like that.  Somehow ones energy gets re-organised in self regulation.  You get rid of the stuff which is potentially destructive, and you are left with what is really a force for growth.

The process of SR seems so sensible to me.  Having had a fairly good medical training in nursing the idea of homeostasis and energy being blocked, even though it may not be charted in Gray’s Anatomy, is very straightforward.  It seems no more puzzling, although it’s mystical, in the same way as the process is going to happen, whether we open to it or not in our body.  It is quicker and easier if you give it the right conditions.  Most of the time, almost deliberately we give it adverse conditions.  All we need to do is take the concrete off so it can grow.  This force seems to be there all the time.

When I started SR I wasn’t prepared for the violence of the feelings or the strength, immediacy and freshness of them, and the fact it was real.  Our society deals so much in second-hand experience.  The immediacy of it really took my breath away.  I am beginning to allow myself now a glimpse of what we often put down as so much religiosity.  I am allowing myself now, having had almost an overdose of grieving and anguish, to open up to the other extreme which I have never experienced very much, which is the sheer joy of living. The other day I found myself walking into the sea and shouting, ‘Hey sea, I love you’ and it really came up from my boots.  We get stuck in the bad stuff and don’t let ourselves feel the good.

A couple of months back I went through, with M. the event of my son’s birth.  It was thought he might not live and I had been super controlled from the nurse’s point of view.  I hadn’t given way to anguish at the thought this child might not live.  But what I wanted to do much more than that was to shriek with joy that he was born alive and well, and I hadn’t done it.  We think so often being a puritan society, it’s only the pain we have got to face, but it seems we have got to open those channels too.  It’s too easy to become hooked on the masochistic element.  When I began to let myself experience joy in SR I even began to think I was no longer doing real self regulation because it was so pleasurable.

This process we experience in SR is so much a part of living it is going to go on as long as we are alive.  It is a spontaneous thing which is there. It is happening.  All we do is to stop it usually, or cripple it.  I have never thought, as one is led to believe in conventional therapy, one day you will sign off because you’ve been given a certificate to say ‘you’ve been therap’d’.  This is not going to happen.  If only we can stop seeing the idea of therapies or helping people as something which goes on for a limited period of time and then stops because you are considered normal; but see it as a life process.  Then you take it out of the hands of the people with certificates or whatever.”

Every religion offers an alternative way of looking at life or relating to life experience.  In one way or another, the actual functional value of religions and religious experience is almost certainly as survival factors. Without a liver we could not survive.  Without a religion, or something to take its place, few communities could survive.

Mark shows us how, behind the symbol of a past life as a soldier lies the actual pain of his homosexuality.  Behind the symbol of killing ‘Ero Akerby, is the actual agony of having killed himself.  Behind the symbol of the divine child being born, and the sweet agony of meeting Christ on the road, lies the actual agony and pleasure of being born and meeting the reality of his own life and death.  In all these experiences the symbol and the religious experience helped him and Rita to meet themselves.

It would be easy to conclude that much of religious experience such as is described in Shaktipat and in a lesser degree to be found in all practised religion, is a means of avoiding reality.  Not only am I looking at religion from a self regulatory point of view for those who practise SR, but also, that is not only my conclusion.  It seems more likely that religion developed spontaneously in very difficult times of man’s evolution, as means of dealing with and facing reality, not avoiding it.  AS I have said earlier, most animals in the wild, deprived of real love from their mother, die.  Most humans, despite lack of love, and despite downright brutality, survive.  They do so by being able to put reality one or two, or more paces away from consciousness.  Races which have successfully lived in the most awful environments and despite constant stress and deprivation have similarly survived.  Often, as with the Israelites, the greatest survival factor was their religion, which performed the above function perfectly, and numerous others.

Consciousness, to be aware as humans is a most awful agony and a great splendour.  In most of us, it is a tremendous achievement to just survive as a conscious individual.  When, as in SR, we choose to widen awareness, to stand naked, we begin to discover what depths of struggle and pain a man or woman absorbs to survive as a conscious being.  In stripping off the protective layers we needed to survive, gradually we come to that point where we face without protection the immensity of uncertainty and vulnerability only a human consciousness can know, and we see too that we are life, which despite its blind unknowing struggle, despite forever not knowing what it is, despite its vulnerability, has survived all defeat, and knows its very essence in you.  When that happens, life, in man, stands alone yet with its unimaginable depths and heights of feeling bared.  All the symbols have been removed.  Life knows itself in man – man knows itself in Life.

Modern man laughs at his ancestor’s religiosity, saying he does not need religion.  Yet, to keep reality a pace or two away he uses nicotine, sedatives by the ton, alcohol, gambling, illness of mind and body and world wars.  In living religion at least, there is a healthy working out symbolically of ones problems.  Mark could start entering more fully into communal life after even a symbolic cleansing of hands.  Perhaps the laugh should be at us.

Chapter  Eight

What Does That Make Me?

After all that, where does it get us? All the way through this chapter, people have in fact clearly stated where it has got them.  Fundamentally, they have learnt either well or badly, to more deeply work with, instead of against their own nature.  A recent letter from Ann explains this in a very practical way.

“I went to self regulation on Wednesday evening – the only thing I was especially aware of was a sharp pain in the very bottom of my spine with slight cramp in my right leg – I have had this pain a lot since we were in Cornwall at Easter, and it has made my walking rather stiff at times.

I remained standing, relax as I was able, in SR and after a few seconds I began to rotate.  I found myself doing the pelvic rotating movements more and more strongly.  I felt the pain jabbing in my spine; I went into this feeling and continued with the movements.  I must have been rotating for ten minutes, in fact I wondered if it would ever stop!  Next I was led into strong leg tension release movements, which caused great trembling in my right leg. This continued for a while, and then I was jogging up and down on the spot, quite vigorously.  By now I was completely taken over by these movements and just allowed them to do the directing – I felt that all I was required to do was to follow.

The outcome of this part of my SR was that the pain in my spine was removed, and my leg cramp also.  It has not returned since.  I waited three days before I wrote, just to be sure.

I thought that this was a wonderfully clear example of how self regulation can work, in a healing way, if we allow it and trust the process.  Also as far as I know this appeared to be a ‘present’ pain removed, rather than a pain of long ago.  This, working in the present, is a new experience for me.  I suppose I have always thought of SR in terms of past experience, but thinking about what happened on Wednesday evening is obviously a natural occurrence when one is living with self regulation.  Being aware of it and working from it in ones daily life.  Then it follows that when we strain some part of ourselves, we will be naturally guided into putting it right – rather than deciding to try certain exercises or other form of cure – so we will automatically be led into the right movements required for the healing to take place.  At least this is how I felt it to be.  It was a really wonderful experience.  I felt so close to the mystery of life, I was greatly moved emotionally by this.”

One of the difficulties about being a human being is that we tell ourselves such lies in dramatically believable ways, and as it happens some of these lies are true.  Mark had the experience of being ‘told by God’ that he could stretch forth his hand and heal.  That highly powerful statement is an undeniable part of his experience.  But it is also an undeniable part of This experience that ‘stretching forth’ his hand does not just heal people.  Someone, somewhere is lying.

W.V. Caldwell says, “Eventually they (we) become bored with the dark God of self who would extend his power through all time and place.  They tire of the excessive statements, insubstantial dreams, and unreal pleasures of the unconscious.  They turn to their psyches, interrupt the chit-chat of happy lies, and ask a new question.  ‘Yes, I know all that, but who am I really? And what were my parents like, really?  Isn’t there one honest statement in the whole of the subconscious?….The untamed part of the mind, driven by desire and fear, clutches at its defensive lies and subtle omissions, insidiously distorting the image of present realities.  Patients find at the end of therapy no safe port, merely a rougher challenge, which they are better equipped to face…. they come back to the present simply as mortals.  They are not omnipotent, nor are they helpless – but something in between; they are participators in life.

To a certain extent they can direct their own minds, their actions, and the world about them – but only if they recognise and work through the laws of reality, that complicated web of relations they only dimly understand. Neither gods who control the universe, nor passive beasts who must suffer dumbly, they are humans, and in that acceptance they find contentment.”

To be trapped in the lie our own soul may tell us in the name of God, is to spend our life in ineffectiveness.  Yet the lie is a subtle one. Mark has found healing in his own person.  He also helps others release their own healing in self regulation.  But this did not happen while he still hoped for the mystic change to come, the magical transformation which would bring continual peace.  These, he realises are childhood’s dreams.  On the other hand, lies are true, miracles do occur.  Men knew no one could fly until we did it. Television was ridiculous until it occurred.  And if anything, the change which happens in us as we deepen our experience of SR, is that we are not caught in one of the opposites.  We can see the lie of miracles, then go out and perform one, even if it is slow maturing. Maybe our inner sickness is not healed instantly, but it is healed.  Maybe our creativity doesn’t materialise its brainchild instantly, but it grows.

Caldwell goes on to say of the change in people who have deeply explored themselves, ‘Once the airtight compartments are unsealed and opened up, the patient learns a   fullness of life he never knew before.  No longer Johnny One Note.  Harping on the same compulsive statement and denying all others, he achieves something of the range of emotional colour the wizard psyche can produce.  He learns to enjoy without shame the mystic mother in his wife and his mother, to move joyously into the sexual relation, to love fully and deeply one moment, hate furiously the next, to be proud of his masculinity and to call up his feminine side when the occasion demands.  He can argue and analyse his problems rationally one moment and then throw himself into the depths of emotion and intuition in another, all with minimal guilt and inner conflict.

“The scars reality creates are deep.  After birth, the mind can never be whole again except in the vestigial memory of Samadhi.  But life need not be a jangled mass of conflict and confusion.  The man or woman who learns to accept this shattering of the absolute vision can achieve the best that life has to offer.  He has the satisfaction of articulating within the prison of his time and place as full and rich a harmony as reality can afford.”

These changes naturally lead us to relate differently to others and oneself. Rita has already mentioned the changes in herself, but adds:

“It seems to me that the biggest con at present, certainly in terms of my own life, is something we are taught right from being tiny.  It is that emotional satisfaction and being happy is all to do with preferably being involved with one other person who is all things to you.  If we look at this with the slightest bit of detachment, this is doomed to failure.  I am not willing to take that burden on behalf of someone else, so it’s obvious they are not going to do it for me.  If we begin to find what we are looking for in ourselves, we are going to take the crippling load off relationships.

“The thing I love about Ashram is the way you really do love people and care about them and you let them go.  There is none of the frantic exchanging of addresses which goes on after most conferences.”

“Both in session and out this was a very rebellious period, defiant, assertive and aggressive.  I began to verbalise some emotions at this point.  Shouting out in Polish (lots of SR in native tongue) I won’t I won’t. I won’t.  And I found myself more able to do what I wanted now.  Able to get into pottery which was so relaxing and restoring.  There was and still is an underlying feeling of being blown open, and this pottery soothed a lot of shocked parts.  Began to discover a lot of sexual longing in my movements and sexual pride just at being a woman. Then there was a conflict in my life between staying with my husband which I came to believe was fulfilling my karma or God’s will and expressing myself as a woman which seemed to be impossible in the marriage.  But I stayed and SR got more and more exciting.  Spent an entire evening just crawling around on my belly, not using hands, like an earth worm.  Began to growl a lot and shout, began to get into marching and singing.  This reflected back to a time when we were young and we used to march from the country to the village about ten miles singing Polish songs as we went.

Then at Combe Martin I really got into the dancing. Felt I was really being danced.  And then this dancing began to come out in SR.  Beautiful affirmative ‘yes’ dancing which just freed all negativity.  I remember those last few SR sessions at the Quaker Meeting house were more like far out parties.  There was such a festivity of feelings.  At home there was lots of time given to silence and listening to classical music and just being.  An awareness seemed to grow of myself in all my different ages.  Instead of being stuck in a concept of myself as a woman of 29 with two children, that in me which was young and adolescent and womanly all began to come out together.  And in SR there was also this change all the time from one physical age to another in quick succession.  I feel maybe I didn’t get enough insight from the movements, it was all I could do to allow them to happen. Anyway, getting a better idea of myself at all ages makes it easier now to have ties with people of all ages.  I think I only tended to have time for people of my own age group before.  And being in the midst of so many emotions week after week I think lessened their grip on me – you know I used to feel so sorry for myself when I cried, or so amazed when someone shouted – and now it just doesn’t impress me so much.  I can just watch it and wait for the next thing.  And I guess I lost some of my emotions now; I don’t feel afraid I’ll go mad now.

And then on the other side of all that especially through last winter there was a feeling of being so shabby, so tattered, so ashamed of all the things in myself I had seen and couldn’t change.  I couldn’t dress up or put on a front anymore and yet holding up what there was seemed pitifully inadequate.  Now I feel I am starting to come out of that, beginning to learn to accept myself. But only just beginning.”

Warren Rogers has used self regulation for some years in USA with a group called Core.  He puts it this way.

“I find it hard to say simply what Core is about.  I’m sure everyone who has gone through it would describe it differently.  The emphasis is on trust, permission and self responsibility. No one pushes anyone to do ‘what is best’ for them.  And they emphasise that you are OK where you are right now; not sick or fucked up and in need of curing a la Janov.  (Primal was like Subud for me: so close and half right and so wrong).

Peg Sweetzer, one of the originators talks a lot about how she believes we all have a core that will guide us to the right experiences at the right time if we let it.  I share her belief.  Through this I’ve really come to trust myself and my feelings.  I’m taking responsibility for my life and there’s nothing quite like it.  Sometimes I’m scared; often I’m amazed at how I can move and do things and come out OK  I’m happy for this as I began life embedded in a mid-continent group of Seventh-day-Adventists:  insidiously nice, well meaning fascists to be precise!  So now I find I’m alive in this mysterious place, loving more than I seem to have time for.  I want to extend this love process to include more than just working on old stuff (stuck blocked feelings from early childhood; old behaviour styles that may have worked for us in our old family systems but now keep us from living presently), that’s what attracted me to Subud in the first place.

My plans are not as concrete as they were.  I have aims but fewer goals. I aim to live as fully and as humanly as I can.  I aim to provide as much love and  life as I can for my son (I’m recently and amicably divorced and our son Michael age 6 lives full time with me).  I’m slowly, carefully looking for a lady to be with.  I’m no longer willing to grab just anyone to pretend that I’m not alone or that Mommy will finally come if I’m good enough.

Let’s say we’ve begun.”

Yes, let’s say we’ve begun, because one of the big results of successful SR is to meet reality.  This is not a meeting with a reality of which we have predetermined its characteristics, but meeting the reality of life’s mystery, fresh all the time.  Without denying our past or our acquired knowledge, we yet find room to meet life with a sense of openness and unknowing, which permits it to continuously unfold newness and oldness to us again.

One of the results of this is a change in the way we experience and see the world.  Much of this change has already been described.  Carol is not frightened of going mad, and can relate to other age groups.  Rita can be more open in relationships.  Mark works more as an expression of himself.  But there is an aspect of this change which so far I have only seen occurring very seldom and spasmodically, but yet which I feel may be one of the things long term SR may produce.  This is a type of perception which is quite different to the way most people see or know things.  I believe it may be the result of being more open to the unconscious and its ability to experience things peripherally instead of intellectually.  But I will let Tom explain this in I is description of this perception.

“Some time ago I was at working in a restaurant wiping down a bench which is use for dirty dishes.  About five yards away the boss and one of the female employees stood casually talking. They were talking about customers, how trade had been, but I wasn’t particularly listening or watching them.  But suddenly an extraordinary thing happened. It was extraordinary, yet seemed completely natural too.  It was as if I suddenly knew and could somehow ‘see’ that these two people had at some time been sexually involved.  I also saw that this involvement had created an unconscious link or bond between them through which at that very moment, a great deal was passing which was not obvious in their conscious activity.  All this occurred in a flash, and it was as if some part of me was like an amazing computer.  Every tiny movement of hand, limbs and body, every expression, every aspect of voice tone had all been fed in and analysed.  Each fragment of information, each thing seen and noted in usual ways of seeing things would not by themselves give a clue to what I had just seen.  But some part of me put all these things together and built a complete picture.  Maybe this is like what happens when we look at a newspaper photo, which is actually made of thousands of dots.  We don’t see the dots, only the overall impression.  A part of me did that with human behaviour and I ‘saw’ its meaning.

When I had the opportunity I asked the woman if she had in fact been sexually involved with the man.  With great surprise she admitted she had.

I felt this type of awareness was something which had grown out of my SR and although it didn’t happen frequently, I wondered whether this was the beginnings of an evolutionary change in consciousness brought about by developing a greater contact with the unconscious, while maintaining a conscious ego.  I don’t know, but I do know that if that type of awareness persisted for long periods, life would be a completely different experience.  I also know that without warfare or bloodshed, if it developed in many people, it would revolutionise our whole social structure.  Everybody would be a walking book to read.  Crime would almost be impossible.  So would the whole hypocrisy of our times.”

Another aspect of ‘seeing’ is that mostly people tend to see things as right or wrong, black or white or reality and illusion. Often people say that our everyday life is an illusion, and only when we have experienced enlightenment will we see the truth.  But as our awareness expands it has a different take on living within such duality – we begin to realise we have many different levels, but science says that we have 10 dimensions of space, most of which are impossible for humans to perceive – impossible according to the limitations most people live in. But our body has seven it is possible to be aware of, and there are more beyond that, so each level is true at that level and the next level has different truths, and so on up. See Dimensions of Human Experience

The Indian culture spent enormous time and energy in explore the dimensions of consciousness, and the picture depicts the seven levels, all of which are said to be sense organs. See Kundalini

When you have lived in the baby condition and been aware of it, you will also realise that we have lived already through different realities or dimensions.

Rita explains this in a longer quote later, “I’ll try this self regulation on my own.  Maybe it’s being with other people stopped it”.  I went straight into it for an hour and half and I became like a tiny baby.  It was a very real experience.  It was really happening.  I felt like a baby.  I was a baby.  The sounds coming out were those of a baby.  Yet there was this marvellous bit of me which was still completely in touch with what was happening outside of the experience.”

Tony’s memories: “There are memories of being in the womb, feeling like the yolk of an egg.  My genitals were the pulsing centre of that yolk, and they pulsed with gentle pleasure in time with my tiny heart.  There was no sense yet of being a person, but there was an integrity that gave a feeling of being something different to other things in my awareness.  And there was sense of love.  It came to me in waves as the beating of my small heart roused pleasure in the centre of me, pleasure raised high as my mother’s heart and mine beat together while the two rhythms crossed.

What I recall from that early period after birth — recall and put into words by my adult self — is of being afraid I could not survive in this new environment. I had been born two months early, at the time of my birth there were no intensive care units to plug my tiny body into a drip feed or oxygen tent, or an incubator to keep me warm. Neither were there antibiotics to help fight the deadly diseases so many infants and children of the time were laid low by. At that time premature babies were very likely to die.

So I couldn’t breathe easily.  I couldn’t digest easily, and I was deeply anxious about the strange sounds around me.  A tremendous feeling response took place in my tiny self.  As an adult we would call this a decision.  But in my infant self it had nothing to do with thinking or analysing.  It was a total feeling and fear response.  It was a rejection of life.  A turning away from the scrambling, struggling, for survival.  I didn’t want to be in the world.  I wanted to remain in the egg!”

But to remind you of basics once more, Dr. Oliver Sacks who used the drug L-DOPA on patients who were in coma-like states for years, says “all the operations in coming to terms with oneself and the world, in face of continual changes in both, are subsumed in Claud Bernard’s fundamental concept of ‘homeostasis’…   We have to recognise homeostatic endeavours at all levels of being, from molecular and cellular to social and cultural, all in intimate relation to each other.”

His patients, often severely diseased physically and emotionally, sometimes managed, he says, “to become astute and expert navigators, steering themselves through seas of trouble which would cause less expert patients to founder on the spot.”  Thus some patients with severe illness got well and remained so, and some less ill never managed.  They had obviously learned or not learned to work with their own nature.  He goes on to say,  “One must allow the possibility of an almost limitless repertoire of functional re-organisation and accommodations of all types, from cellular, chemical, and hormonal levels to the organisation of the self – ‘the will to get well’. One sees again and again not merely in the context of L-Dopa and Parkinsonism, but in cancer, tuberculosis, neurosis – all diseases – remarkable, unexpected and inexplicable resolutions, at times when it seems that everything is lost.  One must allow – with surprise, with delight – that such things happen…. Why they should happen, and what indeed is happening, are questions which it is not yet in our power to answer; for health goes deeper than any disease.”

Addition from Rita

“I was in such pain, and words having failed me I was pumped full of Largactyl and put in a psychiatric ward on my own.  And I became terribly aggressive, which I am not really.

When I could release all this in SR, I stopped being frightened.  I wasn’t so primitive.  I never actually attacked anybody else but I was very frightened I would.  I was so full of aggression it was going in and trying to get out.  Yet it seemed it was a force which didn’t necessarily need to destroy me or anybody else if it was allowed to get out.  I didn’t really want to kill anybody or myself.  It was the pressure in this force which was held back.

When I first went to the SR group I thought everybody had gone completely mad.  I was still quite paranoid, I think, and the place where we did SR backs on to the hospital where I worked.  I was very frightened doctors or nurses would come over, recognise me and think I had flipped again and I would get carried off and put inside.  I was very frightened but it has gone now completely.  Then, I stopped thinking people were mad after time.  They were not mad because they came together again at the end of the session.  It was just noise, and the actual experience seemed identical to those I had seen and experienced in hospital.  Then I started to think people were hysterical, in the sense that they were all acting out, and it was all very self indulgent and it didn’t get them anywhere.

I didn’t understand it, and this kept on for three months.  I kept going.  I don’t really know why, but I did.  Then it was Easter and I went on a diet.  The children were away and I was in the house on my own, and I thought, “I’ll try this self regulation on my own.  Maybe it’s being with other people stopped it”.  I went straight into it for an hour and half and I became like a tiny baby.  It was a very real experience.  It was really happening.  I felt like a baby.  I was a baby.  The sounds coming out were those of a baby.  Yet there was this marvellous bit of me which was still completely in touch with what was happening outside of the experience.  It was watching, and I knew I would be all right, I knew I was going to come out of it.  For me it was a real big breakthrough.  I stopped being frightened.  Up until then I had been stuck.  I was very frightened of making a noise.  Then some time later I had, not one, but two of pneumatic drills outside my house and I had the really big session making a hell of a noise.

My attitude to SR then changed.  I thought, yes, this is it.  It can’t be faked.  It is possible for someone to pretend its happening but they would know they were pretending.  I had been afraid I would start to play act and pretend.  But when it happened it very definitely wasn’t that.

To people coming into SR I would say not to base their expectations on anything he had been told or read about it.  It is very individual.  It is easy to be discouraged if you have been with very noisy people, and your experiences and noisy.  It would be easy to think, ‘I’m not having the real thing.’ May be with me it happened when I had given up.  I stopped expecting anything to happen.  After three months of, to me, nothing happening except by lying there for 90 minutes listening to other people making a noise.  Yet in a way a lot happened because my feelings and thoughts had changed considerably in those three months.  I had gone through fear, contempt, attempting to cut it down to size, saying he wasn’t a valid experience for those people.  I was very much the outsider for a long time.  Then, when I had given up any hope of something happening, it happened to me.

What SR has done for me, or what change it has made is a very major thing.  In a very real sense it had saved my life.  I had thought about nothing but suicide for three years, and that hasn’t happened since; but once, and I have been in some very sticky situations.  I have been very mad but I haven’t been what I call depressed or beyond hope.  I don’t hate myself as much now.  I didn’t have any self respect.  I have respect for myself now and I am a lot more choosy about relationships because of that.  I don’t feel people are doing me a favour any more by liking me.  I think I am a lot stronger.  People at work say I am alive, and friends have seen a big change in me.”

Two letters I received during a period of six months also express the change that comes when we begin her not to be in conflict with our own being.  Jo, is a young unmarried mother.  Her first letter said:

“Whilst I feel I am opening out in self regulation and letting go of certain things, I find it very hard just to live from day to day.  There seems to be so much attention and pain somewhere inside me that I find difficulty in becoming involved in any activity and uncertainties about what to do in the first place.  I know that the answers must all come from within myself but feel I need help define my creativity and release the tension.

All the Wilhelm Reich, as much as I have a read, says about body tensions and armour seemed so true – I am sometimes very conscious of the body armour and tensions being locked in certain areas of the body – particularly in the heart centre – which creates an almost constant feeling of anxiety and depression.  I fear an urgency to change not only for my own sake but the baby’s and my relationship with B…  where at present I feel like and give him so little.  We have been having sexual difficulties though I feel it is up to B to talk about his side of that.

I feel far more blocked off to relate it to others than I used to since being in the hospital, and whilst I very much want to get through to and share with others there seemed to be so many barriers.”

During the following months Jo worked consistently on herself in weekly SR sessions and personal work with a partner, and also during weekends of SR activities at Ashram, an SR centre.

Her second letter expresses the change she found even in those few months, even though she still very much under way.

“I felt after a session of SR last night that it was truly possible to let go of chunks of ones past and almost be reborn.  During the session I had found a lot of pure sound coming out of me – not the first time I have been taken over by a sound, whether a stream or share out of rage, so that it flooded out of my whole being – it was an exciting session were at last I felt able to stand up and explore space.  I have been doing so are since September, it now being April, and apart from a few sessions where I sat up it has been mainly lying on my face or stomach or in a foetal position – much of what has come up had been pre-verbal and fear expression as a young child and babies longing for his parents, and rage that I had been misunderstood and abused.  I got into SR easily I suppose because I was more than ready for it, having a history of bottled up the emotions that led to several breakdowns and a spell in a mental hospital.  Difficulty is in creating the psychological independence from parental possessive clutches – psychic castration by my parents – so I started letting go and yelling at once – there were difficulties.  I felt pretty depressed for months, full of shit, hating myself, therefore unable to love others; alone and lonely, longing for contact, even though living with someone and a growing baby.  There were times when nothing came through and defences and blockages would not be abandoned.

People’s support, coupled with the other coursework we do here at Ashram, and life processes, gradually eroded those defensive alliances until I felt myself opened and rediscovered my essential nature such as I have found.  In a sense I feel enlightened.  Nothing amazing and psychedelic, but initiated into living or the possibility of living that they had different more total level of contact all the time.”

Chapter  nine

Growing up

Self regulation is basically a self help way of coping with our problems.  In those two examples something of the changes we can find can be seen.  I have not gone into great detail in this section because in what follows can be seen just what causes our sickness, whether of body or mind, and how it drops off us.

One of the most fundamental of life processes we experiences is growth.  To grow we must survive.  To survive we must grow.  Sometimes we attempt to remain at a certain level of growth, or regress there because of stress, or because we could deal with things well behaving in that way.  But such stunting or regression always brings other problems in its wake.

As a baby we have a completely different experience of living than does a child or an adult.  During the self regulate reaction released by some drugs and therapies, thousands of people, as adults, have explored of the world of babyhood and childhood.  During SR we may return again and again to the strange world of babyhood.  From so doing we will see perhaps the almost mystical union which originally existed between us and our mother.  We see how, for the baby, there is nothing existing outside itself.  Mother, objects, food, animals, is all one being – baby.  As a baby we are godlike in our sense of non differentiation, of the union of all opposites.  And because there is no separation between our own baby will and that of mother, dogs, nature, our instincts, there is only one will – baby’s.  What our mother wants, but through a caress or smile or grimace is what we want.  Whatever is done, we have done, even to our own birth and existence.

But growth faces us with the long process of realising our own separation, developing our own will, and meeting the shock after shock and what this causes in us.  So comes the pain of feeling or aloneness for the first time, like a thunderbolt out of unexpectedness.  So comes the realisation of our own limitations and inability – to do sums, to read, to swim, to be big – and this is a world where nearly everybody else seems to be doing these things so well.  So there is the conflict of decision-making – and all the time we are so tiny and vulnerable.

The reality of at any moment being capable of dying, of losing our parents, of being unloved, is so overwhelming, the baby survives reality by covering it with layers of fantasy, not seeing it, mystical trust a mental confusion or the effort of enormous repression.  But maturity is the process of facing reality, and most of us, when we look closely at ourselves in SR have not fully pierce the files or effort we covered reality with.

Rita describes to as something of the difference between thinking about our childhood self and actually re-experiencing it.  We also see how she begins to pierce the veil of her compulsive sexuality or eating, to find underneath the reality of her own childhood longings.

“The difference between the art and encounter group work I have done is the difference between the experiencing something and talking about it.  It’s possible for me to talk about painful situations in my life and feel close to tears.  I might feel this is hurting a bit.  But I have discovered since doing SR there is a hell of a difference between that pain and actually going back and re-experiencing a situation.  That to me is the difference between self regulation and all the other therapy as I have being involved in.  They are so much word oriented or head oriented.  They say in some of the encounter groups that they are into actual experiences, but they are not.  They symbolise it.  Someone has to say goodbye to a dead father they have never been loved by, and they act it out and shared a few tears.  In a way its play acting and it is probably better than nothing.  But it is light years away from the actuality of the experience I have had in self regulation.  It’s getting there a bit but it doesn’t get near it.  For instance I knew I was born prematurely, but I never really knew until I did self-regulation – and was able to let it become more intense as I became more confident, and let myself go more – the absolute anguish and terror of trying to breathe, cry and feed all at the same time as a baby.  It’s been very frightening.  It’s been like close to dying, and I experienced a struggle I had as a baby.

In the same way, I know I had been fed with a dropper, but it was not until last weekend I actually experience that.  It left me with milk in my stomach, but a dreadful pain in my mouth because I hadn’t had the sucking and emotional satisfaction.  So I have begun to understand my own problems about overeating.  And when there wasn’t overeating there was a lot of sex.  It was like a movement of energy in my abdomen which either came up or went down.  Its classical Freudian stuff but I had never related it to myself until I actually experienced it.  I can now experience that energy moving and can stay with it, and say in a rather bemused way, “If I say, no, that’s off, but will start banging my nose over by baker’s window.” Experimentally I am beginning to be able to say no to it in either direction and so to feel what is underlying this.  And coming close to this now, and I believe it is the desire to be close to my mother, which I never was.”

Ann has already described her first group experience.  He or she shows how two people can work together to help release a deeper SR action, and what it revealed of her childhood.

“My Friday session was a very deep and moving experience.  I had been working in considerable depth for the last three days so that I was well into myself.

We began with some physical movements, some shoulder movements, as this area is very stiff for me. I still need a lot of body movement to generate action. I lay down on my rug and E… applied pressure to different parts of my body, hurting me such a lot.  I am so caught inside my pain totally unable to move away from it.  It was as if I were paralysed.  I felt sick with the pain as he dug his fingers into my arm.  I sobbed with pain, “to let go, please let go, you’re hurting me so much.” The words dragged out of me, my response was to tighten up and try to freeze away the pain, clench my teeth. “Oh, what can I do?” All my passive tendencies were displayed, I lay still on the road filled with hurting, by accepting that I must be hurt.  E’s voice came through the pain. “I will have to make you black and blue in order for you to see.”

His fingers dug in further and then he was shaking me and hurting me.  “Oh God what is it?  Why can’t I fight back?  Why do I just let people hurt me, trample on me.  I will accept being kicked around, anything is better than nothing.” That was it, anything was better than nothing.  “Be a bloody martyr, anything, anything.” I felt it all inside, deep inside, all the power of it “You’ll let your mother fuck you.” E was shouting at me.  I felt the sick misery, yes I would.

“Go on, fuck her then.” He goaded me on.  Not that, but please not that.  I felt sick.  She sickened me.  I have all over.  There was nowhere to hide.  I felt sick.  Now my despair turned to anger, it was beginning inside my tummy.  (just like before one is sick, the unbearable tension before release).  I felt it rising and choking, rising and choking.  On and on.  I heard E’s voice.  “Keep into it, keep into it.”

It seemed to come from another world.  I lay on my tummy gripping the cushions and the feelings kept on rising and choking.  Then it came, the first release from this agonising tension.  Words and feelings poured out of me in a flood.  How I felt that my mother used me as a child.  “You bloody old cow, you used me, why didn’t you have a man?  Why weren’t you honest?  I know what you are doing in bed alone, playing with yourself, you were a sexual hypocrite.  A fraud and a cheat.  You used me, you bloody used me.  I had to be everything for you, daughter, husband, lover, confidante.  Can’t you see it was too much for me, too much?  I couldn’t be everything.  You bloody old bitch.  You never let me grow up; he kept me all the time with you.  I tried so hard to please, to be all that you wanted.  I hate you for using me as an excuse for your own life.  Oh God I hate you.  Who do you think you were, the fucking virgin Mary?”

It all rushed out, all the hatred, the bloody agony that I had stored up inside me all those years.  I screamed of senators, or rather they screamed out of me.  Afterwards I lay back feeling pleasantly exhausted.  (This release of emotion is so complete an act in itself that it doesn’t believe guilt or shame feelings afterwards, I discovered.)

That was over.  Wasn’t it?  Watch closely, slight tension feelings in my tummy.  It was rising again.  This time it was my husband.  Oh God, what now?  Up it came, all the torrent of emotions about our sexual relationship.  Things I had felt but never been able to put into words, but thank god they were being cleared out, what a relief.  What a bloody relief, what are fucking bloody relief.  Saying he’d again like that, strongly “what a fucking bloody relief.” Words I could only whisper.  Whispers.  I was full of whispers, instead of living in the sun I lived in the shadows.  Exposed in the sun.  Exposed himself, Bertie words to be whispered.  Exposed herself, beautiful words to be so allowed.  I raise myself from the cushions filled with relief and a great satisfaction.  I felt that I could breathe more deeply and I felt my own reality, not as a destructive force but as a creative one by releasing trapped or emotions and tensions to become more alive.  I am me.  This seems so wonderful, so real.

My mother had done what she could, in the only way she was able.  She had erred, she had been an overprotective mother with many faults and I was now ready to forgive her.  I understand what it was all about.

I felt a sense of lightness as I walked along the seashore afterwards.  The world seemed so beautiful, I could learn to take my place in it as the mature woman at last.  There would be other problems to deal with, as I have today.  I would have a try, have another spring-clean.  See what rubbish I had inside.  Keep on keeping on.  Thanks Life.”

These descriptions must be recognised for what they are – words only.  They are an attempt to share what often feels like a holy experience.  We know ourselves so fully, so deeply, it is awe inspiring.  Having sat in on sessions such as describes above, I felt, despite the swearing and noise, the sense of sharing something beautiful.  Before me a person was knowing the depth and strength of their own feelings, this moving, powerful flow of life was, is, beauty.

Another thing about these descriptions is they are incomplete.  Despite the large events written on case histories, no real case history has ever really been written.  It would be impossible to read it all, or are expressing it all, we can only experience it ourselves.  It is so many faceted, so much bound up with the uncountable experiences of our life, no one but us can really understand it.  But to attempt to give an idea of what consecutive sessions are like, I will quote from the notebook of Mark.  He describes his sessions quite well, but one that anybody new to SR might not understand, is the amount of words occurring in these sessions.  In SR words arising quite a different way to our everyday speech.  It is as if they bubble out with great energy, and our conscious self does not plan or direct them.  In fact we usually do not know what word will come out next.  So much so that what Paul’s fault is often felt like a revelation to consciousness.  Sometimes I feel as if they come up from the abdomen rather than down from the brain.  Mark is attending a small so our group and simply lies down and lets it happen.

“When the session began the first thing was words pouring out of me. ‘I can’t love.  I can’t love people I can’t control.  If I can’t control and I can’t love them.’

Gradually I went in deeper and began shouting about my dad. ‘You cunt dad.  You fucking cunt, you broke me.  I’m fucking broken.  Look at me.  Yes, look at ME!  Look at me.

Oh you cunt.  Oh dad, love me!  Please love me.  You couldn’t fighting love me and that broke me…  oh for fucks sake..  Pride…  Cried, that’s what it was.  So proud.”

This was all said and shouted with deep feeling, sometimes developing into shouts or screams of anger. ‘tried, you wouldn’t love me.  Look at me (and see what he did).  Broken.  To know why he?  Do you?  Yes, you fucking know why but you would never admit it yourself.  You are a pervert.  You’re a fucking pervert.  You couldn’t love me because if you have let yourself feel love you would have wanted to fuck me.  By fucking pervert.  Yes, you wanted to fuck me.

And do you know what?  You know, I would have let you.  You could have fucked me because I wanted you to love me.  I would have let you.  You wouldn’t give me your love so I wanted you’re prick.  All these years I have been wanting your prick.  That’s why I couldn’t love or other people, I was still after your prick.  Oh dad!  You fool.  Oh God.  Oh fucking Christ!

This was like a tremendous relief, realisation, release and add any all in one of so many years of my life wasted because of being bound to my father’s prick.  It all poured into consciousness and I saw so clearly that was why I had always met so many queers.  I had never had a homosexual relationship, but I had the same inner problem.

Now laughter began to erupt out of me and I had pounded the floor.  It was also idiotic, those wasted years, the stupidity of it all – of holding back the love, of being afraid of ones own problems.  I shouted out with laughter, “All these years I have been a pervert.  I’m queer.  That’s why I felt unclean (as a teenager).  That’s why I have spots all those years.”

Gradually this up sided and I lay still.  Words then came. ‘Where is my love now?’ It had been bound up with wanting my father, was it released?  Words came spontaneously, by “It’s with my nanny.  I still want my nanny.”

In several past sessions this theme had gradually emerged, much to my astonishment.  Apparently my nanny had almost been my mother until I was eighteen months old.  These facts, including my own age, had all emerged spontaneously in the sessions, and I have been enquiring and found them to be true.  My grandmother had then died, and I had been recently living through my baby pain and confusion about her death, it had come out of me that my mother explained to death to me by telling me she had gone back to God.

Now I went right into calling out for my nanny. ‘give me my nanny.  I love my nanny.  I can’t live without her.  Please God, find my nanny.  Finds her!  Find her!’

As this was pouring out of me I realised my baby self felt God had got my nanny, because of what my mother had said.  “Please, please, be let me have my nanny.  It can’t ask…  I can’t ask in any other way.  Please – please – please.  Please let me have my nanny.” I sobbed and begged to this in abject need.  But when this request out of the broken, abject me, was not fulfilled, by emotion changed.

“Give her to me God.  Give her to me.  Find her!  God, give her to me!  Or I’ll kill you.  I’ll fucking kill you God.  Give her to meet or I’ll fucking kill you.  Kill…  Kill…  Kill.” I shrieked this out and my body contorted with explosion of murderous rage toward God.

Slowly the rage and murderous hate subsided.  There was quietness.  All the rage and pain seemed to have gone.  The words came quietly.  “Nanny is dead.  She’s gone now.  Dead and buried.  Dead and gone.” I was filled with quiet acceptance now my baby’s tornado or feelings, longings and pain has been emptied.

There was a pause.  Peace.  Rest.  “Now I can love.  My love is here.  I love you.  I love you.  I want you.  Now I can love.  Please come.  I want to.  I love you!

This was said with a beautiful rich, deep voice, full of the feelings that were moving and alive in me.  These feelings, so warm, pleasurable and joyful, overflowed.  I began to spontaneously call out with joy – “God, I love you.  I love you.  Thank you.  Thank you.” I was so full of gratitude to life for clearing out all the misery I had released in the session it just bubbled up out of me.

“I long for longing, a living, people.  I you yearn.  How can you loved dead people?  I yearn for living people.”

Here the session ended.

“As I arrived at the hall for the session I saw Alan and hugged him.  When I went into the hall I felt really opened up.  It was like I melted inside and feelings or energy was moving about inside my body.  I said it to the others – I felt as if I would burst any minute.

When we started SR words tumbled out of my mouth falling over each other at first.  “I want young men.  I’m a queer.  I’m a fucking queer.  I am as queer as arseholes, but I never admitted it even to myself.  Oh fuck.”

I went down on the floor and then all hell was let loose out of me.  Screams poured out of me, and my body leapt and convulsed as if electric shocks were hitting, meanwhile I roared, wept and cried out, “Daddy, please love me.  Please…  Please!  Look.  Look at me.  God – father – God – father.  I’m not looking for God, I’m looking for my father.  Fire.  Fire.  I’m on fire.” I screamed this sound to. The pain of my emotions were like being burnt.

Then a whole lot of incomprehensible wails, sobbing and cries poured out of me.  This gradually faded.  I lay curled up making sucking noises like a baby.  For a while I was very still inside.  My whole body became quiet.  Words then came.  “I’m so tired.  So tired, dead, dead tired – dead tired of being broken.  And going down…  Down (deeper into myself)…  Down.”

I felt as if I were going down to the roots of my being; in the quiet at an image of how Diane had approached me the past weekend.  She had been very openly sexual in her approach and it had aroused my own sexuality.  Now as I watched, I saw how her body had actually expressed something I had missed. This time I saw her uncertainty, her pain, she wanted to belong.  Then the image had changed and I saw how she had an adults head but the child’s body she was looking for her daddy to. This completely reached my feelings for her; the sexuality disappeared.  In its place was a warmth of love which would offer her support if she needed it to face her own pain.”

Here the session ended.

“At the beginning I had a sequence about being good, ‘I’m good. I was so good. God, I’m good. Love me, I’m good. I don’t swear. I don’t eat meat. I don’t go out with women. Love me God. You’ve got love me I’m so good. I wanted to love. Go on, love me. Please, please, love me.’

Then it switched to – “I’m waiting.  Look, I’m waiting.  I’m waiting God.”

In the first sequence I realise why for so many years and the past I have not sworn, and had acted as morally cold.  It was all an attempt to be loved.  In the second sequence I was also being that good boy who was passive and waited, had never pushed in front, longing to noticed for his long suffering and self denial.

These cleared and a third sequence arose.  In this I was shouting – ‘I’m young.  And three weeks old.  My love was killed when I was three weeks old.  So young.  She (mother) killed me.  I screamed and screamed and screamed and no one came.  You cow, you killed me.  You killer.’

It swung to me saying, ‘You killer.  I’ll kill you.  I’ll kill her.  I’m going to kill her like this (my hands rose to kill, but fell back) I can’t.  I can’t kill her…  Yes I can…  I can kill her.’

This conflict of can and can’t went on for some time then suddenly a vivid fantasy developed.  At first a woman, then my mother.  I was trying to kill her but my efforts were ineffectual.  She kept reappearing whole and well.  This time I was the man in the dream with the pick. I attacked the (superior) mother. A great killing glee came on me. I ripped into the body with the pick. I hacked at their head, guts and genitals with terrific pleasure. This time the body split up and stayed dead. I had killed her.”

Here the session ended.

As can be seen from Mark’s sessions, he releases slowly or quickly, and won moves to the next.  The sequence of being a three week old baby was an entirely new one and only began to emerge in detail and feeling in the sessions which followed.  Something of this may be described in the following sections.

Chapter Ten

The symbol and the fact

From the experiences already described it begins to be obvious that the possibilities of pain and pleasure reside in us perhaps untapped.  In Ann and Mark’s sessions, they took a deep pleasure following the release of painful or repressed emotion and energy.  This is a general pattern.

The more locked up pain we release then our pleasure is more capable of expressing, feeling and receiving.  But very often, before we can directly experience a pain or pleasure, we symbolise it.  It must be always remembered we are dealing with the dream making faculty in self regulation. Also, many of our experiences have never been conscious or verbalised before.  In the previous sessions, it can be seen how words erupted along with emotions.  It is therefore correct to say that a major part of the integrating action of self-regulation lies in its ability to unify the preconscious and the pre-verbal self with the conscious verbal self that has developed in us.  If this integration or union does not take place we remain at least two people in one body.  Rita, in fact, stresses the point of not having had the words to express what was going on in her.

Van Rhijn and Caldwell suggest that if the problem we are dealing with is only slightly buried in us a verbal eruption into consciousness will be sufficient to resolve it.  But there are other levels of our being to which the problem or energy may have been repressed.  The next level down is the symbolic – mythic.  This is the dream action, with its symbolic dramatisations of experience.  But beneath this lies the physiological – gestural.  A baby, by its facial and body movements, communicates with us.  An example already given earlier, of Reich’s patient experiencing being a fish, is a good example of this physiological expression.  The last level is the physical symptoms such as headaches, pain in the body, diarrhoea, etc..

Only the most deeply buried problems express as body pains.  In the next level up we experience them as a feeling like a fish, a dog, a stone or somebody else.  The next level we act out the problem symbolically.  The last it comes out as words and realisations.

It is a common situation for people doing so to accept at face value what they experience.  No doubt the problems or energies involved will eventually work out, but it speeds up the process enormously if we simply ask the question why?  Or, what does this mean?  In other words if it appears as a symbolic expression of something, we need to ask what it represents in our real every day level of experience.

Ann, in her sessions, at one point she experienced the spontaneous fantasy, accompanied by physical movements, of being a nun.  This is an example of the dreaming function breaking through into consciousness and producing a dream the ego consciously takes part in.  But many people still consider that in some way, perhaps in a past life, they were or are a nun.  At first and simply accepted or fantasy, then she questioned it.  This is what followed.

“First of all I got back into the fantasy by imagining I was the nun.  I became a nun lying on the stone floor of the cellar as I had before in SR.  Then I waited.  Slowly a feeling of prayer came over me.  I joined my hands together and began reciting, ‘Hail, holy queen, mother of mercy, Hail by our life, our sweetness and our hope.’ The words, our life, our sweetness and our hope, seemed important to me.

Gradually I learn and grew stronger.  Now I was able to ask the question –“What does the nun represent in me?” I waited quietly for a response.  Slowly light came in – all around was filled with light.  It streamed into me from every direction.  I was filled with this light.  I stretched out my arms wide open and luxuriated in it, basked in it.  It seemed to flow right through me.  This was followed by body feelings.  I began touching myself all over my body with my hands.  The contact felt very good.  Very strong – I felt that I was touching a new level of myself – was rubbing off a gossamer layer of my physical self – a veil.  It seemed like the nuns veil which I wanted to remove.

“I sat up and my hands went to my breasts.  It was something to do with my breasts.  I took off my jersey and bra and felt my breasts hesitantly.  I asked another question – “what are my feelings about my breasts?” I gradually waited again for a response to come from within myself.

What followed by were flashbacks to my childhood.  I had heard my mother telling me not to touch myself, as it wasn’t nice.  I saw her smoothing her jersey with her hands and saying anxiously that she hoped she looked flat.  She was disgusted by shapely figures.  I saw how gradually I had switched off from my own body, rejected my breasts, dreading them forming into shapely curves.  So they remained small.

I lay on my side and vigorously sucking my thumb, and I was stirred by how I had wanted and longed to be held, as a baby child, to be held against a breast, to suckle at the nipple and feel love warm soft flesh enveloped me.  I felt all these sensations as I lay on the floor open to experiences that might arise.  Gradually these lovely baby feelings of security at the breast gave way to feelings of tension.  Something was wrong.  Breasts no longer lovely, but embarrassing bumps which nice girls don’t have.  Not nice – look at her tits – magazine pictures – black frilly bras – conflict within.

That is how lives and personalities are shaped and can be reformed.




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