Monday, June 9, 2008

sensing parts of centers

Yesterday, I spent some time with a close friend of mine who is has developed some expertise in the area of body work.

Now, of course, she would not tell you she was "developed" in the area of the body, but this is a big area of interest for her, and it is probably the weakest area of interest for me. I went to her for some sound advice on approaches to take, and we had a wonderful and very deep exchange.

I see that I think I know everything. This is very typical of smart people like me; we think we can grasp the whole world with our mind. It's quite difficult for us to ask our egos to take a back seat and show up in front of another person admitting to ourselves that they know more than we do about something.

On that note, I will always remember my old group leader Henry Brown (God rest his soul) saying to us one night, "I was working with this man, and I saw that he was better than I was at what we were doing. That was true. He was just better, and I needed to see that and admit to myself that it was true."

Henry was calling us to a bit of real humility there -- a moment where we see that we are not superhuman, that others can inform us.

Anyway, here I was discussing the role of the body, and I gained an interesting insight into a particular aspect of my own work.

Gurdjieff always said that each center (thinking, emotional, moving) is divided into three parts of its own of the same kind. Now, most of us are captivated by the task of identifying how the three centers function in interaction, but we rarely try to see how we might be functioning from one part of one center. It may, based on my personal observations, be that most of us are not only predominantly stuck in one center -- for example, we might be very emotional, or very "moving oriented" -- but that we are, in fact, even stuck in one part of one center.

Looking at my propensity to enjoy logical argument, I suspect that I may use the emotional and moving parts of intellectual center more than the intellectual part. I say that because although I can handle detail, I find it frustrating, and enjoy using the mind to intuit. I will never, for example, be an effective microbiologist or accountant. I know people who are, and they are certainly very smart, but they are not smart in the way that I am smart. So to have fully balanced work in even one center, that's already a fairly major advance over where we are.

We can consider this in some more detail. (Does white man now speak with forked tongue about detail? Maybe so.) If three centers are going to work together, and in their own inner work within themselves is not balanced, there will still be deficiencies in three centered work. This means that it might be a good thing -- as my friend nurse G. suggested yesterday (tho she didn't know exactly that that was what she was suggesting)-- to examine the needs of a center within ourselves from the point of view of all three of its functions.

So, for example, if I see -- as I do now -- that my moving center has been clobbered (I am still recovering from this parasite -- and even more so, the horrific Flagyl medication I took to get rid of it) it needs to be built up in several different ways. In addition to investing more within the living sensation that is usually present -- a connection, perhaps, to the intellectual part of moving center -- there is a need to nurture the emotional part of moving center by feeding it with the breathing, and there is also a need to get out there and do some real physical exercise, something middle aged white males are well known for avoiding.

So I think my dear friend G. not only nailed it with some excellent advice on things I need to pay more attention to, she also opened a question about how acutely we observe the question of work of centers.

G's big question was, how am I nurturing myself, and I think she has a real point here.

How would it be if I more actively examined the needs of my centers? Can I do that? I think it's worth a look.

Last weekend, we heard a reading from one of Mr. Gurdjieff's third series essays, where he points out that a man should have everything that is necessary, but nothing more.

Certainly, the proper nurture of, investment in, and relationship between the parts of centers is necessary: and should be as important as seeing this from the point of view of the "whole" centers themselves.

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the body. It is a very rare person that takes care of their body -- that listens to it, that learns its languages. Almost from the moment we begin to walk we are sat down in chairs and when we enter school we are kept in that position for hours on end. With the chairs having backs on them we learn to be lazy and to slouch in the chairs, so that the Sacrospinalis, or Erector Spinae muscles, which are slow twitch muscles (dark meat) on the left and right side of the spinal column which allow us to stand erect for long periods of time during the daytime, begin to atrophy and collapse. So we begin to atrophy and collapse.

    Yoga calls its postures asanas -- the same root from which we get the word for our rear end -- ass. Asana literally means "seat," and means a position suitable for meditation.

    Education: there is only asana -- sitting in a chair for six hours a day. Then the mind is occupied with learning information and using a pencil and paper. This goes on for a long time, so if there are negative results it should not come as a surprise. Nothing is done with the emotional center and nothing is really done with the mental center either -- the student is free to daydream and look out the window, while feeling imprisoned. Occasionally a teacher themselves contain within them some higher hydrogens and their students are richly nourished, but this is a very rare thing.

    In the meantime people learn to eat without giving a care to what happens when the food passes the taste buds, and they are taught to look upon the other end of the alimentary canal and what comes out of it with aversion and disgust.

    They are not taught about the organs within their own bodies and how to communicate with them. Unless there is sickness or illness of sufficient vibration to break through the barrier into ordinary everyday consciousness, people don't want to know anything about their body except that it belongs to them and they can mistreat it for their own pleasures as they see fit.

    You talk of centers and parts of centers. This seems awfully intellectual to me at the current time; what about paying attention to the body itself? What about actual sensation? What about learning the various languages of the organs? Do you think they talk in words? I don't, but I consider that I am currently in a school of linguistics -- learning the languages of the various organs that are "parts of me."

    Today it seems that my various internal organs are my centers -- not the intellectually concepted notion of instinctual center, emotional center and formatory apparatus. Just for today that seems like a lot of hogwash.

    Today I am spending my coin on sensation, and learning the languages of the organs. From there I might find centers and parts of centers, but I won't call them that, because those are just words, and in perfect agreement with the words of Albert Einstein once said while talking to a psychologist: "I very rarely think in words; most of my thinking is in images and pictures, which I then have to translate into language."

    I can use words. In the second grade of elementary school I got surrounded by a group of bullies demanded that I stopped using words that they didn't understand. I offered to explain the meaning of any word that they might not know, but they proffered that they would instead knock out my teeth unless I started using "dumb words" -- one of them said "only use words that I can already understand or I will kick your ass." But I also do not do much of my thinking in language; I think in metaphor, in allegory, in images and pictures which contain many meanings all at once. I call this first thinking, even though there is a prior thinking which I call infant thinking -- pure sensation. Then there is first thinking -- pure images. Then there is a language, which is the lowest of the three -- lumbering along one word at a time skimming the surface. Even though English is a highly nuanced surface language capable of profound depth communication, ordinary people don't use it that way at all. Their talk is flat and horizontal.

    I have said enough. I am tired of the words and the sound of my own voice. I will now go back to nonverbal infant thinking; sensation and images.

    best,
    --rlnyc

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