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Stillness is our nature.
Even in the midst of deep agitation, there exists a center where stillness is. In this peaceful, still spot is our real existence.
Gurdjieff movements offer the unique opportunity to lead us to stillness.
If a wheel is motionless, it is difficult to know the still point. If the wheel is in motion, it is easy to distinguish the axle because it will not move when the wheel is moving. As the moving goes on, the wheel spins faster and faster, and the center point appears in its utter stillness. This still point is the center of all movements.
Watching the body move, the watcher remains untouched. And by and by, the watcher steps aside in favor of the center, an empty, motionless space, yet so full!
The body is the earth, consciousness is the sky and between the two, a great exchange of giving and taking can happen. But often this flowing transaction gets lost somewhere in the desert of the world. The river never reaches to the ocean
How to combine within us earth and sky ?
We can start simply by watching our body, from the surface at first: the outer forms of the movements, to the deeper layers : the inner forms of the movements. The practice of the movements is like peeling an onion
First, we enter in attunement with the outer form of the movements, its rhythms, its dynamic, its sequences, and its displacements through space and with others participants.
Then we enter in to become aware of the inner flow, the energy currents that lift our arm, or move our leg, and that sets our body in motion. This is particularly visible in the transition between positions.
Then deeper, we become aware of the impulse, which is at the source of this energy movement
And finally we become aware of the archetype of the movement, the very core of the movement from where the others layers emerge. The science of movements is closely related to the science of archetypes
One eye in, one eye out
For this, it is necessary to first find within ourselves the proper alignment, what we are calling “the zero position”, the proper balance between tensions and relaxation in the body, in the heart, in the mind. It is also necessary to maintain attention and the ability to observe. And so, we place our center of gravity into the watcher again and again, without criticizing, analyzing, comparing, but just watching.
Movements belong to hygiene of inner life, an inner discipline, and door to freedom. Through them, we see our life, our oscillation between the external world and the inner world. Through them, we are searching a balance where we can have “one eye out and one eye in”: not being taken and overwhelmed by outside events or people, and not with drawing into the deepest recesses of ourselves, unable to communicate and to act
At first we realize how small is our scope of attention, a few seconds, and then, the mechanical train of our thoughts takes us away. This is reflected immediately by a “mistake” in the outer form, or a mechanical ness that takes away the true grace inherent to these movements. This is mirroring the daily life of most people, manipulated through joys and pains, according to the strings that are pulled by the wheel of life. But by and by, with a quality of attention becoming more sustained and subtle- merely a question of practice…and wish- another vision unveils, a new sensation of the body, not in its different fragments, but as a whole vibrating living being.
For the beginners at first, the main difficulty remains in “taming “body, breaking its automatism and apathy, establishing correct postures sequences and displacements individually and within the group. The attention is constantly called to different parts of the body, simultaneously or successively. One notices how we are not yet master over the right balance between tensions and relaxation We learn to discriminate between resistances, which are the natural demands of a posture or movement, and extra tensions often emotionally induced, that we too often bring And the movement is either too rigid, or flabby, in case of a lukewarm attitude. Attention and absence of tensions, these are the conditions for harmony to be. If the attention is total and purified from unnecessary “luggage” such as physical tensions, worries, emotional charges, mental restlessness, then it suddenly leads to a blissful sensation of the whole of oneself, as well as awareness of the room, the group members, the air, the music…. The movement happens without the interference or control of the mind. We are “being danced” by the spirit of the movement. Grace descends…. We have moved from active participation through efforts of body and attention to an active surrender, lighter, effortless, and the sky meets the earth…. What Taoists call “Wei wu wei”, action through inaction, effortless effort.
Seeing the difficulties one encounter in a body that feels clumsy at first, emotions arise. Gurdjieff was provocative; “a danger” says Michel de Salzmann, danger to our comfort, our illusions, our self-image and passivity. The discomfort is not so much physical as it is emotional and mental. Memories of being “bad” at school, or the tension to be “perfect” self condemnation, comparisons, desires for a result, identification with success But if we can maintain our center of gravity in the watcher, (and this is one of the main support an instructor can give!), then a very beneficial lesson is learned: the possibility to distance ourselves from emotions and thoughts which so often prevent the free flow of energy and life. In our daily life discouragement, anger, frustration, fear, greed, or beliefs such as:” I will not be able” ” I am not good enough” are affecting the clarity of our decisions, the harmony in our relating, inhibiting the fulfillment of our potential, holding us in a psychological prison. Hence the search for oneness…While practicing the movements, we face these fragments of our personality, and some distance is created. You face it, and you let go, you face it, and you let go. The quality of attention required by these strange “sacred” movements does not let you hold on. And the coming back again and again simply to the sensations in the body- breathing, weight, alignment, and the energy flow. Such is the dance of attention.