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210 Psychological Explorations for Objective & Compassionate Self-Study: 2015-2019

210 Psychological Explorations for Objective & Compassionate Self-Study: 2015-2019

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210 Psychological Explorations for Objective & Compassionate Self-Study: 2015-2019

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610 pagine
7 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 3, 2020
ISBN:
9781098329297
Formato:
Libro

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All too often psychological self-study and self-evolution is either theoretical which only serves to stimulate our intellectual mind. More is needed and these exercises and themes focus on the process of experiential learning involving all of our major parts; body, emotions and mind. You are the person that needs to learn to study and experience yourself, and accept what you learn and find. This process of self-study and acceptance is transformational and transmutational. These exercises have been worked on by a group over a four-year period and have provided increased learning for each person. Now they can be used by anyone with any particular background, be it Gurdjieff or other practices, or any particular line of development or spiritual discipline. All that is necessary is an honest wish to learn about oneself. All lines of authentic experiential inner work lead to the same source.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 3, 2020
ISBN:
9781098329297
Formato:
Libro

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210 Psychological Explorations for Objective & Compassionate Self-Study - Russell Schreiber

210 Psychological Explorations

for Objective & Compassionate Self-Study

2015 - 2019

Copyright

2020

by Russell Schreiber.

All rights reserved. No portion of this book, except for brief review, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without written permission of the publisher.

Published by Present Moment Press, Sebastopol, CA,

95472

For permissions, ordering and interest in online groups please contact dr.russellschreiber@gmail.com.

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-In-Publication Data

210 Psychological Explorations

for Objective & Compassionate Self-Study

2015 - 2019

Based on Gurdjieff's Transformational System

Russell Schreiber

ISBN

978

-

0

-

98492

-

281

-

9

eBook

978

-

1

-

09832

-

929

-

7

Contents

Acknowledgements & Dedication

Weekly Focus Dates

Final Thoughts

Appendix 1: Somatic Exercises

Notes

Bibliography

Acknowledgements & Dedication

Dedication: This Book is Dedicated to the Members of the Monday Group

My great thanks go to Mr. Gurdjieff. I realize that I would never have had the opportunity to live a meaningful life had it not been for the inspiration I received from his profound legacy: his writings, the Movements, and the example of his life and efforts. I wish to thank my teachers Willem A. Nyland, Annie Lou Staveley, Dr. John Lester, and George and Mary Cornelius, and all those who supported them in their Work.

The scaffolding of the Work is built on a foundation of being-Partkdolg-duty and the Five Obligolnian Strivings. Each member of this group has been a part of actualizing these seven integrated aspects of Work. This integration can only be done in group work where we simultaneously become more interdependent as we develop self-individuality. I want to thank every person in our group who has worked hard these past years and contributed to each other’s growth.

I wish to honor the work of the following individuals: Alan Markowitz, Anthony Tan, Carol Cannon, Carol Vermilyea, Diane Banic, Elizabeth Brown, Erin Wigger, Gail Rasmussen, John Douglas, Leah Markowitz, Mary Mills, Marcia Paul, Michael Hurd, Michael Rasmussen, Mark Smith, Michael Messina, Mona Nicolae, Peter Soumalias, Phil Cain, Randy Sachter, Ronald Jones, Sandy McCabe, Sandra Whitmore, and Sandra Lee Jones.

My heartfelt thanks to Michael Rasmussen who has been instrumental in formulating the concept for the book, and managing editing, layout and book cover design. Michael met with me in Moab to work through the manuscript’s details and provided tireless enthusiasm and good will in this endeavor.

I thank Alan Markowitz who has taken responsibility for pre-publication and managing the book publishing process, a complex task given all his other responsibilities.

I thank Gail Rasmussen for her continued goodwill, piano playing and music organization, and her energy of continued positivity supporting the group work.

Special thanks to Mark Smith and Randy Sachter for providing the hospitality of their home and beautiful movements hall for members to come together.

Finally, thanks to my wife Elizabeth Schreiber for all her support in group work and leading the Movements classes during the past

35

years.

Psychological Focuses For Group & Individual Work

Introduction

This is a collection of focuses for group and individual psychological exploration. It represents a four-year time period our group has worked together. At times the themes, concepts and exercises explored changed on a weekly basis, and at times were worked on for longer time periods. Periodically, specific themes that called for more investigation were returned to.

These concepts, practices and themes for self-study utilized many practices from the Gurdjieff Work. However, all the practices, exercises and concepts for self-study are equally applicable to any line of authentic inner evolution. I am a believer in the concept that, There is but one God. The definition of God has individual meaning for every person, but ultimately the recognition of the meaning of God must be connected with finding human and individual purpose. The Gurdjieff Work adds a cosmology in which every authentic religion and practice of methodology of inner evolution has a place.

The emphasis of all the work is more psychological than is usual for individual and group work. The reason for this is that I am a psychologist and have found it important for those involved in the process of inner evolution, whether it be Buddhism, other inner practices or the Gurdjieff Work, to become more familiar with their own psychology and prematurely dismiss current psychological practices and concepts that are useful. Developing an observing I which is a requirement of the Gurdjieff work, or developing an embodied spiritual self requires psychological study, work practices and understanding coming from many different areas of human experience. There is important meaning one can derive from looking at many interesting aspects of human psychology that cannot simply be gleaned from the Work books in the Gurdjieff line or from reading the masters of any line of inner work. Also, I believe it is time for those of us involved in carrying human evolution forward in the Work, and in other lines, to do new exploration rather than simply repeat what others have done without doing our own exploration. These themes contain new exploration in new directions

The themes bring focus on complex psychological explorations of who we really are. Having Gurdjieff, or a Work leader, or mindfulness practitioner tell you the truth of inner concepts without your actually experiencing their psychological truth for yourself is useless. In order to become a real man or woman, you need to have your own understanding that can only come from personal experience and that experience must be real and verified by you, and not consist of stringing together observations that simply match up with work ideas or the ideas of a group leader or guru.

There is an extra emphasis in these focuses on our experience of the emotion fear and the place it occupies in our lives. Fear is a psychological arena that remains relatively unexplored in all areas of personal growth and psychology. I find that fear in its role in determining our unbecoming behavior has not been sufficiently studied; and our dysfunctional behavior cannot be really be understood without understanding fear and how to work with it in oneself. It may very well be that one of the greatest effects on human behavior is connected with our inability to experience fear.

Gurdjieff was reported to have said that one of the signs of the development of real being in an individual is the ability to bear the unpleasant manifestations of others. This is a clue as to the direction in which we need to proceed. This phrase does not mean that while living in my own self-centered world I must somehow simply learn to tolerate the unpleasant behavior of others in a dismissive way. This would only be a superficial interpretation of Gurdjieff’s statement. Recognizing that each of us is imprisoned in our automatic, unconscious behavior is one of the keys to developing compassion. Gurdjieff directs us to learn how to consider other people, to understand how they are caught just as we are, and respond to the real needs of the person or situation. Psychology offers many tools to accomplish this.

Another aspect of the work undertaken were somatic (body) exercises that were demonstrated during meetings to provide and platform for studying oneself through the effort of integration of mind and body and the resultant emotional friction produced. In Appendix II you will find a sampling of a number of somatic exercises. These exercises address a fundamental deficit in almost all inner practices for self-evolution and that is the tendency to over-emphasis on our mind, on the intellectual part of oneself. Brining in the body is a way to both integrate mind and body also will result in our emotions being activated. The somatic exercises are given as a means of requiring additional integrative effort that is different from thinking, sitting meditation, or sharing our experiences through speaking about them.

I have found that in order to help another person, I must fully enter into their experience. To do this requires that I not judge them, but rather understand, accept, and have compassion for them. It took me some time to realize that real acceptance of this other person was dependent on the degree of self-acceptance and self-compassion I had developed. Developing a unique part of myself that is truthful, non-judgmental, and know and understands every part of my being becomes a prerequisite for self-understanding.

Working as a psychologist continually highlights compassion as a key ingredient of facilitating transformation in my work with clients. I discovered that self-understanding is directly related to compassion and is based on two interconnected abilities: the ability to self-study to gather facts of my behavior and the ability to accept these facts. These two abilities, to gather through self-study and to fully accept what is collected, if correctly integrated lead to transformation of being and self-compassion.

Therefore, the main emphasis of our group’s work has been the application of the methods and practices of inner study with the aim of developing compassionate understanding of oneself and others. With the development of self-compassion and compassion for others, it becomes possible to achieve a correct relationship with all those who are children of a Common Father.

This has been a very enjoyable project because it has been done with the hope that it may prove useful for individuals and groups who are engaged in the Gurdjieff Work and also other practices of inner evolution. The study of oneself and the larger Cosmos of which we are a part are truly a gift that needs to be more thoroughly treasured. Although there are numerous practices that point toward inner evolution, there are few that contain a cosmology that highlights and activates for humankind the intuitive and instinctive understanding of its place in the Cosmos. The Gurdjieff Work gives this gift of announcing to us our place and purpose in the Creation, and simultaneously places an obligation on each of us to evolve so that we can help in this creation

August 11, 2014

Anxiety as a fuel

to remind me about my deeper need to learn about myself.

Learning about my anxiety as a means to remember myself and be self-conscious.

Our need is to constantly work with the basic concepts as a pre-requisite for being able to look at more subtle and complex issues of our behavior. Work is very akin to learning to play a musical instrument, or learn a part to act in a play, or learn to dance in particular manner. Each of us must learn about our instrument, in this case it is the human body including its feelings, emotions and aspirations

.

Basics

Aim: I must study myself to know and understand myself and verify that I am not awake, but live in a waking-sleeping state of existence.

I wish to experience and live in a state of self-consciousness.

How to study oneself:

I develop an impartial and compassionate part of my being that can collect and contain the truth of my behavior and my emotional, cognitive, somatic and spiritual experience.

I begin with the body as a basis for my behavior.

Sensing is a tool that requires attention to the sensitive energy in the body. It is called up by directing our attention to our limbs and other parts of our bodies.

Compassion for myself is an aid in my self-study that allows for the development of increased interest as I learn more about myself.

Self-understanding will allow us to connect with objective conscience and develop essence.

Learning to use my body to help me remember myself, shifting my weight, noticing my breathing, etc. All these are aides to allow me to gain impressions of myself, to feed a part of me that can simply notice my being alive when I wish it to.

Fear/Anxiety & Safety

Fear and the need for safety are fertile areas for self-study. Fear and anxiety can serve as alarm clocks for us. They tell us we are identified, asleep, and that perhaps a molehill has become a mountain. Until we come to know fear in ourselves, we cannot even imagine the extent to which it runs our lives. Fear causes the release of certain hormones in our bodies. To be afraid continually can be devastating to our physical and mental health. Until I came to realize the degree of fear I had and worked with this emotion, I did not understand what it feels like to have moments where fear did not direct my actions.

What are we afraid of? People can be afraid of anything: another person, a situation, the past, present, or future.

Modern psychology is simply not studying these areas in a living environment and they are almost impossible to objectively study as a researcher by observing others from the outside. The mechanics of our emotional life can only be experientially studied. I am sure they will provide you with an inexhaustible amount of information for your self-study.

The increased frontal-lobe capacity of our intellectual brain compared with those of other animals gives us the ability to imagine our future. Thus, we can make ourselves afraid of anything and everything. I believe the dysregulated experience of fear is an effect of Kundabuffer. That we have developed so many fears about the future, about situations that may never occur, about our health, and so on, seems indicative of a phantasmal perception of the world. Truly, we are seeing the world upside-down.

Studying Fear and Anxiety

Try the following steps:

First, make a list of all the things, situations, and people that make you feel afraid. What may seem like an intellectual exercise actually has practical value. The task of bringing confused, fearful thoughts and situations clearly into focus will change your relationship to those thoughts and situations. Then you can engage the fears that operate at the preconscious level. Often, we may notice something just below the surface of our usual state, but our attention is so quickly distracted that we usually do not pay it any mind.

It is difficult to become aware of preconscious material unless it comes fully into your consciousness. For example, something is bothering you physically, but the unpleasant sensation is just beneath the surface of your awareness; and yet, some part of you notices. It is like a skin irritation or the beginning of a muscle ache, or a cold is starting. Only when the ache reaches a certain level do you notice it. However, were you to look back carefully, you would realize you had experienced several moments where this ache had poked into your consciousness.

Second, pick one of the fears from your list that has a strong influence on your behavior, one you really want to work with. Let us say the fear you choose is about money. You may feel you never have enough money; you live with this fear constantly. Regardless of their financial circumstances and how rich they may be, many people live in fear of not having enough money. The fears surrounding money seem universal. For example, I find that couples that come to see me for help and have been together many years, have never discussed money. They are afraid to discuss their finances, due to the fears such a discussion would engender.

It is very important to get a taste of how topsy-turvy fear makes our lives. We fantasize about fearsome events and the reaction pulls our attention away from the present moment. Gradually, we lose our ability to live in the present—the future seems so much more dire and immediate. Most of the fears we continually experience are clues that we are identified and feel unsafe.

Fear & Money

Here is a practice to help you become familiar with your fears surrounding money. You may need to do preparatory work before you actually can be present to experience your fear.

Sit quietly for ten minutes with your eyes closed.

Intentionally think of an issue about money that is bothering you—that is, where some fear has attached itself.

Imagine the worst thing that could happen in this scary situation. For example, my checks will bounce; I won’t be able to pay back my friend; others will think I am a failure, etc.

Make this imagining as real as possible; flesh out the images to make them realistic. In other words, names, dates, places.

For five minutes, while maintaining the image you have created, pay attention to the sensations that arise or occur in your throat, upper chest and stomach area.

Try for five more minutes to maintain the fearful image while slightly emphasizing your bodily sensations.

This practice will facilitate your learning about yourself. It is not to become another avenue for self-criticism, but simply a practice to stimulate your interest in understanding your own fear. It will help you to gain self-compassion through engaging your attention on the fear. Don’t overdo it! Ten minutes, no longer, is enough.

If you familiarize yourself with the sensations

that accompany your experience of fear, you will see that the intellectual center alone is inadequate for self-observation when it comes to strong emotions like fear and shame. You must study your fear and other strong emotions not only with your mind, but experientially and somatically. If you can tolerate fear/anxiety in this way, it helps to study your fear/anxiety in actual life situations; practicing in this way will help you prepare by becoming familiar with the bodily sensations that accompany such emotions

The exercise shown above is one example of how to use the body to help with self-observation. Such a practice is also useful for studying other strong negative emotions, such as shame, anger, jealousy, anxiety, and greed. I have used these exercises myself to learn about my strong emotions, such as anxiety. Gradually, a desensitization to my anxiety occurs, along with the exhilarating observation that some other part of me exists separately from my anxiety and even my need to be safe.

October 13, 2014

The Octave or Law of Sevenfoldness

Is it possible to experience this fundamental law of the Universe?

Pick an aim, perhaps a small aim that you have put off or a larger aim that you have been unable to work at.

During the week, make a decision to work on your aim.

Notice what happens inside you as you struggle to complete or even begin working on your aim.

One of the things that it is possible for me to notice is that rarely do I stay at one level of consciousness or energy for any long period of time. This can easily be seen in the way my different Is compete and change from minute to minute. I am enthusiastic about a project and then when confronted by resistance, a particular I drops it and another I takes over and does something else. My energy goes up with the enthusiasm and down with the resistance. And so it goes, my level of energy and consciousness moving up or down and rarely static, only slowing down for a longer period during my physical sleep.

Each of us can notice and verify for his or herself how their energy and consciousness is changing during their waking-sleeping state. Nowhere is this so evident as when I take an aim for myself. This is where I can have an experience of the law of sevenfoldness.

Any activity that I begin can run down without my noticing it. I might start to clean a room, write a paper, or attend a yoga class. Gradually, these activities can run down. I may leave the activity planning to return to it, but I don’t. It is in the very nature of the octave itself. Unless I hold my attention on my aim to complete what I have started, many of my intentions go unrealized. Gurdjieff says:

The principle of the

discontinuity of vibration

means the definite and necessary characteristic of all vibrations in nature, whether ascending or descending, to develop

not uniformly

but with periodical accelerations and retarda­tions. This principle can be formulated still more precisely if we say that the force of the original impulse in vibrations does not act uniformly but, as it were, becomes alternately stronger and weaker.¹

This week, see if you can verify what Gurdjieff said, or perhaps your experience is different. Look for the slowing down in your energy and consciousness, noticing it and experiencing this slowing or resistance is the beginning of understanding the octave or different energy. If I am unaware of this slowing down, I will forget that to complete my aim I must pass through the interval and this requires something new. If I don’t obtain it, the octave will stop moving upwards towards my goal and mechanically descend, ending back at its starting point. Octaves never stand still; they are always ascending or descending.

Practices to Gather New Impressions of Myself

Directing my attention.

Noticing what is new.

Sensing my body, a posture, a limb, my facial expression, gestures, general bodily movements etc.

Connecting my three centers through simple somatic exercises linking my cognitive part with my body through my wish to be present to my existence—foot, toe, heel, etc. Struggling with a rhythm, etc.

All of these practices require me to expend effort in new ways.

October 20, 2014

Sadness

Are you able to experience this emotion?

Is it covered over and/or are there other emotions present with it at times; if so, what are they?

Where does the experience manifest in your body.

What happens to sadness usually, i.e. does it just pass away, do you distract from it, is it confusing, etc.?

If you are sad, can you sense your body and be present with it, noticing it, but not entirely taken by it, compassionate toward yourself and interested in your emotional state without analyzing yourself?

Sadness

Sadness is a natural human emotion (affect) that very often is covered up unconsciously by people. Instead of experiencing sadness, I defend against it by being angry, feeling out of sorts or in some way, cover it over or distract myself so that I do not have to experience sadness. The latter has become habitual and is epidemic. A great deal of human activity such as that of consumerism, addictive drinking, gambling, and other such distractions can be painful attempts to avoid experiencing sadness.

What does the effect of sadness feel like inside you and where in your body do you notice it? Why would it be important to actually pay attention to sadness for those involved in the Work? The aim here is not to analyze every aspect of our sadness, but rather to learn to remain in touch with it, be present with it and use it to fuel self-consciousness. This is where observation of our emotional life can be valuable to us.

Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy love to analyze to death all the different emotional states, but that is not our aim here. In fact, our aim is scientific. By simply coming to a state of self-consciousness and awareness, while remaining in touch with my sadness in my body, my sadness can serve two purposes. The first purpose is to help me remain present in the moment and give my nascent real I a focus for observation (experience). The second purpose is to help me build the ability to tolerate difficult emotions without needing to distract myself or suppress or repress whatever emotional experience I am having. Thus, I get new impressions, plus I build an emotional container capable of handling all of the emotions that human beings experience.

October 27,2014

Photographs of Oneself—of My Lived Experience

Stop in a posture at any time that it is safe.

Sense your body.

Maintain the posture until you are aware of your existence, sensing your entire body, and noticing your emotional state if possible.

Only, if you are sensing and are aware of your existence, notice the repetition of association in any center.

Notice your muscular tension in any part of your body without attempting to change it in any way.

Photographs

It is so interesting that we love to take photographs of ourselves and others. Selfies are the current rage due to our cell phones that can takes still photos and videos of us. What is this really all about and what are we trying to capture?

In many ways we are a culture that teaches us to be obsessed with our own uniqueness. This uniqueness is correlated with how we look, how we appear to others, how we dress, speak, think, express ourselves, etc. None of this is bad, it just is. The uniqueness of each of us is actually true and we do not need to manufacture it. In fact, if I could just be my unique self, it would take a huge load off of me emotionally. I have found that in order to access my uniqueness I need to become experientially familiar with who I have come to be. Photos of my exterior body at different times in my life give me but the smallest glimpse of my experience in a particular moment. What is of real value to me are inner experiential photos, snapshots that I take in the moment and that become for me an experiential album in memory.

No other person can take these inner photos of me. Others might sometimes can shock me into noticing my entire self in a moment. Often this occurs accompanied by shame. Or, I can have an embarrassing moment and these moments stay in my mind and are accompanied by attempts not to remember them. On the other hand, if I can stop for

30

seconds in a posture during the day, catch the flavor of my body’s posture through sensing, note my emotional state and/or thoughts, notice the tension in my muscles or my temperature or pain my neck, or tension in my eyes, then I have something that is mine. My real I can and will take note of my existence and experience if I act as if it is possible.

I also do not have to try to freeze what is happening inside me. In fact, these photos of me being still outwardly can contain many impressions of my emotions, thoughts, and sensations, all in movement within. All of these impressions can be available in these photos, almost like mini-videos. I gently pay attention to myself existing without having to judge, and accepting whatever impressions are received.

Work as if you can take these inner photos.

November 3, 2014

Law of Three

Pick some aim for the day. It might be as simple as doing something you have been putting off. For example, cleaning a room and remaining aware of each movement of your body through sensing as you clean. This is a small example of conscious labor. It is easier to begin with small tasks.

Notice what happens when you seek to fulfill this aim. Perhaps little things pull you away, you get tired, or interested in something else, or you do not have the time to do it, etc.

If you can persist in your aim, pay particular attention to your frustrations while accomplishing or not being able to accomplish it. Of course, you will need to pick some aim that is somewhat difficult for you and not simply something you enjoy doing, in order that frustration can raise its head. Then you may get a chance to see the Law of Three at work.

Your effort to accomplish your aim is the active force. The resistance or passive force will be everything, inner and outer, that gets in your way. The reconciling force is more difficult to see. You have to discover this force inside you and see how it works in your own experience, how it tastes. If you are able to stay with your aim, simply try to notice what makes it possible to stick with it.

One of our great misunderstandings in an attempt to grasp the Law of Sevenfoldness and Law of Three is that we do not look for their manifestations in the right places. We spend an inordinate amount of time reading books others have written about these Laws. They were combined in a symbol that Gurdjieff brought to us that is called the enneagram. Authors have picked up bits and pieces of psychology and even written whole books about enneagram types. In my opinion, most of what we learn from reading—with few exceptions—will remain strictly an intellectual exercise for us unless we do our own research to find these laws in our experience.

I have found that I can only understand these two great laws through finding them first within my own life. Thus, my objective understanding of them is a function of how well I understand myself. Once we understand the operation of the Laws within our lives, we may then also see how they work in the world at large. These two objective laws manifest even within my subjectivity, and this subjectivity is a perfect starting point for my study. The Laws are at work in my anger, my useless movements, my daydreams, my inability to maintain an aim, my internal considering, and all the rest of my mechanical behavior. In fact, it is just in my subjective experience that I can find myriad examples of their manifestations. We cannot understand the Laws merely theoretically, and no one can teach them to us; rather, we must earn the privilege.

Every manifestation is the result of three separate forces, the affirming, the denying, and the reconciling. Gurdjieff calls them Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, and Holy Reconciling. After seeing them in ourselves, we may understand why he regards them as sacred. For example, when you try to accomplish anything in your life, you can look at your effort as an affirming, active, or positive force. If you take notice of what actually happens, you can find your efforts are always met with resistance: a negative, passive, receptive, or denying force. The denying force includes extraneous environmental factors and intrapersonal factors that deflect initial activity away from its intended aim. However, if you take this resistance into account and treat it as feedback, you can make a correction. Feedback and correction lie in the arena of the reconciling force, the third, or neutralizing force. We can see that the reconciling process is required in steering a car, where we receive feedback from our surroundings and make continuous small corrections with small movements of the steering wheel. On an emotional level I can experience the reconciling force when I simultaneously recognize and bear both the positive and negative aspects of my own behavior. The reconciling force requires this effort of recognition and remains invisible without this intentional effort.

Any project I undertake is an arena where I can study the workings of the Law of Three in my life. If I do not understand the Law of Three, its relationship to the octave and the need for additional effort at certain moments, most processes either run down and amount to nothing, or change their nature and even may become their own opposite.

Often, these primordial laws remain a mystery to people in the Work because they have not worked with them experientially; that is, they have not looked for them in the subjective experience of their lives. Our individual, subjective lives are important in the scheme of things, and each of us has the opportunity to understand these laws in the midst of our lives.

If I really engage my subjectivity, amplify aspects of it, and participate in it, then I can gain a wealth of personal knowledge. I may even see the workings of the two great laws. The knowledge I gain is mine independent of any book I might read.

I can find the manifestation of the Law of Three in the very process of self-observation. I wish to observe myself and try to do it. Then, there is the resistance of my waking-sleeping state—that is, my tendency toward automatism, toward my usual habit patterns. Then there is some result. Where could the reconciling force come in during self-observation?

I have found I need to maintain a certain stance toward my own work, keeping my mind clearly on the Law of Three. Without such clarity, my work will become negative or even stop. My stance is composed of three elements: (

1

) observation (affirming); (

2

) acceptance of what I observe or experience (receptive); and (

3

) compassion toward myself (reconciling). Without self-compassion that acts for me as the reconciling force, my self-observation can easily end in negative inner commentary, making further self-observation—much less, transformation—impossible. What I then would achieve in lieu of self-observation would be a mixture of bits and pieces of self-knowledge, with the simultaneous arising of an automat, or a gatekeeper, a critical, shaming entity that might stymie any further development.

November 10, 2014

Attitudes

What do I know about my attitudes and how could they help me in my work to wake up? Attitudes are usually unconscious patterns of thought, feeling and bodily responses to stimuli in our environment. For the purpose of our study here, attitudes are neither good nor bad, but instead are simply behaviors that we have acquired in life.

Attitudes represent a special form of identification in that they pervade our level of consciousness without our recognition of them. We may notice a habitual behavior pattern around how we respond to a test or meeting with relatives. Generally, I realize that the test or meeting makes me uneasy. The attitude that sets the stage for my fear of the test or getting together with my relatives may be subtle and more difficult to notice. Attitudes are similar to narratives or stories that become embedded in me. I may notice a story I am telling myself about myself, another person or situation, or a story about my life.

Prejudices are examples of frozen attitudes that arise in us when we see a person of another race, religion, or personality type or when we face a new situation. The etiology, or causative history, of an attitude may be difficult to find, even though we are affected by it constantly. Think about your attitude toward homeless people or people of another race, religion, or occupation. For example, if you just think about a military man or a priest, notice how different your attitudes to these two individuals might be. Do you get a sense of the incredible effect attitudes have on your life? Attitudes directly influence your emotional center. We are swimming in our sea of attitudes every moment, yet we think we are on land.

It is useful to recognize two important attitudes in yourself: (

1

) your overall attitude toward your own life in particular; and (

2

) your attitude toward life in general. When we look at others, it seems easy to recognize an optimist or pessimist. However, it is not so simple to categorize our own over-all attitude toward life.

Orage says:

In every case their dominant attitude is decisive of every subordinate attitude. For instance, if your characteristic attitude towards life is gloomy, even your occasional moods of cheerfulness will be affected; they will in all probability be both intense and brief. … All religions and similar systems aim, in short, at inducing in us a useful attitude towards life; an attitude that is, in which we can act freely and usefully as regards our own ends or somebody else’s. Some religions and systems, for instance, try to induce an attitude of submission towards life, with the design of making use of us for their own advantage. Others—but very few—aim at evoking an active or creative attitude towards life in us with the objective of enlisting our voluntary co-operation. And all alike proceed by a common method, namely, by changing our imagination of life.²

We each have an image about our life that delineates a pattern in our emotional center. Our imagination influences our emotional center directly. The links between the imagination, our emotional states, and our attitudes may seem plausible when we think about them. However, to understand them, I must investigate these connections through self-study and see how they influence my life.

One chapter in Orage’s book The Active Mind is entitled Life as Gymnastics. In it, Orage speaks of the gymnasium as a symbol of the need for exercise of a special type, from which we can extract what we need from our lives. He says we have degraded the image of the gymnasium. We only see it as a structure to keep the physical body healthy. In ancient Greece, it was not only a place to exercise, but also a forum for lectures and discussions of philosophy, medicine, and literature. In Germany and Russia, up until the twentieth century, the gymnasium was a preparatory school for university applicants. Thus, the gymnasium was a place of discovery and creativity. Orage says, Moderns will find what the ancient Greeks found in this image of life—the evocation of creative emotion. ³ I believe he is referring to those of us in the Work as the Moderns. How might it be if we used our own attitudes as a means of becoming as flexible as a yogi in the gymnasium of life? If we do not examine and exercise our attitudes, somehow making them more flexible, then we become rigid, frozen, and emotionally moribund. Let us look at different areas in our lives to find attitudes for self-study.

Cultivating interest in my behavior and studying and understanding my existence is the field where self-study and capturing impressions is possible.

Development of my human capacities to capture impressions depends on practice.

Self-remembering is a multi-faceted practice to capture impressions.

Acceptance and compassion of all impressions I receive and experience is the required.

Practices to Gather New Impressions of Myself

Directing my attention.

Noticing what is new.

Sensing my body, a posture, a limb, my facial expression, gestures, general bodily movements etc.

Connecting my three centers through simple somatic exercises linking my cognitive part with my body through my wish to be present to my existence—foot, toe, heal, etc. Struggling with a rhythm, etc.

All of these practices require me to expend effort in new ways.

November 17, 2014

More Attitudes

*Note: There is a lot of different material that has been presented to work with over the past weeks and you do not have to do everything or feel guilty about not doing something. Rather, find what is right for you at this time and work with that.

What is right is what helps you find your way home to your real self. At times this might be sitting quietly for

15

minutes. At another time, it is sensing your body and/or beginning your day with the

16

-Point exercise. Each of you is different and you need to find what is useful for you at this time. Finding your way toward your real self is not about beating oneself up for what one is not doing, but rather using your intelligence to work on what helps you to become a harmonious self-conscious person.

**Please note the following for the

16

-Point Exercise: Let the 16-point exercise stand on its own without any additions—just moving sensing around the limbs.

Let go of any additional movements of attention or head movements as these were added to exercise your attention to prepare for more complex somatic exercises.

Bennett’s 16-point Exercise—Preparation for the Experience of Sensing

Relax; sit quietly for ten minutes, leaving your ordinary life.

Place a gentle attention on the entire right arm: from the shoulder to the tips of the fingers. If your attention wanders, gently bring it back. Place your attention on the limb for no more than six breaths.

Move the attention to the right leg: from hip to the toes as

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