Some further thoughts on embodiment work

When I first learned about the paratheatre technique, one problem I had with it was that I felt there was something missing from the explanation of the embodied space. Well more than something...a number of things actually. First what was missing was a concrete explanation of how we move through space. It seems to me that most people take movement for granted and consequently move in a very unconscious manner. I've observed as well that people, in American culture move in a very linear line like manner, 2D movement really. We aren't taught to recognize how our bodies could move. I had to turn to Laban's work on movement to find a comprehensive manual that explored movement and showed possible ways to move that I hadn't considered before. Learning this kind of movement has proven useful for fully doing internal work with my body as an active component of that internal work (i.e. dance and performance art movements).

Second what was missing was understanding space from a social perspective. In general when the word space is brought up it usually makes one think of the darkness of space. But anthropologist Edward T. Hall explored the concept of social spaces and how people interact in them with each other and with objects in the room. As a result of reading his work I came to really understand how much we even embody objects with personification as a way of filling up space. The way a given culture sets up a physical space is indicative of how that culture processes space from an emotional/intellectual perspective, and also how people define themselves within given spaces.

With these two considerations of space in hand, it's been much easier to integrate paratheatre to my meditation work, because I now can consider how I move and how that movement expresses and changes an embodied space I've created, while also recognizing the cultural influences that shape my understanding of that space. Finally, and perhaps most important, I can be much more aware of how my body feels when I move, how it expresses the concept I'm working with through movement, and how that concept is or isn't expressed in my environment everyday.

Doing this work is creating some interesting realizations. I like where its taking me, as well as what I can learn about my body and the relationship I have with it and the environment around me, and how my body expresses the subconscious with its movement and interaction with space.

Embodiment magic

A while back I'd written about some of my experiences with Laban, a form of physical movement. My main purpose for studying Laban was to learn more about the spatial realities of the body as well as how it moves through space, something I considered essential for really getting the methodology of paratheatre, which Antero Alli writes about quite a bit. Since I don't have access to Mr. Alli's classes on paratheatre, utilizing Laban, which admittedly provides a much better explanation of physical movement through space, proved essential for being able to integrate paratheatre into my magical practice. Recently I decided to try out my first paratheatre ritual. I've recently been doing some internal work around intimacy and my issues with being intimate and also being in relationships (friendship or otherwise) where there wasn't much intimacy. I thought it might be useful to embody intimacy or at least try to, using paratheatre. I felt that integrating my body fully into the embodiment was essential for really communicating with my subconscious about intimacy and the issues surrounding it.

I felt very vulnerable when I invoked intimacy into my state of no-form and began to move. In a sense I felt like a child, innocent and unsure of myself, experiencing something for myself that I wasn't really certain of. Intimacy for me involved opening up and so I initially started out very shielded in how I positioned my arms and legs and gradually I began to loosen them and from that loosened my body up further, gradually allowing myself to feel a state of what I would consider to be gentle warmth. Sometimes I would hug myself or gently touch my shoulder or leg. I wasn't striving to be sensual, and I didn't feel that way. But I did feel intimate with myself in a manner that invited myself to be gentle and loving.

As I experienced this feeling of intimacy I paid attention to thoughts, feelings, and whatever else came to my experience that would help me communicate with my issues around intimacy. I learned quite a bit about how I sometimes make it hard to accept what someone wants to give, but also how much I've picked relationships with people (friends and lovers) that didn't necessarily invite intimacy into my life.

When I was ready, I put myself back into no-form and grounded the sensation and feeling of intimacy...but after the working I also felt more comfortable when my partner offered it to me, and also was more aware of what has informed my tendency to fantasize about intimacy. I'll definitely be using paratheatre in the future for some of my internal work, and I have to say that learning about Laban really did help with integrating paratheatre into my magical practice.

"Forget Time to Find Yourself"

I've been reading Toward an Archaeology of the Soul by Antero Alli. I've met Antero once and we talked for about half an hour, and I've read his first book on the eight circuit model, but this work resonates with me a lot more, because in it, I see elements of my own practices and experiences. the embracing of the void, the assumption of no form, the intense working with a particular issue or element in your life are themes of both our work. I've decided I'm going to integrate the paratheatre method into some of my workings. I think it could only enhance what I'm already doing. Tonight, at the experimenter group, we did a working with time utilizing my recent work with elephant. First we did the exercise from The Possible Human, where you become different units of time, to set the proper frame of mind. Then, I passed around the painting and my statue of Elephant that I use to commune with him, asking each person to look at the painting, to imprint the symbol in their mind, and touch the statue to feel the essence of elephant guide them on a journey in time. I went on my own meditation as well.

On my journey, I was reminded by Elephant that I still focused too much on the future and past. I was too caught up in the what ifs. I'll admit, this is something I continue to struggle with. In some ways I live entirely too much in my head and in those what ifs, for escape, for fantasy, but also a vivid imagination. He said it blocked me from being as aware as I needed to be of the present and just living in the moment.

Still, I have to admit that what really hit me tonight were the words that M, one of the other participants shared about his own experience with Elephant. He said he was told, "Forget Time to find yourself." And as much as I recognize that phrase was for M, I also felt it was for me. I'm caught in linear time, focused on the future, focused on the past, but not in the present. It's in forgetting linear time, forgetting that tendency to focus on the extremes of time, and to be in the present, aware of the opportunity in the now that I could find myself. I feel as if I heard a key click in a door and since Elephant is the gatekeeper of time...