The BEGINNERS' MIND Lab featured a group of mostly newcomers to this work (eight out of eleven participants) creating for me an opportunity to return to the basic fundamentals of this medium as a facilitator. Some structures and rituals were taken from "Towards an Archeology of the Soul" and some were new and original to this particular group. This predominantly newbie group demonstrated an uncommon commitment to the physical warm-up, resulting in an ever-increasing quality to their work. -- Antero
When I walked into the Lab I had no idea what awaited me. Its hard to encapsulate the lab/work in words - perhaps its best left as a clean experience. Rather than comment on the experience which is very personal and perhaps someone without my personal reference point will not know what its about, I would like to share what became possible because of the work. It turned out to be three big things for me specifically
1. An education in increasing my vocabulary of movement -
both in terms of getting more in touch with my impulses and
also knowing what is possible for me to experience
2. Creating a relationship with space itself - this shift though
seemingly subtle is a big aha - takes me right into a mushin state
of readiness/receptivity which is key in any good martial art
3. Lastly but not the least - it has helped me re-connect with
my own roots/history and now I am on my way back to it in this
year to see what awaits for me on that side
Now after stating what I have gained from it I will highlight the process that from my perspective at this point in time (Nov 2007) were truly eye/experience opening for me
1. the work with personal polarity - enabled me to experience
them as a spectrum rather than either/or
2. the vertical connection/access - as a vehicle to open up to
impressions and power
3. ritual technology of self initiation itself - where the responsibility and
opportunity to open oneself to something new is available to each one of us
4. engaging the imagery that emerges from the body proper as one moves,
and learning to create a relationship with it to see what unfolds
I will close this brief lab report with saying I don't have words to encapsulate the experience nor do they effectively communicate something which is very preverbal. Its has been a gift to be able to engage in Lab and I personally will look forward to more opportunities when they present themselves.
-- Mayur Lunia
This was my first experience with Paratheatrical Research. I came upon the information online while doing my own research around images and themes that had been coming to me in my daily musings. The information, essays, images, and ideas expressed sucked me in and down. As a performer, it resonated an approach I feel I had tasted in the most precious of moments while training – that is technical and expressive work without attention to product, audience, or performance. On a personal level, the medium appeared to offer a space of exploration in areas in which I was currently grappling – namely - the Ladder of consciousness and awareness, the Shadow in all of its interpretations, and the path to know and change myself in my relationships with myself and the world around me.
The 8-week Lab was an experiential and technical introduction to the Paratheatrical medium. Its guiding thread was on Empowering the Energetic Body. Technically, the work happened through No-Form practice, exercises to develop personal and group devices to facilitate the ritual engagement with Source Energies, and facilitated rituals of Source Energy engagement. Personally, for me, the work called for commitment, courage, honesty, trust, and compassion. An overall journey into the understanding of integrity. Of course I did not always answer to this call, it was very difficult and, at times, this call seemed, and may well be, completely mad.
The initial weeks’ sessions revealed a deeper access, localization, and sensing of myself, my Energetic Body, simultaneously stimulating this/these Bodies and exploring my relationships to Source Energies, usually through polarization rituals. No-Form was the neutralization point, the starting and ending for all actions. No-Form provided a backbone to support the ventures in all directions. Equally central to the work for me was the ongoing challenge of directing my attention on the space itself, not on my ideas or feelings, but on what was outside of me.
As the sessions continued, the themes turned toward work in more personal areas of our lives, delving into the realm of shadows. Some of forces which were approached included: Self Negation / Self Affirmation, Forgiveness/Blame, Savior/Victim/Persecutor, Goodness/Evil, Mother/Child/Father, etc. The final sessions addressed power loss and power gain. Where attention to Power Loss / Power Gain was present in many of the rituals, we met them directly through other Sources such as Power Loss / Gain in Masculine/Feminine Energy or head on as Sources unto themselves. The final rituals were set to confront our personal Demon that drains our power and seek to reclaim this energy.
I let myself be confounded. By directing my attention onto the space outside of myself with the intention to connect with specific forces, I discovered and witnessed new self-knowledge, greater honest emotional expression, and mysterious physical reactions. There is a likeness in every moment to a small green giant with glowing red eyes and manic hair whose cry is so wondrous and awe – full and stinks of death so much you want to dance…… aye this is the moment from where all goes….
UNKNOWN SELF - response – there was pain, pain in the mystery. Monster? Grotesque?…compelling to stay there. KNOWN SELF: “whimsical” sad and fun, familiar. No-Form showed itself to be one of the most effective practices I’ve experienced for paring myself down to the moment. The sand slipping out of the glass, leaving a fullness of space and potential. was aware of space as not empty… Mystery of experience: female face appeared again (10.2)
Left wrist. Backwards, counter clockwise movement, paddle wheel arms in Source of Life, giving… I need nourishment most now to engage in supporting that which needs to be destroyed and that which needs to be created in my life. …and while the movements approached some precision and repetitiveness, they elicited even deeper emotional and psychic (?) responses at times (not the first time that ritualizing brought my emotional body deeper and expressed more fully) I experienced an awareness and understanding of a transition happening from serving the Source to understanding how it can, and sometimes does, serve me. Not always for the better. Is this my will, ego, essence? I’m confused… Space of the “SOUL” – devotion – that which moves and doesn’t move, again, the spark behind the heart beat, holding tissues together, the space between, the growth and impulse of trees, there is Source for me.
This is the moment from where all goes… I am so deeply grateful for the other participants and to A.A. for his experience and facilitation.
-- David Hunt
indecision and me
running around together
the eight week lab brought me most clearly to the need
in my life to commit seriously with clear intention.
From the beginning i had been indecisive about my
participation in this lab. But as I was venturing on
a new chapter in my life I felt that it may be
beneficial to do a lab focusing on just that . what
tools I need to be clear as I move forward.
-- Kate Gibson
THE MOTHER-FATHER-CHILD TRINITY
My experience working with the mother-father-child archetypes was subtle externally yet powerful internally. Initially, as mentioned, I was concerned that I was over-personalizing the categories, but the archetypes – they escaped me. At the time. I tried thinking of what the archetypes could be – dad – strong – yes, mother – caretaker, yes, but also strong, then I thought of father as weak. Child was easier to archetype. Child was vulnerable yet protected by the parents. Child was experiencing the world freshly, and also through relationship to parents, in a way. Child was free to explore and learn and also was fraught with disappointments of seeing reality, feeling injustice, frustrations, etc.
I gave into the personalities that arose in each section of the warm candle lit room. Being in the "mother zone" was a struggle – a loving one, but still very effortful to be in that position. So worthwhile though. No complaints in the energy expended just a wish for more help. (a passive aggressive complaint? Or a surrender to the reality that I had to do it myself.) Eventually, mother carried a heavy cross, the burden of raising children. I couldn't resist thinking of my mother raising my sister and myself, as a single parent, the hard times she seemed to have gone through constantly, without the help of another parent. In my lab experience, being in this position was a lonely journey, that of the mother, but the heart-connection and intuition led the way. I could not separate my experience in this lab from my experience as a child raised by a single Mom, not knowing where my Dad was while in my adolescence.
Being a child in between the mother-father sides of the room was a bit of a relief. Not as heavy but still holding great significance, or insignificance, as I struggle to separate these categories. In "child zone", I could roll around, sing a little, dance a little, feel free of responsibility while remaining very dependent on others. The spirit of the child was invigorating in its innocence and one I enjoyed returning to. In a way, I was a child in every zone, remembering my experience with my parents at a younger age, yet now experiencing what it would have been like to be in their place.
In father, I silently cried, my eyes poured tears; but again, it was subtle externally. Internally, so much was happening. A sadness, a very deep sadness, for my father who did not experience my or my sister's childhood. I felt I was experiencing what he went through. I wandered around feeling my children were missing, that I couldn't see them, they were lost in a void. All hope was lost in the world. I felt the absence of being a father to my children as if my soul had been ripped from within me. Once again, this is why I say I had a hard time sticking to the archetype.
My imagery of father archetype kept shifting initially to the point where I released my mind from trying to figure it out in order to give into the experience that was happening. I was reminded of conversations my Dad and I have had recently, now that we're back in touch, and he seemed to embody these emotions that I went through during lab, when describing what he went through during my youth. Same with my experience in the mother archetype – I found myself being my Mom, going through what I thought she went through when raising us, from the way she described her experience. Eventually, I let go of wanting to separate from those personal ways of experiencing these "archetypes", sinking into my direct experience, allowing myself to move through, which ended up being the only way I could go.
The opportunity to interact was presented as an option, and I could not bring myself to approach anyone. Yet, someone found me and put a hand on my back while I was slumped over in what is called Paschimotanasana in yoga (sitting forward bend)… The hand was very reassuring. If I were not in lab, I would have responded differently, maybe thanked the person, looked up, moved away. But I stayed put. Did not offer anything in return, as I felt like it was more important to renew my energy, and OK to be selfish with it. I started to get up and the hand reached out to help me up, so I did not resist. Again, it felt odd to offer nothing back, only to receive this gift of assistance, but I went with it.
From this lab, I came away feeling a strong urge to talk to my family about the separation that still exists between my mother's and father's side. I know I can't fix it fully or change what happened, but I was reminded of what a significant impact the past continues to have on the way we live our lives, and only by unearthing it more and letting it be released do I feel I can fully come to the present and eventually move past it.
-- Jessie Woletz
From the Depths: Coming to my Tenses.
Commitment & Paragons
I was greatly inspired and, indeed, greatly supported by the groups resonent field of commitment to the work. May I humbly offer my observation that we were all persons who modelled excellence. It was, mostly, a great gift to co-exist with you unfathomable, totally unique and mysterious critters. And I do believe we located ourselves together as a microcosm of mutual respect which was then a satellite to the macrocosm beyond. I was very glad when Antero introduced a plea for Commpassion and Devotion in the beginning stages of the work. With an ego as big as mine, I'll admit I considered the possibility that he was mostly wary of a lack of compassion from me! Anyway, the Devotion to Source Relations persisted for me, but the Compassion part seemed a little lonesome. Then again, it was not reintroduced. Meanwhile, I could Devote myself to what is truly sacred for me and get to the value in, what I'd otherwise call, my prideful ways.
The best way for me to share my experience is through my personal polarities. Here they are minus a few too rare and personal to tell:
Hopeless/Masterful- This was an extreme self-confrontation. My biggest anxieties lie in my battle between unsteadiness and self-defeat, especially around being accomplished at what I am doing while, at the same time, knowing I am masterful and capable of certain forms of self-expression, worthy of certain new maturations as well as being respected. While undergoing this polarity I witnessed the futility of taking myself so seriously, as well as the social prices I've paid due to so many layers of pride and fear. Time to re-locate my center again.
Equal/ "Superior"- I was surprised and elated and then reassured to find that the notion of Equality led me to being humble and the inquiry into Superiority ended in the fortitude and certainty of being at service. Checks & Balances.
Devotion/Vanity- Here I witnessed the clearest devotion to my spiritual purposes in life and then the ugly, obsequious taint of pride and complacency within the space of failing source relations. Very straight-forward! Dig it!
Safety/Danger- Well before the lab, because I have changed my name a few times within the sight of the social-police, I had renderred myself quite transparent (to me this is an aspect of vertical connection). Meanwhile, being unconsciously pride-driven, I have not wished to explain myself to others and have made myself scarce (which has allowed some to assume much about me for lack of exposure to me). Finally, a basic distrust and, dare I say, paranoia, developed in me that has led me not to trust and to avoid contact, much at all, with certain persons. Within the space of this polarity in action, I witnessed the translation of my "objective" perception of my "lack-of-trust" into spatial proximity of people actually in the room. It was a leap in perception, from delusion to simple illusion and then to clarity. Clarity because, when seen as real-time people in proximity, I could no longer generalize to myself that they were untrustworthy. It just didn't work anymore. Then I was painfully reminded of what I already know all too well; That thankfully unendearing old adage; "Define yourself or be defined." Or, in my case, "Get the fuck out of my Kingdom, you petty-ass, comparing-and-contrasting, near-sighted grammar-inmaters." Enough said.
Looking back on all this I can see the patterns I need to pay attention to. It seems I have developed a mask of serenity to cover my pridefullness. With this pride up for inspection I am finding great peace and then greater worry, and I am mourning my way through my social failings. All in all I have moved mountains and still have much work to do. I am most gratefull to have worked with all of you. Blessings and good Luck.
-- Brendan Random Ramsden
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