Every Friday our white-marker wall is filled with notes and research from the Spiral Praxis Advanced Studies Program. These notes consist of lessons and insights that come from the curriculum as well as from the students themselves. Each drawing represents hours of somatic exploration and embodiment—it’s a source of great pride for all of us to create our own self-education and to move through an organic process of inquiry. The model of education that we follow at the Spiral Movement Center is similar to the process that our clients undergo. The learning process is undertaken with a spirit of curiosity, exploration and rigor. As somaticists, we restrict our study within the confines of bodymind phenomena; nevertheless, we see that this very restriction leads us to diverse areas of life — to group dynamics, mental and emotional processing, fitness and training, bodywork, meditation, aesthetics and ethics — as we find all things are connected to flow dynamics.
Stories of Bodymind Overcoming
Spiral Praxis begins with the simplest of bodymind techniques which is the creation of an “interval of awareness”. The interval of awareness represents a unit of consciousness over a definite duration of time where the conscious mind is focused on a particular object. This object can be anything—a movement, a sensation, a thought, an emotion, an external event, etc. Through adjusting and modulating this interval of awareness, Spiral Praxis practitioners can learn how to powerfully make adjustments to their inner functioning.
Below is an example of one woman’s experience healing her wrist through SP flow techniques. Her story is typical of the kind of inner application Spiral Praxis can be used for:
Last fall, I sprained my thumb falling off of a bike. It was painful to lift heavy objects, and any accidental bump sent shooting pains into my wrist. I tried the usual things: rest, ice, compression, elevation, ace bandage, strengthening exercises etc. It took months to heal but never regained full strength or range of motion. This fall, a year later, I re-sprained the same wrist while casting a fishing rod. This time, after some Spiral Praxis education, I wanted to resolve the issue somatically. What helped was a Spiral Praxis reflex technique called the “commitment reflex.” I rotated my palm towards me to put my wrist into a position where I would be able to slightly engage the muscles that were causing the pain — my interval of awareness. I widened the base of my wrist, engaging the muscles as much as I could, and I felt tiny little twitches happening inside. The next step of the commitment reflex is to very slightly let the engagement drop. This means I disengaged the muscle just a tiny bit, and then held it at this new level of engagement. I did just this several times. To my surprise, I felt a very noticeable sensation begin to happen. It felt like the areas around that muscle were flowing in towards it. After a few moments of this, the whole muscle twitched. Slowly, I relaxed the muscle and felt a cool sensation in the area. It seemed that the reflex had caused some sort of release in the tension that was causing the pain. It immediately felt soothed, stronger, and more whole. I did the technique a few more times, holding my wrist in different angles, and I was able to decrease my wrist pain by 80%.
The internal bodymind techniques of Spiral Praxis open up huge new areas in injury rehabilitation. In Spiral Praxis, we have discovered how to adapt the reflexes like the one used by this woman to help children with disabilities and special needs. Here is a child, Iris, who learned to start crawling on her own after we released her contractures.
Creatively Exploring Somatic Potentiality
Injury rehabilitation is just one of many active areas of research in Spiral Praxis. Having an internal perspective changes everything. Instead of looking on the external factors of life — jobs, relationships, projects, environment — as the determining factors of one’s happiness we have the choice of changing things from within. In Spiral Praxis, we feel we have developed a robust somatic framework that can deal with an unprecedented range of bodymind phenomena including issues of injury, fatigue, strength, flexibility, power, memory, movement assimilation and coordination, emotional and cognitive processing, and more. Below are a few more stories of people who are using Spiral Praxis to explore their challenges and activities in their lives:
I have been using Spiral Praxis techniques to memorize and master classical guitar pieces. I practice with perfection. To learn notes, I play them incredibly slowly, homogenizing the notes so that each stroke feels the same–my conscious mind loses track of the differences between them. To embody my points of contact, I make the transitions of my left hand as sudden and precise as possible — at the threshold of awareness, so that the practice goes straight to my unconscious. With the right hand, I use a bouncing technique when plucking notes. This involves literally bouncing your fingers up and down on the strings, an unorthodox technique developed by Mr. Oka. These techniques make the plucking of notes reflexive almost immediate. Finally, I simplify the learning process and memorization by breaking the song down into smaller, more manageable sections called groups, making each group as small as is needed for the unconscious to grasp it effortlessly as a single unit. When I adhere diligently to these and other flow techniques, I’ve been able to cut my music preparation down to an amazing degree.
I am interested in the many levels, concepts and topics of Spiral Praxis which are condensed and categorized within a series of Bodymind maps. Recently I choose to explore the concept “I don’t know” in the thinking realm of bodymind phenomena. It relies on using negating mental directives to gain access to inner knowing. I open in a receptive state. I then began by saying the statement to myself “I don’t know”. I then added something to the end of this statement, such as “I don’t know, here” or “I don’t know, everything” or “I don’t know, body”. After each statement I keenly watch the responses from within my bodymind (sensations, feelings, textures etc). I noticed how particular words had strong responses internally for myself and, after the meditation, I take time to reflect on these strong links between thoughts and bodily sensations/responses. I’ve realized a few important things. First I realized how small changes in the structure of the statements affect me; secondly, I realized that emphasizing particular words would deepen the effect; lastly, I realized that long pauses let me sink into the internal feeling and short pauses suggested linkings between previous statements. These effects are small and nuanced but in my experience of meditation, it opens up a big space for curiosity and exploration.
These stories are just a sampling of the many possibilities that internal bodymind study can bring. The applications of Spiral Praxis are comprehensive and synergistic — the more that a person studies basic spiral flow dynamics, the more he/she will see how they relate to every area of life.
The Vision of An Open Bodymind Portal
Spiral Praxis has been under development for the past 25 years. When we first began working with bodymind issues, it was purely a personal journey — we were interested in deepening our understanding of our own bodies as dancers and seeing how we could move better. When we found our work was actually helpful for children with special needs, a new sense of responsibility was born within us, and that sense has only deepened as we have extended this work to include adult injury and areas of human potentiality.
Currently we are in the midst of creating the Spiral Praxis Bodymind Portal, an open resource that we hope will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about increasing bodymind awareness. The project is a encyclopedic task that will involve hundreds of pages explaining the universal principles of bodymind flow dynamics and thousands of activities illustrating these principles. The work is on-going, involving a core team of dedicated SP practitioners, who do all the necessary writing, filming and editing of this work on a volunteer basis. Currently we have over a hundred nodes of this work done on our own custom-built website, a small start that will accelerate more as people come to assist us in this work over the coming years.
We believe there is a great need for people in our society for resources that promote not external entertainments, knowledge-bases, and trivial information but rather cyber-resources which focus on inner development and collective human awareness. While it is important that we are aware of what is happening in the world around us, it is equally — and perhaps even more — important that we grow aware of how our inner awareness is evolving. Modern humanity is in a great state of transition. All of us are participating in this change everyday, through our changing lifestyles, and through the new ways we learn to assimilate the great flood of information that is available to us know through technology.
In the future, we predict that somatic processing will also be a new wave of inner technology. It is already beginning! While bodymind systems like Spiral Praxis are still relatively unknown, this field is bound to explode as people begin to learn what is possible with the human bodymind. Here at the Spiral Movement Center, we are quietly adventuring in new territories that we are confident will change the landscape of bodymind science.