Using technologies as its organs, man’s homeostatic activity has turned him into the master of the Earth; yet he is only powerful in the eyes of an apologist such as himself. Faced with climatic disturbances, earthquakes, and the rare but real danger of the fall of meteorites, man is in fact as helpless as he was during the last ice age. Of course, he has come up with ways of helping those who have been affected by various cataclysms. He can even predict some of them—although not very accurately. It is still a long way to homeostasis on a planetary scale, not to mention stellar homeostasis. Unlike most animals, man does not adjust to his surroundings but rather transforms those surroundings according to his needs. Will he ever be able to do this with the stars?
—STANISLAW LEM, Summa Technologiae
It begins from a simple theme, a basic melody. Stand in a place with sufficient space around you. Close your eyes (optional). Notice how you feel. You will be asked to slowly rotate to the left or to the right. You will choose which direction you prefer to turn in. Think about turning one way, then think about turning the other way. You will be surprised at how clear your preference is to you. It will even be clear to most observers. You will slowly turn, shifting your feet, a few degrees at a time. You will notice with each change in angle if there is any change in how you feel. You will turn 360 degrees, noticing along the way in which direct you felt the greatest sense of well being. You will end up by turning into and stand facing in that direction. You will be surprised at how better you feel.
We will play a game called Simon Says. Everyone knows this game, everyone has played it. Teachers used this game to teach children to pay close attention and to follow directions carefully. This time you will be learning something new from it. You will be surprised.
You will practice holding on. You will practice letting go.
We will add variations; we will play “as if;” we will add more variations. It surprises me to see the numbers of variations that arise from a few simple rules. That’s how life is. Theme and variation.
In the end you will likely have dealt with some difficult situations. You will have tools that can be used anywhere and by anybody to help them deal with difficult situations. You will have a reliable way to help you stay present.
Theme and variations. Serious play.
We are in a new geological age. The name most commonly being used for this age is the Anthropocene. It is viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Some like to call it the Capitalocene. The previous age is called the Holocene.
The dominance of human activity on the planet is quickly leading to catastrophic consequences. It is like giving a toddler complete control of all family decisions. Very few people have any understanding of systems and how they work.
We will change perspective. Begin to think in systems, systems-of-systems, webs and networks, a field created of linkages. How we place ourselves in the field makes a difference. Turning things around, looking through different lenses, from different angles. Imagine how things can be if we stop trying to control the larger systems we comprise but move in harmony, yield to the pull of the system, no longer “push the river.” This is the central concern of Ortho-Bionomy: allow healing to happen (to all concerned) through aligning with the larger system of life.
A Bit About Ortho-Bionomy
There are many things about the study and practice of Ortho-Bionomy that make it a remarkable, and I would say unique, doorway into the healing arts. I want to focus on two.
One is that the effects are reciprocal; it is not a one-way path. It is not benefit for one at cost to another but a win-win. The other is that Ortho-Bionomy provides a scope that allows us to scale up or down. These attributes of Ortho-Bionomy are not always well appreciated, even within the community of Instructors and Practitioners. It may be that when Ortho-Bionomy becomes more of a spiritual practice than a therapeutic technology that these other doors open. Many people have found themselves “tricked” onto this path quite inadvertently, starting out simply to learn a more effective and efficient way of providing therapy.
Very early I learned about the reciprocity of the work. I am one who was interested initially in the somatic (bodywork) aspect of Ortho-Bionomy. I was learning a lot of different approaches to somatic and thought this would be just another “tool for my toolbox.” Early in my training I—as well as many of my cohort—observed that when something released, relaxed, let go or in some way significantly changed in the person on the table (henceforth I will designate this person as the other, whether on table or not) I as practitioner felt something simultaneously and similarly change in myself.
I had the temerity with my very first paying client—a woman with a complaint of whiplash—to try this out the other way round. As I was ‘working’ with her neck I became aware of discomfort in my lower back. I held her neck and focused on an internal process, playing in my lower back. As soon as my back was free of pain so did her neck let go. I admit I had a sense that I had done something transgressive but it did not last long. The woman paid me double what I was asking for: she paid for her session and mine as well.
I have since developed and taught a number of different ways to apply this and I have also endeavored to understand this from a physiological basis. Phenomenologically—that is to say what is experienced—seems to defy a certain law of physics. The thing that is commonly experienced is that for a moment what is happening in me and what is happening in the other is happening in one body. Physics insists that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. This experience is consistent with much contemporary thinking about how a mind is constructed. It is seeming to be the case that it requires more than one brain to make a mind. The new field of social neurology is beginning to elucidated how one person can feel in the body what is going on in another body. This means that there are aspects of the body that are shared. Clearly this sort of experience requires a different way of thinking about what the body is.
This way of thinking carries us right into the idea of scope. What the body is depends on the scope you are using to look at the body. Each change of scope offers a different version of the body. Ortho-Bionomy was founded by a British osteopath, Arthur Lincoln Pauls. He was inspired by a technique that was stumbled upon in 1955 by another Osteopath, Lawrence Jones, of Oregon. Jones called his method Strain-Counterstrain. It is described as a kind of passive positional release. Various forms of positional release therapy have been developed and practiced since, mostly in the discipline of Physical Therapy. Pauls, in part because of his earlier training in Judo, found this gentle, non-forceful method intriguing. He immediately began trying to improve upon the original and in the process found that it led to a different sort of connection to his patients. The “position” of any particular joint that leads to the “release” came to be called the “preferred position” meaning that it is a position of relative comfort for the patient and is therefore preferred. This in itself is a subtle but important shift in attention: note that it is preferred by the patient rather than the practitioner. Pauls found that the body of the other would guide him to that person’s preferred position. He was not moving patients into positions he thought they should prefer.
Following these principles and his own sometimes esoteric tendencies Pauls developed a body of work he called Ortho-Bionomy, intending the newly coined word to mean “the correct application of the laws of life.” Before he began teaching it he looked back over the history of how it developed with him and thought that the development had occurred though several “phases.” The last “phase” had profound significance for him. He had a deep feeling that it was something that was ‘given’ to him in a dream-vision and he wanted it to have the name of Phase 7. He then counted backwards from 7. This idiosyncratic way of dividing up the work unfortunately burdened later Ortho-Bionomy teachers with explaining why the first class to learn is called Phase 4 and the “advanced” classes are Phases 5, 6, and 7. It’s a bit like trying to explain the rationale behind the Trinity.
There really is no good reason (that is not procrustean) for beginning the study at any particular “phase.” This division into phases may have some didactic utility. It is useful to take any field of study and divide it into parts in order to teach it. Most practitioners eventually come to an understanding that all of these elements are at play together. Once a concept is given a name that makes us believe is is an actual thing. In one sense the “phases” are simply a sort of scaffolding. The scaffold is necessary for constructing the building but it is only the building that is “real.” You get rid of the scaffolding.
Constructing the Body
And yet… Try as I might over the years of annoyance with this odd scaffold I could never entirely remove it. Most recently I changed the word from ‘phase’ to ‘scope’ (and dropped the numbers) and suddenly the whole edifice is consistent with the biology of human beings that is being done now.
Look at the body through one scope and you see the physical object that is studied by anatomist. It is a roughly tube-shaped natural object. It has firm and clear boundaries. The part of the tube facing the outer world is bound by epithelial tissue we call skin. One opening of the tube is called ‘mouth’ the other end is called ‘anus.’ The body proper is the walls of the tube. The space in the tube is called the ‘lumen.” Food goes in one end, gets digested, some absorbed, the remainder sent out the other end as refuse. This is a process of transforming non-self into self. The digestive system is closely allied with the immune system. The immune system distinguishes self from non-self, discerns what of non-self is a danger to self and what of non-self can be transformed into self. Technically what is in the lumen, on the inside of the body is actually outside. The lumen is lined with other kinds of epithelial cells. I call it the outside on the inside.
Now adjust the scope. Living in the outside of the inside are trillions of separate organisms, most of them one-celled: bacteria, yeast, protozoa (others we’d rather not know about). With the same scope look the skin and all of its orifices and fine nooks and crannies. It is acrawl with other critters as well. Remove all of these other life forms, these communities of other creatures, and you will be entirely clean. You will also be dead. Only recently we have come to appreciate that a substantial part of these other creatures are completely necessary for you to live. For all practical purposes this microbiome is an essential organ. Because all of it is technically outside the body proper (which is to say the body as seen only through that first scope). They are needed for digestion and immune function for starters. They are even involved in food selection. There is a growing list of processes that need them (even implicated in mate selection!). Now, looking through this scope these other are also you.
Lets stay a moment with digestion. Driving recently the length of New Zealand’s north island I was enjoying the passing scenery of lush green pastures dotted with sheep and cattle. Suddenly the landscape transformed itself and I felt I was looking at my own insides. Rolling hills covered with grass, climbing as far up the mountains as it could, juicy ungulates (yes, juicy; I confess I eat other life forms) munching away.
We can’t eat grass or at least very few grasses. We can’t digest it. Even our particular microbiome set is unable to crack this code. We can eat creatures that can eat grass. It struck me that these pastures I am feeling so bucolic about are nothing more than me eating grass. The pasture and the feedlot (for me increasingly rarely) are my digestive system extended far out into the world. When we passed a military establishment I’m saying, “Hey, there’s some of my immune system!”
Quite a lot of years ago that Greek philosopher/scientist Aristotle correctly tagged us as social animals. This means that our biological being is completely pegged to other humans. Our first narrow scope gives us the impression that a solitary, independent, integral body is a thing. It is not a thing. It is purely an abstraction. It cannot live, certainly not for long; it cannot thrive.
Any life form must be able to regulate and maintain a wide array of variables in a constant state on their inside. It is a narrow range; there is little wiggle room. Meantime things on the outside may change dramatically. This is called homeostasis. In what we call ‘social animals’ (e.g., ants, bees, horses, etc.) some of these processes, through evolution, have become set to be triggered by through a constant engagement with others of the herd (nest, hive, flock, school). An isolated individual organism simply stops doing some of the things that it needs to stay alive. This has been called “social homeostasis.”
You can probably see what lens we are fitting onto our scope: the social body lens. The discipline of Sociology has been with us for a while but much more recent is a marriage between Sociology and Neurology giving us the hybrid Social Neurology. This field of study works to tease out the ways in which we are wired to necessarily be together, what are the underlying mechanisms. Each of us must have had some version of a family unit and each family unit is embedded within a larger community with ever-shifting boundaries. The health of the community and the health of individuals within the community are connected in complex ways.
There are a number of ways to model and conceptualize all the variety of elements that go into constructing a body. Different scopes bring into focus the body as composed of its many necessary elements. Sometimes I think of the body as a system-of-systems. What level of the system do you want to focus on. Is a problem that appears at one level (say an individual body) being caused by dynamics in another level (perhaps family dynamics, or toxins in the environment, or a “toxic” workplace).
Another way to think of these relationships are as webs or networks. Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT) is being found to be a very useful tool for examining the complexities in human relations. Networks of various sorts are organizing principles at most scope levels of the body and I will have more to say about networks further on.
We can go on with many more examples of including this or that as rightfully belonging to the body but I want to take the argument now in a different direction. Beginning with sensory biology I want to show that while the world is constructing me I am constructing the world.
You have probably seen this famous drawing by M.C. Escher. Escher cutely captured the feeling of how the world works. It is a bit dizzy-making. We all have a very convincing sense that sitting inside the head is a “me” that looks out through the eyes on the world that is going on “out there.” Similarly we are hearing what it sounds like, smelling and tasting what things smell and taste like, feeling what it feels like. That’s not how it works. If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear (or no creature with ears so this is a very odd forest) it does not make a sound. Sound is a thing created in your brain, not a thing in the world. Same is true of color and everything else.
While we are held in the clutch of believing we are viewing the world we are busy creating the world. What we are viewing is a model, not the thing itself. It may be that the thing itself is unknowable in any sort of direct sense of knowing.
For our purposes we will make but a brief foray into sensory biology and perception. What we are responding to I like to refer to as information. Information has been defined as energy that impinges on a membrane. Putting on the anatomy lens your body is made up of trillions of tiny cells. Each cell is bound by a membrane. Inside the membrane everything is kept “just so” by homeostasis. Outside the membrane all sorts of changes are happening. Every creature, from the unicellular kind to the big behemoths must be able to have some awareness of what’s going on in the immediate outer environment and some ability to respond to changes. Most of this sensing is done in the membrane.
Going down to the molecular level with our individual body scope, we will focus on the cell membrane. “All contemporary biologicalical membranes (or biomembranes) consist of lipid bilayers with protein insertions. In addition, most membranes also contain carbohydrate. The lipids form a matrix or scaffolding in which the proteins are embedded, whilst the carbohydrates (where they exist) are attached either to the lipids or to the proteins.”
“The boundary membranes of cells, located as they are between the external environment and the internal environment of the cell's cytosol, have developed many biochemical mechanisms which `transduce' external events into `messages' released into the cytosol. Most of these `mechanisms' take the form of protein molecules embedded in the membrane. Some are ion channels which open directly in response to mechanical stimuli, others depend on the mobility of other proteins in the biomembrane. In essence the latter depend on the presence of a receptor molecule which can recognize an environmental stimulant and a means of transforming this recognition into a message (italics added) which can diffuse into the receptor cell's cytosol.
The “protein insertions” float about in the lipid layer. The author above compares them to icebergs. My favorite of this, and considered to be the most important, at play in a variety of sensory modalities, is called a “7TM” serpentine receptor. This means that is resembles a snake and crosses the membrane 7 times. A very complex series of reactions is involved when one of these proteins “senses” something in the outer environment and converts that impingement into a message. To put it in very simple terms it gets bumped into by something and it flinches. Sensing is flinching. You don’t “see” the thing that did the bumping, you only “feel” yourself flinching.
Science has done a marvelous and impressive job of elucidating the details of what goes on in your cells that allows you to glimpse something. Stanislaw Lem, in his Summa Technoligiae wrote “…a neural equivalent of an act of sneezing would be a volume whose cover would have to be lifted with a crane.” This holds for every little act of glimpsing that we do, along with every hint of odor, note of music heard, etc. Fortunately we do not have to ‘know’ how it happens in order to catch that glimpse.
But this only addresses the sensory part of perception. It gets much more complicated and strange. What hits our sensory proteins is just a vanishingly small portion of what is flowing in the world. What we ‘know’ of what does interact is again but the tiniest fraction of what lands. One researcher in this arena, Jennifer Pluznick, director of the Pluznick lab of Johns Hopkins, asked her audience how many smells they thought they could detect. Her answer was an astonishing one trillion. That is to say that the olfactory system can interact with that many. The mind cannot deal with anywhere near that number (unless perhaps you happen to be a bloodhound).
We respond only to what is important to us. We have eyes with three color receptors and with only three our brains can distinguish about a million different hues; our minds do not make anywhere near this number of distinctions. Butterflies have four color receptors and can see the ultraviolet invisible to us. The mantis shrimp has twelve color receptors. Presumably they can see color we cannot imagine. Try imagining a color you’ve never seen. Each different sort of animal inhabits an entirely different world to ours.
Information travels from the sense organs to the brain. These are called afferents, meaning traveling toward the brain. These signals or messages get further split and only a tiny fraction of the messages go into the parts of the brain responsible for conscious awareness. Much more of it goes to what are called motor centers, triggering a response, or a behavior.
It is not a continuous stream of information that comes in, though it feels like it. There are significant gaps. The brain makes up stuff to fill in the blanks. Some of the information gets censored. If something does not fit with your idea of “how the world is supposed to be” that information is kept out of the party. In other words there are efferent fibers, going out from the brain that intercept signals before they get to the brain that predetermine what will be allowed in. Neurologists and philosophers say that the world is preconstrained.
To review, what we think is the world is a model of the world. We can only have access to a tiny portion of the world, a small sample, from which to create an impression. We have a lot of preconditions, based on social learning and experience that determine what this world is going to look, sound, smell, taste, and feel like. All that we know of the world is a change in our own state. The world “out there” is being experienced solely as things that are going on “in here.” It is very difficult to catch yourself in the act of doing this.
Your body is a part of this constructed world and is thus also a construct. Your body constructs within itself a model of the world and within this model is a model of your body. Your body’s own sense of itself is a sort of egg-shaped bubble in the middle of a bubble world. It includes in its sense of itself all that ‘space’ that it senses immediately surrounds it.
Objects become absorbed into the body as well. I recently watched a production of The Tempest at the Sydney Opera House. The actor playing Prospero sat in the center of the stage, appearing to be meditating, from the time the house opened. Him and his magic stick. The moment the play ‘started’ he suddenly arose and commanded the storm with his magic stick. There is no doubt in any mind that this stick was a part of his body. People talk about a near future where electronic devices will be connected to the brain. They do not understand that this is not necessary. The brain of the developing child, who has lived her entire life with various smart-phone-like devices experiences this device as a part of her body as much as an arm or a leg. Taking away the device is experienced as an amputation. People who have a hoarding disorder very likely have a disturbance in that part of the brain that absorbs things into the body model. Any thing that becomes theirs is more that just a possession, it is felt as a body part.
Now we have a body scope that brings inanimate things into the body picture.
I mentioned that a certain portion of space itself is included. This is a troubling idea for me. Our sense of what space means is far different from what space is. We don’t occupy space, space is not that non-stuff that fills in between objects in the surround. Planets to not move about in space. The body, the furniture I try not to bump into, the planets, all this stuff is no in space it also is space. But this is a really different discussion.
What is extremely important to body construction is place. Each body is located in a specific place.
A Brief History of Geopractic
I think it was 1986 when my friend and former Ortho-Bionomy Instructor, Kay Cavender, introduced me to a book she had stumbled across in a second-hand book shop. Vivaxis, by a Canadian chiropractor, Frances Nixon. Kay wanted to explore the possible validity of Nixon’s curious notions. I brief Nixon held the belief that our health is dependent on how we harmonically resonate with the Earth’s field. Each of us has a “vivaxis” or proper alignment. Certain things (x-rays, for instance) could knock us out of our proper alignment. She held that one should face toward the place of one’s birth in order to reestablish, or retune the connection.
Very soon quite a few difficulties arose in trying to test Nixon’s arcane processes. One example. I live in Hawai’i. Let’s say I had been born in Mecca and wanted to face toward Mecca. Since the planet is roughly spherical and Mecca and Hawai’i are almost exactly opposite any angle I would choose would have me facing Mecca. This is a convenient thing for the Muslims living in Hawai’i; they can place their prayer rugs any direction they choose and it will be pointing to Mecca.
Nonetheless, we played with the idea “as if” it were true. Let’s pretend, I proposed, that there is some preferred orientation, in some ways similar to the concept of preferred position. How could this preferred orientation be found. If there is any such preference the body must be able to respond to it. After all, the body of a monarch butterfly responds to a preferred direction of flight to fly from northern regions to a small bit of forest in Mexico. Their tiny bodies must be sensing something of this sort.
Reading once an atlas of human neurology I came upon a curious statement by the professor-author. It was his opinion (in a book with no other opinions) that our poorly developed “sense of well-being” was the cause of much of our illness. One thing that the practice and experience of Ortho-Bionomy does is teach us to recognize and respond to that subtle sense. When a joint is assisted into a position that is “just right” we feel in that joint (and often all over) this sense of well-being. I proposed that we look inside for this feeling as we slowly turn, a few degrees at a time.
I make no claims for mysterious planetary fields. I am not interested in building any esoteric mythology. I do argue for developing and honoring one’s sense of well-being and of being more responsible for my sense of well-being. If I can find my inner sense of well-being in relationship to difficult and chaotic events going on around me how I “feel” is no longer at the mercy of what is happening. This approach to life is remarkable consistent with the current research being done across several disciplines (neurology, psychology, history, anthropology) on emotions. Emotions are constructed by you. They are not things being done to you, they are not “triggered” but you make them.
It is not at all inconceivable that we have some yet-to-be-discovered mechanism that responds to how we are positioned in the electromagnetic field and/or some “life force” of the biosphere. This may be interesting speculation but for our purposes irrelevant. What to me is relevant in this practice is that faced with any situation over which you feel powerless it is something you can do, and action you can take, a movement, that empowers. It allows you to “stay with the trouble” instead of running away.
Research on the notion of “happiness” is piling up. One consistent conclusion is that the more we are able to stay present with what is going on in our lives the happier we will be. Various forms of escapism tend to maintain and feed the problem. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an example. It can be called a disease of avoidance. I, as well as many of my students have found these simple practices to be highly effective in reducing or even eliminating symptoms of PTSD.
Here is one example from many. One of my students, a practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy
(I will call her Amanda), was visiting a friend (I will call the friend Sally). Sally had been
plagued for years by insomnia, anxiety, and digestive disorders. She told Amanda that
something terrible had been done to her as a child at her elementary school but she had no memory of it. All she knew was that whenever she approached the neighborhood of her old
school she began to have terrible anxiety. Also, after her mother died, she found a journal
of her mother’s with reference to “the awful thing that was done to Sally at school.” That
was the only detail but it was confirmation that something had indeed happened.
Amanda asked is Sally would be willing to try something and Sally agreed. They drove
toward the school and as soon as Sally started feeling uncomfortable the stopped and
got out of the car. Amanda guided Sally in turning until she found a direction that was
comfortable. Sally’s anxiety went down. They went further, repeating this a few times.
Finally Sally was able to be at the school quite comfortably.
“I don’t really care to know what exactly was done to me, I just want to be able to sleep,”
Sally had reported. No repressed memory detective work was needed. After this trip, guided
by her sense of well-being, Sally slept without difficulty. Her digestive problems went away.
She has continued for several years with no relapse of anxiety, sleep disorder, digestive upset.
One of the areas of the body known to be injured by traumatic stress is the hippocampus, This region of the brain is known to be associated with memory. What is less widely known is that is also has specialized cells that are called “place cells.” The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to John O’Keefe for the discovery of place cells, and to Edvard and May-Britt Moser for the discovery of grid cells. Damage done in this area of the brain manifests as an inability to distinguish ones actual ubiety. The person with PTSI often seems to be in two different places at once. The body seems to get fixated to the place of the trauma and the person responds to “here, now” more is if it were “there, then.” Clearly there is some sort of disruption of the function of the place cells.
I frequently refer to the “body schema.” This is an indispensable concept in understanding how the body moves in the world. Briefly, body schema The body schema “is usually defined as a continuously updated sensorimotor map of the body that is important in the context of action, informing the brain about what parts belongs to the body, and where those parts are currently located.” A body schema is an organized model of ourselves. I like to think of it as the software that controls the hardware.
I have written elsewhere about the body schema and its importance, most recently and extensively in my notes for the course Coloring Outside the Lines: Anatomy and Physiology for Healing. What I want to stress here is the involvement of place in the development of the body schema.
The body schema is formed through sensory input from both outside the body (exteroception) and signals originating from inside the body (interoception). One area of the brain, the insula, in the right parietal lobe, has been strongly implicated in forming the body schema from these multimodal sources. It appears to be the case that one particular somatic sensory channel is of prime importance: your vestibular sense. The vestibule sense is a complex sense concerned with the perception of bodily position and motion. It is concerned with your location and position in space. We usually think of the inner ear as the center of our vestibular sense but here are several other important vestibular centers in the body, the most vital being in the feet and ankles. The vestibular sense also closely coordinates with vision and touch. Vestibular sensory information is thought to be the foundation upon which the body schema is constructed. Who you are depends upon where you are.
Geopractic and “Phase 6” of Ortho-Bionomy
I have long been troubled by the notion of the “phases” of Ortho-Bionomy, which originated as a sort of recapitulation of the development of the ideas of Ortho-Bionomy. Pauls decided to teach the work roughly in the same historical order in which it developed. It has been a continual source of confusion that the study begins with Phase 4. In my teaching I have rejected the idea that there is any necessary order in which the concepts and applications of Ortho-Bionomy need be learned. There are real advantages, for instance, in beginning at what is called Phase 7. There is great variation in students as to which “phase’ they find most accessible.
I have wanted to completely reject the whole use of “phases” yet at the same time I have had a sense that the concept points to something that is true. Though imperfectly formed this notion of phases offers us a range of ways of being with another that are not available to other similar practice modalities. Once I realized that the body is not a single, unitary, integral thing but can be viewed as all sorts of congregations and communities I also realized that the idea of phases had assisted me in coming to this realization. A body can have multiple versions. The body of the anatomist is but one possible version. Every version has its utility and its limitations. I now prefer the word ‘scope’ to the word ‘phase.’ Instead of saying “Phase 6” (the number ‘6’ is meaningless and confusing) I might think in terms of how the world is expressing through and being expressed by this person. Scope is a way of viewing a person as different levels of relationship.
Dr. Pauls referred to Phase 6 as working with a person’s aura. This is the most common way this is presented. Is there a human “aura?” If so what exactly is it? How is it measured? Can a practitioner influence another’s aura in some positive way? These are pretty much questions that have no answer. I will say that some of my most profoundly moving results were from playing in the personal space of another, without touching skin.
What so we know? One thing that appears to be a fact is the the body schema is ovoid in shape, it includes some area immediately surrounding the body, which we call the “personal space.” We know that vast amounts of information pass between one person and another, most of it tacit or below consciousness. It is not possible for two people in proximity to not communicate. Even if we are not aware of the exact nature of the communication our body responds with its own communication.
My attitude or posture towards another person, however silent I am about it, is there and at least some aspect of it will be “picked up” by that person. If I am able to “let go” of that attitude, the body of the other will feel that.
I have been making the case that a body is not a simple object occupying space. A body(person) is a complex, multidimensional nexus of associations and interpenetrations of self and world. I hold the other in my body (in representation) and the other likewise holds me.
One of the most basic principles of Ortho-Bionomy, and what is perhaps most difficult to fully embody, is that we do not attempt to change the other. I change some aspect of my own state of being when in relation to another. Most simply I orient to my own sense of well being. It has been through Geopractic exercises that I have learned to become more consistent with this practice.
When teaching a class that counts for Phase 6 credit in an Ortho-Bionomy Practioner Training Program I present many of the same things that Dr. Pauls taught, maintaining some form of continuity. The main difference is that instead of students trying to ‘feel’ something ‘out there’ I want them to notice how they feel in themselves and move, from moment to moment, toward their own sense of well being. Geopractic exercises are the best way I have found to accomplish this.
In the beginning and for many years after Dr. Pauls taught only two classes. He called them Basic Ortho-Bionomy and Advanced Ortho-Bionomy. He made this distinction only because of the historical order in which the different aspects happened to occur. As it turns out the ‘advanced’ does not depend upon the ‘basic’ nor is it more difficult to learn (for a large number of people the opposite is more likely to be the case). The Basic class was primarily the material he called Phase 4 with some post-techniques and isometrics mixed in. The Advanced class was largely Phase 5 and Phase 6 and usually included a bit on Chapman’s Reflexes. Expanding these two classes out into a program of multiple classes was work done by a group of early Instructors, along with input and final approval from Dr. Pauls.
The only formal study experience of Phase 6 this original group of instructors had was less than one day of class time. Many of them continued (and still do) to teach the two as two days of Phase 5/6 and this class would need to be repeated to get the required hours to obtain the required credit hours to satisfy the program requirement.
Those of us who wanted to teach a full two days of either of these requirements were on our own. Dr. Pauls did not always present the exact same things every time he taught the class so there was material that could be gleaned from repeating the class with him. But for the most part we added material to the class based on our own experience in creatively applying the methods and different didactic approaches to help the students “get it.” It is not difficult to teach pretty much all of what Dr. Pauls taught and fill up several says as well. My experience in presenting this material through a Geopractic lens for more than 30 years now leaves me convinced that this is a valuable contribution to the continuing evolvement of the original concept.
It is through exploring and better understanding our relationship to the world that we can better move in harmony with the world. Using a sufficiently large scope of magnification the distinction between self and other vanishes; boundary lines become fuzzy then disappear.