the conqueror worm

another half baked foray into self experimentation, this one stemming from the principles of reichian bodywork and neo-magickal psychophysicality as expounded by christopher hyatt and friends.

our initial theorizing and background material is recorded, and the actual experiment will be documented in written form, as we go.

podcast page here

Direct download: the_conqueror_worm.mp3

explosive catharses of released muscular armour are sure to ensue…

Day 1: the first segment is the top of the head and the eyes. I spent a few minutes today a couple times massaging around the eyes, the scalp, the temples and whatnot. a few accupressure points that a merdian chart would disclose if you’re interested in that sort of thing. also the standard reichian technique of making faces, rolling the eyes in circles etc.

the result is sort of surprising. at first the expected tingling in the scalp and face, lessening of tightness or tendencies towards tension headache. but after a short time, I found I was having trouble feeling the top half of my head clearly. probably in contrast to the rest of the body and it’s otherwise normal tension level.

Most interesting was a kind of loosening around perception. I’ve described elsewhere how in vipassana practice there can be a kind of ‘porthole’ effect around the illusion of the inner observer, and a kind of muscle tightness helps reinforce the delusion that there is a watcher ‘in there’ somewhere. mostly around the eyes.

So anyway, when you release the tightness, the sense of the watcher seems to loosen as well , and although it seems odd that there should be any relationship between tension in the face and clarity of insight, I must confess a degree of clarity and precision and sensitivity to obvious perceptions that is rather uncommon, at least for me.

As I’ve said the mind works through conditioned association, and no doubt part of the way it holds together distorted perspectives is by linking them to a chronic tightness in the part of the body that most deals with perception.

Day 2: continuing from last night, I have to say the regular breathing and folding exercises are really doing a number on me. I feel intermittent nausea from the solar plexus region and muscle spasms that feel pretty vigorous in my lower abdomen.

There seem to be jolts of nerve phenomena going down from where ever I’m focussed on for the day and into my pelvis. Sometimes mild pain, twitching or tingling. Mostly weird sensations that feel like an elastic snapping.

the jaw segment was pretty low key. I did notice a greater degree of sensitivity to the taste of food, and the difficulty finding my head has spread farther down. more circulatory and nerve based phenomena that I’d associate with decent accupressure release.

Day 3: things progress more or less as the literature would lead one to believe. the throat segment seems to hold back sensations or urges to cry or vomit. I experimented with sticking my tongue out until I gagged or retched, and it seems to help. I’ve started experiencing ‘clonisms’ which is a word that seems to have fallen out of common usage that refers to rhythmic contractions of the musculature, primarily in my core. They are described as precursors to the ‘plasmatic streamings’ of the complete, healthy, organismic discharge.

On a bit of tangent, I’m re-reading reich’s Character Analysis and there’s a long section where he describes his treatment of a schizophrenic. Funny thing is, the symptoms of this schizophrenic, while shocking and warranting committal back in the day, are somewhat mild by today’s standards. So either the old standard for mental illness was totally whack, or we’re having a societal epidemic of dis associative disorders of the personality.

So as usual, the true answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

…I’m off to practice my gag reflex. Tread carefully kids!

Day 4: things getting a bit sketchier. I’m getting oscillating urges to cry, vomit, scream, or kill someone. As I loosen the shoulder and chest segment, I’m getting more conscious of restraining my arms, by folding them, tucking them into my belt, etc. something about about holding back impulses to strike or strangle, expressions of rage. It’s a bit unsettling.

When I stretch my face, I get nauseous, which is rather peculiar. It feels like the nerves running down from my jaw into the throat are triggering a gag reflex, and stimulating the stomach likewise.

I feel very much like I want to cry, but find I cannot, or lack the proper impetus. A couple relationships back, I had all the crying burnt out of me, or it seemed so at the time. I either transcended a lot of my emotional attachment, or simply went dead inside to large extent. Maybe a bit of both. If the latter, it doesn’t strike me as a healthy state to be in, and it’s bound to come back on me.

I feel sore and tired, but I’m also becoming more aware of extraneous tension, which became a lot more noticeable in kung fu class. It helps to be able to actually beat the crap out of someone too, I might add. Consenting adults and whatnot…

Day 5: …was a bit of a debacle. I sort of suspected the diaphragm and solar plexus would be the seat of a lot of problematic stuff… but holy shit, man.

I basically had a nervous breakdown that lasted about twelve hours. Crying, sobbing, screaming, violent acting out. smashing shit. just enough presence of mind to not do anything too stupid. Lots of nausea and soreness afterward, but clarity has returned, and some relief from aimless fury with no outlet.

This is not, I may hasten to add, out of keeping with what one is told to expect with long standing armoring of this type. approach at your own risk.

Days 6-7:  kind of went off the rails, as I recovered from day 5. Feeling mostly tired and emotionally drained, but strangely, with a renewed sense of kindness towards myself and the desire to live a more fun and relaxed life, without so much dire struggle. I may have to re do some of the earlier segments, or perhaps spend some more time breaking down the armor of the solar plexus and diaphragm.  Reich  states that some people are  incapable of involuntary  movements of the diaphragm, due to excessive internal rigidity. They move it with conscious effort, but when their attention wavers, the diaphragm freezes up again. This may require more investigation. I may have this problem to some extent, or acquired it recently from insight related shell-shock.

conclusion: well, I’m still experimenting, but I’ve come to realise that this is not something that can be carried out on a concise timetable. trying to compress this into a small timeframe to write about, nearly pitched me over the edge, so we’ll be stepping back and taking a new approach. As well, I’m not sure the level of subtlety that this work calls for can be adequately conveyed in written form, at least not in a short form. I’ve found time and again that the best results come from small adjustments that I have trouble articulating in anything but the most precise sensorimotor and anatomical language.

  I am very convinced of the underlying soundness of the operating principles of this kind of work, and have some thoughts that build on my experiences here, but I’ll leave them for another time. other things are waiting on me.

FINAL UPDATE:

I recorded another podcast with some better articulated conclusions:

podcast page

Direct download: conqueror_worm-conclusion.mp3