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

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23 thoughts on “the conqueror worm

  1. I read up on this Hyatt guy a bit–on the surface he seems about as shady as they come. I’m interested to see your take on his ideas, though.

  2. oh yes, he’s definitely a bit on the shady side. more of a extremist occult libertarian really.

    and the link seems to be working now. at least in firefox, anyway.

  3. The link looks like it’s up, i have yet to listen.

    Hyatt’s “Energized Meditation” is actually worth the $12 or whatever to get the instructions in bodywork, though it’s not really necessary to have the other 200 pages of stuff from New Falcon’s dustbin. But to get more insight into Hyatt check out Peter Koenig’s website at http:-slash-slash user.cyberlink.ch/~koenig and download a copy of Kaos 14–you can find all that via google.

  4. Well, if you send “Dr.” Hyatt a full length photo of yourself along with a modest fee of $1000, he’ll consider accepting you into his “Extreme Individual Institute.”

    Sounds legit to me.

  5. he’s usually joking about shit like that, as far as i can tell. it’s part of his ‘method’ to come off like some kind of authoritarian lunatic.

    undoing yourself is a classic work. I admire the way it completely scorns the traditional forms of linear book composition.

  6. Well, I hear you on those meditation side-effects. “What’s wrong?” while levitating: “Nothing”.

    Imagined monologue, after yet another “brain change” experiment has either fizzled completely or horrifically:

    “Oh you rascal you, Dr. Hyatt! Here I am with extremely elevated blood pressure, unusual muscle spasms, chronic hallucinations every time I close my eyes, no money and no friends from all my ‘Toxic Magick’! I should have learned to ‘question authority’ before following your advice blindly! Ha ha ha!”

    The problem is that between New Falcon’s “toxic” “we’re controversial because we don’t proofread” drivel and Llewyn’s New Age pabulum, there isn’t anywhere to turn. But then again, he says “trickster” and I say “liar”. Hey, maybe Son of Bush is a trickster figure.

    That said, the bodywork advice is still good so long as you see it as a theoretical model and ignore Hyatt’s crap about pain being a sign of “tension” breaking up, and read his instructions as a model on which to improve or an inspiration. I found that it was useful for calming the mind but only to a certain extent–some of the exercises can be lengthy (if you follow his “for one minute” directions… if you listen to him on the audio he means about fifteen seconds). The thing that always surprises me is when various psychosomatic tensions elude the Neo-Reichian techniques; I find that samatha practice goes much further in treating, e.g., jaw tension, than does the make-funny faces routine.

  7. yeah, i couldn’t really say what the result of doing the hyatt thing straight up would be. I’m starting froma much different place, and adding in all my vipassana, jhanna and therapuetic bodywork knowledge.

    the deep breathing and folding motions to break up tension in the abdomen are suprisingly effective, but hard to say how they wold come off for someone who hadn’t spent ten years doing yoga, and martial arts. there’s alot of subtlety there.

  8. Emily D:

    “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know of.”

    Couldn’t remember the quote so nicked it off the first google result to come up, which was surprisingly fun in toto also: http://www.sol.com.au/kor/13_01.htm

  9. Would you share some reference material, aside from Hyatt’s book? Or describe exercises you’ve found particularily effective – the forward bend from your podcast is fairly interesting, but I’d imagine you tested a lot more fun stuff during the experiment.

    The results you’re getting are quite intriguing, but it’s a bit pointless to share them if the readers can’t try anything without extensive bodywork knowledge similar to yours. Besides, people will likely attempt it anyway using any seemingly relevant materials they can find, possibly harming themselves in the process.

  10. my basic method has been fairly simple: I do the breathing and bending with a few variations, and work on the particular segment with accupressure and massage.

    the points for accupressure could be easily found on a chart or just feeling where the tight/sore spots are in ones musculature.

    the main thing seems to be developing a fully mobilised diaphraghmatic breath, which take a lot of practice and internal sensitivity.

    it is a dangerous thing to do on your own. research carefully. I cannot absolve anyone of that. read reich, hyatt, some pranyama texts from yoga, consult some accupressure charts. go to see a massage therapist. there are no cliff’s notes, I’m afraid. I merely document my results.

    a few minutes on a torrent site will yeild all the books you could ever want, I’m sure.

  11. I used hyatt’s exercises a couple years ago for days on end (spending about an hour on it a day), but found that i wasn’t getting anything near that much emotional response, it was more a lot of “energetic” phenomenon like visions, seeing through closed eyes, etc. same thing with kundalini yoga, too. not all that sure what it means necessarily though,

  12. fascinating. i’ve become a big fan of reich through nearly all my favourite authors talking about him, but i’ve only read a few of his essays. i am becoming interested in bodywork, and i was wondering what your opinion was on all the newer therapies based on reich’s work, like Bioenergetics? do you have experience in any of those? i don’t know whether they’re watered down or cheap imitations. in approaching somatic psychology or bodywork, where do suggest i start in terms of authors? i thought about getting one of reich’s books, like character analysis, but i don’t know if there are better introductions around now.

    i’ve never followed instructions for bodywork but a few times during/after a session of pranayama i’ve had emotions come out of no-where and tingling feelings of release, followed by a few hours of a much calmer attitude. i’d love to train in reichian therapy, or at least some kind of somatic psychology. i found two
    free books on Reichian therapy online recently. they both look great,
    but i haven’t had a chance to read them yet: 1)
    http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/selfheal/reichintro.htm and
    2) http://reichiantherapy.net/

    i came across Hyatt through R.A.W. and a few other New Falcon books. i bought his Undoing Yourself with Energized Meditation a while back, but i decided that un-doing myself whilst writing a book might be a bit chaotic. i think i’ll give it a chance soon though.

  13. oh, i just read that you’re a ninja too! i’ve been training in ninpo-taijutsu for about a year, from an instructor who splintered off from Bujinkan. just about to head off to training now.

  14. (2hour!) Video Hyatt Interview via Waking the Midnight Sun:

    http://cadeveo.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/dr-christopher-hyatt-interview/

    For those who would like to judge first-hand, and who believe that they only need to see someone talk for their powers of intuition to exact an absolutely objective judgement of that person’s deepest character. I.e. almost everyone. Including me. I believe it’s also a popular way to determine your preferred choice of Presidential candidate…

  15. Hm, what I took from the Dr. Hyatt interview was that, if he were a billionaire, he would invest 25 million dollars in a biochem research lab to find a way to extend his life. That’s fine, but I wonder if he’s considered putting down the cigarettes and investing 200 bucks on a treadmill.

  16. As per the New Falcon Publications homepage:

    It is with infinite sadness that we announce the death of “The Doctor”,
    Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D. We miss him terribly.

    We will post additional information in the days to come.

    — Nicholas Tharcher

  17. Hi,

    It may be too late to post and receive a reply for this but… I need to comment on what you talked about. What you said really resembles what I’m currently going through. It would be very useful for me to know more about your experiences with your physical tension. Particularly the part where you say : “… a kind of muscle tightness helps reinforce the delusion that there is a watcher ‘in there’ somewhere. mostly around the eyes.” I have struggled with sensations around my body, which I first thought were tensions, but appear to be more a kind of paresthetic sensation on the skin, for a couple of a years and I analyzed their meaning the way you did. I felt that the sensation resembled a watcher around my eyes and that the sensations were kind of accompanying me, this is of course only an impression, but still, I felt it that way. The way the sensation work seem that when I try to lessen them or make them disappear, I feel more lonely. How can one make them completely disappear ? This question puzzles me a great deal of my time. Could you please possibly share more of your thoughts on this ? I hope this message will get to you !

    François

  18. To add to my earlier message, there are tons of things linked to these sensations. One thing I felt, like you said in another post about the awareness that granted the sensation in the eyes, is that the awareness is like a general vision of the world, There just seems to be a “the way things are and the way they should be” kind of feeling related to this sensation. I can play with the sensation in my eyes in multiple ways, like totally putting “in the shades” my self, so that I don’t feel it anymore, but I “know” somehow it is there. Also a curious sensation was when I tried to loosen my rigidity in my eyes, I felt like a second self was trapped in there and was trying to see things “freely” from side to side and not in a rigid kind of one way corridor robotic way thing.
    Also, I lived rare moments before where my whole body felt so light as a feather, I couldn’t even be angry anymore, or frustrated rather, but only for a few seconds. Anyway I feel things somaticaly a lot.

  19. yes, I’m still here. just a little busy, most of the time. I will be ramping things up again, in a couple weeks.

    vis a vis your questions, it sounds like you’re falling into a fairly subtle trap. if you get stuck in the perspective of needing a problematic sensation to ‘go away’ it often just perpetuates or exacerbates it. mostly because reacting from an emotion that is fueled by perception that ‘you’ are in control of ‘your’ body, which creates a kind of urgency that makes it worse, and also reinforces the sense of a separate self that ‘owns’ your body. The problem is not the sensations per se, but rather the way your perceive them. It’s the self-perception that make the sensations an issue, and trying to exert your self, as a self over the sensations only makes it worse, because it’s seeing the sensations as being yours that makes them a problem in the first place. you can still do body work and massage and such, but that’s like an input, which your nervous system will take and process however it will. but you need a kind of detachment from it to get the insight effects to kick in. if you relax the self-clinging perceptions, then the sensations will not have the same meaning, and they will likely fade of their own accord

  20. Thank you for your reply.

    According to my own theory of ego-body-soul relationship, sensations always exist around the body but we’re not aware of them because it is like wearing clothes for a long time, you forget that you first put them on and it feels like you have none on yourself. It is like invisible energy, so familiar that it feels like nothing is there. Do you know the psychic skin theory of Esther Bick, skin ego by Wilfred Bion, moi-peau (skin-ego) by Didier Anzieu ? Many psychologist of this school of thought (the skin) talk about skin functions for the ego and foundation of the personality and ego through skin. One phenomenon that is talked about in their theories is the absence of psychic skin, or “holes in the skin”, certain patients of theirs talk about gashes or holes in their skin-ego integrity from which “something” spills out. Like energy spills out, or their integrity is failing, the physical boundaries of their body has holes in them. I have personally been testing my psychic skin in ways that I don’t know why seem innate, so many things to ‘toy’ around with it seems. Anyway, my question these couple of months is always how do i reach a satisfactory sense of my self. I’d like to have a maximum of freedom+love for others, but I seem always to encounter demands from myself to satisfy exterior pressure that is most likely only imagined. How do I reach a level of being that I am satisfied with, actually what is stopping me from actually changing ? I have read some other post your wrote and saw that you aimed at removing your reichian armor from your body. I don’t know if this is related but I’m pretty sure there is a certain necessity in possessing certain defenses against certain dangers lurking in the self. I tried to play with my sensations so that I would feel exposed, like an exposed self to the eyes of the world and felt extremely bad so I immediately like, put back a layer of protection on my body… Tell me if this interests you, or doesn’t interests you.

    François

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