Initiations - End of Lab :: Personal Notes // part 3
In which I give an account of the experiences I had with personal polarizations in the paratheatrical rituals that comprised this lab. Here, I share insights received while working with conscious projection, talk about the unusual experience of trying to stretch my movement vocabulary; and introduce group polarities, the complex collective rituals that aim at facilitating "miraculous interactions of self-governing bodies".
The warm-up cycle (described in part 2), always both a demanding and rewarding exercise, was what propelled us every time into the thick of the paratheatrical medium, through the personal polarity that followed.
After a brief transitional jog around the room (often used throughout the lab, to mark transitions, give us extra opportunities to raise our body heat, and "check in" with our vertical sources), we would return to the personal area estabilished before the warm-up, to work with our personal polarities.
A personal polarity is basically a pair of opposites (negative and positive -- e.g., good/bad, freedom/slavery, etc.), selected by each participant to work with. Ideally the polarity selected had to have some personal emotional charge attached to it, thus increasing the authenticity of the material we would be working with.
It didn't take me very long to start appreciating the feeling of intimacy with myself that accompanied the act of re-entering my own personal area. Eventually, I came to realize that the feeling had in a certain sense remained within the borders of my personal area - borders made only of my intention, as expressed through physical gesture - and I was simply returning to it. I had generated that mood and put it there, by engaging in the warm-up cycle within that space. I had taken care to define my area's borders and never cross them as I was warming up; thus I contained/accumulated my invoked presence inside the personal area.
What was happening is that I had been exercising the human faculty of projection, initially without being aware of it. My first initiation towards a truly conscious projection came in small steps, momentary lapses of awareness suggesting that this phenomenon might be an actual transfer of energy, rather than just an interesting idea.
Personal polarities rely on conscious projection as their very foundation.
Once chosen which polarity I would be working with, I had to assign each half of the polarity to one of the two sides of my personal area. Standing in the center of my area, in No-Form, I closed my eyes and did my best to infuse the space at my left and right with the appropriate qualities... I tried to feel them tangibly enough that, once I stepped to the left or right side, I would actually tap into the authentic energies within my body that those dualities referred to, rather than acting out intellectual constructs.
If all this doesn't sound too easy, it's because it wasn't. Still, I found that having just been through the warm-up process (and especially having raised my body heat) allowed me to maintain enough flexibility to break through into several episodes of authentic connection to my sources. Such rare and precious experiences were truly moving. It was like finally regaining touch with parts of myself (or maybe - if you will - other selves) that had been long ignored or suppressed, and yet felt familiar, as if they had been there all along.
The polarities I worked with mostly revolved around dualities of strength and weakness: potence/impotence, success/failure, confidence/fear, and so on. It was truly satisfying to be able to express both sides of each polarity, which allowed me to experience the aspects that I had been denying myself, and also express my feelings about those that I had experienced all too often. To top it all off, I got to transcend both aspects of each duality in the end, by returning to No-Form and discharging my attachment to either one. Every time, I experienced as a result a profound grounding effect over my entire sense of self.
At one point during personal polarity work, I found myself being distracted by someone else's manifestations, the sound and sight of which were coming to me from outside the boundaries of my personal area. It was then that I had one of my most important introductions to conscious projection: as my mind registered the break of concentration caused by the other person's manifestation, my body registered a definite sensation of energy abandoning me, localized around my solar plexus. It literally felt as if some intangible force was leaking out of me through my solar plexus. I was mildly shocked by the unusual nature of the experience, and it took me a while to realize that I had witnessed an example of projection, that from unconscious/involuntary had for an instant become conscious. I realized that whatever meaning that distracting manifestation seemed to possess, that justified becoming mesmerized by it, it was me projecting it... I was projecting significance over an experience that was, in itself, completely neutral; and by so doing I was creating a whole specific reality "out there" for myself to experience.
As I realized this, the feeling of energy leakage stopped, and again I felt alone, isolated and protected within my own personal area, and my polarity work could resume. I made a mental note of the experience and resolved to keep this insight alive in my memory, and try to apply its lesson in everyday settings.
In some occasions, after we were done working with our personal polarities but before moving into group polarization, we went through a process designed to stretch the boundaries of our movement vocabulary. This consisted in dividing the whole floor in three parts, each one to be "charged" through conscious projection with one of three sources for movement.
Some triads we worked with:
- vertical, horizontal and floor movement;
- mind, heart and gut;
- nervous, skeletal and muscular system.
During each pass through the floor, we surrendered to these sources and allowed them to animate our movement. My experiences with this process were quite enjoyable and fruitful. I found that my body would repeat the same habitual movement patterns ad nauseam unless enough efforts were made to develop commitment to new, unknown and often daring movements. Taking the risk to manifest in a new, spontaneous way (and therefore unpredictable, even to myself) was key. Whenever I managed in doing that, I found that not only my movement vocabulary seemed indeed to expand, but also a particular inner state was reached, which seemed to be unavailable while moving habitually. Its most active qualities were a sort of neutrality and increased presence. It was as if my habitual movements were a surface from which I had fallen off, finding myself in a deeper layer of Self.
After working with our personal polarities (with the occasional foray into movement vocabulary stretching) came the time of group polarities.
This was the "peak" of each lab session, the ritual everything else worked up to. During each session, Antero would lead us into a group ritual involving polarizations, and with No-Form as its crux. There are numerous rituals to choose from, which were developed within the context of this paratheatrical medium through the course of many years, and who knows how many more could still be developed.
A format we used several times was as follows:
Starting in a No-Form chorus, or corridor (ways of referring to different formations or clusters of bodies engaged in No-Form within the same space), we would explore once a ritual format based around a group of sources (examples: air, water, fire, earth, ether - victim, persecutor, savior - mind, heart, gut; etc.). During this exploration we all had a chance to get to know and surrender to each source in the group.
Then we would have a second pass through the same format, this time splitting into groups: each individual was directed to go back to that source that seemed most charged for him/her during the first pass, and those who chose the same source formed a family. Each individual in a family would first of all estabilish their own connection to the chosen source, then develop some cohesion with the other family members, and eventually the family would start moving as one toward the center of the room, to interact with the other sources.
Alternatively, we would repeat what we had done during the first pass, but this time everyone at once, moving uniformly through the ritual grounds, hence experiencing the whole process together as a whole.
In part 4 of this account, I will describe in detail some experiences I had during the most intense of these group polarities. Stay tuned.
[end of part 3 // go to: part 4 and conclusion]