Let's Get Psychophysical - Newsletter #7
Creating Order From Chaos
Hello, it’s Kevin. Here is your weekly list of 5 things I’ve found that promote wholeness, integration and “waking up” - rather than fragmentation, dis-integration and falling asleep.
This week’s newsletter is on creating order from chaos.
If you can’t sit upright in a chair without fidgeting, then you are in physical chaos.
But the way to create order form this chaos is not physical - it is mental. And maybe even spiritual….
Fire in the Dark by Jack Donovan
The central theme of this book - which is an interesting combination of philosophy, spirituality and self-development for men - is that of creating order from chaos.
His three integrated archetypes of Father, Striker and Lord of the Earth correspond to the three parts of the soul given by Plato. I have written in a previous newsletter that in my view the early method of F.M. Alexander maps perfectly onto Plato’s tripartite soul and its associated four virtues.
This earlier - almost forgotten - technique of Alexander’s is what I teach in the posture lessons. If you have had a few lessons with me then you know I like to use examples, concepts and images from the Ancient Greeks.
Fire in the Dark nicely fills the gap between the down-to-earth practical technique of Alexander and the philosophical mysticism of Plato. “As above so below.”
I have adopted a nice phrase from the book: conceptual chaos. He talks about the need of the Sovereign to create order not just out of the more obvious, directly visible physical chaos, but also out of the invisible conceptual chaos.
I had been using the psychological term conceptual ecologies but this implies there is more order and structure than there really is for most people. The physical chaos - for example, bad posture - simply reveals the conceptual chaos underneath.
In posture the physical chaos is fidgeting, twitching, squirming and moving around in the chair, not being able to stand still, dis-integrated coordination, constantly being in positions of mechanical dis-advantage.
At the same time there is mental or conceptual chaos: lack of focus, distractions, fuzzy thinking, out of control self-talk, lack of understanding of cause and effect between the different moving parts that create what we call posture.
The fascinating thing is when it comes to posture the conceptual chaos is what drives the physical chaos.
If you have not ordered the parts - and the interrelationships between them - mentally first, then physical chaos will surely follow. For every physical movement you do there is a mental conception of how to do that movement. The first step in my lessons is change your conceptions about what is possible for you.
You need to create order from your visible physical chaos. And the first step is ordering your invisible conceptual chaos.
“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”
Posture is a dance. A dance between many moving parts, each playing a specific role while interacting with the whole. A living, dynamic tension created between the forces of coming together and the forces of being pulled apart.
But the choreographer has gone missing. And the dancers are all over the place and not very well coordinated.
The choreographer is you, the conscious, reasoning being. The one who brings order to the conceptual chaos, and synchronises the moving parts into an integrated, dynamic whole. It won’t happen by itself. No one else can give it to you. It requires conscious effort. From YOU.
Your current “model” of posture is a chaos of feelings, sensations, half remembered snippets of advice, mis-conceptions, pre-conceptions, bad metaphors and uncontrolled self talk.
But from this chaos you have the opportunity not just to correct your posture and order your movements, but to order your mind and inner speech.
This constant work to re-align and self-regulate feeds on the fuel of this chaos which you will never entirely defeat… but the struggle makes you stronger, more conscious.
This is a new closeup image of the sun’s surface from NASA. It looks… chaotic.. or does it? All this chaos is contained within an ordered sphere, like a campfire at night, and the Sun continues its dance around the galaxy….
F.M. Alexander on our Sovereign Ruler (Conscious Reason):
“Bad habits mean, in ninety-nine per cent of cases, that the person concerned has, often through ignorance, pandered to and wilfully indulged certain sensations, probably with little or no thought as to what evil results may accrue from his concessions to the dominance of small pleasures.
This careless relaxation of reason, in the first instance, makes it doubly difficult to assert command when the indulgence has become a habit.
Sensation has usurped the throne so feebly defended by reason, and sense, once it has obtained power, is the most pitiless of autocrats.
If we are to maintain the succession that is our supreme inheritance, we must first break the power of the usurper, and then re-establish our sovereign, no longer dull and indifferent to the welfare of his kingdom, but active, vigilant, and open-eyed to the evils which result from his old policy of laissez-faire.”
F. Matthias Alexander, Man’s Supreme Inheritance
It is also worth noting that Alexander originally called the verbal instructions he gives to his pupils “orders,” and always referred to coordination using the special spelling “co-ordination.”
The purpose this experiment is to see the chaos, then create order from chaos… to start a fire in the dark.
Record yourself sitting side-on to the camera, visible from head to toe.
Think about the act of standing up: which body part will move first? In which direction does it move? What are other body parts doing in reaction to this?
You just tried to “feel out” the movements in order to answer this question didn’t you? You probably didn’t think about the movements at all, you tried to do them a little bit to try and feel the answer. You don’t know where to start: which parts? Which direction of movement? Moving in relation to what? It all looks so complicated! This is conceptual chaos and it has led to your physical chaos.
Now stand up, then watch the video. Try and describe - in words - the parts you see moving. You might need to clarify and define a few parts before you can see their interrelationships. This is the first step in creating order from chaos. In the beginning was the Word. Name all the animals in the garden.
And if you want to see your physical chaos, simply leave the camera running for 15 minutes and then play it back on 2x speed. Imagine what conceptual chaos lurks behind, in the dark, out of sight…
Have fun starting fires in the dark,
Thanks for reading,
Do you want to learn how to stop your posture getting worse as you get older?
I will teach you a technique for bringing order to your physical and conceptual chaos. We will cast some light on the real source of your postural problems. Once you can see yourself clearly you can begin to change yourself.
To book this 1-to-1 consultation reply to this email, or message me on Twitter.