Dissolving the Pipes
I have just returned from a touching and inspiring weekend of teaching Continuum in Barcelona. The first thing we noticed as we approached the seminar venue was a sign next door for “Tecnica de Fluidos.” I was told this was a company that made pipes.
I mentioned this coincidence while opening the workshop, and heard myself comparing our intention in Continuum to that of the Tecnica de Fluidos company. They were constructing new pipes, structures to contain water. We were dissolving the pipes within us. This became a theme for the weekend.
Constructing and De-Constructing
Throughout our lives, we develop psychic and physical structures designed to enable us to function in the context in which we find ourselves. The workshop last weekend was called, Embodying Embryology. As little embryos, we begin as one relatively simple egg cell, the largest human cell there is. Its size is due to an unusually large store of cytoplasm, or fluid. Embryologist Jaap van der Waal points out that the ovum is the polar opposite of the sperm with which it unites. The sperm is a particularly tiny cell as it has let go of as much fluid as possible. Its small size enables it to travel easily and quickly to the relatively passive egg awaiting its arrival.
After conception, the egg pauses, as if to digest and integrate the powerful experience of fusion. Then, cell division begins. At first, all cells produced are the same. Then they begin to differentiate, ultimately becoming very different kinds of cells: liver cells, skin cells, muscle cells, etc. Development involves continued differentiation and specialization. This occurs in part due to the natural unfolding of human destiny, as deep biodynamic forces operate to create the human form. Our formation is also influenced by other conditional forces. While the biodynamic forces are the same for all of us and available throughout life, the unique conditions of our lives change. Once we have formed in response to a condition, however, we may remain in that form even if it is no longer appropriate for our current condition.
An important concept in Continuum is that we can offer our tissues a different context within which to form themselves. Instead of continuing to form in relation to our past traumas and other life stories, we can melt or de-construct old forms and re-form in relation to the current context. The breaths, sounds and movements of Continuum, as well as our awareness, offer a new set of conditions. Within this new environment, something different from our old patterns can happen.
Another enlightening synchronicity occurred on my trip home. My train once back in England was delayed due to flooding on the line. The threat of drought seemed to have passed. Now, the train crept carefully through the extremely fluid environment of lakes that were once fields. Trees rose up eerily from the waters. I was reminded of the importance of fluid resilience. If those trees and other plants in the field hold onto their usual habits, they will die in the flood. If they can adjust, they will survive. Our train also had to alter its usual style of movement to meet the current, wet context. Like the egg preparing to grow a full human body, it paused as rail staff considered the options. At first, they told us to disembark from the train and that an alternate mode of travel by coach would be provided. Moments later, they changed their minds, responding to the apparently rapidly changing conditions. They announced that the line appeared to by drying up and we could continue slowly.
In Continuum, slowing down enables us to develop alternate movement strategies and perhaps new neural pathways to go with them. If we move too quickly, we operate on automatic and cannot shift to accommodate the conditions we encounter. Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum, speaks eloquently of the need for rapid adaptability and resilience in a quickly changing world, where resources we are accustomed to, such as food and clean water and air, are diminishing.
As we slow down in Continuum, we establish a different context in which to form ourselves. We dissolve, or de-construct, our old structures, making it possible to re-form differently. The more fluid we become, the more resilient and responsive we are. We also seem to be fed and nourished from a different source.
Conrad also discusses the gel-sol qualities of the connective tissues in our bodies. Our tissues are designed to shift state as needed. If an emergency arises, we must be able to coalesce and run out the door, or away from the saber tooth tiger. Once the emergency has passed, we are designed to relax, shake out the sympathetic fight flight surge, and return to a more fluid sol state. In our speedy sympathetically driven modern culture, we tend to stay in more of a gel state, regardless of need. Being sped up and dense becomes a habit. Our bodyminds suffer as a consequence. We need to be able to rest, relax and let go, to return to a sol state, where we can be nourished and be ready to re-form to meet life as it arises. We need to take time to dissolve the pipes!