Authentic Movement, Projections

More about projections, in response to Elizabeth Reid

The subject of how to get the good out of our projections fascinates me: not just within authentic movement groups; but in the relationships between me and other people in daily life.

These relationships mirror those between my whole self and its many different inner parts (new ones coming all the time). It’s a question of which parts get identified with, and which parts get excommunicated. If something or someone ‘bugs’ me, and I identify with the upset part, I tend to exile the ‘something’ that bugged me and blame it. It’s Not Me. It’s his or her fault. A part of me, not the whole me, gets re-stimulated (a co-counseling term) by an old unresolved problem, or by seeing someone do or say something IT would NEVER do, or by comparing itself negatively to someone who does something better than IT could ever do. That part is ‘shen pa’ (a Buddhist term). IT has taken over my identity, or been put out onto another person.

One thing that helps me is to be careful about language. I learned this from Ann Weiser Cornell, a Focusing teacher, who wants us to distinguish between only using the word “I” to mean the whole self (which she calls ”Presence”), and calling it “something”, or “a part” when there is a sense that something urgent is disturbing us.

The fascinating aspect of all this, to me, is the prospect of taking that ‘something’ that got disowned and projected out onto another person, and mining the gold within it. Here’s one way I know to do it for myself by myself, which comes before dealing with projections within an AM group.

First, I need constant practice in being aware that I am my whole self (via meditation, AM, art, Focusing, etc) so that I know when something in me is shen pa, or re-stimulated. The whole me is curious and interested to explore that something, not get rid of it, trusting that there’s something of value in it.

I personify whatever IT is: I find its rhythm and do that physically. And its sound. I can role play it, and move like it. I write dialogs between IT and my Process Mind part, which is curious about IT’s fears and desires. I almost always draw IT, and often make figures of IT. Projection is the stuff of art.

All this is Process Work (Thank you, Arnold Mindell), mixed with Authentic Movement and art, that allows relationships to be worked out, no matter how difficult they may seem in the beginning. As Cornell says in her book, “The Radical Acceptance of Everything”, “There are no enemies within.”

©2007 - Aileen Crow


Ann McNeal said...

I love that welcoming attitude towards all those "not-me!" projections. Something inside me relaxes to hear it.

And "so true" I feel, the observation that I need to feel, find, and own the projections in me before (or in conjunction with) dealing with them in an AM group.


Elizabeth Reid from Averill Park, NY said...

I was moved to write this article on safety in groups because of relationship belly aches in my own group. When consulting with other facilitators, I found that every one had a story of similar difficulties. I think we all aspire to Aileen's description of a process that allows radical acceptance of all, but in for example a monthly group with little time to process it is hard to manage. My own goal in writing the post was to offer suggestions of how to manage the less than ideal situations that do not allow for enough time to process. Also, I hope we all can find compassion and acceptance of ourselves when it is not possible at this moment in time to resolve a relationship difficulty. In my discussions with others it is so common a problem, that like shen pa I think it must be the human condition.

By the way I am very grateful to Aileen for sending me to look up what 'shen pa” is... There is a long, good description of it on Pema Chodron's web site.( One part of the notion I liked was that the human condition is one of dissatisfaction. This grabbed me as I struggle with wanting things to be different than they are. Pema suggests awareness of the places that hook our sense of dissatisfaction might lead us gently toward more self and other compassion.

Thanks Aileen for your thoughtful comment on my post.

lucymeg said...

dearest Aileen, loved your succinctness of a lifetime's inquiry.
let's keep playing! love you, lucy