Image by Aarón Blanco Tejedor

Gurdjieff Movements

What are the Gurdjieff Movements?

Gurdjieff Movements are Gurdjieff’s interpretations of sacred temple dances and rituals he had seen and studied during his travels to monasteries in Asia and Africa. Gurdjieff saw them as a means by which ancient wisdom is preserved and passed down to future generations. Through their embodied symbolic language beyond our thinking mind, a deeper perception arises. Although there are different kinds of Gurdjieff Movements: ritual, prayers, dervish dances, mathematical patterns, etc., the objective of them all is that they are prayers. Gurdjieff saw them as medicine. Like Eastern martial arts, they are exact and precise, demanding precision, discipline and dedication.

What the Gurdjieff Movements do.

Not only are the Movements themselves both prayer and medicine, they are a practical approach to put the inner work of awakening, the development of conscious presence, and the harmonizing of the three centers (Intellectual/Mind, Emotional/Feeling, Body/Sensation) into practice. They are meant to challenge the intellectual center in such a way that you must include the emotional and movement centers in order to learn them. They have also been constructed consciously with a three-fold purpose, called the three lines of the work.

 

The First Line of Work is work on oneself. The Movements give us an opportunity to practice presence in all three centers: returning to a curious mind rather than a judging mind, returning to a spacious emotional center rather than constricted or caught up in emotion, returning to a relaxed body using only what is actually needed for the gestures we are working with, letting go of unnecessary tensioning of the muscles. The practice of the movements with attention, presents us with opportunities for self-study and self-observation around how you can not get thrown back into familiar personality modes, habitual ways of operating, of judgment and evaluation. The difficulties one faces with the Movements are the same difficulties one faces in everyday life and thus as we work to find a balanced place inside in the midst of all the challenges that arise, this presence begins to show up in our lives.

The Second Line of Work is work with others. Although the Movements can be practiced alone, especially when practicing for proficiency of form, the real work begins in a class with others, struggling together with a mutual aim of three-centered presence and considering one another. One’s attention can expand beyond simply the work on oneself to include the entire class working together and becoming greater than the sum of the parts. You can become aware of the ways in which you are part of a web with a collective presence that grows and deepens.

The Third Line of Work is work for Work’s sake which is sometimes called service or work on behalf of all. When one brings three-centered presence to the movements individually and collectively, one/the group becomes a vehicle through which the subtle spiritual energies and virtues of the universe can flow. This awareness and presence of being is not only for fulfilling one’s purpose as a human being, but is helping all beings.

What to Remember.

It is not about being good at doing these movements. Although precision is important, it is never about how competent you are in the outer replication of the gestures. You can let go of that and relax into receptive consciousness instead of judgment and rejection of yourself or anyone else on the movements floor. It comes down to committing yourself to occupy the gestures with your whole self, as well as how you can hold a quiet center of attention in the midst of challenge, newness, and intellectual center scramble. Everything that arises during this time is grist for the mill of transformation. If at any point you get lost or frazzled you can stand quietly, regathering yourself with presence until you can return to some part of the movement again.

Upcoming Classes

  • Advent Gurdjieff Movements Class
    Wed, Nov 30
    Online Gurdjieff Movements Class
    Nov 30, 3:00 PM PST – Dec 28, 4:15 PM PST
    Online Gurdjieff Movements Class
    The Movements, which develop a certain quality of relaxed and alert attention, were given very precisely by Gurdjieff as a powerful tool for growth. They create exceptional conditions for transforming the body into a place where the forces of intelligence, feeling, and action can freely expand. . .