Gurdjieff Movements – Grounding in Sacred Movement & Music

In this interview, Siewfan Wong speaks to Gurdjieff Movements teachers Deborah Rose Longo and Melanie Monsour about the value of learning something new, such as these sacred dances.

Asia Enneagram brings together the original Enneagram teachings developed through the early 20th century and the Gurdjieff Movements accompanied by the sacred music of GI Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann. Combining them links the intellectual,  heart and belly centers and invites participants to learn about Presence in movement to deepen their own self-knowing.


This is part of a series to delve into the Gurdjieff Movements and to introduce you to teacher Deborah Rose Longo and pianist Melanie Monsour. They have been working together for 25 years to bring these sacred movements and sacred music to different communities around the world. Drawn from an interview by Asia Enneagram co-organiser Siewfan Wong, this first article focuses on how movement, especially struggling to learn it, can help us peel back layers of illusion. 


The Gift of the Struggle

We hear all the time growth takes fearlessness and moving out of our comfort zone. Here’s the thing, you do not need to go sky diving or bungee jumping to accomplish this. You could, of course; you don’t have to. Doing anything new, even if it’s taking a different route to a routine destination or taking a salsa class if you identify as a person with zero rhythm, rewires us and opens us up to reorientation. 

We all have our unique learning curve. Some are slow burners and soakers, marinating in the environment as part of their process. Some learn quickly, overview and all, before diving deep. Regardless of our style, the key is to observe how we respond when we are frustrated at the lack of progress. Our behaviour when out of our comfort zone reveals underlying patterns and areas for deeper self-knowing. What is holding us back? What arises? What do we learn about ourselves?

Siewfan: We all have different ways of learning. That [the 2019 retreat] was my first class with real movement. Every time I think I get it, I don’t get it. I haven’t found the magic key yet. Maybe there isn’t one.

Deborah: Even once you get it right and many people, including myself, have this experience – as soon as you are in the movement, thinking to yourself, I’ve got this, something messes up. 

It’s about working with yourself. Not just to learn the steps. It’s how to deal with yourself and to practice that way of learning.  Just the action relaxing and letting go of thoughts – because thoughts can really hang you up as you know when you are struggling to learn a movement…relax the tension that could arise because of that conflict between your thoughts and feelings and then most importantly, relax the body and really sense the awareness of the presence of your body. That really helps to becoming grounded. 

Melanie: Gurdjieff said they [the dances] are meant to be witnessed and shared. The audience – here’s what they say, they are mostly impressed by the mistakes, by the fact that the person after they make a mistake, they come back to themselves and they pick it back up. They have this presence. This seems to impress people.

Deborah: That’s an example of dealing in a relaxed way – in the face of conflict, such as in a demonstration. 

Siewfan: When you watch each of us struggling, what’s going through your mind?

Deborah: That they are in a group for a reason. They are totally focused on their own learning, which is the work on yourself. There’s the work with yourself, then there’s the work with the group together. Sometimes that alone – shifting your awareness to being in a group – can release some of that tension that you are struggling with. 

I know in my experience from being in a class, struggling, that when I was able to let go of my own identification with my struggle and be open to the people on my right and left, it’s helped. I can’t describe how that happens. There is help even though my arms were flailing about in this movement and when I thought I would never learn. There was something about the help from other people that enabled me to let go of my attachments to getting it right and getting it right in a specific way. 

Melanie: My part is the music and there are a lot of elements that are a bit mystical and a bit magical. Moving really enlivens things and that allows for that element of mystery and magic. That’s how I see it.

I also see what people go through. The anger, the frustration, the despair. All these things…it’s a chance to work. I really feel for people. I also see how they can learn. It takes a group of people to learn. Again, it’s that energetic that comes up. I’ve learned to be very calm. Just stay chilled. The power of music is strong. The vibrations with the piano. It touches the heart. That mystical magical bit that comes in, with the piano, the vibrations that are going into people. That’s a beautiful thing.

The Higher Mind Inner Work Retreat takes place in Thailand 6 – 10 May, 2020. To facilitate a deepening experience of Presence, three master teachers lead us on the journey to the Higher Mind through grounding in the body. This retreat will focus on the exploration of the mind’s real intelligence. We don’t need to be Head Center Types to struggle with insecurities, fears and inner chatter that disconnect us from our inner guidance. We all benefit from understanding and connecting with the non-dual nature of the Higher Mind. Come experience Presence in the Head Center through in-depth and embodied exploration of the points Five, Six and Seven.

Enneagram scholar and teacher Russ Hudson is joined by Gurdjieff Movements teachers Deborah Rose Longo and Melanie Monsour who will guide the group through Gurdjieff Movements. These sacred movements will gently guide us to a more intimate relationship with Presence and Intelligence in our mind, heart, and belly centers.

Bookings will begin in December 2019. Please contact Siewfan.Wong@GalleryHelios.com /WhatsApp +65 9459 8262 to stay informed.

Reflections: The Orientation for the Enneagram and Shadow Work

When teaching the Enneagram and Shadow work we first acknowledge our Essence that is always there; but that we often forget. The Enneagram shows us how we fall asleep to our best qualities and therefore how we can remember them. It provides a framework for the 9 instinctual, psychological and higher aspects of being human. Using it to stereotype and lock ourselves in 9 different boxes is not what the Enneagram is for.

There are those parts of us that are more developed than others. There are those parts which have atrophied, which have been disowned or censored. These parts could be the source of our exuberance, depth, power, intuition, intelligence. Restoring these qualities will help us live deeper and lighter. The Enneagram is a map that helps us to navigate our complex psyche.

When applied skilfully the Enneagram illuminates those areas that could be hard to reach. It provides a structure and an orientation to help us journey deeper into what it means to be fully human. It doesn’t mean we are suddenly enlightened, but as we learn to be fully present, warts and all, we learn to live in an increasingly more balanced and authentic way.

The Enneagram:

  • Reminds us of the Essence of who we already are
  • Shows us how we are doing now in daily life
  • Unveils our hidden obstacles and resources
  • Helps us function at a more relaxed and effective way
  • Supports our development to a healthier, happier sense of self
  • Illuminates our awakened qualities and consciousness beyond our familiar sense of self

Shadow work is not all doom and gloom. It shows us the way out of our difficulties. It is even more useful when we are not experiencing difficulties, but want to simply live more vitally and more vividly. Shadow work can illuminate hidden resources that are at our disposal and unconscious programs what hold us back. This is true positivity.

nformation about The Enneagram and Shadow Work Workshop.

This is the first workshop in a 3 workshop series, The Enneagram of Shadow and Virtues

Other Resources

Conversation with Russ Hudson about Shadow

Videos: Russ Hudson on The Enneagram Types

Interview with Siewfan about Enneagram, Shadow, Russ Hudson

Practitioner Insight: More than One Session?

We all want to feel instantly better. That’s definitely possible. The relief that comes from a massage, the gentle touch of craniosacral therapy, or an adjustment. Ah.

The thing is most of us don’t seek treatment until we are in pain, when our systems are quite out of balance. This is not something that’s happened overnight. Years of poor diet, incomplete digestion, suppression of emotion, or self-sabotage brought us to the point of calling for help.

By the time we are sitting in a therapist’s chair or on the massage table, we may be in unbearable pain, frustrated, angry even. Vulnerable. So when a practitioner prescribes us a series of sessions, we may be skeptical.

For the most part, practitioners do what they do because they truly believe they can help others feel better, healthier, happier. From experience they may know approximately how many sessions it may take for a major shift. Maybe they have a protocol.


In April we are welcoming back to Gallery Helios Pla Neuman. She offers Chi Nei Tsang, Biodynamical Craniosacral Therapy, and Lymphatic Drainage. Mostly, her sessions are customized, according to what comes up for the client. She starts with either Chi Nei Tsang or Lymphatic Drainage to address the symptoms. Then she goes deeper to access the client’s system with Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. The body then shows her other areas that require attention.

Pla’s found over the years that the body unwinds and balances much easier this way. This is not an instant event; rather, an unfolding.

Somatic Therapy Practitioner Richard Neuman explains to Siewfan Wong with an example how a series of sessions is often necessary. This is one of Pla’s clients.

This gentleman had an early history as a teen and young adult of stomach ulceration and repeated problems that led to a lifetime of digestive challenges. He came to Pla as a Chi Nei Tsang resource. As she worked with him, she was telling him that the scar tissue itself was in layers, interwoven and to work on it required a gentle repeated action. You can’t begin to go through all the various layers and the inappropriately linked fibre structures in one session. You want to work it gently, one layer at a time.

A series of sessions helps resolve a client’s health challenge because there are different layers – physical, emotional, and even spiritual – to address.

What kind of health challenges has Pla worked on?

Many of her clients have emotional struggles. These can result in blockages in the lower abdomen, which can feel hard to the touch. Other parts of the body can also be affected. This may be the sacrum, the sacroiliac joint, or the hips. Poor circulation is not uncommon.

Other issues her female clients have include fibroids. The fascia around the abdomen becomes so tight, resulting in poor digestion, bloating, compromised circulation of blood and chi.

I work on the skin layer. Someone with a lot of toxicity and poor circulation means the toxin is not moving anywhere and the area becomes stagnated. The tissues become bumpy. I work on that just to move it around, to get it into the bloodstream so that the body can detoxify itself. Also I work on the gut. There is a lot of stuff in the gut. It will help to improve the bowel movements.

Many of her male clients come for detoxification. They may have issues with digestion, with a bloated stomach. It can be from so many factors, such as inappropriate food and emotion. They also have a lot of tension, likely from stress and emotional issues.

Pla shares that Chi Nei Tsang is one of the key treatments for detox.

When you work on a person, you don’t only work on the physical layer, you also go deeper into the emotional and spiritual levels. For me, treating the person as a whole unit gives great results. That’s why I combine it with other modalities, to get into the deeper layers.

Both Pla and Ricardo Neuman will be at Gallery Helios from 19 to 29 April. Book online via the QR Code. For questions please contact Siewfan at Siewfan.Wong@GalleryHelios.com or text/Whatsapp +65 9459-8262.

Full details about Pla’s work

Full details about Ricardo’s work

In Conversation with Ho Kah Keh

Ho Kah Keh is a certified coach and Trauma Release Exercises® Practitioner, a trained vocalist, musician, professional stage performer, and one of the founding partners of Gallery Helios.

He is passionate about working with people to make meaningful changes through coaching. Kah Keh is also excited about offering TRE to people as a tool for stress release, resilience building, and strengthening mental health. In this interview, Kah Keh shares with us what TRE is and what his personal journey has been.


WHAT IS TRAUMA RELEASE EXERCISES?

TRE is learning to release stress built up in our bodies. For most people, it’s a lifetime of accumulation. Most of our stress has been relegated to our unconscious and forgotten in our consciousness. We are often habitually numbed to it. While we may not be aware of it, our bodies remember – that’s where the memories and stress are stored. It shows up, for example, as stubborn tight muscles with limited flexibility.

With TRE we learn to release these stresses gradually. Through this letting go process, we begin to reconnect with ourselves and start to be more aware of our physical bodies and sensations.

What drew you to become a certified practitioner?

The funny thing is that I was initially put off by TRE. It seemed so trivial and I failed to be convinced of its effectiveness. In hindsight I was probably too caught up in my cerebral reasoning, that the implausibility of something so simple being effective.

However, when it was introduced to me again some years later, it clicked. I found it fascinating this notion of tempering the nervous system independent of cognition.  By that time I had been exposed to and was accepting of the idea that deeper work was not dependent on the conscious brain.

I had also become more physically aware of myself and so the experience had changed for me and I started to notice its effects on my nervous system.

What was the most surprising thing for you during the training?

I started with the mindset that the more we shake or the bigger the shake, the better. I also found that each person has a unique signature. We all have a pulse as an organism and we are allowing that to return to our bodies. How we shake can also change. We can even overdo it!

It was also humbling to see how much nervous energy can be jammed in the body.

And for yourself personally?

How much tension I was holding as a result of being my parents’ caretaker. The attitude of expecting the unexpected had my body in chronic flight-or-flight. I had thought it was a good thing, always being ready. Now I know otherwise.

In the TRE training I was still quite cerebral about it whether my body was moving me or was I moving my body. The answer is that it doesn’t matter because sooner or later it will move itself. We are working with a neurogenic response; that is, movement coming from the nervous system. I also found how some parts of my body, like the abdomen, were like a block of wood refusing to budge.  It took a while for my body to go into full abandonment, a process that is still evolving.

How has your personal practice evolved?

From thinking too much to just letting go. Mental analysis tightens my body and constricts my breathing. Now it’s just letting go and letting the shake happen, for it to take whatever form or way it wants. I particularly look forward to the big sigh that creates a big sense of release in the body. This letting go is becoming more enjoyable and calming

Shaking it out sounds so simple. How often do we have to do that?

We suggest three times a week for starters, with a duration of no more than twenty minutes. It can be counterproductive to do it continuously.  

The aim of TRE is to build resilience in the nervous system through opening up and discharging in stages the years of stored tensions. Resilience also helps us deal with stresses from just normal daily living and bigger challenges in a healthier way.

The important thing is to inculcate a practice and listen to your body. The effects of TRE are cumulative. There is no instant fix.

How do you approach TRE with your clients? You are also a coach. Do you incorporate that?

My own feeling is that TRE needs to be practiced regularly over a period of time. This allows the body to settle into some kind of habit. From there, the uncovering process begins.

After the introduction workshop, I like to work with the person one-on-one or in a group at least three or four more times over a period of six to eight weeks. Coaching is part and parcel of the process to support the person’s increased awareness of the physical and emotive states.

Because it is so simple to do, what are some common misconceptions about TRE?

Like so many things that we perceive in our environment, because of its simplicity, we may think that it can’t be any good. Or that its depth of effect is limited. People may then think that because the effects seem small, they want to do TRE all the time.

On the other end of the scale, there is a tendency not to practice on your own. Some may not feel expert enough to trust themselves. That it will not be effective without supervision. They may therefore just want to trust the “experts”. 

I would say that with TRE we must do our homework. In doing so, we are also slowly weaning off our dependence on others all the time while developing our competency in tuning into our own physical self. After all, it is we who inhabit our bodies.

How does TRE help in this stressful world and support fragile mental health?

With greater awareness and calming of the nervous system, resilience is built over time. This allows us to manage what life throws at us more effectively and with increased objectivity and calmness. 

Kah Keh offers one-on-one and group TRE sessions. His TRE Intro & Practice sessions are a great way to learn more about how our nervous system works and how TRE helps to release built up stress and to build resilience over time. For more information or to sign up a private or group session, please email Kah Keh at KahKeh.Ho@GalleryHelios.com or text/Whatsapp +65 9679 3706.

In Conversation with Russ Hudson

Russ Hudson is one of the principal scholars, leading teachers and innovative thinkers in the Enneagram world today. Co-founder of The Enneagram Institute, he is the co-author of best-selling books The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Personality Types, Understanding the Enneagram and Discovering Your Personality Type.

Here we share a snippet of the conversation Siewfan Wong and Paul Chan had with Russ on shadow work. Siewfan and Paul are the organizers of The Enneagram of Shadow and Virtues with Russ Hudson in May 2019.

SW | What is Shadow?

RH | The shadow is a concept that is generally seen as coming from the psychologist Carl Jung, who was a student of Freud. Simply put, the shadow is any aspect of ourself that we’re not aware of. So the idea is that most human beings, we are aware of some things about ourself, but there’s other parts of ourself we don’t know very well. Those could be certain feelings that are suppressed, or it could be motivations that we’re not aware of. Really, the parts of us that we’re not familiar with.

Sometimes, shadow is created by difficult childhood experiences. Painful emotions, or times where we were very scared or shocked, and so we can psychologically repress those kinds of experiences, but they are still influencing us. And you can know when that kind of shadow material is coming up because it can make us do impulsive things that we would not otherwise do, kind of hard to explain.

But you know, shadow material can also be positive things. Some people aren’t necessarily aware that they are happier or their life is better than they think it is.

So basically, most serious psychology, and I see the Enneagram as involved with serious psychology, is in some sense an investigation of shadow material. What about me do I not know about? If I already knew about it then, well, I could do something about it. But the Enneagram helps us see the parts of us that we don’t usually recognise, especially in the areas of motivation as I was saying.

PC | Many people talk about shadow work in psychology. How does the enneagram help?

RH | Well, it’s part of why, I think, the Enneagram is more effective but also not as popular as some tools because the Enneagram really is explicitly looking at shadow work.

When we talk about the passion of each type [of the Enneagram] related to the sins in terms of the Christian view of it, you know, envy and avarice and pride and gluttony and all these kinds of things, or the fixated view, the Enneagram is really helping us see both emotions or motivations that we’re not aware of, but also it’s helping us see how our perspective on ourselves and life is more limited than we would usually recognise.

When we have shadow material going on, we don’t know that our view is limited. And you know most of the time, for most human beings, our view is limited somewhat.

The Enneagram is helping us see how we’re limiting it. It’s helping us see some of the underlying emotions that we might be feeling or have covered over in some way. It’s helping us see motivations we might not initially recognise that we have. Things like working very hard for success because we want our parents to love us and approve of us. Probably when we’re working we’re not conscious of that motivation. But if we were to look deeper we’ll see it’s there.

So the Enneagram helps us to see what we’re really after, what we’re seeking, and also points to maybe better ways to get the things that we’re looking for on the deepest level.

The Enneagram of Shadows and Virtues with Russ Hudson

Listen to Russ Hudson on the Enneagram Types.