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.

The Higher Mind Retreat Gurdjieff Movements (QR Code)

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 /WhatsApp +65 9459 8262 to stay informed.

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