From hand-written note 1939
Fifteen minutes relax. Break tempo of ordinary life before doing exercise.
Breathe in – ‘I’. Breathe out – ‘am’. With all three parts do. Not just mind. Feeling and body also. Make strong! Not easy thing.
When breathe out, imagine part of air stays in and flows to corresponding place. Where flow, how flow, that is its business. Only feel that part remains. Before beginning exercise say: “I wish to keep this substance for myself”.
Without this conscious and voluntary labour on your part nothing at all will be coated. All in time will evaporate. Just this small property in blood makes possible very big result if done with conscious labour. Without this, one month you must work for such result.
When doing, must be careful not to change exterior. It is inner thing. No one need know. Outside keep same exterior. Inside you do. Not hold breath. Just breathe in and out. Of course, to change thinking will take time. Automatically breath will adjust. To be able to do exercise not lopsidedly you must whole attention on it.
To arouse feeling, interest and attention, for co-operation you must think following before beginning: “I am now about to begin this exercise. With full attention I will draw in my breath, saying “I” and sensing the whole of myself. I wish very much to do this in order that I may digest air.”
To arouse body to co-operate, take corresponding posture. Inner tension of forces. Mobilise your centres for working together for this aim.
In breathing, imagine something flows, like when inhaling cigarette. I am now about to begin this exercise, which I have been fortunate enough to learn from Mr. Gurdjieff, and which will enable me with the aid of conscious labour, to coat higher bodies in myself from active elements in the air I breathe.
First of all, it is clear that this exercise constitutes only a part of the one we reviewed before (the ‘compromise’ exercise as Gurdjieff called it). This part concerns awareness of breathing and, in particular, of part of the indrawn air being assimilated and flowing to its ‘corresponding place’. It is important to note that these exercises had a somewhat modular character in that more simple exercises could be combined to form more complex ones.
Though he does not use the same words – sense, feel and constate – that we encountered before, the intent is exactly the same: “with all three parts do”. He emphasises wish in this exercise, and speaks of “feeling, interest and attention” instead of just attention.
An important word in this description is “imagine”.
Of particular interest is his comments on preparation and disposition. These include:
- Fifteen minutes relaxation “to break the tempo of ordinary life”
- Taking a “corresponding posture” for the body to co-operate [as we learned this from John Bennett, it was to sit with erect posture with the hands on the knees, in balance and not slouched]
- Having a clear mental intent to do the exercise and realise that it is for the conscious ‘digestion’ of the air that will make a “coating” for an inner body. [Gurdjieff also implies there should be a feeling of gratitude towards himself for providing the exercise].