“All work begins with the control of attention, and in this connection much can be learned from the Movements.”
The movement 39 is the last exercise created by Gurdjieff and, in my opinion, this motoric sequence is one of the most singular (for its accessibility in performing it) and, at the same time, the most interesting practice of this teacher: indeed, it keeps in some aspects, the core of his teaching.
It is strictly connected with the perception of the human centers or, rather, to use Gurdjieff’s words, the “three human brains”. Indeed, the psychophysical structure of every human being is, basically composed of three main fields: physical, emotional, and mental. This exercise allows exploring and experiencing in depth these three fields.
For the reason that the music for this exercise is strictly connected with the movements that must be performed, it would be best to use this piece during the practice.
This exercise is basically composed of four postures which are coordinated with the music. The duration of each posture lasts for six beats. It’s not difficult to notice when the sixth beat ends, because after, there is a short pause in the music. Besides the four postures of the body, the main point of this practice consists of three inner fields on which our attention should be synchronized: physical – sensing the whole body; emotional – keeping calm with a neutral emotional state; mental – keeping the mind clear and free from thoughts.
The first thing that should be done before beginning the practice, is to deepen our attention on the perceptions of the body, of the feelings and, in this way, calm the mind. A scan of the whole body with our attention would be a good preparation for the movement.
So, sit with crossed legs, and always maintain part of your attention on the perception of the body (this attention should be maintained during the whole practice). Hands are rested on the knees, and the back is straight. The breath should be synchronized with the music beats: a gentle inhalation that lasts for six beats, a pause between the beats, and a gentle exhalation during the following six beats. This breathing rhythm should be also maintained during the whole motoric sequence.
During the whole sequence of movements, pay attention on what’s happening inside of you.
1) The first six beats: remain still in the above described position;
2) Bring slowly and gently your right arm on the left side of the chest synchronizing the movement so that it begins from the first music beat and finishes against the chest on the sixth beat. Perceive the whole arm from the inside and, at the same time, focus your attention on the center of your head (a place 1.2 inches inside of the head, behind the area of the bridge of the nose);
3) The second six beats: now, guide the left arm to the right side of the chest, crossing it over the right arm; perceive the arm from the inside, and now gently move your attention on the heart (emotional function);
4) The third sequence of beats: tilt the head forward pulling it up gently towards the chest. The attention is focused on the whole perception of the body.
5) During the fourth, fifth, and sixth sequence of beats, sequentially bring back slowly and gently, first the head in a right posture (fourth sequence of beats), then the left arm on the left knee (fifth sequence) and, finally, the right arm on the right knee;
6) Repeat again, the whole six sequence of beats;
7) The movement lasts till the end of the music;
8) At the end of the exercise, remain still for a while, pondering on the results gained during this exercise; you can also state some words of affirmation like: “May the results of this practice become part of my being”
You can download the music for this movement here
Photos by: Clara Stella