Body and body-work in the PSP praxis.
In all PSP applications some aspects of primary importance are: (1) work with body movement and live interaction, (2) work with body postures and (3) generally our body dimension.
… (1) Interactive movement in PSP.
First of all, “process” means continuous change and change inevitably “moves” things to new positions and relations, while new positions and relations mean further change etc.
So in PSP we move in space; we move much and often interacting, in order to create through our interactions new relational patterns and further change in both our mutual and individual processes, leading to awareness enrichment. We can understand better this point if we see for a while the following way of thinking.
(1a) Our daily habitual postures, gestures, expressions, movements, interactions, behaviors, are rather restricted and respectively automated, making up a somehow restricted vital space regarding how we experience psychologically our bodies. This imaginary energetic “egg” around our bodies is rather limited and permits an also limited palette of collectively “acceptable” movements, postures, and a more or less stereotyped sense of our bodies.
Such a limited involvement of our physical aspects in our experiences, impoverish them; it affects our experiences “squeezing” them within our mental boundaries, reducing them to mental abstractions of what we are directly experiencing.
So, our limited “acceptable” embodiment, contributes in being somehow “absent” from our own direct experiencing, from the pulsating live immersion into what is happening every moment.
(1b) If we now come to the embodied interactive work in PSP, by acting and interacting, new body messages are created, different than our habitual ones. And this happens because when we move and interact, new blood vessels, tendons and muscles contract and expand.
Simultaneously, the focus on our physical aspect in action does not permit the mind to over-function – something that would significantly limit the other levels of the experience: emotions/feelings and senses.
Moreover, since we are holistic creatures, such new body messages affect all our existence, triggering new feelings, new perceptions of our physical being, as well as new thoughts, enriching our experience and refining our awareness in all its range. Finally, as movement in PSP is improvised (yet not “dancing” of any kind or random moves just for the moves themselves), spontaneity and authenticity in being fully present at the present moment are supported.
So, these “feedback loops” between all aspects of awareness contribute to our becoming fully our own “now” living self. In such a way we may possibly manifest aspects of our own that we have never imagined lurking in our potential (always within the frames of the activity the goals of which PSP is at each time supporting).
… (2) Body postures and “body sculpturing”.
Awareness of my present moment means generating the need for action that will produce the next moment, means generating my new “intention”. In PSP we use much body to become aware of our experiential flow as well as to express the “intentionality” generated by this awareness. This idea is based on contemporary multi-disciplinary ideas about the bodily non conscious elements in the microstructure of our experiential flow (see the section about the ideas framing the PSP methodology).
“Freezing” in postures that we do not use in everyday life and “building sculptures” with the bodies of other persons, is in PSP a very powerful way to develop awareness on both a personal and a relational level.
This bodily orientation in PSP provides the possibilities for exceptionally deep and rich exchanges of conscious and unconscious messages, thus supporting in a unique way the quick and authentic emergence of the embodied field during the interactions involved in process and awareness work.
… (3) The importance of our body dimension.
When in PSP we say “body”, we do not mean only our senses or our motion in the physically sensed space. Also, we do not mean any kind of body therapy approach procedures or that someone is theatrically acting and playing roles or that anyone enters in trance states or practices body meditation. We rather mean that in the PSP praxis:
…(3a) We focus on the embodied aspects of our experience and of the relational forces involved in our meetings.
…(3b) The body in action is the “voice” with which we both perceive as well as express our self-sense. Or, differently said, we mean that through the way that we feel our body (through the way that we feel “in” our body), we sense and communicate between us all the human experience aspects: the sensory, the emotional, and the mental ones.
…(3c) Our bodily aspects are experienced not only on the level of “how I feel bodily” but also on the level of how we are actively co-creating our anyway improvised everyday interactions with the others.
Or, in other words, in PSP, the person does not remain focused on his/her “inner” body-universe but is equally dynamically oriented towards whatever is subjectively sensed as “out”, co-creating direct embodied experience “with” the others.
… (3d) It is underlined that in PSP all kinds of body involvement do not see the body being by itself the final goal; the ways in which body is involved in PSP, aim to the enrichment of awareness in all its zones – bodily, emotionally, mentally.
So, since our embodiment is inseparable from our mind and emotions, what we do with the body in PSP is not at all a variant of good fitness or of expressive or free dance (without underestimating at all such activities) or a way to trigger some endorphins.
About the PSP “experiments” – “exercises”.
It is noted that PSP, on the “application” level, doesn’t provide specific “ready-made” exercises to develop its goals (because PSP is not a bundle of some “techniques”, but an approach for awareness work).
However, what strongly characterizes the whole PSP way of thinking is an innovative way of composing and using kinetic patterns of embodied interaction that can be called “exercises” or “experiments” (in the Gestalt therapy terminology) – we are actually speaking about the flexible structuring “model” which we mentioned when describing the PSP theoretical areas and which is called in PSP: “1000 +1 exercises for the embodied improvised interaction”.
The original “raw material” that is worked through this structuring “model” to produce such PSP kinetic patterns, may:
… (a) be created originally,
… (b) be inspired by any field in which there is interaction (theatre, dance, psychodrama, animation, games etc),
… (c) be inspired by any kind of stimulus: a sound, a music, an incident in the street, a picture, a verse, a line in the newspaper, a face, a voice, a color, a tiny moment, a scene of a film – literally anything can be used in PSP as a source of inspiration stirring creative imagination to give birth to PSP kinetic interactive patterns.
When such “raw material” is worked on through the PSP theoretical branches and the structuring “model”, ends to transform to one or even numerous PSP exercises.
Thus, we are NOT speaking of ten, twenty, one hundred pre-existing specific exercises with a predetermined form and use.
What is essentially happening relative to the PSP praxis, is that someone who has theoretically and experientially assimilated PSP, she/he alone creates tools that he/she needs depending on what she/he wants to do with PSP in a specific case of PSP application; in other words, the application level of PSP does not pre-exist, but it is rather composed in this or that form depending on the each time goals and the broader frame of an application.
Let’s suppose, we have different groups: one with children, another one with business executives, a therapy group, a trainee group in dance, theatre or Playback, a group of trainees in psychotherapy.
In the coordinating process regarding each one of these groups several PSP exercises can be composed and used, as long as they are appropriately shaped to serve the distinct needs and settings of each group.
Additionally, even one and the same exercise can be “edited” to be used in all these groups targeting to different results.
So, for example, if we take an “x” PSP exercise, it can be used in the therapy group only for the few minutes of the initial opening of the group.
…..For the children, the same exercise, differently shaped, supports co-creation and their communication – if we suppose that this is the goal of this group.
…..For the executives, the exercise is varied so that it contributes to the exploration of their relationships – if we suppose that this was the goal of their group.
…..While for the actors, it can be used to explore how they manage with a certain skill of their art (e.g. “addressing” to the audience, “standing” and “interacting” on stage etc).
…..Finally, the trainees in psychotherapy can use still the same exercise, appropriately “edited” of course, to work with a certain theme of their training (e.g. “responsibility”, “respect of boundaries” etc).
Or, even, in the same groups, without employing at all any PSP exercise, the coordinator can use some other aspects of PSP; for example, he/she can occasionally invent “on the spot” more or less bodily oriented interventions to support an emerging at the moment need etc.
Similarly, it is noted that several of the PSP elements are potentially useful also in moments of individual psychotherapy, as it happens with the PSP concepts of the “personal film”, “the “motif” and the “body intention”.
In any case, it is reminded that PSP, its ideas and exercises, are not by themselves a system for psychotherapy or education or social interventions of any kind, but simply adjunctive tools aiming to be of complementary use to other systems that have to do with process and awareness work.