Alan's Response to a Request for a Description from someone Long Slow Cooked in the Work

Corey, I liked your phrase “long slow cooked”. It reminded me of the Passover dish brisket which I sometimes make this time of year. You take a relatively tough piece of meat and slow cook it in a crock pot and by the time it’s done, you have a tender and tasty dish. That could be a metaphor for the rug work in a way because for one, it’s a long slow process. Marvin Solit, our founder and my mentor taught us that our bodies become gristled and armored, and the awareness work is how we release that stuff and become more open and tender. I remember feeling his back once after years of practice, and I was amazed how deeply pliable it was. He used to call the process “unwinding”, and as I have practiced the work I’ve come to feel it in my body. Marvin gave few instructions on exactly how to do the work, but he practiced it every day at our various centers, and in joining him I was able to gradually absorb it.  

 When introducing someone to the work, Marvin would always say to them: ask yourself over and over “what am I aware of feeling?” It’s a deceptively simple question, but when you ask it of yourself in the right setting, the results and implications can run very deep. It’s kind of like Alice going through the looking glass or Neo in the Matrix taking the green pill. A whole new and rich interior world starts to gradually open up because we are changing our basic relationship with our body. Instead of the body being our silent servant expected to always do our bidding, now the body becomes empowered to “speak”, and the language of the body is all in feelings and sensory feedback and sensations whether they be pleasant or painful. The simple act of paying attention becomes a very powerful and evolutionary act; instead of suppressing the body we listen to and feel it. We begin to become aware of patterns and emotions and start to connect the dots, and this very awareness gradually subverts the patterns and starts the unwinding resulting in better emotional and physical health which are inextricable entwined.

 Unlike most meditation practices, there is no set position. Instead, the first task is to listen to your body and let it find the position it wants to be in, and then let it continually be in charge of changing its position. This can be hard to do at first as we are used to unconsciously controlling our body and directing its position whether it be standing sitting walking running etc. Often we find that people start in the standing position but end up lying down. The body seems to want to be horizontal. It is also not unusual for sleep to come after that for a period of time. I remember a young man once showed up, and he seemed quite harried; he quickly went horizontal and fell into a deep sleep from which he didn’t wake up from until the following day! Our bodies seem to be overworked and over tired and too wound up to get the proper sleep. The energy in our rug room seems to give the body permission for resting. There is still debate in the scientific world as to the purpose of sleep, but Marvin felt that it was the time when the body repairs itself. Nowadays,   for those of us practicing the work on a regular basis, napping seems to be an important part of the process!

 Well, I could go on and on, but let me know if these scribblings make any sense at all.