deautomatization and the freeforming experience

I would like to pick up on one of the points that Caroline Redl raised in her letter to us “Caroline Redl on Freeform Aikido – a letter”

“I find that your free forms prevents from getting into a routine”.

This is an issue that has been raised by others – “as if something got disorganized inside me” (Else Hartmann-Johnsen)

For me the disruption of habitual ways of being – thinking, feeling, doing is central to freeform practice. To me this relates to what Arthur Deikman refers to as deautomatization.

Deautomitization is an undoing of psychic structure permitting the experience of increased detail and sensation at the price of requiring more attention. With such attention, it is possible that deautomatization may permit the awareness of new dimensions of the total stimulus array—a process of “perceptual expansion.”

… Deautomatization is here conceived as permitting the adult to attain a new, fresh perception of the world by freeing him from a stereotyped organization built up over the years and by allowing adult synthetic functions access to fresh materials.

… The general process of deautomatization would seem of great potential usefulness whenever it is desired to break free from an old pattern in order to achieve a new experience of the same stimulus or to open a perceptual avenue to stimuli never experienced before.

Char Davies has usefully precis of this

This dehabituating of perception tends to occur as a result of certain psychological conditions, such as when the participant’s attention is intensified and is directed toward sensory pathways; when there is an absence of controlled, analytic thought; and when the participant’s attitude is one of receptivity to stimuli rather than defensiveness or suspicion.

Davies goes on to paraphrase Deikman that the undoing of habitual perceptions allows for the experience of alternative sensibilities that includes

  • an intense sense of “realness,” as when inner stimuli become more real than objects
  • transcendence of time and space
  • unusual modes of perception
  • feelings of undifferentiated unity or merging (e.g.; a breakdown of distinctions between things and/or the self and the world)
  • ineffability or verbal indescribability
  • a profound sense of joy or euphoria
  • a paradoxical sense of being in and out of the body
  • Many of these fit with the descriptions of Morihei Ueshibas experiences in Aikido.

    It was the promise of such a breakdown of habitual perceptions and the heightening of these sensibilities that attracted me to aikido. They are now the motivating factor behind the development of freeform aikido practice.

    This deautomatization demands that we shift to what Deikman refers to as the “receptive mode of Consioussness”. This is where our intent changes from one of manipulation of the environment to “taking in” and appreciating.

    The receptive mode presupposes the deautomatization of the intellectual states, which is tantamount to letting things occur rather than make them to occur. This is also called “passive volition”. 1

    This is expressed in our practice by the sense of breathing in our sensation, the inhibition of an emphasis on doing with our hands, by using the whole of our body’s, allowing breath and balance to move us.

    1. Arthur J. Deikman, Bimodal consciousness, in Archives of general psychiatry, 25(1971), December, p. 481-489, and R. Ornstein, The nature of human consciousness. A book of readings, Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 1973
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    2 thoughts on “deautomatization and the freeforming experience

    1. Pingback: deep listening into kimusubi « freeform aikido london

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