The following PDF – Reichian Therapy, the Technique, for Home Use (link to PDF) – was recently sent to me by a friend. It’s a text by Jack Willis which gives a pretty full regime of body work exercises based on Reich’s therapeutic work. Willis was a close colleague of New Falcon publisher and occult author Christopher Hyatt and, in fact, these exercises seem to be a much more comprehensive forms of the exercises that were later published by Hyatt as Undoing Yourself With Energized Meditation.
“Energized Mediation” is a shorthand for Hyatt’s work (and it seems, Willis’s) but these techniques are rooted in Reichian bodywork. Published in this way they occupy the grey area between therapy and self-help, but they can be very powerful and the catalyst for major change – as is demonstrated by the following discussion on Dharma Overground with a few people talking about what they experienced when doing the exercises. If you are tempted to embark on this work, this might give you an idea of what to expect. There are some very astute comments here. Here is another account, of how these exercises put a user in touch with feelings of repressed sexuality.This must have been scary to go through but (one hopes) ultimately liberating.
Both Hyatt and Willis were trained in Reichian work by Israel Regardie. There’s some degree of controversy about them with Willis claiming that Hyatt ripped him off to a degree, in a dispute over copyright. Willis states in a follow up email (see further down page) that the exercises in his first book are incomplete, and talks about a second book. To finish off this discussion here’s a link to a discussion where the publisher of New Falcon, Nick Tharcher, rebuts these claims.
I will return to Willis’s comment about incomplete exercises below. To me, however, the really interesting question here isn’t about Hyatt vs Willis – it’s how did Israel Regardie come to be trained in these techniques in the first place? What was the extent of his connection to Reich? Did they ever correspond? Did they meet? Did Regardie ever receive therapy? If so, from whom? We have here a meeting of two great schools of self-work, two cultural significant forces in the 20th century “underground” – the work of Reich, rooted in Freudian psychoanalysis, and the mystery schools of Crowley, the Golden Dawn, and the “Western Mystery Tradition”, as personified by Regardie. This connection intrigues me greatly.
Most people who’ve worked with these have commented on how potent they are. I have no small interest in these as they were the very first set of Reichian-style bodywork exercises I tried, at the prompting of my friend and colleague, the late Peter Naum (Pretanath). Pete himself had found them incredibly powerful, and had comment to me how he’d tried several times but couldn’t finish the first attempt at the exercises. He eventually invoked his initiatory lineage and this gave him the strength to continue. He also commented to me how he couldn’t at first do an exercise that required him to let himself fall from the waist – when he did so, it prompted powerful dreams of falling. This apparently reminded him of his time training in the territorial army and when he had to walk across a plank between two buildings! Don’t look down!
My own experience with them was also very powerful. I found that the most striking thing initially was how my mood oscillated with my breathing – I’d seem to go into giddy heights of exhilaration of laughter after just a few breaths. It really bought home a new meaning of the work “inspiration” to me, as quite literally, as I’d find myself flooded with new ideas. It was like psychosomatic brainstorming and reinforced the fundamental nature of the mind/blody link for me. I never had any intense cathartic breakthroughs, though I did experience choking, crying, floods of energy and emotion, and a number of other weird sensations. The exercises got into my dreams as well. In the long term, I think it loosened me up emotionally, I’m more likely to feel and yield to emotions and “well up” than before.
The only thing I dislike about the Hyatt/Willis approach is that it frames this work as “exercises” and I think that ultimately approaching these as such is the wrong way to go about them. Everyone’s armouring pattern is different, an approach to this work should emerge that’s tailored to the individual, ideally with a therapist or observer. I have worked extensively with a therapist and her influence encourages me to “get out of my own way”, often to yield and to stop trying, all of which aren’t easy if you are powering through a set of “exercises”. It helps to be challenged in just the right way, to see patterns you are blind to, and to be coaxed towards gentleness. I also think it’s a shame the exercises have lost touch with their Reichian roots (something I will return to in a future post).
Having said that, I am stil glad the exercises are out there, loose in our culture, mutating, and infecting people like a virus.