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Clues to Movement and Attitude Control

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Annex 2 of Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement (2002)

Metaphoric Entrapment (Annex 1)
Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 2)
** Clues from kinetic intelligence and sports psychology
** Clues from animal locomotion
** Clues from animal locomotion understood generically
** Clues from Christian vices and virtues
** Clues from yogic perspectives on afflictions of the mind
** Clues from Buddhism
** Clues from the streetwise and from nonviolence
** Clues from the martial arts
** Clues from psychotherapy and game-playing
** Clues from dialogue
Combining Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 3)
Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 4)
Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 5)

Clues from kinetic intelligence and sports psychology

One approach to recognizing the possibility of intimate relationship to other realities, is to explore clues to understanding how people move in the 'flow world' of process reality -- namely clues from those who engage in dancing, skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, hang-gliding and other sports requiring balance, coordination and kinetic intelligence. Have they ever been consulted about issues of governance -- as has been the case with jazz musicians (Kao, 1996)?

What is intriguing is that many of these clues can perhaps only be alluded to in aesthetic terms even amongst practitioners. These are extremely difficult to explain. They can be demonstrated -- like riding a bicycle -- but the conceptual shift that enables skateboarders to perform a complex movement has a different locus. And whilst somewhat meaningful in relation to the material world, it is necessary to look elsewhere for their equivalents in the alternative realities that are the concern of this paper -- as has been illustrated in investigation of 'flow' in the case of executives in the organizational world by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1977 [more]) and others.

Less abstract for many are the preoccupations of sports psychology and the techniques of 'mental game coaching' or 'mental training' for competitive sports designed to get athletes into the 'zone'. This is a term athletes use to describe that state of mind-body unity when they are positive, relaxed, and energized. It is critical for peak performance. When in "the zone," things may seem to slow down, actions become effortless, and things are done without thinking, operating from a deep, instinctual level. They seem to know just what to do, and just do it. This is the state of mind athletes strive for. The goal of sports psychology is make that kind of mental state more readily accessible. It is seen as a secret weapon that can work for everyone [more].

For example, typical problems of athletes noted by Patrick Cohn include: low self-confidence; concentration problems; dealing with pressure; anxiety and stress; lack of motivation; perfectionism; fear of failure; lack of trust; no patience; comfort zones; choking:; intimidation; lack of a routine; lack of self-control; anger; frustration; psych-outs; poor mental preparation; lack of game plan or strategy; and teammate or coach problems. These bear an interesting resemblance to 'hindrances' and 'vices' discussed below, whereas Brian Mackenzie's concerns resemble those of the corresponding 'perfections' and 'virtues'. He emphasizes concentration, confidence, control and commitment (the 4C's) as the main mental qualities that are important for successful performance in most sports [more]:

Many of these points recall the traditional relationship between a disciple and a guru.

Clues from animal locomotion

The previous section already points to levels of coordinated understanding of complex dynamic patterns of movement that are difficult to communicate in practice -- even when the consequence can be observed and admired in their performance and style. But before considering other kinds of clues, it is worth briefly reviewing the movements that enable animals to traverse material spaces. The patterns of behavior associated with such movement -- developed over millions of years -- are highly likely to condition and constrain the patterns of behaviours with which humans respond to any new reality.

The structure of animals reflects their locomotor habits, if any, in four distinct environments: aerial (including arboreal), aquatic, fossorial (underground), and terrestrial.

The physical restraints on movement are gravity and drag, although these may be considered negligible in aquatic and terrestrial locomotion respectively. Movement may be achieved by modifications of the body shape (eg squid, eel or leech), by the operation of special appendages, or by drifting according to wind or water currents.

Metaphorically it could be argued that the structure of groups or individual personalities reflects their mode of movement through society, whether through conceptual realms and frameworks, through administrative or behavioural infrastructures, or over the interface between the latter and the former. The restraints on such mobility are inertia, the weight of attachment, or attraction to any particular social setting and the general social resistance acting to inhibit any speech change, although these may be significantly reduced in some contexts. Movement may be achieved by general modifications of structure (e.g. a demonstrating crowd, an infantry manoeuvre, or a tribal war party), by the action of special sections (e.g. public relations, research), or by drifting with the prevailing current of opinion.

There is widespread recognition of individual mobility, of groups 'on the move', if the problems of overcoming resistance to such movements and of 'getting things moving'. There is little explicit understanding of the ways in which groups and individuals move in society, although frequent use is made of such phrases as 'burrowing' (e.g. through archives), 'wriggling like an eel' (e.g. in a negotiation), 'rising' (e.g. above sordid details).

The past decade has seen an explosion of interest in the study of animal movement to provide credibility to special effects in movies, and in virtual reality presentations.

Clues from animal locomotion understood generically

What is required is a classification of such movements in their most generic sense as a basis for understanding of how they both enable movement and define experience of the space in which such movement occurs.

Movement with respect to physical space is in many ways replete with learnings for movement with respect to any alternative reality. In the case of walking, for example:

A special sequence of movements is required when climbing. This is especially evident when climbing up between two smooth parallel walls (a 'chimney' in mountaineering terms). The climber has to ensure that there is sufficient pressure against both walls to enable him to move upward in succession his hands, feet or body. Variants are evident in the case of climbing through trees. But the important insight is associated with the need to attach the limb to a surface whilst another limb is detached from that surface, and then to repeat the alternation between attachment and detachment.

Metaphorically, for example:

The smooth transfer of weight from one foot to the other with each foot alternately bearing the weight and then giving it up to the other. The counterbalancing movement of each arm in harmony with the opposing leg. Progress is measured by the number of alternations made. The metaphor of "walking on two legs" has been used in China to describe a policy of technological dualism. The present attitude of policy advocates may be likened to the attempt to move forward with one foot only - whether it be the right or the left. This can only be achieved by hopping - provided balance can be maintained. Policies have to be relinquished in favour of an alternative and then renewed to fulfil a new role. This is also true of any "alternative''. Consideration could also be given to: more legs (4-legged, 6-legged, etc. animals); legless movement (serpentine); learning to coordinate walking movements; drunken or spastic lack of coordination; limping, paralysis and other obstacles to free movement; number of counteracting muscles required; evolution of types of movement; monkey movement through trees by swinging from the branches by the hands only.

The development of society may be seen as the upward movement between any two constraining extremes (e.g. idealism and materialism) which offer no permanent foothold. Developmental movement may be achieved by ensuring that there is sufficient pressure against both extremes to guarantee a temporarily secure or stable position from which a portion of society may be moved forward. Of interest is the sequence of movements required for such a climb to be successfully made, especially when the climber has to rest periodically. The way in which different portions of the climber's anatomy (hands, feet, body) change their function from applying pressure to moving upward. The basic requirement that there always be sufficient counteracting pressure against both wall. t As with the walking metaphor, the prevailing attitude may be likened to that of a climber attempting to get up a chimney by attempting to cling to the one favoured wall and to avoid touching the other (perceived as anathema). A skilled mountaineer can do this by inserting spikes in the favoured wall. Much less skill is required to climb using pressure on both walls. Consideration could also be given to: a climber with more extremities; climbing up a multi-dimensional chimney with N walls and N-1 directions in which to 'fall down'.

Clues from Christian vices and virtues

As indicated earlier, a particularly interesting possibility is offered, ironically, by the patterns of vices and virtues traditionally articulated by different religions from West and East. Understood slightly differently -- primarily as experiential, rather than as moralistic, behavioural guidelines -- these might well suggest fruitful and less fruitful ways of navigating experientially in other realities. The question is how to decode them.

One approach is to use them as templates through which to identify the 'virtues' and 'vices' of particular movements in sports like those named above -- just as there are virtues and vices in driving an automobile or successfully piloting a helicopter. This approach is in fact prefigured by various sports psychology books on acquiring the appropriate attitude essential to better performance (cf the many books on the "Inner Game" of tennis, golf, bowling, soccer, skiing, etc.) [more].

The articulation of generic virtues and vices of movement should then offer insights into those of the flow and other worlds -- providing a key to how the classic virtues and vices can be understood experientially as necessary disciplines for navigational purposes (see also). For example:

The navigational skills associated with such virtues would be undermined by corresponding vices in the sport:

It is interesting how the moralistic focus of Christian dogma has served to reveal and conceal vital insights. It is indeed the case that ability to embody virtues may well enable a practitioner of a sport to hold to a higher order of discipline -- as proponents of Christianity might well stress in emphasizing 'character building'. However it is also the case that superb practitioners may acquire those same kinetic insights elsewhere in a manner totally unrelated to Christian teachings. Whether through that discipline the person acquires a maturity and mode of being that is subsequently associated by others with virtue, labelled 'Christian', is another matter -- even if the person is effectively an atheist or indulges in practices of which the moral would severely disapprove.

Clues from yogic perspectives on afflictions of the mind

Classic texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali stress that suffering stems from desire, attachment, fear and certain unconscious universal constructs, existing in unliberated human minds. These constructs or afflictions (called Kleshas), are crystallized thought-forms according to Patanjali (Sutras 2: 1, 2, 4) [more]. They may however be usefully reviewed for insights into how they inhibit, or can be used to enable, new patterns of movement in previously unrecognized conceptual spaces.

The movement-enabling interpretations of the five 'afflictions' above can be brought together in a single image that holds their ambiguity as the essence of the experiential dynamics of movement. The symbol is the Fool in the traditional tarot deck. Assuming his ignorance of what the future may bring, he repels himself off a cliff-top -- attracted by something unseen by others, mastering any fear of the unknown in an act of daring. The image has been cleverly illustrated in the closing drama of the popular movie Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones steps into an abyss on his way to the Grail. It is the process of how the future is enacted in that moment which is a key to navigating alternative realities. As such it could be the key to the temporal locus of what might be termed memetic stems cells essential to transformation of belief system frameworks.

Clues from Buddhism

Five hindrances (pañcanivarana): This is the principal classification used for the obstacles to meditation, because of the way these hindrances hinder and envelop the mind, preventing meditative development in the two spheres of serenity and insight. They are also referred to as: obstructions, corruptions of the mind which weaken wisdom. In the list below, two of the five are subdivided (making a total of seven) reflecting additional traditional distinctions.

Each hindrance impedes in its own way the mind's capacity for concentration. It is in this sense that they provide clues to how to posture awareness to move in other ways in other spaces, whether these are academic studies, training in martial arts, or exploration of other cultural spaces:

Ten perfections (paramis) .....................

Ten fetters of existence

Generosity (dana)   Self-delusion
Morality (sila)   Doubt
Renunciation (nekkhamma)   Clinging to ritual
Wisdom (panna)   Sensuous lust
Energy (viriya)   Ill will
Patience (khanti)   Greed for fine material existence
Truthfulness (sacca)   Greed for immaterial existence
Resolution (adhitthana)   Conceit
Loving-kindness (metta)   Restlessness
Equanimity (upekkha)   Ignorance

In various Buddhist traditions, considerable importance is attached to fundamental afflictions as the cause of suffering (and as responsible for maintaining the cycle of rebirth). All other problems are seen as engendered by them. In the Visuddhimagga (Buddhaghosa, 5th century AD), the following detailed checklist is given (followed there by indications of which forms of knowledge ensure release from them in each case). The seeming duplication is due to the emphasis on the different ways a limited set of problems acts, as indicated by the often metaphoric categories:

Clues from the streetwise and from nonviolence

The above clues suggest the possibility of a (thought) experiment in identifying the generic range of conceptual skills that might be required to navigate alternative reality of any kind. Would decoding virtues and vices provide such a checklist and, given such a list, how could the items on it be organized into a coherent 'streetwise' mode of conceptual behaviours? It is one thing to know what to do when riding a bicycle or piloting a helicopter, it is a completely different matter to do so successfully. The checklists provided in an earlier paper [more] are too general and need to be given much greater focus, inspired to a far greater degree by learnings from those with a high order of kinetic intelligence -- and notably those in the martial arts, or those who are indeed 'streetwise' in the conventional sense, and necessarily capable of responding rapidly and vigilantly to unusual situations. Other sources of insight might include mentors of guided meditations or shamanic explorations.

It would be helpful therefore to be able to draw upon a consolidated set of guidelines to those (like the streetwise) whose survival depends on an alternative (possibly violent) pattern of behaviour, or to those who seek to interact in new ways in order to engender a new framework, as in the case of practitioners of non-violent responses in potentially threatening situations. Some dispute the need for such guidelines [more].

It is interesting that the distilled articulation of guidelines to nonviolence, notably on the occasion of major demonstrations [more], tends to follow the style of injunction similar to the articulation of virtues or the 10 Commandments. For example:

There is a focus on what should not be done in order to exhibit nonviolence [more; more; more] and a focus on exhibiting essentially static qualities in performing any associated peacekeeping role [more]. Where efforts are made to articulate a more proactive role [more], they tend necessarily to focus on visible actions rather than the dynamic attitudes sustaining such actions and enabling innovative responses (as extolled in martial arts philosophy)

Gandhi's major contribution in articulating and implementing a style of nonviolence, as a basis for his strategy of civil disobedience, was based on the Hindu doctrine of ahimsa. Its practitioners, or satyagrahis were expected to give their lives in efforts to quell violence if it erupted. Gandhi interpreted ahimsa broadly as refraining from anything at all harmful. "The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by Iying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs." Thus even greed and avarice can violate ahimsa. Nonviolence has a great spiritual power, but the slightest use of violence can taint a just cause. The strength is not physical but comes from the spiritual will [more]

The following is Gandhi's summary of the implications of nonviolence:

The fundamental tenets of Martin Luther King's philosophy of nonviolence include [more]:

But even the Six Steps of Nonviolence [more] associated with these tenets appear to avoid any discussion of the dynamic attitudes required in practice. Such attitudes are however clearly called for in a review, from a Gandhian perspective, of the possible responses to bullying [more]. According to Gandhi, through their mentors: 'Just as physical training was to be imparted through physical exercise, and intellectual through intellectual exercise, even so the training of the spirit was possible only through the exercise of the spirit. And the exercise of the spirit entirely depended on the life and character of the teacher.'

Clues from the martial arts

It is from the philosophy and practice of certain Eastern martial arts that more precise insights into these dynamic attitudes can be obtained. a major example is aikido as developed by Morihei Ueshiba (see Mitsugi Saotome. The Principles of Aikido, 1989). According to the claims for aikido, for example :

'The idea of a non-violent martial art seems at first to be paradoxical and self-contradictory. But in this respect, aikido is perhaps the most unique and beautiful of all the martial arts: it is defensive and non-aggressive both in its philosophy and techniques, yet incredibly versatile and practical. Aikidoists do not try to initiate attacks, win fights or defeat opponents. Instead, they seek to control and neutralize an attack not through sheer physical strength, but rather through flowing circular motions that blend with the energy of an attack and redirect that energy back against the attacker. Instead of directly controlling an attack, the techniques of aikido are designed to harmonize with the power and direction of the attack and convert it into a force that will unbalance the attacker and render him or her helpless. Attacks are then neutralized by the use of various wristlocks and arm pins, rather than crippling kicks or blows. Aikido practice is as much a mental and spiritual exercise as well as a physical one.' [more]

The question is how to clarify the nonphysical dynamics of 'through flowing circular motions that blend with the energy of an attack and redirect that energy back against the attacker'. An extremely useful step in this direction has been made in Eri Izawa's Aikido Principles Transposed Up Into the Realm of Spirit [more]. Also of interest are the insights offered in training in Tai Chi Chuan, notably the levels of insight acquired through 7 steps [more].

Such insights are not well reflected in the collection of aikido insights in response to 11th September [more]. Of more relevance is the work of Neil Bodine Interest-based Aikido: taming the positional tiger [more] who explores application of these principles. Work by Percy L. Julian, Jr. on understanding the principles of aikido provides a theoretical construct for their application in a mediation context in dealing with aggression, in developing strategic interventions, in maintaining flexibility and in developing dynamic ways of thinking about their role in the mediation process. An article in the International Bulletin of Political Psychology (Vol.10 No.13 Apr 13, 2001) draws attention to the influence of Vladimir Putin, as a practitioner of judo, on Russian foreign policy, in contrast to that of the USA as influenced by 'weight machines' [more].

Clues from psychotherapy and game-playing

It is curious, although understandable, that martial arts necessarily frame interaction with others in terms of vulnerability to attack. Use of the term kata for the nature of the response precludes responses that are not associated with attack -- even though kata may be understood more generally as 'how one is to behave'. The many katas that are the basis for a martial art neglect responses in situations that are recognized in transactional analysis (Eric Berne. Games People Play: the psychology of human relationships, 1968) [more]. It is is also interesting that one martial art, kenpo, stresses the way in which it combines the different katas together, like letters in an alphabet of behaviour, as a 'cursive' script. Rather than isolated 'print' letters, one letter is blended with and seems to come from the preceding one. Both straight and circular lines are used. This combination avoids hesitations between katas. Rather, it all flows along, continuously, and speed is enhanced. A good martial arts system combines the best of both elements found in writing [more].

Berne defined certain socially dysfunctional behavioral patterns as "games". These repetitive, devious transactions are intended to obtain strokes but instead they reinforce negative feelings and self-concepts, and mask the direct expression of thoughts and emotions. Berne tagged these games with such instantly recognizable names as "Why Don't You, Yes But," and "I'm Only Trying to Help You." The series of transactions in a game includes the following elements (defined by Ian Stewart, Vann Joines in TA Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis, 1987):

Other clues are provided by the variety of transactions between client and therapist in psychotherapy. For example, the interpersonal principle of complementarity specifies ways in which a person's interpersonal behavior evokes restricted classes of behavior from an interactional partner, leading to a self-sustaining and reinforcing system [more].

Clues from dialogue

A game may not necessarily be experienced in terms of an attack, although when it is it may be primarily an emotional or mental attack (also of great interest in martial arts). It would be useful to explore the relationship between katas and such games. But this still excludes patterns of nonphysical interaction that are not fruitfully framed as an attack but may call for skilled patterns of response.

An important source of insight in this respect is etiquette, notably as it relates to patterns of dialogue that are not simply characterized as game-playing. Wilton S Dillon of the Smithsonian Institution, in More than Civility (1999), focuses on how the dynamics and civility patterns of human organizations are profoundly influenced by gift exchange, namely how gift-giving and reciprocity are handled in different historical and cultural settings to constitute a vital clue to promoting a civil society and to successful relations between one culture and another [more]. Dillon sees the key question as: Does civility as a lubricant depend on how people remember and handle their gifts, debts, and obligations? The assumption is that reciprocity is an essential ingredient of civility. Could it just be possible that gift exchange among humans, if properly managed, might help deter violence and promote civility as an alternative?

Dillon contrasts Quaker civility with the mainstream cultural habits described in Deborah Tannen's The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue (1998):

[There is] a pervasive warlike atmosphere that makes us approach public if it were a fight....Our spirits are corroded by living in an atmosphere of unrelenting contention--an argument adversarial frame of mind...the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done.

Dillon sees her observations as resonating with those of Daniel Yankelovich The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict into Cooperation (1999) :

I am troubled by the growing power of the forces dividing Americans from one another, fragmenting our culture....[A] certain kind of dialogue can counterbalance the worst effects...create better understanding among people with divergent views...create new possibilities in personal relationships and community. [more]

Thus advocating dialogue falls nicely into the gift-exchange metaphor. Partners in a dialogue, coming out of fiercely partisan positions, in government, business, academia and the media, may learn to reciprocate with "gifts" offered for the common good. However this focus on essentially bilateral exchange loses the evolutionary and transformative dimensions associated with game-playing and martial arts. These dimensions are integrated in other ways in Timothy Wilken's A Gift Tensegrity [more] and in Stafford Beer's Beyond dispute: the invention of team syntegrity (1994) [more; more; more].

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