A Guide For Week-end Workshops

By Wm. Swartley, Ph.D.
(1927 - 1979)

We have prepared this outline for two reasons:

  1. We want to use the time during this weekend as efficiently as possible. We do not want to waste time saying what you can read faster.

  2. There are usually members of the group who know what follows from previous group.

The weekend can be divided into three parts:

  • Friday Night - Introduction and "Unfreezing" process
  • Saturday - Deconditioning process
    Late Saturday there is often a party for three reasons:
      1. To relieve some of the tension of the day
      2. To begin the "Refreezing" process
      3. Bill likes parties
  • Sunday - Complete the "Refreezing" process and prepare to face the "unreal" world outside the group A more detailed schedule, which always remains flexible, is:

    We do not have a lot of room! If you came in a car, please keep as many of your belongings in it as possible all weekend. If there are still unclaimed mattresses in the upstairs round room, put your belongings on it.

    If there are none left, it means you will have to sleep in the downstairs round room. Therefore, leave your belongings in the hall outside the upstairs round room.

    Friday 8:30 pm - If you take off your shoes, please place them on the right hand side of the steps.

    If you have brought some music which is especially meaningful to you, please put your name on it and give it to a leader. If there is one band which is especially important to you, indicate that on the jacket. We will try to play your music when we feel it is most appropriate, but don't hesitate to ask us to play it at any time.

    We have a collection of various kinds of music. If you feel it would help to hear any other music at any time, tell us and we will do our best to play it or a substitute. Ask any questions you may have.

    The leaders will elaborate on the dangers encountered in Primal Reintegration which are outlined in the following pages.

    The leaders will emphasize "going with" your experiences during the weekend and will elaborate on the mottos (mantrams) which are included in the following pages.

    Friday 9:30 pm - VERBAL INTRODUCTIONS in the meeting room.

    Each of you will be given a 3 minute egg timer and asked to be as specific as possible about your goals for the weekend.

    You will find some "old timers" (who have been here before) can be quite specific. For instance, they will state that they want to work on a relationship with a parent. Sometimes they may be able to indicate which member of the group reminds them most of the person with whom they have an unresolved relationship. Usually completing a relationship involves discharging unexpressed feelings of love, hate or both. Some group members can specify exactly which emotions they seek to discharge.

    Other members will be able to specify a part of their body in which a blocked emotion is "stored". Sometimes it will be a large area., such as the stomach or neck area. Other people will indicate a specific point in their body.

    If you have any physical limitations, such as a bad back, tell the whole group when you introduce yourself.


    After everyone has had their say, most groups are tired of words and eager for the pool.

    As stated in our brochure, nudity is always optional. The majority will probably choose nudity. But don't conform to the majority norm unless that is your choice. If you want to ask any questions about the nudity, the sexual norms while the group is nude, or make any statements about your feeling about your body, nudity, other people's bodies, sexuality, etc. please do so before the group breaks to go to the pool.

    There are small lockers in the shower room beside the pool but it is usually better to change in the room in which you are sleeping so there is less chance of property getting scattered.

    Friday 1:00 am - The leaders will leave the pool. If you want to stay you are welcome to do so, but try to avoid getting into anything "heavy." Remember that others will be trying to sleep. Also remember that Saturday is "the big day" and if you are too tired to function, you will have a ready made "cop out." On the other hand, fatigue can help to open up some people. You will have to use your own judgment as to how late you stay in the pool. Remember that Primal Reintegration is usually exhausting.

    If you want to talk after you leave the pool, please do it quietly only in the dining room (which is next to the pool), or you will disturb others who are trying to sleep.

    We suggest you drape your wet towel over the railing in the round room so it can dry and you can find it when you want it.

    Saturday 9:00 am - Wake up, clean up and eat breakfast. The more you help the sooner we can all get started. If you slept in the downstairs room, put ALL your belongings on the right hand side of one of the steps.

    9:30 am - Breakfast

    10 am - Morning session - starting in the room. Before explaining the agenda procedure, we want tostress that there is nothing rigid - about the agenda. You can It "cop out" with the agenda. Any time you want to do anything that has not been ruled out in the papers you have signed, try it. It is the responsibility of the rest of the group to stop you if they don't like what you are doing. You are free to try to "do your thing," regardless of the agenda. You are free to start anything you want to do even if you are not on the agenda or if someone is in the middle of "their thing." We have enough room to handle several people at once, either in different parts of the same room or in different rooms and in the pool.

    Anytime you want to leave the rest of the group you are free to do so. If you leave to go to the pool, we ask at least one other person to go with you for safety. Please decide who you would like to go with you to the pool before you start to leave. If they do not want to leave, they have the responsibility to say so and you must select someone else.

    The agenda procedure is very simple. There is an easel in the room. You can add or delete your name at any time. When you add your name, please include an idea of what you want to do. Specify if you want to work in the room or in the pool. Indicate if you want to fight, be nursed, rocked, etc. and, it possible, by whom and why. That way we will be sure to get to you.

    1:30 pm Lunch

    Saturday Afternoon/Evening The group will move between the room and the pool as it seems appropriate. If there is reason to do so, the group will split. If it does, one of the leaders will try to stay with each sub-group.

    7 pm Supper

    There should always be fruit and snacks in the room. If you are hungry, ask for what you want.

    If you are tired, you are always free to sleep. If you nap in the room with the group, find a corner. If the group needs the space or your mattress, we will ask for it. If you snore, use the upstairs room to nap in.

    The fundamental requirement in a Primal Reintegration is that you are responsible for whatever appens. If you do not take any initiative, the leaders will leave you alone. You will not be coaxed.

    If you do initiate something and then appear to "run dry," you will be asked to "shit or get off the pot."

    If you start a sentence with the words "I think," a leader will probably stop you to say that he/she will not believe the rest of the sentence. Likewise, if you put a "but" in the middle of a sentence, a leader will probably remind you that he/she will ignore everything you said before the "but". If you say "I can't, a leader will probably ask you to take responsibility and say "I will not." If you say "I am too tired," "too sick," "too confused," etc. , a leader will probably suggest that you are very close to a major experience and that, therefore, it is especially important that you try to keep going rather than stop. However, you are always free to stop whenever you clearly choose to do so.

    Please put all your belongings that you do not need in the car you are going to leave in BEFORE BREAKFAST.

    We have a rule about not getting into anything "new" on Sunday because there may not be time to finish it. The only significant emotional trouble we have had in Primal Reintegration involved passive persons who waited until Sunday to start. So it is your responsibility to get yourself "into the action." Sunday is the day to tie up loose ends.

    If this is your first experience with Primal Reintegration we want to warn you that many people have needed to watch a whole weekend to make sure no one was harmed by all the "action" before they felt free enough to let themselves "flow" through a Primal weekend. We do not encourage you to be an observer during your first Primal group, but if that is what you need., help yourself.


    Our definition of a growth center is:

    1. A place where there is no shame.
    2. A place where you can experience with new behavior and decide if you want to take it home with you.
    3. A place where you can explore ALL the parts of your Self.

    All societies are repressive to varying degrees and repress different aspects of human behavior. One of the major repressions in our society is the repression of natural sexuality. Therefore, many group participants have more trouble deconditioning their repression of their sexuality than other aspects of their Self.

    Because the growth center is still part of a larger society and in order to protect your-self during your experimentation with new, more adult behavior, we do have some guide-lines:

    1. Don't make a public display of sexual behavior which could be used in legal action against you or the Center.
    2. You are responsible for all your actions, here as elsewhere. Consider the long-run consequences of any carelessness, especially pregnancy.
    3. Don't exploit another person sexually in a hopeless attempt to gratify your neurotic sexual symptoms.
    1. The fighting here is SYMBOLIC, not real. You may fight to find out how you really feel about the person symbolized by whoever you choose to act as your opponent. It is your responsibility not to hurt anyone else or yourself. So do not take ANY chances if you become involved in any fighting - either as a participant or an observer.
    2. Take off your shoes, watch, heavy belt buckles, heavy rings, etc. BEFORE you start to fight.
    3. Most adults haven't fought for years and are not in good shape. Remember that while you are fighting both about yourself and your opponent
    4. Wrestle - don't hit or kick.
    5. Keep close to the floor - don't stand up to fight or you might be thrown against the wall, fireplace, stair railing, etc.
    6. The most vulnerable part of an adult Is body is the spine and neck.
    7. The rest of the group is responsible for protecting fighters. Place pillows on your body between the fighters and anything they might hit, especially the railing and the corners of the fireplace. Watch for and STOP any kind of fighting that MIGHT result in injury. Fighting is the most dangerous thing we do during Primal Re-education. No one has been seriously hurt yet, and we want to keep it that way. DO NOT TAKE ANY CHANCES. It is not necessary to achieve primal experiences.
    8. If you are not involved in protecting the fighters, GET OUT OF THE WAY. One leader did not move fast enough and was accidently kicked resulting in a broken rib.
    9. BEWARE OF THE RUG, IT BURNS KNEES AND ELBOWS badly. Wear a sweater or heavy shirt and pants. We have special pads if you need them.
    10. If someone chooses you as their opponent, you must agree to fight. Make a clear contract about the goal of the fight. You may stop whenever you decide you are in any danger. Do not transgress your strength or indurance or take any chances in the name of helping someone. It is not necessary. We have had broken ribs to prove it.
    11. If you massage any body armor, be aware that the only person possibly hurt by it may have been due to heavy massage on the neck.


    1. The pool is only three to four feet deep - DON'T JUMP IN OR DIVE -
    2. When a person starts into something, place your body between his head and the side of the pool to make sure he does not hit the coping around the top of the pool.
    3. The first person who helps another should place the head of the person who is into some feeling on his shoulder and plant his feet firmly on the bottom of the pool in such way as to prevent his head from going under the water. That is the best way to block primal experience and some people will do it unconsciously to stop themselves.
    4. Other than keeping the person's head above water, restrain people in the pool as little as possible. Let the water do as much work as it can. If more than one person is needed to protect someone from going under water or from hurting themselves, the second and third persons who get involved should make a ring with their hands around the person's elbows so they are not restrained, but must drag you with them if they move too much. If still more people are required, the fourth and fifth helpers should make a ring with their hands around the person's knees. If more help is needed, the sixth and seventh helpers should grab the person's wrists, as loosely as possible. The eighth and ninth persons should grab the ankles as loosely as possible.
    Mottos (Mantrams) Which Have Helped Others

    1. "Keep Going" If you become frightened (as you will when you uncover anything significant), you will have to deal with multiple, subtle cop-outs which will appear to make perfect sense at the time.

      Most cop-outs have a fear of loss of control as a common denominator.

      You may be afraid that you will go insane, get sick, kill, become sexually promiscuous, go farther than you are really prepared to go, or interfere with the Self exploration of another participant.

      In our experience, the best way to deal with all cop-outs, especially the more subtle ones, is to tell your "adult self" to "Keep going". No one has gone insane yet, and those who have been able to let themselves lose control completely have experienced it as an exceedingly frightening but necessary step to a higher level of functioning.

      By "keep going" we mean to really ignore anything you imagine or feel might stop you. To paraphrase the Tibetan Book of the Dead if you see demons on either side of you, ignore them and walk straight ahead between them. If your demons are straight ahead of you, walk through them. Remember that everything you are experiencing is another part of your Self.

    2. "Let be, let if flow". We were all born unrepressed. You were the one who repressed yourself. A human being has a natural (built in) motivation to grow, with all that entails - loving, exploring, playing, etc. In one very important sense, your goal during a Primal Re-education is to stop blocking your Self, to let your Self be, to let your Self flow out in a completely natural spontaneous manner.

    3. "When you don't know what else to do, BREATHE" - The easiest way to cut off emotion is to take shallow breaths. That is why most people repress threatening emotions with shallow breathing. The opposite is also true. The easiest way to express emotions is to deepen your breathing.

      When you attempt to deepen your breathing, the important thing to remember is that your goal is to exhale completely and then inhale completely. The speed of the breathing is not nearly as important as the completeness of the inhalation and exhalation and then, later, the balance between inhalation and exhalation.

    4. "If you feel sick, go ahead and vomit". A common cop-out is stopping an emotional discharge because of fear of nausea. The only advice we have is to "go through it" as quickly as possible. Some people have only "dry heaves." Others actually vomit. It is the responsibility of the other group members to watch for signs and hold up one of the plastic buckets which are always around in the pool and in the room.

    5. "When you are ready, GO" You do not have to wait for "your turn." As long as there is enough physical space enough people to protect you from getting hurt, and you are doing your "own thing" and not attempting to stop someone else's "thing", GO! THE RESPONSIBILITY RESTS WITH YOU.

    On the other hand, you can always stop - any time you think you must. All you need to do is say "STOP IT, I MEAN IT". We will not stop with the single word "stop" which we have learned people frequently use while reliving traumatic experience.

    Be warned, however, that you will most want to stop at the very point there is most to gain by going through the experience. Unless you fear physic danger, try to keep going. Also be warned the depression frequently follows the blocking of a primal experience. If you are in the pool with someone and become afraid you can not handle the situation, the last resort is to hold their head under water which interrupts the most primal experience.

    There are intercom phones in every room - In any emergency, push ALL the black buttons.

    We ask participants to read Janov's books because they are the best books to prepare you for a Primal Re-integration. However, Primal Therapy as described by Janov and Primal Re-education have several important differences:

    1. Janov emphasizes the experiencing of Primal Pain. We encourage you to experience the whole range of human emotions, especially primal joy.
    2. We encourage you to select members of the group most similar to your parents, siblings, mate, etc. and to use them (with their clear agrecment) to attempt to complete an emotional relationship with these key people in your psychological development, whatever the emotion or action might be (short of hurting them).
    3. We encourage you to not only regress only toward childhood, but also to explore the most advanced (spiritual) parts of your Self, which you may also never have allowed yourself to express.

    1. Do not try to drive if you do not feel "right". Wait!
    2. Do not attempt to continue your primal experiences at home unless you have arranged to have a qualified person or group available whenever you need them.

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