Steps To Accessing Primal Feelings

By Fred Walters

As primal therapy evolved, its discoverer, Dr Arthur Janov, found that there were different levels of repressed feelings which were related to the brain’s evolutionary development. He termed these levels first, second and third lines of consciousness. [See Réal Beaulieu's Techniques of Primal Therapy] Janov postulated that in accessing primal feelings, there is a natural backward sequential regression through third, second, then first line feelings as the predicted course of therapy access continues and also often occurs within the course of a specific primal feeling itself.

However, this may not actually be the case as each individual is different. Which feelings will be most readily accessible will vary from person to person. This is largely related to where there is the most pain and also one's levels of defenses and type thereof keeping that feeling from entering conscious awareness. For example, someone with a lot of third line pain might find earlier feelings as being more accessible with a natural bodily unwillingness or inability to journey into where there is more energy blockage.

The body, in its innate wisdom, knows where it needs to go. In other words, it knows the optimum feeling tone for the moment given conditions present. A patient lays down on the floor and begin working with his feelings. He has been in therapy for some time so he usually has a good idea when feelings and tears will flow. But the feeling only reflects the extent the individual has allowed his body to access these feelings. The main impediment to the body’s going to more accessible feelings is the defense system. One's defenses keeps the individual separated from his own biology, from the reality of his own being. The defenses tend to keep the mind wandering and away from the present moment -- with the ultimate goal of keeping feelings at bay.

But the defense system should not be broken in any way. That is why "busting" in therapy ultimately leads to a dead end or to a flood of feelings which cannot be properly integrated. The defense system must be allowed to become less relevant so that unconscious material can be felt and owned.

The antidote to a wandering mind, to deadness and the insulation of the defense system is to use a technique from gestalt therapy and that is to stay in the present moment. Any means designed to assist the individual in staying in the present moment should be as simple as possible. Paying attention to one's beathing is quite simple, yet have miraculous results. This can be done by laying down in a comfortable place. A primal center is adventageous because of the support available and the less inhibition about making noise.

Stay with your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and out of your nose or mouth. The mind may wander. That's acceptable. When that happens gently return the focus of attention to the breath. The idea may occur to you that this is a useless practice but that idea itself is a defense and a distraction. The goal is to clear the mind of its usual chatter and habitual thoughts in order to begin to allow the body the freedom that it normally doesn't have in the day-to-day reality while at the same time giving the ego permission to release a modicum of control.

If you stay focused on your breathing it will soon automatically get deeper. When this happens, again, continue to stay with the breathing. Don't be too dazzled by the mental fireworks you may begin experiencing.

It may be like getting on a train and going backward through the landscape of your psyche. There may be "train stations" where you will observe, "Oh, there is that worry I so frequently have." Keep breathing. The train will keep moving. The next train station may be a behavior you've had since childhood which you were forced to create to avoid uncomfortable thoughts. Resist the temptation to "deal" with that and keep going. Concentrate on the air going in and out of your nose. You well may have a kaleidoscope of memories and images from seemingly random unconnected periods in your life. But continue focusing on this "boring" activity since that is simply your judgment. Behind that boredom may well be valuable material trying to enter your consciousness. To one's higher self, the act of breathing is not boring at all, it’s miraculous and sacred. Where did the word “inspiration” come from? It comes from “inspirare,” - to breathe in.

At some point in this exercise, if you happen to get far enough. your body may begin to make the movements it wants to make. Do not censor. Let it happen. You may experience an altered state - a definite feeling of almost transcendent energy engulfing you, the Spacious Present. This is your body beginning to speak the truth it has been forced to repress all your life. Remember, it has been trying to be heard; it has been trying to scream its emotional truth from the very beginning, Finally, you have begun taking steps to giving it its voice.

Even though it may seem like it, this is not rebirthing therapy because rebirthing involves force via a deep breathing regimen. When you pay attention to your breath and gently stay with it, there is no force. You are simply staying with and concentrating on your breathing - allowing your body to express itself. You may go into a foetal position or into rhythmic movements. Don't judge what happens. Your body knows what to do. It has been crying out during your entire life to be allowed to express both its exuberance at living and the grief and fear it has been forced to repress. Staying with your breathing begins the process of extracting the mind from controlling the body. Remember your body has all the "answers" and has been screaming to be heard. You've started the process of listening.

Primal feelings may come up. You may be tempted to go into them but sometimes these are distractions on the way to even more important feelings. Keep noticing your breathing. You will experience your ideas in a feeling way. You may let out loud screams and other noises which may sound like someone being tortured. Yet these screams will bring flashes of light and energy and you will, at least for the moment, remember what it was like being a child. Allow at least two hours, or even better three for this process to begin. Do not eat for at least six hours before beginning the experience. Your first efforts may not bear much fruit. Your mind may wander. You may fall asleep over and over. Not to worry. You've begun.

Further Suggestions

  • In your daily life as you go about your chores, always try to always pay attention to what you're doing whether it’s reading the paper, walking, eating, etc. In other words, live in the conscious moment.

  • Remember that . intellectual ideas are only the surface manifestation of a profound on-going unconscious repressed event. Core beliefs are energy vortexes of vast power. That power is the power of the self, the power of our godhood we've forgot. Childhood, infancy and even the events of your birth, are in a real sense is happening now because the past and future flow out of the present. As we expand awareness we begin to experience energy frequencies that become less and less time-oriented. This is the experiential component of quantum physics.

  • Fasting can be of great benefit in allowing access to early traumas. Fast at least one day per week and one week out of the month fast three days. Choose the week the day of your birth falls. For example, if you were born on the 21st, fast three days of the week in which that day falls.

  • Emotionally embrace even the most “negative” emotions you have because they are messengers and they carry the energy, albeit blocked, of vast experiential learning and expanded awareness.

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