(Stephen Tame – April 2020)
I’m making some sense of my response and choices in the current context:
An infectious virus, a government encouraging physical distancing, with the government narrative being taken up and reinforced by the media, with strong social media echoes, together with some underlying legally sanctions being enforced slightly haphazardly by different forces of the police.
There are strict restrictions in the government guidelines on that which is ‘social’, and then there are restrictions in workplaces which are only applicable ‘if possible’.
I’ve needed to disentangle my choices to reduce virus transmission, from my knee-jerk compliance with the government guidance and regulations.
Initially I experienced the restrictions as an oppression from outside – something I must comply with. This brought unconscious echoes of earlier times in my life when I have been locked out, or locked in. The language of ‘social distancing’ and ‘lockdown’ are particularly unhelpful.
I then noticed that, in practice, I have been choosing to expand into my home, choosing to stay this side of the front door (I made one attempt recently to go for a walk, which was pleasant, but not a revelatory expansion).
So this morning I discovered a frame which supports and makes sense of these two different responses, in a paper written by Will Davis: “An Introduction to the Instroke”
Will Davis is a body psychotherapist who has been, for many years, developing practices and thinking which refocus on the in-breath, the instroke, the movement inwards.
Reichian body psychotherapy has something of a history of focusing on, emphasizing and valuing the outstroke – expression, expansion, catharsis and action.
Will Davis helpfully reminds us that healthy pulsation is the moving of energy and attention outwards- inwards-outwards inwards…
The distinction he draws which I am finding particularly helpful at this time is the distinction between an instroke and a contraction.
A contraction is moving away from the outside, it tends to be unconscious, blocking, preventing, and it tends to lead to a static stuck state.
Whereas an instroke is moving towards the inside, it tends to be soothing, alive and engaging, and tends towards the natural next step – expansion.
The current challenge and invitation for me is to step aside from the demand to contract:
“Do not go out! Do not infect or be infected!”
…and to choose instead to engage with and embrace the instroke:
“Go in, engage deeply with self, body, soul and soil”
From the article: “An instroke may seem to be a “no”, but its deeper statement is a “yes” to what is good for the organism in the long term.”
Will Davis: An Introduction to the Instroke this article can be downloaded from: http://www.functionalanalysis.guttmann.name/index.php/articles
Do not meet others, even friends or family”
“”Where this is the case, staff should work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face if possible.”