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Could the MythoSelf Process be Zen for the Modern Man?
In this fast changing turbulent world, where job security and satisfaction are sacrificed on the altar of competition and profits, where the once sacred contract of marriage has been replaced with nothing more than lose verbal agreements, and where fewer people than ever in the history of man are connecting with the spiritual aspect of their existence; it is no surprise to me that someone has made available a ‘new offering’ to help modern man and woman regain control of themselves and their lives.
Good old fashioned job security, and the associated personal dignity and pride that came with that, is for an increasing number of people a thing of the past. The once clearly defined roles of men and women in the home and at work have become blurred. Raising a family is being postponed until the more mature years of a couple’s life, and the range of options available to youth of today is almost limitless, which in itself brings a whole bunch of challenges.
Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs stands true through time, yet the ground upon which such a model of human needs resides, shifts and reforms at an ever increasing speed. So how do people manage emotionally in this rapidly changing society even though their basic needs are the same as our ancestors? Are we managing? The answer to this I believe depends upon your outlook on life. Whilst I think that each man and woman has to discover ways of living best suited to his or her beliefs and potentiality, I do think that while science and technology look forward, it is by looking back and learning the secrets of our ancestors that we will learn the coping mechanism for the new millennia. And this is just what Joseph Riggio Ph.D., architect and designer of the MythoSelf® Process appears to have done.
I became curious about the MythoSelf® Process as a result of a chance encounter with someone who I later found out has fully embraced it as a way of life, and whose presence was refreshingly ‘different’ to most other people I know.
This triggered my research into the MythoSelf® Process, and as I did so, it became apparent to me that there are many similarities between it and what I know of the archaic Zen, which I shall now attempt to write about.
Neither Zen nor the MythoSelf® Process regard themselves as a religion, but instead they are a way of being and living with the shared goal of enlightenment, or, for those that find the word ‘enlightenment’ a little ambiguous, let us say the shared goal of allowing you to be truly yourself and one with the universe.
So if Zen and the MythoSelf® Process share this way of being and living as a goal, do each provide the means to be able to achieve it? Yes – absolutely, and for both the means has to do with our body – or to be more specific, somatic education. It is in developing and directing our sensory awareness toward how we are using and moving our body that this way of living can apparently be achieved. The key for both exists in the belief that it is in our body that unadulterated wisdom resides. Pre-verbal, pre thought.
Zen has the practice of meditation, as the route. “How can I obtain enlightenment master?” asks the Zen apprentice. The Zen master replies “sit down and shut up”. “Is that all?” the apprentice asks, “Yes,” says the master. “Be quiet and learn how to sit. When you’ve done that, come back.”
When a Zen student learns how to meditate they talk of accessing a place of serenity and emotional peace. When a student of the MythoSelf® Process learns how to do their thing, they talk of how their system comes to rest, how their attention is on the outside, and how they sort for possibility – and as I understand it, that’s just the beginning. That’s what they call being structurally well formed. Functional well-formedness is what follows.
So what is ‘the thing’ that a student of the MythoSelf® Process would do? Someone practicing the MythoSelf® Processes as a means to enlightenment makes micro-muscular adjustments to their body. Sounds simple huh?! Well it’s in trying to understand it that I found it starts getting complicated. But bear with me. There is a simplicity that unveils itself in the end. (And yes – I know that I’m messing around with the unadulterated body wisdom that I spoke of earlier by going verbal and thinking about it! Both Zen and the MythoSelf® Process really do transcend language and communication…but for the purpose of this article, here goes…)
It is believed that woven into the DNA of each of us is the blue print of how we are when we are at our best. I have experienced being at my best but I must admit that it is a feeling that just comes out of the blue. Mostly dependent upon whether I got out of bed the right side and whether my wife of nearly 50 years nags me much that day! When the planets are aligned and the Gods are looking after me, I might have a day that I would call ‘being at my best’. The MythoSelf® Process leads you to an experience of how to access this way of being with deliberate intent – regardless of what’s happening on the outside. And this is possible because it is woven into our body wisdom; it’s just a matter of uncovering how we do it.
The idea of somatic education is nothing new. The likes of F.M.Alexander, Elsa Gindler, Moshe Feldenkrais and Thomas Hanna all did pioneering work in this domain. Joseph Riggio built upon the work of these pioneers and also of Joseph Campbell, the worlds foremost authority on comparative mythology, and perhaps most significantly of all, Joseph Riggio’s own mentor of many years, a man by the name of Roye Fraser, developer of the Generative Imprint Model.
Someone trained as a facilitator or trainer of the MythoSelf® Process is able to lead another person, either conversationally or through a program called Dance of the Elements™, to elicit and feedback the micro-muscular adjustments that a person makes when they access this way of being. It goes something like this… You’ll be in conversation with a MythoSelf® Trainer (or facilitator) and they tease you into feeling good, you’ll probably be laughing your socks off, and this so far is what they call being in an ‘excitatory’ state i.e. being positive and noticing for what’s working in life. In ‘brain speak’, this is done because nothing happens until the Amygdala is set up to allow new input. Then you are asked something which, in order to answer, causes you to adjust your body. Before you speak (i.e. pre verbal) you will have accessed this way of being spoken of earlier. The skill of a MythoSelf® trainer is to have tracked what it is you are doing, so that they can feed it back to you (implicitly and explicitly) so that you can then ‘be’ this way for yourself. When your body has become trained to operate from this way of being, you find that your body goes there as a matter of default. A bit like working a muscle – the more you use it, the more it is present for you.
So the route to enlightenment with Zen is to meditate. The route to enlightenment with the MythoSelf® Process is to discover your unique blue print for being this way, and running it over and over in your system until you become habituated to moving through life in this way. Which I’m told takes anything from a moment to a life-time to achieve. What’s that saying? “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”!
Having identified the shared purpose of Zen and the MythoSelf® Process, and having identified that they share the route of somatic education as a means to get there (albeit with different somatic education methods), it now seems pertinent to point out a glaring difference between Zen and the MythoSelf® Process.
Those in the Buddhist tradition of Zen aspire to experience ‘Nirvana’ which is a place ‘not of this world’, so to speak. A place where there is no suffering that one aspires to transcend oneself to.
The MythoSelf® Process leads one to experience fully THIS world and THIS life. It teaches people how to walk with gracefulness and integrity through the life that we have.
A lesser, but all the same pertinent difference also comes in the form of the lessons and teachings of the MythoSelf® Process. The MythoSelf® Process is taught with modern day metaphor. Stories are told that this generation can relate to fully, and in a language that is understood and used freely in our society today. This is very different from the paradoxical questions posed to aid meditation, known as a koan. For example “What is the sound of one hand clapping”?
It seems to me that the need for modern man and woman to be able to compose and calm himself in the midst of the tumult of our fast and noisy lives, has never been as pronounced as it is at the outset of this century. Both Zen and the MythoSelf® Process offer a means to address this – I guess it comes down to good old personal preference, and the truth is that for many people these issues are being addressed with alcohol and recreational drugs.
Mr V Spiteri
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