March 9, 2017 9:36 am
Physical Alchemy is an art of physical transmutation and specific methods to enkindle the essence. The method combines re-patterning exercises, physical cultivation methods and specific training based upon studies, training and experience over the last 16 years.
It is an exploratory method that seeks to educate the practitioner seeking self-knowledge related to the body and physical reality.
‘Re-patterning’ and ‘Reenchantment’ are the framing words we use in our teaching. The guiding principles are explicitly not those of fitness, performance, health or wellness (though some or all of these may occur as beneficial collateral). Training is primarily to free oneself of unconscious and habitual patterns of motion, speech, behavior, gesture and posture – and to forge onward into the un-knotting of breathing, mind and emotional patterning.
These are useful metaphors as they allow for seamless transition from physical to emotional and mental – all with the same truth at the heart of the training. That your True Nature is being veiled by collective disenchanted patterning and habitual personal behaviour.
Just as the alchemists heated mineral substances in their alembics and retorts in processes of transmutation, so to do we heat the physical structure of our bodies with the flames of stretch, pressure, tension and awareness. And just as metals release impurities upon heating so to does the re-patterning of one layer of dysfunction and amnesia give rise to old patterns and stagnation that bubble up to the surface to in turn be interrogated via the flame. Solve et coagula.
Undertaking the unwrapping of the many layers of conditioning around the spontaneous and nature functioning of the human being is primarily (within Physical Alchemy, at least) for collective reasons – for planetary ecology reasons. The individual benefits are certainly cultivated and celebrated but the direction of the undertaking is a deep ecological one
[*] The Disenchantment
“A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.“- Aldous Huxley
People are collapsed, hunched, weak, tight, restricted, brittle and uncoordinated when they could be open, graceful, strong, coordinated, supple, agile and aware. They are armored against sensitivity and creative expression. Moreover, many are either unaware of this reality or rigorously deny that it is happening at all – very few simply see, accept, and start doing something about it.
Many layers of inhibition and faulty patterning have seeped into our bodies and minds. Into our nervous system and connective tissue architecture. Our bodies riddled with unnecessary tension. The maps of our internal world, forgotten; fragmented and missing whole continents.
We work towards a re-modeling of restrictions in our muscles and releasing stagnation in the soft tissues and dissolving the character armoring that is legion among the adult population of this society (and even among the young, these days – disturbingly).
The Disenchantment is to the cultural-body what inhibition, stagnation and habitual behaviour are to the physical body. It is a web of overt and covert meta-patterns spun throughout the collective. As with the physical there are patterns interlocking in superficial and deep currents; aspects of the culture, technology, perceptual lenses and metaphysical orientations that interface with personalised physical forms in a powerful way.
We seek a return. For students and practitioners, a critical mass of the training involves unlearning and returning towards that state of child-like wonder, enchantment and creativity; not intoxication with newness or titillation of acquiring new “knowledge” – all the hallmarks of desires pursued un-discerningly. We seek to regain their spontaneous and natural functioning via cultivation of shoshin – the heart of the beginner. To ignite the essence. To create a certain substance.. Originally enchanted, patterned to sleep. It is too late an hour for these games – action is necessary.
Physical Alchemy is primarily a practical method. To echo Goethe via Bruce Lee ‘Knowing is not enough, we must do’. It gives highest priority to the doing with discernment and recognizing the diminishing returns of habitual increase in intellectual knowledge. There is obvious usefulness in some of this but the goal in this system is to become as high a level of practitioner as you can – not a philosopher, trapped in endless abstractions
[*] Physical Re-patterning Work
To have a modus operandi of repatterning disenchanted patterns from oneself calls for a new paradigm [Physical Re-patterning Work]. Some methods employed bare more than a passing resemblance to those used within performance or therapeutic modalities but the intentionality means that the usage and outcome is often completely different. Many new exercises have been created or existing ones modified greatly to enhance the reenchantment potentiality.
Physical Re-patterning Work encompasses the whole ‘outer shell’ of Physical Alchemy and covers the vast majority of work we do in classes. It includes more rigorous injury-proofing and capacity enhancement work for those that desire it. Students who are particularly interested in certain capacities are encouraged to pursue them – an expression of personal preference and character rather than a robotic command to be a particular way.
Physical re-patterning is more a way of using physical cultivation practices and movement exercises to cultivate qualities (both superficial and deep). The intention is in the direction of self-knowledge and aliveness in every aspect of life, not just the training.
[*] Training [ the wonder thereof ].
Training.. for those who have experienced even a small taste of the transformation that can occur from high quality hard training sustained over time there is no need to elaborate. Some virtuous forms of training enhances all aspects of one’s’ life – enchanting the ordinary and buffering against misfortunes.
Training for the joy of it and to bathe in the wonder that you can take hold of your resources (however meagre) and begin work upon yourself in positive direction. One can become not a victim of circumstance with proper training. With training, the seed of one’s life can properly germinate and evolve.
If one peers too long and too deeply into the troubles of the world the likely outcome is some form of alienation, depression, pessimism – an inauspicious crystallisation that can be overwhelming and all encompassing. Through training, a mobilization of ones’ frozen resources occurs. Even without getting into too esoteric a topic – simple, humble physical training done well and carried over time can and does produces wonders.
Regular training of methods with sufficient potency produce changes in the physical form and in the human being as a whole. Hard training done consistently and for long enough duration produces results not known before – some rarely seen on this Earth.
We believe if we are to survive and flourish in this 21st century we need people coming forth at full capacity and full creativity. Working at transforming your own physical body and mind to some degree is a great place to start.
At Physical Alchemy we have all been seeking and studying the best training methods we can find and have all been blessed to study with some truly exceptional Teachers in some deep traditions. Classes currently taught reflect this and also our own experimentation, marrying the traditional with the creative and new.
[*] Transmutation [Re-enchantment]
If one changes profoundly enough in an auspicious direction the experience is that the view of one’s’ previous incarnation (our self before the change) as only being partially alive – embryonic.
Unlike an embryo in utero that experience one birth the human being in the world can undergo multiple births and deaths – cycles of solve et coagula. After each step has stabilised the reality one is in is so radically different that one is forced to re-evaluate what was essentially (essence-tially) ‘me’ and what was simply unconscious patterning and habit. Often difficult, sometimes painful – nevertheless what is happening each time is alchemical. Transmutation. More than a ‘gaining’ it is an incineration within the flame of training and awareness.
Physical Alchemy in its middle shell involves a process of seeing – a system of unlocking meta-communication and meta-observation. This is exceptionally useful in teaching others and cultivating deeper qualities in one own training. It also opens up one’s perception on human relationships with each other and deeper currents running silently through the world of today.
As with all training of this nature it is difficult to define in the conventional vernacular. And as of this moment it is current not on offer to the public, so there is no need. Further experimentation is underway on this most exciting of the syllabuses. Designed by Dave this syllabus profoundly influenced the other two members of Physical Alchemy – Craig and Fred (the only two humans to have successfully undertaken the ‘reenchantment process’).
[*] Embodied Paradox
One must be able to pragmatically and skilfully extract information from multiple physical training systems, the sciences, contemplative and spiritual training and at the same time escape the trap of the net of abstractions and be a living current of the training. It requires a leap of faith to do this. If you truly feel an intuition to follow some tangential aspect of your training (or life more generally) we would highly recommend doing so. What the planet needs is more people to take this leap and less ‘discourse’ and discussion. The deeper work of Physical Alchemy is to create a person who is themselves a living paradox. They embody paradox. We have meet a very small number of people who do this and they are the best and most interesting people.
[*] Bio – Dave Wardman
Dave is the creator of the Physical Alchemy method. An eclectic mixture of practices and metaphysics were drawn upon for that was used in the genesis of the method: influences from human ecology, biology, soft tissue therapy (particular the Structural Integration school [Rolfing]), traditional and modern martial arts, Western physical culture, Stretch Therapy, shamanism, alchemy and more.
The true prima materia of the method lies in the alembic of the deep relationships and learning he has undertaken with his 3 Teachers. This includes an apprenticeship with Stretch Therapy creator Kit Laughlin; an initial transmutation in the martial arts; and being a student of [L] his spiritual Teacher [Korean Zen, Shamanism, Advaita, Enneagram].