from the meeting of Thursday 20 November 1986 at Newport.
Alexander: The exercise I tried with counting was very successful in the time that I tried it for three days. You told me to do it for three days so that it did not become a fixed idea. It showed me that I can have presence away from here better than I have been achieving. And it also showed me that I couldn’t continue with the same thing that already by the end of the third day, it was losing its effect.
Mr Adie: Yes, if you’d gone on, some sort of rather unpleasant habit would have started to form. And also, one can become despondent to no good purpose.
Alexander: Yes, it’s given me an idea of sort of aims that I need to make for myself, to keep the work alive.
Mr Adie: Gurdjieff said, do this exercise in all your free time. There’s a question: what is my free time? I have to understand that.
Free time consists of that time when I’m not actually working in my daily life or something like that. “Free time” is a big question. Don’t forget he said that if a person could remember themselves for two and a half minutes, he’d be the biggest saint of them all. Something of this size, you see. So, I can’t hope to work for hours and hours and that’s impossible. So, what does he mean by all your free time? Anytime that you feel free. Then you can plan, perhaps, to have certain times free.
Alexander: There was another thing, Mr Adie, I find a lot of difficulty with the movements. I haven’t practised them at home very much and I felt sort of out of my depth and a bit helpless. And I could sort of see a babyish sort of attitude in me. Sort of a frustration and almost wanting to not find it impossible and –
Mr Adie: Give up.
Alexander: Yes. And now I can see a little bit of that past behaviour, sort of only venturing where I feel comfortable.
Mr Adie: Yes. About movements, you must persist because you need movements very much, and movements could give you almost more than anything, simply because you don’t naturally go that way. So, it’s a difficulty for you and you need that. I advise you to work at the movements. Don’t give in on any account – suffer that frustration.
Alexander: I think it will help me also to tear up a bit more of my picture of myself.
Mr Adie: I’m sure it will. What sort of a person am I? I can’t even put my foot in the right place. I remember my feet not being very willing the first time or two I was shown movements. They didn’t seem my own feet almost, until I began to come to notice spaces and have a different relation to space. And then I begin to know space around myself. It’s very interesting. And I can know space in myself. This is where I want to find a place, it connects what Sam was saying just now, he wants to wake up. One thing he certainly needs is to find a place in himself. It’s very similar to finding a place in movement, the position of the arm just like that. Not like this. Not like that, but just like that. Or exactly like that. Now, I can shut my eyes, but I put it exactly there, because there it is. It’s defined, or there. And now, again, it’s exactly the same place.
I can do that for myself innerly. Where is this place? Two inches below the navel, which is a store of energy, which needs to be down and not drawn up. And what is the breast, the condition there? At the same time, I have to be aware of what’s going on. So immediately I begin to divide my attention and have some reality. That’s what I meant by, how am I going to act?
Yes, I’ve got to take action, but what? First action, perhaps find out. Find my place for another place perhaps it’s where his feet are. Maybe for you it’s just your feet. You need to have your feet on the ground as if they were your own feet and you knew where they were. Feet are very expressive, the kind of picture they give of a person.
I remember somebody in the work, shortly after I met Mr Gurdjieff, drew a cartoon of me. It was a very cruel cartoon, and a very true one. One of the most significant things about was it showed my feet in a very indecisive posture, and I recognised the truth of it. They were in an indecisive posture. Another thing connected with that was the first time, the first time Jane Heap came into his presence was in New York. He’d just come off the boat. Jane Heap was very short, strong, but very short. And everybody was there, miles above her. Americans are very tall, all twice as tall as her. They were all milling around, and she said: “Well, I couldn’t see any faces. But I looked down on the ground and I said, well, whoever else is around, those feet are Gurdjieff’s.” She recognised him from how his feet were.
You know, he writes in his introduction, how he’s now a writer, and he’s already on his feet, and maybe very good feet.
Use that exercise, in a limited way, whenever you feel it’ll help you, but only limited; twice a week, not more, something like that, to guard against a habit, because you can have exercises and do them in your sleep. That would be like having a knife and cutting yourself with it.