This practice, called Movement #39 is the last exercise created by G.I. Gurdjieff, a Greek-Armenian mystic and master spiritual teacher of sacred dances and the Fourth Way path. (You can learn more about G.I. Gurdjieff here). As this practice is very simple in its form it is one of the most accessible of Gurdjieff’s movements, and at the same time it keeps the core of the Fourth Way teaching.
This movement is meant to deepen our connection to our three centers, or rather, to use Gurdjieff’s words, the “three human brains”: intellectual, emotional, and moving or body center. The exercise allows us to explore and experience in depth these three intelligences. One definition of “awakening” is these three centers engaged and functioning in unity, whereas “sleep” would be considered as operating out of one center only.
You may find it help to watch the videos below. You can also download and follow the steps here: Download Movement #39 Teaching (PDF).
It is best to practice this movement with the music written for it and provided below.
Steps for Movement #39
This exercise is basically composed of four postures which are coordinated with the music. The duration of each posture lasts for six beats. It’s not difficult to notice when the sixth beat ends, because after there is a short pause in the music.
Besides the four postures of the body, the main point of this practice consists of three “inner postures” on which our attention should be synchronized:
- physical – sensing the whole body;
- emotional – keeping calm with a neutral emotional state;
- mental – keeping the mind clear and free from thoughts.
Start by sitting with crossed legs on the floor, or in a chair with hands rested on the knees. Eyes can be open or closed, head facing forward, and back straight. During the whole sequence of movements pay attention on what’s happening inside of you.
Four Outer Movements or Gestures:
1. Slowly and gently bring your right arm on the left side of the chest.
2. Slowly guide the left arm to the right side of the chest, crossing it over the right arm.
3. Gently tilt the head down towards the chest.
4. Slowly return to the sitting position with hands resting on the knees and head facing forward.
Three “Inner Postures” or Sequences:
1. Presence of Mind: bring attention to awareness of mind, without thought.
2. Presence of Feeling: bring attention to awareness of feeling, breathing consciously into the center of chest.
3. Presence of Body: bring attention to awareness of physical body.
Note that outer movements are done in a sequence of four, while inner movements are done in a sequence of three.
One can also use different words for the three inner postures, such as “Love God with all my mind, with all my heart, with all my body” or “Lord Have Mercy” or “I am here” or “I wish to be.”
It is important to not let the head take over and make this an intellectual exercise. If you forget where you are in a sequence, don’t try to get it right. Just start over at a known place, and don’t forget to seek the engagement of mind, feeling, and whole body sensation.
For the first six beats, remain still in the above described position. Then on the first chord of each six chord series, start the outer and inner movements, like this:
1. Outer Movement #1 (right arm) with Inner Posture #1 (Mind)
2. Outer Movement #2 (left arm) with Inner Posture #2 (Feeling)
3. Outer Movement #3 (head down) with Inner Posture #3 (Body)
4. Outer Movement #4 (starting posture) with Inner Posture #1 (Mind)
5. Outer Movement #1 (right arm) with Inner Posture #2 (Feeling)
6. Outer Movement #2 (left arm) with Inner Posture #3 (Body)
7. Outer Movement #3 (head down) with Inner Posture #1 (Mind)
8. Outer Movement #4 (starting posture) with Inner Posture #2 (Feeling)
9. Outer Movement #1 (right arm) with Inner Posture #3 (Body)
10. Outer Movement #2 (left arm) with Inner Posture #1 (Mind)
11. Outer Movement #3 (head down) with Inner Posture #2 (Feeling)
12. Outer Movement #4 (starting posture) with Inner Posture #3 (Body)
Continue the inner and outer movements until the end of the music (about 5 minutes). If you lose your place in the sequence, just start at the beginning. There are 32 chord sequences, enough to go through the sequence of four outer movements 8 times.
At the end of the exercise, remain still for a while, pondering on the results gained during this exercise. You can also state some words of affirmation like: “May the results of this practice become part of my being.”
You can take it slow!
Music for Movement #39:
Videos for Movement #39: