Jodo

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The name of Alejandro Jodorowsky might not be familiar, yet you’ve probably been exposed to his work one way or another. His career, spanning over 70 years, has taken many forms. He’s, among other things, an actor, a mime, a puppeteer, a writer (essays, novels, movie and comics scenarios) and a movie and theator director. At almost 90 he’s still active, having recently released his movie Endless Poetry.

He’s also a therapist, famous for having revived tarot reading (check out the NY Times article), using it not as a divination tool but as a way to interpret and clarify the emotional and mental state  of the person who consults him. At the root of his creative work lies his need to heal and help others grow. The suffering he experienced during his childhood urged him to go beyond the limited vision of the individual that society offers. He’s dedicated to what he calls “the expansion of consciousness”.

To reach his goal, he’s used many different medias. Symbolism is a huge aspect of his creation. His most notable work includes comics like The Incal or Alef Thau and movies like The Sacred Mountain. Yet, his most ambitious cinematographic work, the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, never saw the day. The story of this unique adventure is related in a documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune. This project planted the seeds for many of our sci-fi classics.

Born in a Jewish Ukrainian family settled in Chile, the mixing of cultures and traditions is at the heart of his universalist message. His artistic career led him from Chile to Paris to Mexico to Paris again. Throughout the years, he studied  and been exposed to western philosophy and mysticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, Zen Buddhism, psychoanalysis, tarot, gypsy magic, chamanism, Yoga, martial arts… The list goes on. But he doesn’t limit himself to a bland syncretism. He seems to have absorbed those different elements in a way that allow him to state his views in a very matter of fact, non esoteric way.

To put it in a nutshell, he states that the different forces that shape the individual throughout his life (family, culture, society) are restrictive. He defends the idea that, through the development of consciousness, anyone can overcome those limitations to find the essential being, what lies under all those layers imposed on the individual. This is the foundation of his whole work, the subtext of all his creation.

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Influenced by his study of meditation under a Zen master for five years and  his psychoanalysis with Eric Fromm, he devised a therapeutical method called psychomagic. The key principle is that instead of resolving unconscious issues by using conscious language, like traditional psychoanalysis, the unconscious could be contacted through symbols. According to Jodorowsky, a poetic, symbolic art can help untie un rational conflicts, mostly led to the family history of the consultant. His observation of family dynamics led him to develop meta genealogy.  

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Of course, one could say that the thing that interests Jodo the most is himself, his work being centered mostly around his life and experience. That is true in a way. But his intentions seems very altruistic. He looked for a way he could enrich his life and help other do the same. As an example  for twenty years, he read tarot for free in Parisian cafés. He also ran the Cabaret Mystique, a weekly free conference attended by hundreds of people with live demonstration of psychomagic and metagenealogy with people chosen from the audience. His collaboration with his family, the Jodorowsky constellation, is also a good example of the collective aspect of his work.

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There are many doors to Jodo’s universe. They all lead to the same place. Pick yours.

Enjoy. Spread the love.

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The brick and the waterbed

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Artwork : Qiom

It’s not easy to find oneself. Our inner resistances are strong, our dark places are scary. Some would say it’s the work of a lifetime to know who you are. Many people are so deeply broken that they struggle daily to establish a sense of self.

For me it’s been a long, always fascinating and sometimes painful process. I’m not saying I’m done, mind you. But as my research has progressed, I’ve changed tactics. Let’s say I’m more attracted to the fluid aspect of the self. Because finding yourself, knowing who you really are, is a double edged sword. I’ve mentioned people who feel lost, but at the other end of the spectrum, there are ones who never doubt.

Man, the “never doubters,” they are impressive. Without blinking they tell you all about life, about the way things are or should be. “If everyone did things in the same way as me, the world would be a better place”, they say.

Most of us need to find balance between doubt and certainty. Otherwise, you never move forward or you end up crashing yourself into the walls of life.

Sure, you gotta find yourself. But what’s to find out really?

Not that you are something clearly defined and delimited, like a pure block of granite. In fact, according to Antonio Damasio, the brain works like a waterbed. Instead of being a static and fixed entity it functions like a fluid, ever shifting structure. The whole persona is like that too, a constantly moving ensemble made of many processes.

You can read those lines and have an opinion on it because you breathe, your blood flows, you digest, your hormonal and nervous system regulate your body.

Therefore, the attention that you pay to the organic, corporal aspect of your life can help to find other dimensions of yourself. Oftentimes, we find that the natural flow that can animate our body is not present. Those physical restrictions might reflect those of our mind.

Nowadays, the question of identity is crucial even at the level of nations. Voting for the extremes, making the choice of isolation is the expression of fear. Fear of change, fear of difference, fear of oblivion. But it is also the sign that to gain a sense of safety, we are ready to hold onto an image of ourselves, as individuals or as a country. The problem is that as soon as we conceive this idea of who we are it is partial and already anachronic.

From my experience, body and mind are heavily affected, even literally governed by emotions. They will shape your posture as well as your movement and thought patterns. Bringing freedom when confronted to our emotions, the possibility to be creative should be the ultimate purpose of bodywork, whatever the form it takes.

Creating space and awareness in your body helps you to question who you think you are, the nature of your aspirations, the way you relate to others, etc… To relay the words of Alejandro Jodorowsky, we have to find our true self beyond what’s been imposed on us by our family, our culture and the society we live in. Freed from this layer, I like to think that we can rest in the present moment, grateful, creative and in full acceptance of the fleeting yet magnificent nature of our existence.

 

Yoga saved my life / Le Yoga m’a sauvé

It’s a phrase you’ll often hear on the mats. Or variations of it depending on the context, whether it’s about art, sports, religions, and so on.

For me, a healing process started with martial arts fifteen years ago. It lead me from Vietnamese kung fu to MMA, from Tai Chi to Feldenkrais, from Pilates to Yoga. All those disciplines are tools, like say, a hammer. If you use a hammer to put a nail in the wall so you can hang a beautiful picture in your living room, that’s nice. But if you use the same hammer to crush your fingers to a pulp, surely it’s not so great anymore, a misused tool. What matters is the way you use the tools you have.

It is certainly helpful to rely on a solid tradition and lineage when your are in need of guidance. But the path is sinuous to say the least; it is easy to get lost. You can apply yourself to mirror the ideals of a particular practice, the ultimate Yogi, the virtuous samuraï, the perfect dancer. Certainly, study can trigger an inner change within you, helping you to peel away the layers that blocked your progression towards a fuller life. But by conforming yourself to the codes and requirements of your art in a rigid way, you miss the opportunity to dig deeper into yourself. Somehow, you reinforce your self image, thus missing your self essence.

Religions, sports, arts are not the destination, they are the vehicle, the medium, the scaffold helping you to get closer to yourself. So, if you feel better with yourself, in your interaction with others or more integrated into the world, don’t say this or that saved your life. I suggest you’d rather say that you used this tool or that one to save your own life. Real empowerment lies in the ability to face oneself honestly, embracing the good and the bad to create something new, beyond your projections or those of others.

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Artwork: Qiom

C’est une phrase que l’on entend beaucoup sur les tapis. On en trouve des variations dans différents contextes; sports, arts, religions, etc…

Dans mon cas, un processus thérapeutique a commencé par les arts martiaux il y a quinze ans. Ce voyage m’a mené du Kung Fu Vietnamien au MMA, du Tai Chi au Feldenkrais, du PIlates au Yoga. Ces disciplines sont comme des outils, comme par exemple un marteau. Si vous vous servez du marteau pour planter un clou et accrocher un beau tableau dans votre salon, c’est évidemment positif. Mais si vous vous servez du même marteau pour vous écraser les doigts, c’est tout de suite beaucoup moins productif.

Il est certain que s’appuyer sur une tradition et une lignée solide peut être utile lorsque nous sommes en quête de réponses. Mais le chemin est pour le moins sinueux et il est facile de s’y perdre. A trop chercher à incarner les valeurs idéales de sa discipline (le Yogi ultime, la samouraï vertueux, le danseur parfait) on s’égare. L’étude peut certes initier le changement en soi, aider à décaper les couches qui font obstacle à notre développement. Mais si on se conforme aux codes et aux exigences de façon rigide, on manque l’opportunité de creuser plus profondément, nourrissant l’image du soi plus que l’essence du soi.

Les religions, les arts, les sports ne sont que le véhicule, le média, l’échafaudage qui nous rapproche de nous mêmes. Alors si vous vous sentez mieux intérieurement, plus équilibré dans vos relations avec autrui ou plus intégré dans le monde, je vous suggère de ne pas dire que c’est grâce à une discipline mais plutôt grâce à l’usage que vous en avez fait. Le vrai pouvoir réside dans la capacité à se faire face honnêtement, d’embrasser l’ombre et la lumière pour créer quelque chose de neuf, au delà de nos projections ou de celles d’autrui.