—from unknown (highly speculated about) sources, through GI Gurdjieff, through to JG Bennett to us
the transmission of inner exercises Since the beginning of the twentieth century and from 1949 respectively, inner exercises researched and developed by GI Gurdjieff ("The Gurdjieff Inner Exercises") have been used by his students in the West to develop attention, focus the mind, relax body-systems, resolve
neurological and cognitive agitation, and promote physiological and psychological health. After
years of only anecdotal evidence, books and articles are now appearing, many of which attest to the
veracity of these techniques. One such book by JG Bennett, Transformation, attempts to describe
the results of his fifty-five years of search and research into practices of transformation. Many
first person accounts, too numerous to reference here, have also appeared in literary collections, Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections and journals, Gurdjieff International Review.
John G. Bennett's unique contribution in the
transmission of these practices spans more than thirty years and includes research at his Institute
for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences (1946-1970)1 and at his Sherborne Academy for Continuous Education (1971-75).2
A more recent contribution in this transmission by a student-associate of James Tomarelli is found in the findings of a phenomenological study (undertaken by her at a five-day movements seminar in Italy given by James Tomarelli) for which she was an
author-investigator. Two primary investigators, responsible for coding and analysis in the study,
had no connection with this tradition. The study — of the effects of Gurdjieff Dance
or "movement meditation,"3 — was published in 2008 in
the "International Journal for Human Caring": a journal focused on complementary and
alternative modalities and their impact on healthcare providers and clients. Findings in this study included such paradoxical themes as "focused attention while letting go"
and "presence or in-the-moment experience while distancing or disassociation from the moment to be able
to reflect on the experience." Also found were other apparent paradoxes such as "presence and reflection,"
"embodiment and transcendence."4
today James Tomarelli (who was a student of JG Bennett at Bennett's Sherborne Academy in 1974 and has been a student of the Gurdjieff Work since 1967) and associates
(in Italy, Germany, Austria and USA) are researching the role of “active attention” in the work of human
transformation and the effects such work has on health, education, and personal relationship. With daily practice of the
inner exercises and regular participation in Gurdjieff dance classes, individuals concerned with human development and
helping others are finding the results they seek and opening to deeper questions.
Since 2001, numerous seminars have given new participants experience in the basic exercises and returning participants a
possibility of deepening experience and continuing along a progressive track of inner development.
At present, funding is being sought to develope an institute to offer training for those able to become teachers of the
inner exercises and the dances.
instruction Beginning and advanced instruction is given at seminars by experienced teachers.
1. Some of Bennett's most creative thinking and research
occurred at Coombe Springs where his Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences flourished. See Witness: The Story of a Search, his autobiography, for details on this time in his development of the techniques
discussed here. up >>
2. See, Allen Roth. Sherborne: An Experiment in
Transformation, Santa Fe: Bennett Books, 1993. See also, James Tomarelli's Epilogue to the Italian edition of J.G. Bennett's book Sex and Spiritual Development. up >>
3. Cohen, J.A., Laskowski, C., and Rambur, B. The experience of movement meditation: a dance of rhythmic
paradox and time. "International Journal For Human Caring," 2008, Vol. 12, No. 3, p. 71. up >>
4. ibid., note 3. up >>