said it began with Aristotle and Plato and many others.
RMN: Really, the Greeks. Blame it on the Greeks.
LAURA Then the Catholics.
RMN: Because they wanted to control the spiritual mind.
LAURA The belief that the body is something dirty is overwhelming.
DJB: So you think it began long before Descartes divided the mind from the divine?
LAURA Oh yes. Before that St. Augustine condemned the body.
RMN: Have you found any one psychotherapeutic technique to be especially valuable, or does the success of a particular method vary from person to person?
LAURA There are many psychotherapeutic techniques which are effective in the hands of a capable therapist. However, the most important factor is the relationship between the guide and the client. My strong feeling is that any psychetherapy who does not include the body from the beginning is incomplete. The medical evidence is pointing more and more to the body-mind connection. For instance, our relationship to food and cancer; how body movement, breathing, running, etc., changes one’s body consciousness; how emotion and personality are connected to degenerative disease.
In sum, it is increasingly clear and accepted that the way we treat our bodymind is the way our body-mind will treat us. The Golden Rule applies here too. It is amazing to me that the two main branches of therapies, psychotherapy and somatic therapy, are kept separate, when in fact, every state of being is either psychosomatic or somato-psychic. What else is there? I see the human being as a circle and all the points on the circle must be considered important. If you take even the smallest point out of the circle, the circle is no more a circle. The optimum is, in my view, that kind of education or therapy that contacts as many points of the circle of the human being as possible. To contact only the intellectual, emotional, or social points of the human being without involving the body through which the intellect and emotion are expressed is inadequate and the outcome is slower and not on the high level of excellence it might be.
RMN: Nowadays there is a lot of body focus and people exercising for health and vanity reasons.
LAURA Yes, and it does them a lot of good even though it’s often mindless exercise. What I mean is synchronizing the psyche and somatic therapy. One must be aware of how the emotions play on the body and how one can use the body to transform emotion. It is exorcism through exercise. Exorcism means casting out the devil. So consciously exercising to squeeze out, push out, move out the devils of rage, fear, sadness, and boredom from the muscle. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the eminent biochemist, twice Nobel Prize winner, said that the muscles are the greatest transformers of energy in the body. It is one of the ways of transformation that is clear and available–always with us—at no cost!
RMN: Is this the principle you applied in You Are Not the Target ?
LAURA Yes, and in Between Heaven and Earth as well. And I add the dimension of service because service is what gives significance to the self by confirming its importance to the world. The relationship of body-mind and service should be addressed at the same time. In my mind, body-mind-service is the ideal education. I would not call it therapy- that would be an implicit agreement that a person interested and active in improving him/herself is sick. What I’m saying has been admirably and fully presented in the monumental book by Michael Murphy which has just been published, The Future of the Body. Michael Murphy who, with Dick Price, founded Esalen, being acquainted with all the greatest world teachers and their methods, realized that every teacher promotes a certain set of values while others are either neglected or suppressed. Murphy coins the phrase “Integral Practices,” which I quote, “are practices that address somatic, affective, cognitive, volitional and transpersonal dimensions of human nature in a comprehensive way.” A very important book.
RMN: Do you think there is too much attention given to the individual in our society?
LAURA It seems to be so. Had we the kind of education just mentioned, we would realize that we are little cells in an immense, inextricably connected organism and would not pollute