The “stop” exercise is obligatory for all the students of the Institute. In this exercise, at the command “stop,” or at a previously arranged signal, every student must instantly stop all movement, wherever he may be and whatever he may be doing. Whether in the middle of rhythmic movements or in the ordinary life of the Institute, at work or at table, he not only must stop his movements but must retain the expression of his face, smile, glance and the tension of all the muscles of his body in exactly the state they were in at the command “stop.”
He must keep his eyes fixed on the exact spot at which they happened to be looking at the moment of the command. While he is in this state of arrested movement, the student must also arrest the flow of his thoughts, not admitting any new thoughts whatever. And he must concentrate the whole of his attention on observing the tension of the muscles in the various parts of his body, guiding the attention from one part of the body to another, taking care that the muscular tension does not alter, neither decreasing nor increasing.
In a man thus arrested and remaining motionless, there are no postures. This is simply a movement interrupted at the moment of passage from one posture to another.
Generally we pass from one posture to another so rapidly that we do not notice the attitudes we take in passing. The “stop” exercise gives us the possibility of seeing and feeling our own body in postures and attitudes which are entirely unaccustomed and unnatural to it.
Every race, every nation, every epoch, every country, every class and every profession has its own limited number of postures from which it can never depart and which represents the particular style of the given epoch, race or profession. Every man, according to his individuality, adopts a certain number of postures from the style available to him, and therefore each individual has an extremely limited repertory of postures. This can easily be seen, for instance in bad art, when an artist, accustomed mechanically to represent the style and movements of one race or one class, attempts to portray another race or class. Rich material in this respect is given by illustrated newspapers, where we may often see Orientals with movements and attitudes of English soldiers, or peasants with the movements and postures of operatic singers.
The style of the movements and postures of every epoch, every race and every class is indissolubly connected with distinctive forms of thought and of feeling. And they are so closely bound together that a man can change neither the form of his thought nor the form of his feeling without having changed his repertory of postures.
The forms of thought and feeling may be called postures of thought and feeling. Every man has a definite number of intellectual and emotional postures, just as he has a definite number of moving postures; and his moving, intellectual and emotional postures are all interconnected. Thus, a man can never get away from his own repertory of intellectual and emotional postures unless his moving postures are changed. ~ G
One of the purposes of the Movements was to teach us new postures. Apropos of which, there is a new book available about the movements, titled: Gurdjieff’s Movements: The Pattern of All and Everything, by Wim Van Dullemen. You won’t find it on Amazon right now, but By The Way Books have copies. Here:
Also, The 1931 manuscript to Beelzebub’s Tales has been published. This is on Amazon: here: http://www.amazon.com/1931-Manuscript-Beelzebubs-Tales-G…/…/