winter 2018, the Seven Life Processes
Welcome to the Aurora Newsletter.
We have again a very rich and full newsletter, and this time we take a look at the 7 Life Processes. In February this year The Anthroposophical Medical Society organised a conference in the Hawke’s Bay around the theme of the Seven Life Processes and Boundaries. A few of the Aurora members were lucky to be able to go there and be inspired by the main speaker: Dr Adam Blanning, the founder of the Denver Center for Anthroposophic Therapies.
Below you will find an attempt to describe these elusive concepts of the life processes as well as some examples of where we can recognise them in our work, therapeutic processes, biographical change etc.
Dr Ava Ruth Baker has given us a brief summary of Coenrad Van Houten’s book: “Awakening the Will”, looking at the 7 life processes in the different stages of an adult biography.
An illustration is given to us by Mark Geard, who guides us through the artistic process, recognising the 7 life processes along the way.
A link leads you to an example of going through a sculpture exercise and recognising the 7 different stages.
Then you will find a link to an interview with Dr Ross Rentea from the anthromedlibrary website. This gives a more medical picture of the 7 life processes and how they work in our bodies and what the effects may be if one isn’t working in a balanced way.
Our newsletter is this time enlivened by reproductions of art works from sculptures by Lut Hermans, paintings by Mark Geard, and a pastel drawing by Deborah Harris, printed here with their permission. (Copyright belongs to the artists, please do not copy them without their permission.)
We hope that the framework of the seven life processes can be helpful for you, in your work, your life, in understanding and supporting your clients or students. We hope that helping you to recognise the particular step you are making, can give you perspective on the whole of the process.
Since we have started the Aurora Fund, support has gone out towards clients for Music therapy, Sculpture therapy, Supportive nursing, and towards consultations supporting people with anxiety. It is starting to flow and find its way to reach people. Other projects are in the pipeline, but have not yet found their way through all the 7 life processes and into the world.
In the “what’s on” column you will find all the details about the Aurora Fund, as well as a new eurythmy class that will start soon in Lower Hutt. If this is for you, don’t hesitate to sign up!
You will also find there all the details of the ASK trust library and a short review of one book. Please do check out this very valuable resource. If you know someone, would like to deepen your understanding of, or are working with people on the autistic spectrum, this library has over 500 titles you can borrow from, wherever you are in the country.
If you would like to contribute to this newsletter, have suggestions or questions, if you read a good book you would like to recommend or want to announce an activity or event that is happening in your area, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Enjoy the reading!
The Seven Life Processes.
The concept of the 7 life processes was first brought to us by Rudolf Steiner in 1909 and 1916. He names them: Breathing, Warming, Nourishing, Secreting, Maintaining, Growing, Reproducing. In his book ‘A Living Physiology’, Karl Konig starts with telling us what they are not, which may explain why they are so hard to describe: “It is not a form we are considering here, therefore it is not anatomy or morphology. Nor is it physiology as we understand it today. It is living, weaving, etheric being.” (p72)
Every sense impression has to go through these 7 stages before they can become fully part of us. We can look at them through the human body and the life in it, we can also look at a creative process and recognise these 7 stages/processes in it, as well as biographical changes and growth, both individually and in the biography of an organisation, as well as in the therapeutic process.
Dr. Adam Blanning, in his presentation, gave us some other words to describe them and also questions to consider with each one of them. In his book ‘Understanding Deeper Developmental Needs’ he describes how we can find the wisdom of the 7 life processes expressed in different ways in the fairy tales. He gives the example of Snow White and the 7 dwarfs as an example of the inward journey, through the life processes, to come to redemption and transformation.
1) Breathing, Taking in, Unshielded?
Breathing in its widest sense is also considering any connection that is made before there is a physical manifestation of it. We take sense impressions in, we make an initial connection with the world around us. An inkling for a creative idea, long before we might even be aware of it, before we have decided on materials or form. An idea or need for a business or organisation is slowly becoming felt. A first contemplation of change, but not yet making any steps towards it, the openness towards a possibility, the full potential.
In our therapeutic work this can be the time before the sessions, before the meeting, where the therapist is holding the client in their consciousness, in preparation for the work that might be done. The time when a client arrives and enters the room, in anticipation of what will happen.
2) Warming, Adapting, Recognising, Not recognising?
Once the air is breathed in, it warms up. Food that is taken in adapts to the temperature of the body, a home is formed around that what was taken in. A direction is taken, movement is coming towards the potential, commitment is made to start a process, be it a creative process, or one of change. There is interest in and enthusiasm for what is about to happen, in who this other person is. Sense impressions receive our attention and focus and we make a different connection with them.
In our therapeutic work there is a welcoming of the client into the well prepared space, both physical as mental space. There is an open and warm interest in who this other person is who has come to see us. There is the first conversation, a warming footbath, exploring the musical instruments, beanbags, colours, clay etc.
3) Nourishing, Breaking down, Analysing, Unable to Digest?
Now we take in more than air, we take in substance from the world. Something that was once outside of us is now coming in. We allow something that is foreign to us, outside from us, different from what we are, to come in and start a process of transformation. Sense impressions are broken down and processed in our brain, food is broken down in our digestive system. A challenge is taken up. A plan of action towards change is put into place and acted upon.
In our therapeutic work the instruments are now played, the colour is put on the paper, the clay is transformed, the oil or cream containing the plant or mineral essence is applied to the skin, absorbed in the blood, touch is sensed by the nerves in the skin, the questions are asked in the conversation etc.
So far, the processes have been about meeting what was outside and slowly coming closer and deeper inside, internal. The following processes are about the internal transformation of what was taken in.
4) Secreting, Sorting, Questioning, What is me? What is not me?
What is broken down and needed is now absorbed to become part of the body, becomes part of the individual, what is not needed is eliminated. The plan of action is bumping up against the reality and is adjusted and changed. New sense impressions are joining previous ones where they become part of an individual’s concepts, change them, challenge them and reform them. A dialogue between the old and new, inside and outside is happening through new experiences informing and changing the old existence.
In our therapeutic work questions and answers are examined, the effects of the colours are experienced, met and new colour added where needed, the substance of the oils on the skin are absorbed in the blood and met by the client, allowed and taken up to further change, or rejected, touch is able to relax the muscles, clay is responding to the hands that add, take away, push and pull, exploring what fits and doesn’t fit with the emerging idea, the body and nervous system is responding to challenges of balance and coordination.
5) Maintaining, Combining, How do I relax?
What is absorbed is sustaining the Self, the body, the concepts and thoughts, the organisation, art work, musical expression etc. The results of the struggle of the sorting and questioning are felt, lived. For the process to be a living one, this needs to be a constant re-living, re-cycling maintenance. How easy is it to stay in this process and relax into it? The organisation, art work, conversation, change through substance etc, needs the repetition of re-living and allowing the changes to settle in, for there to be sustaining transformation.
In our therapeutic work we see the rest after an oiling, touch, movements, in which the work of the sorting can consolidate into the body and become part of the self. We also see repetition of treatments, exercises, conversations, artistic experiences. Staying in this work, with time, to allow for changes to be lasting and becoming part of the new fabric of life, of the body.
6) Growing, Embedding, When do I rest?
What is sustaining the Self, is also allowing the Self to grow. Both physically, mentally, inner growth, emotional growth, developmentally taking the next steps so that an evolving, living process can occur. What the organisation has decided is part of it and what is not, allows for further growth within the found identity. An art work can grow and be refined to where it expresses the idea as best as it can, the substance from oils, compresses, medications which has become part of the body, is supporting the growth towards a next phase of life.
In our therapeutic work we may take a break from the weekly sessions, a course of medication is finished, a school holiday allows for a break in a programme, an artwork is given time to be ‘forgotten’ etc. In that time, as in sleep, it continues to work on the body, memories are formed, growth happens so that what was new is becoming part of that what allows me to move on towards the next steps. This is an important time, one that is often not given enough attention and awareness, if we want real growth to happen.
7) Reproducing, Recreating, Optimism for the future?
Reproduction is more than growth. In reproduction a new individual is re-created. The transformation from the previous 6 life processes has recreated a new Self. The organisation has found a new form, a next level of functioning and standing in the world. An art work can move on to a metamorphosis of the expression we had found so far. New sense impressions have transformed concepts and new concepts are arising. What was a problem is no longer an issue and we are free to move on.
In our therapeutic work we see a new person leaving our care, with new resources to meet the world, health where there was illness, strength to meet new challenges, a new reference point from which to orientate, a stronger balance and sense of Self.
Although we can differentiate the 7 processes, they are living, weaving processes, which means that breathing and warming doesn’t stop when Nourishing is happening. They all are working all the time, but we go through them in this order with different emphases depending on where we are at. On one level we can be warming, while on another we can be secreting, some processes we might go through very quickly, others take more time etc.
A. Blanning, Understanding Deeper Developmental Needs, Lindisfarne Books, 2017
K. Konig, A living Physiology, Camphill Books, 2nd edition, 2006
R. Steiner, The Riddle of Humanity, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1990
photos of sculptures by Lut Hermans, “Lines in Time and Space”, forged iron, plant fiber paper on steel
1. “Before Life”, 70 x 70 x 35 cm
2. “Pure Life”, 70 x 70 x 35 cm
3. “Forming Life”, 100 x 30 x 20 cm
4. “Powerful Life”, 100 x 30 x 20 cm
5. “Healing Life”, 100 x 30 x 20 cm
6. “Euphoria”, 90 x 70 x 60 cm
7. “Loving Life” 100 x 100 15 cm
The Seven Life processes in relation to Biography, Destiny and Adult Learning
An integral aspects of our work at Aurora as anthroposophical doctors, nurses and therapists, is to reflect on the patterns of an individual’s biography and destiny events, when addressing their health challenges and questions.
Awakening the will – the first of a series of relevant books by anthroposophical educator Coenrad van Houten – outlines how an understanding of the seven life processes can enhance biography work, destiny learning and adult learning, and help identify learning hindrances and barriers in thinking, feeling and will. The book encompasses exercises and other practical applications. The following are some notes & quotes from this book:
Destiny learning enables inadequacies caused by destiny to be transformed into new strengths through subsequent life experiences. Inborn talents, on the other hand, may even hinder development. Beyond the age of 49, Van Houten writes, whatever we have achieved should “selflessly be made available to others instead of being held onto as personal property.”
In destiny learning, the seven life processes can be seen in the following steps:
“Step One: Breathing – Perceiving a destiny event
Step Two: Warming – Placing the event in our biography
Step Three: Digesting – Discovering the meaning of the destiny forces
Step Four: Individualising – Accepting our destiny
Step Five: Maintaining – Practising the transformation in daily life
Step Six: Growing – Growing the new faculty of karmic perception
Step Seven: Reproducing – Bringing order to one’s destiny”
How can the life processes be seen in adult biography patterns? As Van Houten explains:
The phase of soul development from 21 to 28, the ‘sentient soul’ phase, supports and reinforces the first two processes – breathing and warming: “We yearn to take in something new. Real life offers itself as a thrilling adventure; we are easily filled with enthusiasm or disappointed.” If this disposition is sufficiently strengthened, it forms the basis to later “carry through the other five learning processes to reach the creativity in the seventh.”
The phase of soul development from 28 to 35 years, the ‘intellectual / mind soul’ phase, can build on the first two processes to support the middle processes of “digesting [nourishing], individualising [secreting] and practising [maintaining]” If strong enough, this enables the last two processes to unfold: the growth of new faculties to “externalise in an original way what has been learnt.” Otherwise the risk at this stage is to sink into “mindless repetition of what has been learned.”
From 35 onwards, with “vital forces no longer as fresh and youthful, a stronger spiritual incentive is demanded” for faculties to be transformed rather than becoming an impediment. In place of the earlier ‘egocentric learning process’, a more ‘altruistic learning process’ is now called for. This involves a “process of sacrifice, to create an inner space – a time when we can discover an unresolved question in the world we meet.”
From 56 onwards, we are “increasingly independent of the influence of our bodily organism, so spiritual upbuilding becomes increasingly possible. …. in this way the seven processes may be extended over our whole lifetime.” By the “seventies, eighties and nineties, learning is less and less body-bound” with the seven processes “often happening almost simultaneously. The fruits of the past are harvested, and seeds are sown for the future.”
Applying this understanding of life processes in biography to our work / lives as professionals, Van Houten describes a series of examples of how professional development can easily turn into ‘professional deformation’ – “a widespread problem … where experts are forever repeating themselves in a limited field … [with] room for improvement …but not for anything fundamentally new.” For this, he writes “the remedy lies in the possibility of giving up part of our proven skills to create an inner space that will allow us to stay creative.”
Dr. Ava Ruth Baker
The seven life processes in the creative, artistic process.
The seven life processes have their correlates within artistic creative processes. What were in the life processes biological activities, become raised up into soul or psychological processes. The following is a brief outline of an archetypal process that may vary according to the creative modality used, and of cours
The seven life processes have their correlates within artistic creative processes. What were in the life processes biological activities, become raised up into soul or psychological processes. The following is a brief outline of an archetypal process that may vary according to the creative modality used, and of course the artist may be fully or only partially aware of these steps.
Breathing: Feelings arise in the artist of a non-physical ‘presence’ in the soul that wishes to become manifest through a work of art. It is not yet even a formed idea at this stage. In past ages this feeling was known and experienced as the presence of the muses –the Goddesses that allowed their artistic imaginations and inspirations to flow through the artist. Such feelings are quite palpable. They are breathed in as it were, given life and attention, and exhaled as arising, ever-changing, imaginations.
Warming: A warmth body manifesting as enthusiasm forms around these mobile imaginations which gradually become more clearly defined and cognizant.
Nourishing/Digesting: The artist has to align skills, talent and materials so that the nascent art-work can be successfully assimilated and manifested.
Secreting/Individualising: As the work unfolds what existed in a more generic, less defined way, now becomes individualised through the total engagement of the ego. The process is both cognitive and instinctive. The ‘feeling’ now flows into form. Dangers exist here for the creative process itself. If the artist has not completely surrendered to the process, and is not in the present moment, the ‘now,’ they may fall into habitual artistic responses. This can lead to the art work becoming overworked, thereby compromising freshness, originality and life.
Maintaining/practicing: During the creative flow the artist must be sensitive to the needs of the unfolding work at all stages, caring for its authenticity and spiritual integrity as it becomes a material object.
Growing/growing new talents: If the artist is fully cognizant of these needs during the process, then the work itself will be informing the artist as to how to respond. In this way the artist is receiving from the work, and may develop new skills and insights.
Reproducing/producing something new: When the work is completed, the artist will assess whether the artwork is faithful to the original imaginative feeling-impulse. If it is, then something new has been created that is true to the spiritual intent. The artist will also have been changed through the creative process.
An example of a very basic sculpture exercise with references to the seven Life Processes is found by clicking here.
Here below you will find a link to an interview with Dr Ross Rentea on the 7 life processes. It gives a more medical picture of where they can be found in the body and which illnesses might be connected when a process is not functioning well.
Ross Rentea received his medical degree at the University of Chicago; then did his residency in New York City. Subsequently, for six years, he worked at clinics in Europe to study anthroposophical medicine. Since 1983 he has been practicing in Chicago, together with his wife Andrea Rentea, MD.
To read the whole article, please click here: http://www.anthromed.org/
And to conclude, an illustration of the transformation through the colours, an artistic expression of the transformation through the seven life processes.
pastel by Deborah Harris, under the guidance of Iris Yve.
The Aurora Fund:
It is our wish to make the therapies on offer through our members, more accessible for people in hardship, to reach professionals with professional development and parents, guardians with adult education programmes. To do this, we have set up the Aurora Fund.
Here we can receive gifts and donations, so that this can flow out into all corners of our community, with added warmth, enlivened, with nourishment of the therapies and therapeutic relationships, to all the places and people where support and health-giving is needed.
The details of our charitable status are:Aurora Collective Incorporated registered 20/06/2017 registration number: CC54753 37 Pretoria Street Lower Hutt 5010 email: firstname.lastname@example.org ph: 021 028 9981 For the rules of the incorporation go to: http://auroracollective.nz/rules-and-policies/ If you would like to support the work and donate to the Fund: Bank account details: Kiwi bank, Aurora Collective Incorporated 38 – 9019 – 0120476 – 00
Please send us your name and contact details so we can send you a donation receipt for your tax refund. We can then also let you know what happened to your donation, how many people we reached with your support and help.
From all the Aurora Collective members
Would you like to join a friendly group in eurythmy classes taken by Uta Stoll-Kuwilsky?
We are organising a daytime class in the Hutt to start at the end of July possibly on a Monday or Tuesday. Time and venue to be confirmed once participant numbers are clear.
Please contact Matthew ter Borg on 027 434 1663 or Darien Mahony on 04 9770909 /email: email@example.com, with your questions or to let us know you are interested.
LIBRARY OF ASD BOOKS
ASK Trust (a charitable trust for and by ASD adults) has a large library of ASD books (over 500 titles), which can be borrowed by post (or in person by special arrangement, as they’re based at the Aurora Center, 37 Pretoria Street, Lower Hutt). The catalogue can be viewed on their website www.asknz.net , and items borrowed by emailing your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The current cost to borrow is $5 per book, or $30 annually for unlimited number of books (max. two at a time) – plus postage if applicable.
Book Review of a book available from the ASK library:
Lucy’s Story, Autism & other adventures, by Lucy Blackman (reviewed by Lut Hermans)
Lucy Blackman is a young woman who wrote this book in her early twenties. As a mostly non-verbal child in Melbourne, she learns to type as a young teenager. This enables her to express herself, and sets her on a path of discovery and ability to describe her own experiences. The book ends at the time she starts her university studies in Literature and gives a very clear insight in how she experiences the world and herself.
What struck me was her descriptions of her sensory experiences, both of her own body as well as of the world around her, how language develops when there is no speech, and how she is teaching us, and through letters she writes to people across the world working with Autism, what having autism can look like and means for her. A true and inspiring insight, and I highly recommend this book.
GET IN TOUCH
If you want to get in touch with any of the Aurora Therapists, please visit our website: www.auroracollective.nz. You will find all contact details, descriptions of the different therapies and biographies of the therapists there. You can also contact us there via the ‘contact us’ page.
For questions and suggestions for contributions to the upcoming newsletters, you can also email Lut Hermans on email@example.com.
SUBSCRIBE / UNSUBSCRIBE
If you want to subscribe to this newsletter, or you no longer wish to receive it, please send a little message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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