The Stop Exercise
Computer Stop Exercise by Kenneth Jonsson
The "Stop" exercise is impossible to do on your own. The point is to freeze whatever you're doing without any warning or any preparation at all. The command must come from an external source. This simple application serves as a substitute for the person/teacher giving the command to stop. When activated this application will give you the command "Stop" without any warning.
What You Get?
You get a possibility to get out of your habitual, mechanical posture for a moment. In the original exercise Gurdjieff gave the command in person and exerted his will on the students in demanding that they hold their positions, even on board M/S Paris sailing on rough seas towards America. On our own it is much easier to get out of a difficult posture (to slip back) - please remember this when you try to carry it through. This is an exercise in self-remembering and you are advised to read about the exercise in 'The Fragments' or 'Views from the Real World' before you do it.
About the Stop Exercise
The Theory Behind the Idea
Everybody and every larger group of people like race, nation and so on have their own postures and movements. These postures and movements are automatic and very difficult to change. The physical postures relate to the mental, thinking and emotional postures. We can have new thoughts and emotions only if we are able to take new postures and make new movements. Examples of this in other connections are Tai-Chi and Yoga asanas, which can assist to make unaccustomed movements or take unaccustomed postures. We do not normally use all the possible postures that we can take; the number of our postures is limited to only a few. Our movements are transitions from one posture to another and just as mechanical as the postures themselves.
Example: Smiling exercise
My wife has a cunning way to get out of her usual automatic mental state, which she is not always satisfied with. To get out of it she puts a smile on her face and moves the muscles of her face in different positions to find the one she likes. It works wonders. Of course, if you want to feel sad or gloomy, just try getting your face in 'position' and watch the results. Please note that my wife does not know of Gurdjieff's stop exercise, nor is she interested in the ideas; she is using her own common sense to change her mental attitude.
Gurdjieff said that we have not enough willpower to govern more than one center at a time. Moreover we can only control one center over a short time. The influences of the other centers gain control and take over.
The Stop Command
At the command stop you will have to stop between your automatic postures immediately when you hear the word stop. If you are not moving when you hear the command there is no point in carrying it out as you have already taken your accustomed posture. The possibility of seeing yourself 'in new light' is dependent on your ability to stop before you assume your automatic posture . When stopping all movement during the exercise you must also stop the movements of your thinking and concentrate in holding the position, where the command caught you.