Recapitulation Reappraised
A conversation from the Sustained Action Mailing List - Part II

Gina Celiko:

Hey Jeremy, I agree with you on alot of things.

First of all ground zero is a very good state. At least for me. That means I can now build something new, something positive. But, I can't do it before I reach that ground zero, because whatever the energy stuck in my subconscious will effect the way I can create what I want until I reach that zero state. But, once I reach there, and there is no longer that crippling, negative belief, I can build indeed a positive experience, which usually what happens to me. So, I agree with you there.

I don't sit around recap all day believe me. As a matter of fact i have never followed Castaneda's recap map.

What I do is this:

As soon as I feel a strong emotion, I stay with it. No matter where I am. I become very capable of staying with the emotion, not conversing with it, but staying completely aware of it in my body. I breathe gently as the emotion is in my body, breathe in inner silence, while watching it. As I breathe (very important not to hurry to push it out, inhale exhale deeply and hurriedly, instead savor the emotion as it is the best feeling in the world), the emotion becomes pure energy.

My first step is to notice where it is hitting me. Some emotions will hit me in my heart (unwantedness, sadness), anger in my solar plexus, some others in my womb (helplessness). As I breathe gently, I feel that energy very deeply. It feels like I am so deeply immersed in it that I will never be able to get out. I feel I am going to die of it or suffocate from it. But, I keep going in my breathing still ever so gently. I must continue to breathe. That's very important and I must not converse with the emotion at any point. Instead I must concentrate on feeling my body, being very aware of my body and where the energy is going.

Energy starts moving from the point where I first felt it, outwards slowly. I watch it literally like a wave of water, or like a cloud, pass through every point of my body. This is an exquisite feeling. The feeling when the energy starts moving throughout the body and finally takes over the whole body. The final feeling is one of relief, joy, utmost love and literally radiance. The energy feels like it has become my friend, it has moved through me. All my cells, every organ, every blood vessel have come to know this energy most intimately. At this point my body doesn't contract, but is free and expansive.

This energy now can come and go through my body whenever it wants. Every part of me knows and lets the energy in, therefore energy moves in and out, and I don't feel any emotion anymore when it does so..

I used to remember scenes from my past whenever I would get hit with certain emotion when I get to the energy part of the emotion. I used to say, "Hmm, where did I feel this way before." And there it would be, not one but many scenes, where the energy would show up in this form of emotion. But, I realized that I didn't have to recapitulate the scenes, because the emotion or the energy was the same, common factor. So, I stopped delving into a scene, but rather just walk through the energy now as I mentioned above, or I let the energy walk through me.

Of course, there are some scenes that won't leave me. Like the night my mother died. I have relived that night so many times. And each time I did, so many different energies were present. I could only work with one at time. I finally completed this most tragic event of my life. Now, I can see the room she died in, while she was in my arms in all detail. But, everything has been handled in the room. I feel a sense of happiness and yes joy when I remember her death. I literally see her radiance as she died and her love of me and my love of her. Right now, all there is left in that room she died is our love which we felt for each other, her nurturing sweetness, the sense of freedom and adventure, and certain radiance which I never experienced before. Yes, I go back to that room a lot, still, but only to find her looking at me with that wonderful smile and loving eyes of hers. All that, I did with my reliving-the-past therapy.

I totally believe in living life as well. That's why their idea of recap won't work. We have to be out there, living, doing, interfacing and letting the energy find us. Only then can we walk through the energy or let it walk through us. Otherwise, this life capitulation becomes a mental exercise. One which is just a mental, intellectual look at your past. And mental doesn't work with energy--it just doesn't.

Joan Grout:

Regarding recapitulation, I speak as an elder. (Because I AM elder :-) ) When you spring chickens get to be my age, you'll see that recapitulating in the manner Carlos dictated is just plain ridiculous. At this age, I would have to spend more time RE-living than I have left to actually LIVE. What an incredible waste. What a ridiculous sacrifice--with the exception, of course, of dealing with any traumas than may deter growth. In situations of blockages some type of intervention is necessary and desirable and some form of 'recapping' might be beneficial (like Gina described).

But the world Carlos Castaneda created--mostly for his personal satisfaction and gain but also due to his own personal incapacities, was a world for the young. About him, that says, in my opinion, that he had a monumental fear of growing old, and was also afraid to have meaningful in-depth long-term relationships. So he glorified youth and kept trying to relive his youth by smammering from here to there and back again... By perpetuating that fear, and spreading it to his followers, he's contributed to a whole generation of Castanedian beings who are afraid to grow old, afraid to die, afraid to fully live! That's a tragedy.

Dan, there's something to be said for growing old with someone you feel close to. Sure the glow of newly exploded passion fades. But, it can change to something with unfathomable depth. You miss that if you don't take the risk of growing old and all that "old" implies and is.

Joan who is old--been there, done that, and it doesn't hurt :-)


Jeremy wrote:

The recap, while it may approach the intensity of the original experience, is never quite as intense, simply because you know's a recap. And what I've noticed is that I can recap a painful series of events until much emotional release has been obtained, and yet ... if subsequently I am once again placed in a similar situation, I am still quite vulnerable and sensitive, almost as if it has been burned into my mind to expect the likelihood of an unfortunate result in such a situation. Thus I have begun to wonder if really intense experiences cause millions of neurons (or whatever) to be "set" in ways that simply are not completely reversible. In fact, intuitively I feel this scenario to be probable. It is like ... once certain things have happened in a life, a person just never really fully "gets over it" (hence the irritating nature of the phrase: "get over it" :-) ). I'd love to be convinced otherwise.

I must, unfortunately, confirm your theory. After having done extensive recapitulation, I trapped myself recently feeling the same intense fear I had experienced in my childhood at situations I couldn't master. Forty years after, the very same fear aroused, the same feeling of entrapment and my mind running wild. The detachment was only in the safe haven of the recapitulation. Obviously this re-living of the fear and why it arouses does help me now somehow, but there is no warranty whatsoever it will not be back again. One can say I am programmed to feel intense fear at certain situations.

So it seems that we actually can release certain experiences, but others just not. And I never got to the point where that pattern Carlos talked about was visible to me. Unless he was speaking about that programming, was he?

Gina Celiko:

That is the reason I do not do recap like Carlos talked about.

Because, lets say that you got to the bottom of the event, you are watching it, you are reliving it, there are many charged emotions on the scene. My experience first of all, as I said before has been that, whatever energy I came into viewing the event with is the energy I projected into that scene. This happened every single time. So, as I said before, I bypass trying to remember the scene.

Replica Watches  Replica Watches

Of course if a scene won't leave your space, then you must go into it. For example, there is sometimes a look in someone's eyes as they interact with you that you need to remember. What did that look mean to you? That's the only thing worth remembering out of that scene. Now that you got that, you have to work with that look and have that look tell you what it wants to tell you. It is that look which is charged with energy. Let yourself feel the energy of the look while breathing and aware, and let it pass through you. You will know if you are resisting, and chances are you are resisting if the scene won't leave your mind.

So, it is the basic feeling, the energy of the feeling one has to cleanse. In an emotionally charged scene, there are many feelings, not one. The feeling of being confronted, abandonment, inadequacy, low self esteem, not being wanted, not being loved, not being good enough, guilt etc. All those things can exist all in the same scene. That's why when it is charged like that and you are hooked to the scene, yes indeed you go back and work with it each time with a different emotion.

But, as I said, my experience has been to grab an emotion from the scene and work with that emotion until I completely clean that scene of any emotions which might still exist.

It has been my experience now that I don't even remember stuff that used to affect me deeply anymore once the charge is gone. And some of the stuff I remembered as most tragic strikes me really funny when I remember the scene. Because for the first time I can see other people as they really are, and see what they really meant, and how we mistook each other, etc. There is a refreshing excitement when an energy is cleared and we no longer let the fear of that energy lead our lives, one can actually just hear another person saying what they actually mean and not give it any other meaning , other than what is meant, and the world becomes a delightful place..

That's the moment one feels safe, not at war with everything, not defending oneself all the time that someone will say something to offend him/her. It is exquisite.

Jeremy Donovan:

Bern wrote:

So it seems that we actually can release certain experiences, but >others just not. And never got to the point where that pattern Carlos talked about was visible to me. Unless he was speaking about that programming, was he?

You seem to know what I was talking about. Yes, I believe CC was talking about our early programming, and no, he didn't invent this idea--again, almost any decent psychologist is aware of the powerful effect of patterns established in our early years. Yes, I have found major "patterns" in my life experiences. Two in particular stand out, and yes, one traceable to mommy and one to daddy. Because they began so early, and lasted so long, and helped give rise in one way or another to "devastating" experiences over the years, it is my opinion that no matter how clearly I may recall the events, and no matter how "at peace" I may come to feel with the related past events, under heavy pressure those patterns will still affect my behavior. There are other long-term series of events in my life which I believe have had a similarly uneradicable effect. As a movie I recently saw emphasized, it really is true (in a variety of ways) that "the past is not done with the future".

(What is mysterious is the way these patterns fulfill themselves, and seem to "attract" what appear to be weird things into one's life. I still shake my head when I look back at the way certain things happened for me. It's almost too perfect, and even after you know the patterns it still almost seems like "fate" or something just how perfectly horrible it works out. :-) The most deeply ingrained patterns tend to cause you to create or attract the very situations that you would never consciously seek out in a million years.)

I'm not so bad off compared to a lot of people I see. I believe it is true, though, that most people are walking around with parts of themselves which are ... to some extent ... broken and cannot be fixed. So one does the best one can with what one has and is. Sorry if this seems overly depressing to anyone. You really DO have to focus on: do the best you can with what you have and are. I was always too much of an optimist to believe or say this kind of thing before (I always fiercely wanted to believe that anything can be fixed), but I'm coming around to where I'd almost advise watching out for people claiming to have some way to return you to "pristine" condition, because for many, perhaps most, paraphrasing the most cyncial remark of the hero in "Ihe Princess Bride" (speaking to the "princess") : "life is pain, highness, and anyone who says otherwise is selling something".

Of course, that's just focusing on one aspect. Life is also great pleasure and delight, even for those who are ... broken. If you want to make a perfect being, better start with a baby, and find some way to carefully control all human interactions with it until it is at least 5 years old, to maximize the baby's potential. Oh, and control it's genetics. :-)

-Dr. Frankenstein

P.S. - Interesting accounts of your own methods, Gina.


We all have certain patterns that we built as kids trying to deal with different situations, as adults we act out this patterns over and over, unless we become aware of them and try to change our actions according to our will, rather than the habit.

As a tool, recapitulation is nothing new, tibbetan buddhists have a meditation on compassion to every being, which is supposed to start with your mother and include everybody you know and then every sentient being, which is supposed to be accompanied by certain breath. Releasing emotional charge was already mentioned, as well as shrinks:), to add to this techniques used by dianetics, holy confession, and we have something known for ages.

Melissa Ward:

Regarding recapitulation and if it works, it is different for each person. The approach, technique and application are subjective and each person will get a different reaction, just as doing yoga or any other discipline. It reminded me a lot of the work we did in Arica. It was helpful to me as I was able to focus on one aspect of my life and revisit and restructure the past (under the strict rules imposed on me at the time by Castaneda of sobriety and celibacy). It was a sobering and important process. I did finally receive the "View from the Bridge" that CC promised. That didn't stop my inclination to continue such self-destructive patterns, but gave me such a strong impression in conscious terms of the pattern that I can no longer go unconscious and continue this behavior as an automaton. I know, and it is in the forefront of my consciousness, so that I must acknowledge the consequences, etc., when I choose to follow through. A good therapist can also help one achieve this type of conscious knowing and responsible awareness.

Pio barone:

For me, it worked in another way. In '88 I started to recapitulate regularly but progress was too slow. I understood then that I should recapitulate my sex--lovewithwomen--experiences.

That decision accelerated my recap and after 2.5 years I finished with that part of my life.

I felt that I had gained a lot of buoyancy & lightness.

That accomplishment, together with other factors, encouraged me to change work in '90, to start an analysis with a shrink in '92, to separate from my wife in '95.

I continued to recapitulate until May '99, mostly unwinding the day. Interesting but slow and superficial, only small gains. Very small but more significant progress came from the therapeutic work: Why had I a controlling attitude? Why was I a provider? And a husband? And a father? And a motherfucker?...

Struggling, very slowly, I inched trough depression and shame gaining, sometimes, only an infinitesimal amount of new awareness...

In '96 I moved to LA. In '97 I started to work with a Jungian -Gestalt woman shrink. I hid psychotherapy from my fellow warriors fearing rejection. On the other hand progress was small & incremental. Little by little I have come to the realization that my good dreaming performances were the result of denying life. For two years my focus has shifted towards rebuilding an ego. (Yes!)

And making my life beautiful & learning to love myself & trying to listen to the voices of the little child, of the man, of the woman, of the old man, of the old woman, of the animal... & integrating them in the happening.

Only with a never ending struggle & the caring & professional support of a woman therapist, I am now able to identify the monsters of my childhood.

There is one element that I feel is still too marginal in our discussion: love.

If I recall correctly the first one that pointed to a possible relationship between CC's liver cancer & his lack of self-love was our little John. I have replaced my old advisor, death, with a new one, love & my life is happier, more vibrant, and bountiful.

Here are a couple of passages on the subject of love that have inspired me, from Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled:

"Love Is Disciplined

[T]he energy for the work of self-discipline derives from love, which is a form of will. It follows, then that not only self-discipline is usually love translated into action, but also that any genuine lover behaves with self-discipline and any genuinely loving relationship is a disciplined relationship. If I truly love another, I will obviously order my behavior in such a way as to contribute the utmost to his or her spiritual growth.

...When I genuinely love I am extending myself, and when I am extending

myself I am growing. The more I love, the longer I love, the larger I become. Genuine love is self-replenishing. The more I nurture the spiritual growth of others, the more my own spiritual growth is nurtured.... And as I grow through love, so grows my joy, ever more present, ever more constant.

... Love Is Separateness

The genuine lover always perceives the beloved as someone who has a totally separate identity. Moreover, the genuine lover always respects and even encourages this separateness and the unique individuality of the beloved. Failure to perceive and respect this separateness is extremely common, however, and the cause of much mental illness and unnecessary suffering. In its most extreme form the failure to perceive the separateness of the other is called narcissism.

...It is these milder but nonetheless destructive common forms of parental narcissism that Kahil Gibran addresses:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bow from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might that His arrow may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."