Instincts and Movement

Internazional Enneagram Conference San Francisco 2010

In animal psychology and ethology an instincts is “a nervous mechanism hierarchically organised, sensitive to specific environmental stimulations that awaken it, put it in function and direct it, to which it answers with coordinated motions having the purpose to preserve individual or the species (Tinbergen).

In its general meaning, its a natural impulse leading living being to act in determined ways useful or necessary to preservation, without the intervention of will or logic.


The body is paradoxically both the place of our primal and fundamental identification and sense of separateness, and the medium showing the way out from it. It is the home of all information about our existence and manifestation in this life. We can re-discover something about our life in re-learning to listen to our body, which speaks clearly when taken in its wholeness, as entity, inhabited and lived fully.

The instincts are the most primitive, archaic, rudimental and not elaborated part of our system, expression of our survival drive. The instinctual dimension is where we can recognise our primary affirmation of being created and manifested, our right and urge to exist.


The first way we as human being have learn to affirm and organise our presence on the planet is through materialising the time in the space by rhythm. Pulsation and it’s ternary law is in all creation: everything in existence appears, exist and disappears and any individual is a measure of time in space, through heart beat and breath. 

Rituals represent, among other functions, the re-creation of the original impulse and are a process of re-appropriation of our position in the universe. Both sacred and secular rituals  imply a connection with the transcendent and evoke the original pulsation through the repetition and symbolisation of basic gestures and sounds. They re-organise time in space and our existence through them. These body movements are the more primary and ancestral: pushing, pulling, trowing, raising, giving, receiving, etc


Also the expression of our instinctual drives happens in time and space, through rhythm. According to the anthropology of movement, recently and brilliantly elaborated by Herns Duplan  with some variants, there are three basic “moments” in our space and time, and in our bodies:

- The survival time, the productive body

- The leisure time, the recreational body

- The sacred time, the body striving to the divine

Those “bodies” may take different forms (circles, semicircles, lines, squares) inside the social organisation, and through their expression into the structure everybody can find his space, role and position. Forms allow to see ourselves as individual in the other and into the group, to share and to renew our energy and it allows to rediscover the symbolic meaning of those original gestures.

I see a correspondence with these bodies and the instincts we work with when we study the Enneagram. 




One of the basis of the work I propose is the activity of Katerine Dunham, anthropologist and dancer, an important intellectual figure of the XX century. Katerine Dunham’s choreographies were inspired by the traditional tribal dances, in search for the “Universal gesture” and based on her assumption that the roots of dance has to be found in the rhythm and in the energy of the “beat” of the feet on the earth. Her technique called “modern primitive” was very dynamic: through the relation with the ground and the drums the dancer could have access to the source of energy, inhabit the movement until its maximum and with the maximum of presence.

Another fundament of the work I propose is the technique called “Expression Primitive”, born in Haiti and introduced in France in the beginning of the Seventies by Herns Duplan, dancer in the company of K. Dunham. H. Duplan has been my teacher for years, he underlines the relation with the origins and the return to the sources, to what is primary and universal for human beings, transcending the individual and cultural particularity. This specific method utilises the minimum of structure for the maximum of exploration, it supports the discovery of our deep structures, awakening the rhythmic sources of our drives, putting them up in a symbolic way, mobilising and canalising them.

Then, least and not last, in this work are recognisable  my Cultural Anthropological background, my  love for dancing and the latin cultural education shaping my conditioning.


This workshop is an invitation to discover that we can dive and to lean on our first relief in life, the body, be nourished by it, letting it to express itself from the minimum necessary to the maximum of its potential. To let the body to generate and regenerate energies and to discover something about our life which is available all the time.

To be in our body as a medium ad expression of the divine.