Twenty-five years ago, I woke up.
The quest started by accident – or maybe not – when as a successful solicitor I was unexpectedly shoved into a martial arts class. Suddenly I discovered what I never expected, that this was ‘my thing’, and took to it like a duck to water.
Within a few years I was competing around Europe, and started teaching in schools. And as they say one thing leads to another. How, I wondered, do children learn movement? How for that matter do I learn? What is going on when we learn things?
No one really knew. No one could tell me anything particularly useful. Of course there is a lot of information on education – techniques and so forth. But what was missing was how people translate this information into actual skill. And what was the difference between know-how – information about how to do something – and the actual skill of doing it?
Lots of people had information. Volumes and volumes have been written on pretty much every skill under the sun.
But reading a book on playing the violin does not make one a violinist, however good the book. Something happens as the student ‘implements’ the knowledge. But what? How do we turn information into skill? This seemed to me like the Holy Grail of education. If this could be discovered and actually taught to people – wow!
“Practise, practise, practise”, people said. “You just have to practise.”
I was not convinced. How was it that some people pick things up instantly, others take ages? What about autistic savants? The exception disproves the rule, and there were plenty of exceptions to this ‘Practise and eventually you’ll get it’ notion. There was something more going on in fast learners, something like ‘precision’ change of behaviour; something elusive, something that people had not seen; or maybe didn’t want to look at.
So my quest broadened. I studied Acupuncture and Chinese medicine for clues. No luck. Then by chance – or maybe not – I came across an accelerated learning book stand at a Schools Exhibition, and found something. This was a small are rather badly written book on Educational Kinesiology, which claimed that academic learning and movement were connected.
So I went on a course. Within a day I knew I had found a new and promising line of enquiry. For here some really odd things were going on. I was experiencing obvious and sometimes breathtaking changes in my skill level (both academic and physical) in a short time using apparently irrelevant physical techniques. Emotional issues were vanishing, apparently stuck behaviours disappearing. I even found bizarre physical changes, like my flexibility suddenly and dramatically improving.
Something was happening, but again no one really knew why. The explanations were very unconvincing, but the results were undeniable.
So I ploughed my way through the world of kinesiology, eventually teaching it professionally for a time. But still there was no explanation that I found convincing. “It just works” people said. And they were right, it did.
But my legal training had instilled in me a deep scepticism and needed more than just faith. If it works, there must be some explanation.
I wasn’t happy with what I had heard. It was a haphazard collection of ideas and techniques, coupled to a sense of just hoping for the best. Quite a lot of the ideas were ‘fluff’, stories someone had made up. Others seemed pseudoscientific. These problems were often papered over with appeals to intuition. It was obvious that ‘intuition’ was somehow involved. But why and how? And what was intuition anyway?
And so I carried on – for years – delving experientially more and more deeply into every system I could find, from mainstream to completely off-the-wall. Science and philosophy, various religions, to shamanism, covering many systems of bodywork, energy work, and many different esoteric practices and systems of thought.
Wherever I went I could see something, as it were out of the corner of my eye: a single ‘core’ that worked, the same basic pattern in all of these approaches – like a diamond of which all these various disciplines were like facets. But the clouds were always there in front of the sun.
Then in 2006 things started to change, fast. I had a glimpse of that diamond and how it worked. It was shockingly upside down and inside out, and knocked me sideways; but also absurdly simple. In a way like one of those optical illusions where suddenly you see something completely different, and wonder why you couldn’t see it before.
It worked. It worked really well. Stuck behaviours melted away in seconds. Learning became extremely fast.
But how to explain it? Was there a way? I started to refine what I had experienced into some simple form, at the same time developing a model that provided a clear explanation of what was happening.
I realised eventually that what I was trying to communicate was pre-conceptual. Trying to explain it descriptively was as crazy as trying to build a model of water out of ice cubes. The key thing was how to lead someone’s awareness to the types of experience I had discovered. To understand it, you had to jump in the water.
I decided that the only way to communicate this was through building a model of logically distinct types of awareness, and using my experiences to attach experiments to these that a student could implement. This would then lead them to a direct experience.
This would show them what they themselves can do, what extraordinary power is within their grasp – within your grasp.
But I needed to test it out further, develop more clarity, a library of experiments, and a method that could actually be taught. So I started to experiment on myself, learning different skills and seeing how fast and how deep I could go. And I also started to expose my explanations to other thinkers, to see if they could find a hole it in.
After twelve further years of trying to pull it apart, I have failed to find any holes or cracks. It works, consistently and reliably.
So that’s what Apogeniks is. It’s a precise map of the territory of awareness, and a whole heap of ways of exploring it, coupled to a Method, which I call ‘Apogenesis’. This Method is what I set out to find, the Diamond in the Dust, the Holy Grail of education, the key to transforming information into skill, of changing stuckness into movement.
So come along, and I’ll do my best to show you a glimpse of that diamond.
Solve et Coagula
I hold in my hand
This brittle darkness,
Blackened, charred wood.
My hand closes tight…
A thousand thousand years of pain,
And there in my opened palm
A diamond sparkles.
And every day as I perceive
Old Saturn’s tattered veil,
I’m searching all the time
For the key to end the tale.
And falling through this endless space
One thing I know I trust,
Is that nothing has more value
Than that diamond in the dust