The Long Tide

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In his work, Sutherland became more and more aware of a formative level of primary respiration. This was perceived as stable tide-like phenomena within and around the human system. Over time, he realized that these tidal motions were direct expressions of the creative intention of the Breath of Life. He called this level of primary respiration the Tide. Becker called it the Long Tide to differentiate it from other tidal motions and this is the term that is commonly used in the field.

The Long Tide is the root of what Sutherland called primary respiration and is a key perception in a biodynamic approach. The Long Tide is a direct expression of the creative intention of the Breath of Life and is the most formative expression of primary respiration. It seems to arise from “nowhere”, manifests like a great wind arising within a vast field of action and radiates through everything. It generates local ordering fields that, in turn, mediates embryonic development, ignites an ordering potency in the fluids of the body and maintains cohesiveness and balance throughout life. The Long Tide is known in many cultures. The Tibetans call it the Unconditioned Winds of the Vital Forces. It is “unconditioned” as it is not affected or conditioned by our personal experience. It maintains the creative intention of the Breath of Life as an organizing principle no matter what conditions are present.

The Long Tide is very stable and is the most inherent constitutional resource of the system. It manifests as a stable primary respiratory cycle of 50-second inhalation and 50-second exhalation (100 seconds in all), commonly perceived as a streaming of radiance that seems to move through both practitioner and client all at once. People speak of a sense of awe, and of stillness, light and great space in its presence. A deep sense of interconnection and support is also commonly experienced. What the Buddhists call the mutuality or co-arising nature of all things becomes more obvious.

People begin to feel that there is something much deeper supporting their human condition than mental-emotional states, physical structure, function and physiology. Practitioners commonly sense that it moves from the outside in, manifests through the midline, makes healing decisions and maintains the coherency of the human system. Indeed, Peter Levine, an important trauma expert, calls it a coherency wave, as it functions to maintain the coherency of the human system in the midst of all conditions. (private communications between Sills and Levine, 1999)

The Long Tide and its action are also known in some areas of fringe science. There is a wonderful video of the research of a botanist, William Seifriz, on a primordial living organism, the slime mold. The research was done at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1950’s. The slime mold is an undifferentiated fluid mass of protoplasm without cell membranes, with multiple free-flowing cell nuclei. Seifriz studied the slime mold under microscopes and noted that its protoplasm is constantly streaming first one way and then the other in 50-second cycles. He also noted that this is a stable rhythm, not affected by the toxins and anesthetics he introduced into the protoplasm of the slime mold. With great insight, he said that if we could only understand the nature of the constant and stable rhythmic streaming of the protoplasm, we would be close to understanding life itself! He was observing the Long Tide acting directly in a primeval organism.

Viktor Schauberger was an Austrian scientist of last century whose research is also relevant to our discussion. He came from a family of foresters and spent much time in nature. In his observations in the natural world, he came to recognize a subtle, yet powerful ordering force that he called the Original motion. (Coates, 1996) Similar to Sutherland, he perceived that it is a manifestation of what he called Creative Intelligence, the divine creative intention in action and, like Sutherland, he perceived that it transfers its ordering intentions to the waters or fluids of the world. Schauberger noted that the Original motion, or Long Tide, acts from the “outside-in” to generate a stable field of action with a midline at its center, which, in turn, organizes cohesive living structures.

Schauberger perceived that the Long Tide manifests locally via spiral-like centrifugal and centripetal motions. He perceived that this is a universal principle at work in all levels of creation. It is equally present in the creation of stars and galaxies and in the generation of microscopic plants and animals. These motions were likened by Schauberger to the action of a tornado, a local phenomenon that arises in the vastness of the whole of the earth’s atmosphere.

Schauberger maintained that when a dynamic equilibrium is established within these centripetal and centrifugal forces, a stable ordering field is generated that underlies the organization of the human system. This is a dynamic field of action that is continually being renewed and re-established in every moment.