"Years before, Don Juan had coached me to make a list of all the
people I had met in my life, starting at the present. He helped me
to arrange my list in an orderly fashion, breaking it down into areas
of activty, such as jobs I had had, schools I had attended. Then he
quided me to go, without deviation, from the first person on my list
to the last one, reliving every one of my interactions with them.
He explained that recapitulating an event starts with one's mind arranging
everything pertinent to what is being recapitulated. Arranging means
reconstructing the event, piece by piece, starting by recollecting
the physical details of the surroundings, then going to the person
with whom one shared the interaction, and then going to oneself, to
the examination of one's feelings.
Don Juan taught me that the recapitulation is
coupled with rhythmic breathing. Long exhalations are performed as
the head moves gently and slowly from right to left; and long inhalations
are taken as the head moves back from left to right. He called this
act of moving the head from side to side "fanning the event." The
mind examined the event from beginning to end while the body fans,
on and on, everything the mind focuses on.
Don Juan said that the sorcerers of antiquity, the inventors of the
recapitulation, viewed breathing as a magical, life-giving act and
used it, accordingly, as a magical vehicle; the exhalation, to eject
the foreign energy left in them during the interaction being recapitulated
and the inhalation to pull back the energy that they themselves left
behind during the interaction.
...I took the recapitulation to be the process of analyzing one's
life. But Do Juan insisted that it was more involved than an intellectual
psychoanalysis. He postulated the recapitulation
as a sorcerer's ploy to induce a minute but steady displacement of
the assemblage point. He said that the assemblage point, under the
impact of reviewing past actions and feelings, goes back and forth
between its present site and the site it occupied when the even being
recapitulated took place." (dreaming: 148)
"'It'll be a mess if you let your pettiness choose the events you
are going to recapitulate. Instead, let the spirit decide. Be silent,
and then get to the event the spirit points out.'
The results of that pattern of recapitulation were shocking to me
on many levels. It was very impressive to find out that, whenever
I silenced my mind, a seemingly independent force immediately plunged
me into a most detailed memory of some event in my life. But it was
even more impressive that a very orderly configuration resulted. What
I thought was going to be chaotic turned out to be extremely effective.
I asked Don Juan why he had not made me recapitulate in this manner
from the start. He replied
that there are two basic rounds to recapitulation, that the first
is called formality and rigidity, and the second fluidity."