Sam Turton is a Primal Integration facilitator practicing a unified approach
to growth and healing that is an expression of his extensive personal
background in Zen, Taoism, aboriginal awareness, natural living and primal.
His extensive writings on Primal Integration can be found on his website
Also an accomplished singer-songwriter, Sam has released two CDs of his original music. More information on this recording can be found at www.samturton.com. He and his partner Jane Lewis live in the vibrant community of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
The following is Sam's personal account of his background and experience.
Early InfluencesDue to the peculiarities of my childhood, I became a busy-minded kid with an intense interest to know how the world and the universe worked. I was frightened and puzzled by the dogma of Christianity, but found a great deal of satisfaction in the explanations of science, especially physics. Eventually, my natural talents in art and music became predominant and I went on to study Fine Art.
At the age of 15, my older brother introduced me to Zen, and I was fascinated. I read many books on the subject, including the ancient Chinese wisdom of the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching. The non-conformism of the oriental masters appealed to me, and meditation was something I could actually do to enhance my life. Within a few years, I was formally practicing at the Toronto Zen Centre, which was an affiliate under the guidance of Roshi Philip Kapleau.
Eventually Native American spirituality began to enter my practice under the guidance and inspiration of various elders. Ultimately, institutional Zen gave way to a more integrated, natural approach to life and awareness.
I received a B.A. in Fine Art and a Bachelor of Education, and raised a family as an art teacher and graphic artist. After years of personal study in humanistic psychology, mythology and primal theory, a major life crisis erupted into a spontaneous "primal" (a connected deep- feeling release) right out of a dream.
Four years of primal-style therapy followed, culminating in an intense two years with Mary Dell of Simcoe, Ontario.
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Primal IntegrationWhen the crises in my life allowed the defenses of my false self to crumble, I experienced massive anxiety attacks, self-loathing and death feelings that began to be capped by depression. My knowledge of primal theory and my spiritual/mythic base allowed me to recognize what was going on. I rallied some defenses and decided to do therapy.
My sessions followed a similar pattern. I would come in with strong feelings, lie on the mat and begin talking. Mary would gently point out or have me emphasize certain key statements, physical movements or defensive structures. I would subtly watch for certain "tremors" that signalled the gateway to a big feeling. I would allow the feeling to take me like a wave, letting natural sounds and motions erupt in a strong emotional release. Deep crying was the most common expression - it even accompanied other feelings, including rage and fear. Primal memories would appear and I would remain in the feeling for however long it lasted. These "primals" ranged from precise "relivings" to sensory "knowings." After each experience ran its course, I would "come back" and be more fully aware of the present, and able to work through the insights that naturally came with the connections of symptom and feeling.
I always recorded the sessions in my journal, which my mentors and I feel is an essential aspect in integrating the experience on all levels of consciousness. Some sessions focused on talk and discussion when it seemed like my body needed a break and an opportunity to "organize" the new discoveries.
During my time with Mary, the essential traumas of my early history were revealed, expressed, and integrated, including infancy, birth and intra-uterine issues. These events were never sought out - they arose from staying with a present-day feeling that was tormenting my daily life on a regular basis. I have no interest in "psychological archeology" - I am interested in living fully in the present. By facing the symptoms and impediments of the present, their origins arise and are released. The result is a life more grounded in the present - because it is free of the past.
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Present ProcessPrimal Integration is not a method that gets discarded when you are "cured"; it is a feeling way of life. The process never ends, and we learn to feel through the ups and downs of our daily existence. In the earlier stages of the work, a regular wave of existing conflicts and negative feelings would lead the way. Now that I don't seem to invite, choose or seek struggle so much, my life is more graceful and balanced. If an old feeling or conflict starts to drive me, I can usually let the feeling up and connect it to its roots fairly easily.
My extensive history of Taoist, Zen and Aboriginal practice assisted the primal process and came to be interwoven with the fabric of my new interpretation and engagement of life. The primal process, in turn, allows for richer, more attentive meditation and awareness.
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ChangesThe changes in my life, as a result of primal integration, have been substantial. I only have the slightest remnants of asthma. Hay fever and other aggravating allergies are non-existent. Chronic muscle tension is now an occasional knot that I have to stretch out. My heart rate is consistently lower. There is a significant drop in internal busyness, and work no longer runs my life. My core belief that "Life is Hard" is finally fading and I am able to see and accept that abundance is available - a livelihood suited to my nature, a wonderful home, and a rich, conscious relationship with my partner and my grown children. I don't have to be in the middle of dramatic, struggle-filled relationships and am not so afraid of being alone if I have to be. I like people very much, though I believe I am realistically critical (without blame) towards the problematic symptoms of neurotic society and its dysfunctional aspects. I have a sense of "being in life" as opposed to watching it, or waiting for it. Though I still feel the emotional scars, the world, as a spontaneous offering of joy and pain, is a fascinating place to live.
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Training HistoryI was so moved by the primal process that I decided to assist others on the path to self integration. I apprenticed with Barbara Bryan, M.A., C.S.W. at the Primal Integration Center of Michigan and eventually took part in the legendary "Ark" 40-day intensive multi-modal residential training program in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Created by primal pioneer William Smukler, Ph.D., and administered by Barbara Bryan, Mary Thompson, M.A., and Joseph Sanders, Ph.D., the Ark was a profound experiential training. Other significant mentors and instructors during this period were Michael Hoyland Young of Toronto, and Terry Larimore of Larkspur, California.
After graduating from the Ark and my apprenticeship, I co-lead groups with Mary Dell and Michael Hoyland Young, became a staff member at the Primal Integration Center of Michigan, and began my own private practice in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
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