2.2 Ilse Middendorf - as a Person - the Perceptible Breath
Ilse Middendorf was born on the 21st of September 1910 in Frankenberg in the German state of Sachsen as the second child of Johanna Kullrich and Carl Kullrich. Her parents were loving, humorous and tolerant. What was remarkable in her as a child was her thirst for knowledge which survived her initiation into school life. At the age of 12 she had a strong sense of intuition. She heard a significant voice:
“You have to breathe”.
In the 1930s Ilse Middendorf, who had always been interested in breathing and was trained in gymnastics, nutrition and nerve massage, began to search for possibilities to address people more “inwardly” and “deeper” than was possible with gymnastics and massage. As a result she commenced systematic research into her own breathing. Through that she made many discoveries which she then investigated intensively. When she met Cornelis Veening in 1938, she found in him a person who confirmed her own experiences of breathing, and who accompanied her for many years on this path.
In the course of her research, it became clear that a sensing access to one’s body could be so much the better achieved the more that breathing could “come and go its own accord”, that means taking place unconsciously or not intentionally directed. This “permitting” she formulated with the well-known sentence: “I let the breath come on its own, go on its own, and wait until it comes back on its own“. In this manner Ilse Middendorf discovered that
“focusing, perceiving, breathing”
influence each other and established with that the basis of “Perceptible Breath“. With this name she made clear that these methods were grounded exclusively in experiences (and not mental observations). Ilse Middendorf: “The era of knowledge is coming to an end – the era of experience has begun.”
The so-called “law of breathing“ named above states that between “breathing“, “focusing” and “perceiving“ there exists an inner connection, that means each of these three elements influences the other. Whichever focus I choose at the beginning of an exercise, both the other two elements will become stronger and more directly perceivable. In this way the abilities to perceive and to concentrate develop. Surrender and conscious awareness support this way of working, and themselves grow too through the work on breathing. So the breath is the medium through which we can develop all necessary abilities and characteristics of the body which are required for the tasks which are under discussion here.
The Mother likewise stressed the importance of experiences: ”I have noticed unmistakably that something is guiding me to the discovery of this power – to this knowledge –, of course on the only possible path, that of experience.”