In AM we learn to trust the body processes, many of which we have little awareness of at the beginning of learning this form. As this trust develops, we become more in tune with our authenticity. We learn that the body is the keeper of our stories and we develop respect and reverence for this role the body plays. We come to know and trust our psychology as a lived, experienced and expressed process and we share this with others.
While we might understand in our minds that the emotional life and the body are related in some way, in AM we experience this relationship through the vessel of the body. In this way, we learn and come to know ourselves more intimately. We begin to live in this relationship more actively. When we are more attuned to our body processes, they become an immediately accessible tool of perception. In this way, we can stay in closer awareness of what we need in any given situation or moment so that we can regulate ourselves and our reactions in healthy ways. This is good!
Because of the protocol for teaching and practicing this form, AM offers participants the gift of learning to see and observe without engaging the judgmental and evaluative mind. There is no use of interpretation or evaluation of someone's movement experience. The focus is on the subjective experience of the person moving and the subjective experience of the person witnessing.
AM offers the experience of being seen and held in an open and non-judgmental exchange. For many of us, AM is the first time we learn how to see ourselves and others while suspending the evaluating mind. And often, it's a new experience, being received and listened to by others without judgement. Because of the cultural habit of evaluating everything, there is a learning curve here. When we are gifted with the experience of moving and expressing our internal processes outwardly in an environment of acceptance and curiosity, we learn to internalize this for ourselves. The self-judgment begins to fall away. When we learn to judge ourselves less harshly, we can offer that to others as well.
AM was developed by Mary Starks Whitehouse in the 1950s as "movement in depth” and utilizes mindful attention and brings together elements of dance therapy and Carl Jung’s active imagination in a form that is about surrendering to the deeper processes and impulses that lead into movement expression. It is an improvisational movement practice that allows participants a type of free-association of the body. Through this form, we explore the relationship between moving from the ego (an origin that is outwardly directed) and being moved from within by the unconscious processes.
Does this pique your interest? Activate your anxiety? A little of both, perhaps? Want to know more? While no dance or movement experience is necessary, what is required is a desire to become more deeply connected to and aware of how your emotional life is expressed in and through your body processes. The body offers a guided adventure of sorts into the body-wisdom. When we take steps on this pilgrimage that is uniquely our own, aliveness and vitality become more accessible to us as true and real inner resources in our living!
Authentic Movement makes use of two roles: the mover and the witness.
THE MOVER closes their eyes and senses self, only moving as the organic impulses suggest and invite. The movement is ‘found’ or discovered in the body processes rather than dictated by the mind. This can be challenging at first since we are oriented toward moving with a purpose that is externally motivated or ego-centered in nature. The processes in Authentic Movement are about finding the movement that is calling out to be expressed rather than expressing the more familiar goal-directed movement we are used to. In this form, we allow the unconscious processes to direct us, so Authentic Movement invites and calls forth a deep listening as we follow inner impulses and learn to trust these inner and sometimes unusual, unfamiliar stirrings. This movement comes from beyond the personality and is accessing impulses, feelings, sensations, imaginings that are deep within the psyche. From the website of my teacher, Tina Stromsted: "Rejected, forgotten, or new, potentiating images, feelings, and energies can then surface and be brought to consciousness through expressive movement. Body-related issues, unresolved developmental material, preverbal memories, and transpersonal experience may emerge, leading toward integration and wholeness.”
The role of THE WITNESS is to observe their own processes as they witness or watch a mover move. Giving attention to their own present experience, they sensitively track the mover. Because the mover is going inside to deeper places and 'letting go' of ego, the witness holds the space of awareness for the mover. The witness is a 'container' of sorts for the processes being explored in the movement experience of the mover. When the mover's experience comes to a close, the witness can offer non-judgmental language in response to the mover’s experience of moving, if the mover wants this. (Sometimes the mover only wants to have and speak to their experience without hearing feedback of any kind and this is perfectly acceptable in this form. Part of the learning for the mover is to listen to their own voice and to assert whatever is needed at the end of a given movement experience.) This non-interpretive language can repair vital links and create new neural pathways between emotions, thoughts, images and imagination. Offering witnessing that is without interpretation, judgment, evaluation is in contrast to what most of us do, rather unconsciously and automatically, on a day-to-day basis. Because of this lack of familiarity with observing without judgment, being an effective witness is a skill that requires learning and practice.
Essentially, Authentic Movement can help us welcome and accept ourselves with loving kindness. Allowing the body to speak its mind encourages and supports understanding of ourselves and one another in deeper ways and allows us a direct experience of ourselves that is vital to an authentic life. This kind of understanding goes a long way in cultivating harmony both individually and collectively.
Groups are small (8 to 10 participants) and closed (not drop-in) to allow for the intimate nature of this form and to assist in nurturing the kind of safety needed to allow for the vulnerability that is required to drop into the unconscious processes. There is time for processing, sharing, reflecting after each movement experience for participants who would like that.
Groups are 2 hours in length and meet once a week for 10 weeks. Because of the vulnerable nature of this form, commitment to all ten sessions is expected. In this way, we create a safe vessel or container for the group process.
Please contact me if you (or your group) would like to explore this form.