Authentic Movement is a practice that is simple in form, complex and
richly textured in the many folds of relationship we experience with
ourselves and with others. The intention is to stay present with
ourselves, moment by moment, through deep awareness of physical
being — of our bodies.
practice that I teach, which my teacher Janet Adler calls the
Discipline of Authentic Movement, is deeply informed by her focus on
the evolving development of consciousness – referred to as the inner
witness -- through awareness of the embodied experience of our
work is based in the relationship between the mover and the witness.
The mover, with eyes closed, listens inwardly to impulses arising,
allowing them to unfold in and through the body, surrendering to not
knowing what will emerge, surrendering to trust in all that her body
knows. The witness also attends to the feelings that arise as she
sees the mover, her own embodied experience closely accompanying
that of the mover. Afterwards they speak together, bringing their
two experiences into consciousness and into relationship.
compassionate, attentive presence of the external witness allows the
mover to feel utterly seen, without judgment, and enables a
loosening of the grip of old stories, of the wounds of personal
history, of the habitual beliefs that restrict us to a limited
experience of ourselves. As the processes sourced in personal
psychological history find form again and again in movement
patterns, there is the opportunity for integration and healing. In
time the mover’s inner witness evolves towards a similar non-judging
self-acceptance as that of the external witness, expanding into a
much more spacious quality of awareness that can embrace the
wholeness of being.
mover opens to the possibility of moments of ‘direct experience’
when his experience may widen beyond the personal, expanding into a
transpersonal realm of boundless being. As we practise towards the
possibility of utter bodily presence in each moment, we may
encounter moments of profound knowing of connection with all being.
Here there are no words, there is no awareness of a boundaried self,
existing in space and time -- there is awareness of only this
Throughout this practice we work with rigour to find language that
stays as close to our experience as possible. We seek words that
speak directly from experience rather than speak about it, thus
bridging body knowing with consciousness. The witness speaks only
from her personal experience, avoiding projection, analysis, story.
In this way both mover and witness come closer to the essence of
their experience, thus closer to themselves. Narratives,
interpretations, even images are no longer needed if we are able to
stay with what is happening in the moment, to allow our body --
in its many dimensions of experience -- to speak for itself.
attention is given to safety in the practice: the circle that
contains the empty space; rituals that provide a ‘holding’ form; the
meeting of eyes that acknowledges the shared commitment to being
fully present; the practice of thoughtful speech --- all serve to
support the preparedness to engage with the unknown.
individual work the student is the mover, held by the compassionate
presence of the witness/teacher. In group work participants have the
opportunity, when ready, to practise both as witnesses and movers.
The student witness, learning how to speak her experience in
relation to the mover, must have the guidance of a teacher who can
ensure that the mover continues to feels safe.
teaching to individuals and in various group and retreat formats
(see Workshops). All are welcome,
both experienced practitioners and those new to this practice. Many
therapists and others engaged in relationship-based work find that
this practice helps to cultivate clarity in their therapeutic
presence, enabling greater awareness of how projections and
interpretations may obscure clear seeing of the other and enhancing
their ability to attend to embodied detail.
Individual work with a member of the faculty is an essential
prerequisite for those who wish, when ready, to embark on the
Circles of Four preparation programme for people interested in
teaching the Discipline of Authentic Movement.