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מאמר על תנועה אותנטית

מאת גיא שמר
"Sein" פורסם בברלין (בתרגום לגרמנית) במגזין 
2017  ביולי 

“I am moving in the space with my eyes closed. I am observing what is my motivation for movement. I find that there is a search for pleasure, for challenge. a play with balance… looking for harmony. I notice how the presence of another man in the circle changes my feeling and how I am in the circle”.

Thats how one man describes his experience in the sharing after moving in an Authentic Movement circle.


What is Authentic Movement?


Authentic Movement is a profoundly simple movement practice. it was started by Mary Starks Whitehouse in the 1950s. The form involves two roles, and can be done by two people or more. The first role is of the Mover, who is moving in the space with eyes closed. The second role is of a Witness, who is sitting and observing the Mover. both sides are at the same time moving or witnessing, and being aware of what is happening inside and around them. The main instruction is to allow what is happening to happen, and to be aware of it.

when done in a bigger group, the witnesses sit in the periphery of the space and watch the movers in the space.




Mary Starks Whitehouse was a dancer, who studied with Martha Graham and Mary Wigman. she later on trained as a psychotherapist and had an interest in Jungian thought. incorporating dance and movement into her sessions with psychiatric clients, she began pioneering expressive movement as dance movement therapy. 

Her work integrated Jungian principles of 'active imagination’ with her knowledge of dance, into an experimental psychotherapy done in a group process where participants engage in spontaneous expressive movement exploration. 

later on, students of Mary Starks Whitehouse such as Janet Adler and Zoe Avstreih continued her work and at some point it became known as “Authentic Movement”.


"When the movement was simple and inevitable, not to be changed no matter how limited or partial, it became what I called 'authentic' – it could be recognised as genuine, belonging to that person.”          

(Mary Starks Whitehouse).


The form and its intention


“At its core, Authentic Movement is about trusting the innate wisdom of the body to lead us toward healing and the development of conscious presence.

In the practice, the body is the gateway of awareness itself.  It informs the creative process, contemplative practice, and healing on all levels.” 

(Zoe Avstreih)


As mentioned, we have one person or more, waiting for an inner impulse to express itself, and moving with their eyes closed, The Witnesses are at the same time bringing their attention to what is happening in the space, “giving” their awareness to the movers and thus supporting their focus and intensity.


I feel that In Authentic Movement we inquire into two essential aspects of our being:

That of us being “aware” or “knowing”, as “Awareness” (the role of the Witness) and that of “Being” and having a body, being with a Form that moves in space, affecting its environment and being affected by it (the role of the Mover). 

of course ultimately these two aspects are two parts for one “Whole”.


The material that comes up as the mover starts to move with his or her eyes closed, might first be coming from daily life- patterns, thoughts, gestures. That which is more familiar to us and could be called “The known”. As the mover continues to move, and with the support and presence of the witness, deeper material may start emerging from the unconscious. This could be deeper emotions, History, desires, and other unmet forces similar to the material that is revealed in dreams, in therapy or in other methods that work with the unconscious. in Authentic Movement the Body and its movement are the vehicle that we work with. The Witness role is to hold a safe space for the mover, and with time to assist in the emerging of a balanced and healthy “inner witness” within the mover. 

another way to describe the work is saying that we are bringing the formless into form. This is also where Authentic movement could be defined as Creative Expression in physical movement.


An essential part of the practice is the verbal sharing, that happens after one or both sides have moved in the space. In the sharing we bring our experience into words. we talk in the present form, as if the experience is happening right now, and there is an emphasis on speaking from our direct  immediate experience.

Authentic Movement is also a practice in communication. we learn not to project our own inner world onto others, we learn to own our experience, and to be curious about what emerges within us, let it be a thought, an emotion or a reaction to an influence from the outside.


Authentic Movement as a spiritual practice


“Opening to that which is both uniquely us and simultaneously larger than us, we touch the numinous, the mystery of existence, the unbroken wholeness of our being.”

(Zoe Avstreih)


Authentic Movement can be regarded as a movement meditation. It has been described by Janet Adler and by others, as a spiritual practice, capable of taking us beyond our personal consciousness into the universal or the numinous. 

Adler puts it like this: “Different teachers of Authentic Movement offer their evolving perspectives in unique and diverse ways. The Discipline of Authentic Movement, a mystical practice centred in the development of embodied witness consciousness, is one way in this growing field of exploration”.


Some movers might encounter mystical experiences, these can take forms similar to the known   states familiar to us from the scriptures and from other practices: Union, dissolution, clarity, ecstasy, bliss, deep surrender, altered perception of space and time, and transcendence, as well as the darker aspects of the journey such as confusion, fear, meeting death, resistance, and shame. a common character of these states as well of that of many spiritual  higher states is when the subject and the object merge together, or in other words the seer, the seeing and the seen become one. But with all the beauty of these experiences in many cases integration of these experiences and energies is more important than the experiences themselves. 


Janet Adler who with time became more and more interested in the “Beyond” aspects of Authentic movement, speaks about learning to distinguish mystical experience from unresolved personal history, about safely regulating their intensity, and receiving and integrating such material into developing consciousness. she says in doing so we are learning how to witness the organic evolution of these energies into new form.


An interesting and frequent experience I experience in Authentic movement is of the “mover” and what I can call “The Mover”.

Many times, going into the space as a mover, but often while observing a group of movers as a witness, it will become very clear, that there is a greater “Mover”, a force, or field, that is moving us all. As a mover, this feeling comes with an experience of freedom, lightness and joy, and also with a knowing there is something greater than “me”, taking over the moving of the body.

As a Witness it is seeing a synchronicity and intelligence of the space and the group of people moving with their eyes closed, together in it. 

It becomes clear that they are not “separate” as we might imagine.

in both cases a greater intelligence, that of the body and of the whole, becomes very apparent.


It is important though, to remember that Authentic Movement originated from Dance therapy and not from any religion or belief system. As Janet Adler puts it: “people come to the form to learn how to listen to their bodies and, in the process, some are guided from within toward experiences beyond ego consciousness.”


Authentic Movement in nature


A beautiful way of practicing Authentic Movement in a group, is in nature.

Both the mover and the witness, feeling their connection to the surroundings, to the Earth, the trees, the open air, find it easier to allow themselves to open even more to the experience. 

The sounds, the textures of the ground and of the plants, the touch of the wind on the skin… help us connect to the presence of the moment, to the sacredness of “what Is”.


This sacredness, paradoxically, is a “common” experience in Authentic Movement, also in the studio. The being in nature simply makes it sometimes more immediate and obvious.


“When the unknown is being explored through the arrival of and encounter with unconscious activity, there is often the element of fear and/or awe.

The presence of another in either case can be a response to the human need for safety, containment or balance.”

(Janet Adler)

The Witness


I would like to write some more about the witness, who has a fundamental role in Authentic Movement, as well as in most therapies, relationships and meditations.

As I mentioned before, the witness represents the aspect of awareness within us. 

Our first witnesses are our parents. hopefully they were able to give us the loving and caring witnessing we needed, as we grew up. If not, to make it easier for ourselves to find the strength of a loving inner witness, it is helpful and sometimes necessary to be witnessed by someone who can be present and open to whatever it is within us, that is or was not accepted. To know that we count, that we are seen, that our experience and existence is relevant and meaningful, is an essential part in growth and in the healing of our wounds.


As the witness, we want to help the mover re-member his experience, know that he is seen and acknowledged. we support the mover in getting a fuller picture of his experience, and sometimes assist in containing more difficult parts. one of the non formal rules is “Love comes first”. our role as a witness is to be relevant and beneficial for the mover.

In more advanced stages, it is also an expression and a mirroring of one another’s experience.

when speaking about my direct and meaningful experience within me, I will most likely stay relevant and meaningful for the “other” as well.

one more significant role for the witness, is to be aware of what arises inside of him in the face of what he is observing, and to stay open to that. what does he “know” about what he sees, and how does he know it? where does he know it? such questions can take us into deep inquiries.


Adler describes an evolution in the individual, starting as a mover, then a moving witness (witnessing his own experience), then a silent witness (witnessing the movement of another), and finally having the responsibility of a speaking witness, first with one mover, then with more.


she further describes the deepening of the witness: “In moments of grace, she (or he) is an empty mover - empty witness. As the work evolves, direct experience of energetic phenomenon becomes intuitive knowing. Authentic compassion, compassion that cannot be willed, deepens her (or his) presence.”


“Inherent in being a person in the cultures of the West is the longing for a witness. We want, deeply want, to be seen as we are by another. We want to be witnessed. Ultimately, we want to witness, to love, another.”

(Janet Adler)


The Sharing - Speaking in present and owning your experience


The speaking about and from direct experience, and in present tense is a powerful tool. 

I see again and again, how in more delicate moments of sharing, there might rise a tendency to go back to general speaking (for example using the phrase “we” or “they” instead of “I”) or to using past tense (“I felt sad” instead of “I feel sad”). 

In some cases the gentle pointing back to the “formal” and direct form of speaking, immediately connects the person to the feeling that is being avoided. sometimes bringing up tears, sometimes laughter, but always liberating and freeing up energy.


The instructions for the sharing, in Authentic Movement, are simple, but contain wisdom and depth. as a mover we express our experience of movement, now through words. another part of bringing the material from the unknown (or unconscious) into the known. 


“I meet another mover, I kind of bump into her, and sense she is in kind of a “dance”. I feel as if I know this rhythm, I know this energy, The quality of this movement is familiar, I join her. 

There is a lot of playfulness in our movement together… she is leading me in the space from behind. I feel trust and being safe. It reminds me of my sister, of having a family”.


a Witness later describes the same scene: “I see a mover walking in the space, he is leading another mover. I feel like he is protecting her, they are moving together in the space, they meet other movers, they touch other movers with their hands connected, they are like one creature.

I feel joy seeing them move together, when they part because one of them meets another mover I am wondering what the one who is left by himself is feeling”.

Janet Adler says: “In this way language bridges experience from body to consciousness. For both mover and witness the intention toward the practice of thoughtful speech is central to the development of the discipline”.


“If images are dominant and/or there is little specific emotional content, making a drawing, a piece of sculpture or creating a dance or story are vivid and rich ways of bringing form to and further enhancing the energy that has been awakened.”

(Janet Adler)


Meeting in the space


When practicing in a group, there is another dimension that appears. 

As half of the group moves in the space with their eyes closed, there is a chance of meeting others in space. Here we can meet ourself as well as how we meet others in life. do we seek for meeting? do we Need it? what happens when we don't find “another”? what happens when we do?

sometimes the encounter is of warmth and playfulness (as in the opening scene), sometimes a strong emotion will come up, or an impulse to retreat.

it is touching to hear afterwards the witnesses speaking of what they saw. their role can sometimes be also to fill in the gaps for the movers who were experiencing only part of the picture. with a loving attitude they can give meaning and clarity to what had just happened in the space. they support and enrich the movers perspective of meeting their self and of meeting the others.


Close your eyes, in a safe and welcoming space, 

Move and be seen, See and be moved.

with full acceptance. allow the moment to be as it is. 

you are perfect. Now.

ליחצו כאן לפרטים נוספים על שיעורים ופעילויות

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