Listen to the language of the body

The wisdom gained through being embodied is the core of dance/movement therapy and authentic movement. The practice of authentic movement has been my teacher for many years. The process begins with an intention to deeply listen and focus on the ongoing stream of felt bodily experience. As images, sensations and feelings arise, they are given attention, and then expressed through movement, gesture, postures. Deep listening opens up a wider range of understanding, creativity and expanded relationships to self and others.

Waiting and listening to the subtle language of the body develops the capacity to witness oneself, and eventually others. To witness means truly seeing the whole picture. It is having a two-fold awareness of what is arising — impulses, sensations, feelings and the one that is noticing. With this awareness, the relationship to the incoming content becomes clarified, within and without.

To give an example, my inner witness tracks a contracted sensation in my belly. Next, I find myself breathing into my belly, attempting to relax. Witnessing the effort to stop the tension, I see the color red and feel like moving my hands. Following the movement impulse, this expands into flailing. I recognize this action as anger with an impetus to create space. Hearing an inner voice, "You're always finding something to be angry about," I am aware of judging my aggressive energy and trying to dismiss it.

If I believe the judgment and adhere to it, I lose the opportunity to discover the meaning of this red energy whose action is to expand the space around myself. Anger is a contracted energy state that has not yet found its outward assertive action. It is a reaction to being in relationship, signaling a lack of boundaries.

The job of the witness is to be nonjudgmental, open to what is arising and, in this case, be curious about the feelings and sensations that the critical self tries to change. Recognizing the critic does not mean swallowing its message as the truth, or pretending to be unaffected, or ignoring it. Bringing awareness to whatever arises increases the possible outcomes and the potential for contactfulness with others.

The personality can be symbolized as a bowl of soup. Each person is born uncooked, with unique ingredients and acquired flavors. Over time with the help of a cook, the personality simmers into "the lovely vitality of a human being," as Rumi says in his poem below. Sometimes, it is spicy, when anger is present, or sweet with love. The way the cook stirs the soup or how much heat is applied, changes it. The cook is the witness, an inner aspect or outer friend that ensures a delicious meal.

"Chick Pea to Cook"

The chick pea leaps almost over the rim of the pot

where its being boiled.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

The cook knocks him down with his ladle and says:

"Don't you try to jump out. You think I'm torturing you;

I'm giving you flavor so you can mix with the spices and the rice

and be the lovely vitality of a human being ..."

Eventually the chick pea will say to the cook:

"Boil me some more, hit me with the skimming spoon.

I can't do this by myself."

The fire that the cook brings provides the necessary fuel to know oneself. As Pittman Mcgeahee says: "I alone must become myself; I cannot become myself alone."

Suzanna Yahya Nadler, MEd. LPC, is leading a group, "Authentic Relating — Beyond the Dance of Frustration, Rejection, and Let's Make a Deal" on Tuesday evenings beginning Feb. 26. For information contact her at, 541-535-3338 or visit her website:

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