Inevitable AM

© 2007 - Aileen Crow

Authentic Movement, Projections

More about projections, in response to Elizabeth Reid

The subject of how to get the good out of our projections fascinates me: not just within authentic movement groups; but in the relationships between me and other people in daily life.

These relationships mirror those between my whole self and its many different inner parts (new ones coming all the time). It’s a question of which parts get identified with, and which parts get excommunicated. If something or someone ‘bugs’ me, and I identify with the upset part, I tend to exile the ‘something’ that bugged me and blame it. It’s Not Me. It’s his or her fault. A part of me, not the whole me, gets re-stimulated (a co-counseling term) by an old unresolved problem, or by seeing someone do or say something IT would NEVER do, or by comparing itself negatively to someone who does something better than IT could ever do. That part is ‘shen pa’ (a Buddhist term). IT has taken over my identity, or been put out onto another person.

One thing that helps me is to be careful about language. I learned this from Ann Weiser Cornell, a Focusing teacher, who wants us to distinguish between only using the word “I” to mean the whole self (which she calls ”Presence”), and calling it “something”, or “a part” when there is a sense that something urgent is disturbing us.

The fascinating aspect of all this, to me, is the prospect of taking that ‘something’ that got disowned and projected out onto another person, and mining the gold within it. Here’s one way I know to do it for myself by myself, which comes before dealing with projections within an AM group.

First, I need constant practice in being aware that I am my whole self (via meditation, AM, art, Focusing, etc) so that I know when something in me is shen pa, or re-stimulated. The whole me is curious and interested to explore that something, not get rid of it, trusting that there’s something of value in it.

I personify whatever IT is: I find its rhythm and do that physically. And its sound. I can role play it, and move like it. I write dialogs between IT and my Process Mind part, which is curious about IT’s fears and desires. I almost always draw IT, and often make figures of IT. Projection is the stuff of art.

All this is Process Work (Thank you, Arnold Mindell), mixed with Authentic Movement and art, that allows relationships to be worked out, no matter how difficult they may seem in the beginning. As Cornell says in her book, “The Radical Acceptance of Everything”, “There are no enemies within.”

©2007 - Aileen Crow

Moya Powers Keating: Authentic Movement as a Spiritual Practice

Hello friends,
I have been invited to give a talk for the Circle of Wisdom at The Community for Peace and Spirituality in NYC. The invitation was to discuss my spiritual path. Immediately, Authentic Movement came to mind.

Brothers and Sisters in movement, do you experience AM as a spiritual practice?
As Aileen has do we take the practice into our life? Do we always have to be with a witness?
How is AM different from/similar to meditation? Is AM a form of meditation?

Any and all topic of discussion in relation to AM and spiritual practice is welcome.
You are all my teachers!

Moya Ⓒ2007 Moya Powers Keating

Dance Research Project

KAREN DALY Eugene, Oregon

In response to Aileen's request for sharing I thought I'd share the experience I'm having being a part of a University of OR dance department MA student's project. Loosely it's about cancer survivors who are dancers. I must qualify that I sometimes can say out loud that I'm a dancer and sometime shudder at the thought. I am a cancer survivor (right leg amputee in 1962)and have done AM fairly regularly for the past 20+ years. I studied at the AM Institute in Berkeley for 4+ years. I've performed with Alito Alessi's DanceAbility and with BodyCartography (Olive B). That's about's about the project.

We've had two videoed 45 minute movement sessions, which have felt entirely like AM to me even though the project author, Laura, does not have an AM background. I've spontaneously responded to her questions about various things in my life in 20 minute writing bursts. Laura has used my words from these, and from a taped interview, during the movement sessions, softly speaking to me as I moved with my eyes closed. Each time I have "dropped in" after just a few minutes and had wonderful dances. Each time Laura and I have shared like mover/witness after the dance.

I'm hungry for my next movement time with her and to know the results of this project. AM has been a powerful, delightful, awe-inspiring way for me to connect with my real body, those girls inside bright with all of every emotion, always looking for creative ways to reframe my mostly narrow mind's chatter.

Happy Dancing. Ⓒ2007 Karen Daly

Ideas toward a Relationship Safety Agreement in Groups

by Elizabeth Reid

Whenever a group of people gather together there is a risk of emotional hurt. After training in Contemplative Dance with Alton Wasson and Daphne Lowell, I came to see this risk as a reality of the complexity of differences among movers. Different energies just rub each of us in our own unique ways. Sometimes we are deeply touched. Sometimes we have lots of fun; sometimes our feelings are hurt.

In Contemplative Dance training we learned strategies to help find ways to work through these relationship rubs. Many of the strategies are based on the psychological notion of projection.

We all come to relationships with our own projective filters, some conscious, some unconscious. This means that we have unique, individual interpretations of what other's body movements, statements, stories, twitches, quirks, or sounds might mean. The authentic movement form and group setting encourage both movers and witnesses to experience their own projections in movement and in witnessing. Often as witnesses we contain our thoughts completely within the group or only reflect about another mover through movement in order to highlight the projective nature of commenting on each other. Brief responses to each other may be allowed but the agreement is to work towards owning our response as our own projection. In my imagination or in my dream or I am the one who... When you moved, I felt... In my projection, I saw.

When there is a relationship rub it could be thought of as similar to an individual bellyache that needs care in the collective body of the community. Healing a bellyache is not easy for an individual person. In a group, a bellyache is even harder as often when one person has a bellyache, for another person it is a belly dance.

It is an ongoing challenge to embrace all our differences with compassion. To use the help of projection to enhance our own practices is to understand that something that rubs us the wrong way may be something to learn to be compassionate about in ourselves. In my dream the diversity of our energies as a group reflects the good and difficult energies of the whole world.

One goal of many AM/CD peer and facilitated groups is to develop our individual practices in a local community group setting. The process of AM/CD practice can be scary in any setting. The local community group setting can be both supportive of safety and risky. Practicing with people who live in our communities adds different dimensions of risks, such as dual relationships or histories with baggage. Safety agreements are put into place to help the group make safe room for each individual.

Safety agreements are not rules. Each person is invited to agree. Buying into the process of creating safety and feeling safe is essential for the long term work of the group. These agreements hopefully add to our sense of safety and our ability to move into more depth of work. For example, sound agreements are made to make sure all feel safe as movement impulses are explored with different levels of noise. We are reminded to physically care for ourselves, to watch out not to hurt our bodies or the space that we are using. Finding ways to feel safe in the midst of complex relationships requires even more thoughtful agreement.

When relationships no longer are safe because of unresolved hurtful, angry, or intense feelings, many groups dissolve. Loving or romantic feelings can also cause problems. There is a certain inevitability that over time, feelings in relationships become difficult.

Where group members know each other in a number of settings a discussion of how relationship disharmony will be handled may help the long term life of a group. A group might agree that members can discuss relationship disharmony in another confidential setting. A facilitator might offer to have individual sessions with group members around particular concerns with group agreement as to this structure at the outset of the group. A facilitator might screen prospective members to set up beforehand that all group members agree to have a supportive network for handling relationship rubs.

Most of us feel the need for a sense of belonging and alliance in a group setting. For example, sometimes group members travel together to the group meeting. A discussion of what kind of sharing happens to and from group meetings and in social times generally might lead to an agreement to contain conversations about the group at these times. If we share how we feel about something outside the group, the feelings can collect in an alliance of movers. "Gee, I feel that way too." This is immensely comforting but takes the focus off working with our own projections. Opening up discussion of a movement session outside of a group setting might slip into to a dual relationship such as one mover feeling used for support or therapy without a clear agreement. The invitation of AM/CD is to drop the need for alliances and support and instead to explore more deeply our own material. I am the one who needs to feel everyone is on my side. I am the one working to be on my own side. I was so touched by what happened in our last movement practice...Oops I forgot we are not talking about that during our social time.

Other strategies that groups have used to heal relationship disharmony have included a whole group moving a relationship concern. The group might agree to move hurt or anger as a group exercise. Sometimes individual group members need to take a break or a step back out of a group to restore their own sense of balance. Moving with a different group of movers can add information and understanding to a relationship disharmony in our local settings. Going to a training away from the local community group might help members gain insight or heal a relationship rub. What I imagined was a dislike I had for another mover, turned out to be my own discomfort when a certain noise came into the room.... In my imagination another mover is difficult for me because of my own family issues. I will try to resolve that at a deeper level for myself.

An underlying assumption is that movers know what is best for their own body and mind. An important safety suggestion can be for each individual of us to carefully choose to only go psychologically where we feel safe. Gosh another mover is sobbing, I want to go help her. Boy, it's hard for me to trust that she knows what is best for her.

Each person is part of the group for her/his own individual experience, not to impact each other as a goal. I wish he were different... oh, how nice to just focus on me being different if I would like to be.

Whenever possible prior to attending a group, we need to have an agreement about the commitment to attending the sessions. Members can agree that they will attend when their energy allows, setting an expectation for some in and out of group attendance. Each of us has our own projective filters on comings and goings of other group members. These feelings can also be taken into the movement process. Some groups may be more comfortable with a firm commitment for attendance, while others may not. When people can't attend, groups may hold a virtual space for the missing person. In my projection when you miss the group there is a loss. I miss your energy, but in my imagination I can move or hold our space in a way that adds your energy to our time.

When new members join our groups, it is a chance to review and revise our safety agreements.

There will always be times when a group member leaves a group or a group needs to disband to end a difficulty. When a member needs to leave, agreeing beforehand that each mover ideally will try to offer an owned sense of why they are leaving, can help both the mover and those who remain. In my imagination I keep getting a bellyache when I come to this meeting because I do not feel safe with my own material right now. I will come back if I can or I hope to find another place to work on these issues for myself.

The following list attempts to summarize these notions of what groups might agree to at the outset to attempt to create a longer term safe environment. Groups can agree:

  1. that the focus of the group is the development of individual practice,
  2. that little or no process time for relationships is done during the group time,
  3. that confidentiality means we do not share about other movers outside the group setting,
  4. that if an individual has a feeling of upset we take it into our own movement session,
  5. that relationship difficulties are handled in confidential, supportive networks outside of the group setting,
  6. that we discourage discussion of the practice session during social time,
  7. that bodywork is based in the notion that each of us knows what is best for our own body,
  8. that there is no expectation of others to change,
  9. that when we leave or are absent from group we shared an owned sense of why.

Please add your thoughts on agreements that have worked to enhance the handling of relationship rubs or belly aches.

With deep gratitude...Elizabeth Reid

Special thanks to Alton Wasson for thoughtful editing of this article, for leading a yearly Facilitators training and to the Facilitators Reunion group for a wonderful full discussion of these ideas. Also my own local community group where we do what we call "Movement Meditation" for the opportunity to facilitate and learn, hopefully over the long term.

copyright 2007 Elizabeth Reid

Encouraging Blog Interaction from Aileen Crow

Hello, people!

Let’s have a little more interaction! Let’s have some dialog, some complementary and/or contrary opinions about AM practices and beliefs. Just to keep us lively and learning from each other, so that AM doesn’t become just another system with one right way to do it.

How about you telling us your experiences with issues like, for example:

Do you do AM by yourself? If not, what stops you?

Does one have to have an external witness present in order to do AM?

What is your external witness allowed to do while you’re moving?
Does he have to stay in the same place as he was when you started?
Can she watch lying down?
Can he sleep?
Can she laugh out loud if she thinks what you’re doing is funny?

Do you do any kind of movement warm-up before AM?
If so, what works for you?

How about you telling us about any experiences with repetitive movement patterns that for a time you didn’t know what they meant? Did the patterns resolve themselves over time, and how? Did unexpected meanings appear? Did they fade away, or were they replaced by other patterns?

Or, how about telling us all what you’d rather talk about than these subjects?


© 2007 Aileen Crow

Recent writings from Eva Karczag, Arnheim, Holland

“Here is some of the writing I've been doing recently. All of it comes out of moving. Most of them were written during sessions of moving and writing with visual artist, Chris Crickmay.” ---- Eva Karczag

At her touch, the door swings open, surprisingly smooth, revealing the dark interior of a room of many colors. Stepping over the sill, she enters a world of fragrant aromas. What lies beyond the borders of the imagination? Doorways opening into a space of dreams and memories.

She places her feet one in front of the other, endlessly. But today, she determines that this will not be the way forward. Instead, she slips into thoughts of other days and other times, and fuels her quickening with weighted limbs that stay her hurry and envelop her in promised secrets. Her heart's desire sits in her left shoulder. A little cold, a little chilled, she wraps herself in warm wool. Drooling like a child, she remembers small details, and only occasionally slips into judgment, never allowing immobility to hold her down or shift her off course for too long.

Focusing the mind is not so easy, especially when time is short, like now. Thoughts threaten to engulf the body unless care is taken to sidestep the pull of future planning and present doubts, and the magnetism of the recent past.

Seaweed waves its fronds in rough oceans where mind swirls with activity intensified by longing. She does algebra with speed of lightning, never once insinuating her genius, while saltwater washes into and out of her gaping mouth and wraps her soaked skirt tight around her hips. She rushes past flying fish and dangles long fingers behind her in an effort to remain abreast, but what sorcery and witchcraft allows dandelions to shed their yellow petals if spring delays its coming this year? What's next?

Marshes hold mysteries. When earth breathes and sucks, suckling pigs and blankets of soft snow. The uprightness of forests and men who stand up for truth and loyalty. While nose-to-nose we lie under quilts as soft and light as a thousand feathers tossed by winter winds, I watch the whites of your eyes melt as the shadow of night fills the room. We breathe, I sink, yet stand straight. The owl hoots and night birds flit noiselessly until the moth hovers above three trembling stalks and finally lands.

She sighs with forceful tones forgetting past and future. She sinks into this elemental space of never-ending na na no no so soft it dissolves on the tongue like snowflakes tasted after a lover's kiss, still hot and heating desire. The center of the cyclone is a still point of ecstasy. She goes there, stumbles not even for a moment, flicks nothing off her fingertips, and gasps at the miracle of life.
© 2007 Eva Karczag

(Editor’s note: See interview with Eva Karczag in the final Moving Journal, Vol.13, #2, 2006.)


The last moving session brought up a lot of opposites for me; people wearing black and white, crying and laughing, hard and soft, silence and noise, joy and pain. All of these opposites led me to write the following.

Am I crying now?
Why does it sound like laughing?
The memories fade.....

Suck at my nipple
No milk to nourish the soul
Why am I empty?

Cry, laugh, black and white
Tonight I see opposites
Is there some meaning?

©2007 Don Weatherbee, Brunswick, Maine
Dear All Of You,
The blog and webpage are great and I want to thank you for the work you have done to keep our community active and in contact.
Warmest regards,
Marsha Perlmutter Kalina

Calligraphy from Aileen Crow

Witness Projection by Aileen Crow

Oh, I miss the Moving Journal. I am personally grateful to Paula, Annie and Joan for having given me (and many of us) a voice for thirteen years and for their having brought us all together and practically creating our AM community via the Journal. I am offering this bit of writing to say hello to all of you and kick off what I hope will be a fruitful continuing communication.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of discussion about the necessity of having an external witness present in order to do AM. I recently had an experience related to this subject that may be old hat to some of you, but it was fun and new to me, I’d like to share it with you, and hear your responses..

I was doing an AM exchange with my colleague, Lucy Mahler, at her home, where we had lots of time. I was ready to move, but she needed a short nap. I decided not to just wait, but to go ahead alone, pretending I had a witness present. I draped some beautiful fuchsia and orange fabrics over a chair, to ‘be’ my witness. I arranged them just right in the light, to ‘be’ her looking at me, and I moved. It was fine. She was a great witness, very understanding and simpatico.

Afterwards I wrote to my witness praising her for the qualities she had that helped me to be so easily in my AM:

“You are a first rate witness. You bring no inner conflicts here.

You are my projection out of an inner part of me that is most specifically true to my deepest core feelings.

You are the part of me with the largest frame, the most complete overview through time and space.

You have interested curiosity about every part of me. You find me absolutely fascinating. You never get bored with me.

You’ve been there yourself and you’re not afraid. You say, “Go ahead. I trust you.”

You are an artist, a dancer, a creativity counselor, an encourager.

You make art of me.”

AND, the part I’m excited to tell you about is this: after I wrote all that, I reclaimed my projection by saying aloud in front of Lucy, in first person, all the positive attributes I’d given to my witness; saying them ABOUT MYSELF. I said, for example, “ I am (often) a first rate witness, (when) I bring no inner conflicts with me.” And “I do find myself absolutely fascinating.” (I stole that line from Katharine Hepburn.) And, “I make art of me.”

It wasn’t easy to say all those good things about myself. It brought up feelings of shame for bragging, self importance and immodesty, from a part that wants me to be normal, not a foolish oddball. I listen to both of them. My Shamer wants to make sure that I am sweetly connected to community and engaged in moving together, and at the same time, my ‘oddball’ self delights in the unpredictable and the unusual.

Saying all those positive things aloud in ‘public’ about MYSELF put me in a happier relationship to my witnesses, inner and outer, than I’d been in before. I’d like to hear what any of you do with this --- if it is of any use to you.

©2007 Aileen Crow

Poems by Eliana Lynne Uretsky

home poem

When all is said and done
there remain the essential rhythms:
the give and take of breath and blood,
the quiet circulatings and pulsings.
When words fall down
and stories lose their meaning,
there is still a home
to come home to;
there are these friends:
feeling and sensation,
breath dissolving into blood
melting through membrane
floating in fluids
slipping into cells.
When all is said and done
there remain the essential rhythms;
When words fall down
and stories lose their meaning,
come home,
this sweetness awaits.

©2000 Eliana Lynne Uretsky

There is in the
Bony forest
Slow revolve of organs
Twinkling glands
Rhythmed red rivers
Listening land of skin
Fathomless cellular spaces
A universe
Complete and
Endless in its revealing
It calls us to attend

©1997 Eliana Lynne Uretsky

Joy Ride

Ribald rufflery gusto and gusts of belly laughs bursting effortlessly out. A tumble of bawdy bodies all and sundry hither and thither teeth in a foot a mechanical arm a head in a hand in a head in a hand. What is this wild hyena land and why can’t I live there all the time. We could start a commune we could communicate like this rumbling on the land, our eyes closed, clothed or not, tune out the madness, yes you heard me, I haven’t read a paper in weeks I don’t give a hoot I think this is the real world, who cares about organizing a life and goals and cars and insurance and a whaddayacallit tax-free postponement of the here and now. The stars are twinkling, the glands secreting, what else is there but this burbling tumbling joy ride on a hip bone a head in the hand mouth open teeth wide and wild and hyena howling?

©1997 Eliana Lynne Uretsky

Authentic Movement & Connecting with Friends

I'm really glad to see that there is a forum so accessible. Thanks to all of you for putting it together.

I've been doing a bit of authentic in a way that I would like to share: I have gone to several friends over the last year or so and asked then to do authentic movement with me instead of meeting at a museum or for coffee, or even a chat. We have met usually in my living room in a small space between the coffee table and the desk. I have explained the simple format of the work and we have exchanged. It has been a wondeful way to connect with friends, to know some in a new ways and to deepen the relationship with all. Comments?

Irina Harris – New York

Authentic Movement, Yoga & Healing by Jaime Stover Schmitt

I call my work yoga movement therapy. It is concerned with personal evolution, which to me is a continuum that includes healing. For this yoga provides a very big context in that healing can be thought of as a process of spiritual development. A healing process may be thrust upon us in the form of illness, or we may voluntarily open to ways in which we can learn, change and grow. Difficulties we face in various aspects of our lives such as in relationships, health issues, even finances can be thought of as earmarked areas for personal growth. Authentic Movement is an invaluable part of this healing-growing continuum because through it we are able to step out of our ordinary orientation and develop a manner of perceiving that invites an even greater inclusiveness. Over the past thirty years of engaging in this work, I have come to believe that this manner of stepping out of ordinary consciousness is a necessary element of the healing process. Shifting our way of perceiving from a pedestrian orientation to a non-linear, non-logical, non-causal context frees us temporarily from the strategies we have in place for getting along in our lives. When we move beyond these strictures, we can open to new possibilities on many levels.

Not too long ago people in the U.S. thought of yoga practice as an embodied method for inner work; a way to learn about and consciously work through personal impediments to one’s fullest potential. For instance one aspect of yoga, posture practice can be a way to learn about personal mythology through the associations made while holding a pose, similar to what can be experienced while moving. I am sad to see the superficiality of commodified yoga exclude dimensions of inner work, transformation and development of autonomy.

Based on this lack of understanding, a “do it right” attitude toward yoga practice has become the current norm. Students who don’t measure up are sometimes criticized and unfortunately even humiliated in class. This causes students to become defensive. If you are defending because you’re anticipating criticism there’s no opening to being playful, so you will not learn anything new. From studying cellular biology I learned that even the simplest form of life, a single cell, cannot exhibit a protection response and a growth response at the same time. It’s going to be one or the other. The cell that has the greatest capacity for awareness and receptivity is most adaptive and able to thrive. It evolves through this process into an even more intelligent way of being. This is true for us too. When we are defending we are not receptive which results in our perceptions being quite limited. Our understanding as a result will be far less inclusive. We end up reinforcing our conditioning instead of releasing it into a state of expansiveness. If a state of receptivity is necessary for learning, then it may well be life saving when it comes to the changes needed for healing to occur.

Once the shift to a non-ordinary consciousness is made, I believe the next step in the healing process concerns trust. In AM it begins as an ability to trust the form and the witness, similarly in therapeutic work it entails trusting the method as well as the therapist employing the method. But at a deeper level this step is about faith. Faith is a loan without a promissory note; it implies risk. We each have our own way of assessing risk. Our worldview comes into play as we weigh what might be possible against what is at stake. Here again AM affords a marvelous opportunity to become familiar with the unknown and to cultivate comfort with the uncontrollable. And in life really there is very little that is fully known or ultimately controllable, it only appears so through the filter of the comfort-concerned cocoon of ordinary reality.

This act of faith is both an attempt to extend our zone of comfort and an opening to discomfort. We project a positive receptivity onto the unknown while at the same time surrender to that which is beyond our control. In healing, this produces a sense of direction even when one cannot be rationally ascertained. We may feel we are in a no-man’s-land but we grasp there is a purpose to it. It is not about lying to oneself or denying one’s situation, it is about walking the knife-edge between consensus reality and wonderment. AM allows us to move into this necessary state of wonderment so that we can progress along our path toward wholeness.

© 2007 Jaime Stover Schmitt, Ed.D., C.M.A., S.M.E., I.D.M.E., R.Y.T.

A Survey Exploring Witness Consciousness by Paula Sager

I am currently working on a Master’s Thesis that looks at the role of “witness” in the process of self-development and asks the following questions:

Can those who develop a greater capacity to bear witness, both internally and externally, help support the development of individual consciousness in others? How can this capacity to be a witness be strengthened and developed?

I designed a survey for Authentic Movement practitioners as part of a phenomenological study of the roles of mover and witness in the discipline of Authentic Movement. While I have already assessed the data I received from the surveys, the editors of this site suggested that I post the survey here for anyone who would also like to explore and share these questions.
- Paula Sager

A Survey Exploring Witness Consciousness

The Mover’s Experience of the External Witness in Authentic Movement
I’m curious to know anything you can share about your experience as a mover in relationship to an external witness. Here are some possible questions to consider:

As a mover, has your experience of having an external witness changed over time?
What expectations do you have of an external witness?
Are there things that an external witness does that you find supportive?
Are there things that an external witness may do that you find unsupportive?
How would you describe the experience of “being seen” by an external witness?
Have there been times when you have not felt “seen” by an external witness?

The Mover’s Experience of the Internal Witness in Authentic Movement
I’m curious to know anything you can share about your experience as a mover in relationship to your own internal witness. Here are some possible questions to consider:

How do you experience your own inner witness?
Has your experience of your inner witness changed over time?
Is your experience of the inner witness different when you’re moving compared to when you’re witnessing? If so, how?

The Experience of the External Witness in Authentic Movement
I’m curious to know anything you can share about your experience as an external witness. Here are some possible questions to consider:

Is your experience of witnessing different from ordinary perceiving? If so, describe.
As an external witness, has your experience of the inner witness changed over time?
Can you name an inner hindrance or obstacle and how it compromises your ability to witness another?
Can you name an inner hindrance or obstacle and how it compromises your ability to witness yourself?
As an external witness, are there particular considerations that you weigh before offering verbal witnessing to a mover?

Have you had an experience of clear knowing by your inner witness while moving and/or while witnessing another mover? Please describe what you remember staying as close, in your language, to the actual experience as possible?

Is there anything further you want to add about being an external witness, being witnessed as a mover, or about your experience of the inner witness?

End of Survey ©2007 Paula Sager