An Open Field by Elizabeth Reid

I have been part of the Authentic Movement community since September 2001, just a short time compared to many who have practiced and taught since the early days when Mary Whitehouse started this experiment.  I use that word "experiment" carefully because I like the idea that Authentic Movement is an experiment… an experience in muddling about each and every time a session happens. So I feel resistance to defining, codifying or even explaining what it is that we do.

Our structure has often been explained on the many web sites that have developed since 2006.  That year I participated in an International Gathering at Hampshire College.  Sixty of us explored and experimented with Authentic Movement that summer.  One outcome of that was the desire for a web site to facilitate communication in the community.  Ten of us began that effort in the fall of 2006.  So one vantage point I have is to see the web communications about Authentic Movement.  

Web communication about movement has limitations.  At first many in our community complained about being seated at a computer when they would rather be actually moving.  But writing including photos and short videos of Authentic Movement has promoted our practice since 2006.  We have over 500 participants on the web site who are screened members of our community.  Our Facebook page has over 1600 members who have expressed an interest in the practice.  During this period of time somatic practices of many kinds have developed and been promoted on the web.  For example, you can see a long list of professional offerings on the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy web site: .

My bias about Authentic Movement is that it is a practice open to all to participate and teach, not a professional offering that requires training to offer.  However, there are now many teachers who offer training in Authentic Movement.  Finding a teacher to learn and experiment with the practice has been the main method of passing this experience along to others.  There has been no credentialing in the field, but instead most teachers suggest that teachers be sought with care, sharing be done with responsible self care and teaching be done after self reflection as to preparedness.

Here is a quote from the web site developed by our Authentic Movement web site in 2006:
"Authentic Movement can be a discipline unto itself and can be used as a part of many different practices and teachings. Teachers develop the form in their own ways. Practices such as Movement Meditation, Contemplative Dance, Creative Movement Method, or Somatic Psychology use Authentic Movement as part of their training.
Authentic Movement has grown and evolved over many years. It is an open and unfolding form. Currently there are many experienced practitioners and teachers of Authentic Movement. We value the variety and diversity of Authentic Movement expressions throughout the world."

My favorite line in that description is, "It is an open and unfolding form."  At the International Gathering in 2006 I participated in a heated discussion about how we practice.  One person wanted to start our session with making eye contact with each member of the group before we began our movement.  Another participant wanted to begin with eyes closed.  Both felt that their way was the way to move safely into their own unconscious material and that the other way would block that process.  We all tried both ways with varied and individual responses.  For me this was a lesson in "open and unfolding" experiments that create a form of practice that meets each of our idiosyncratic needs.  
In the last 14 years I have gone to trainings with a number of teachers.  Each one has provided me with treasures….. so many treasures.  Or maybe another way to look at that would be to say that for me the practice of Authentic Movement  throughout the field opens and unfolds my own internal treasures.  I am so grateful.

Dear Elizabeth,
Thank you for sending your An Open Field to me and to the Blog.I am grateful to you for your open attitude and clear thinking. Brave of you to say, and I do agree, that you feel resistance to defining, codifying or even explaining what it is that we do. 
Having been in the certifying business myself, I want to repeat what I said on the Blog a while back:

Certify yourself, for what you really know and love!

I have “belonged” to many groups in my life, many of which gradually became Insider/Outsider pyramid clubs with increasing degrees of certification and fights over who’s in and who’s out.
Now I’m happy to be part of a loose group of uncertified, high quality authentic movers and somatic inquirers. I will do my best to keep us varied and inclusive.

My appreciation to you, Elizabeth,
Aileen Crow

Reading this blog post validates me, my experiences, my whole time in AM/CD.  This openness and unfolding is what develops a trust in me to be.  And be with others.  It is inside the "not knowing" that sometimes I find true lack of ego, with no hierarchy in me ! I mean my own internal judge of self when I say hierarchy,not just hierarchy of external knowers. The value of every experience for each mover/witness is so integral to this phenomenon.

Kathy Chowanec

Carol Zahner sent a picture from Bogata.  Paula Sager responded with thoughts on this blog post.

I love your tree from Bogota, Carol—perfect image for the 'field' of Authentic Movement—all the branches arising out of the same ground,same source. The part of me that likes naming and defining, is the same part, same impulse that was there with A Moving Journal.

It has to do with my longing to know more about all the ways different people are exploring and developing the practice; how different groups are refining their aspects and approaches, the branches that are most meaningful for them.
It's always exciting when we share the diversity of our inquiry, as well as what unites us all.

And even the strange webbed straps that seem to be keeping two branches from splitting off from one another—this too seems so apt!  How we each in our own unique way help to hold different parts of this work that we all love.


Dear Elizabeth:

Thank you so  much for taking the time to create an article on AM and
certification.  I read a centered and clear statement and feel in me the
grace of the form and its practitioners...w/o labels.

Roberta Whitney