Authentic movement is a holistic form of self-exprience, which encompasses all aspects of human being – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. By means of unvolitional movements from within, it enables us to come into contact with our unconscious and to connet with our inner world. The encounter with one’s own self leads to spontaneous self-realization, opens new possibilites of experience and expression, fosters the access to one’s own creativity and inner strength, to greater vitality and joy, a reconnection with oneself and trust into one’s inner wisdom. It helps us to integrate past experiences on all levels and gives us new impulses for our personal development by connecting the unconscious with the conscious, the unvolitional with the controlled will, and the wisdom of the body with the rational mind. The experiences during the movement can be individual and biographic, interpersonal and collective, or transpersonal and spiritual, that way showing us our relationships towards ourself, to others and to the cosmos.
In its original form, authentic movement takes place in a group. It is well suitable however, also for a personal setting. In a safe environment, the mover follows with eyes closed his or her inner movements, feelings and impulses, while being percieved by a silent witness in a non-judgemental and empathic manner. The movements take place unintentionally, closing one’s eyes intensifies the connection to inner imagery, thoughts and feelings. Fears and suppressed desires may reach the surface as well as unrealized potentials and talents. When the mover is able to give up conscious control, a feeling of simultaneously moving and being moved from within arises. This is commonly experienced as pleasant, liberating and healing, often accompanied by making sounds. Following a movement sequence, the experiences can be integrated by talking, painting or writing.
The therapeutic effect of authentic movement comes about primarily by a concentrated and neutral presense of an outer witness, which is free from performance thinking, aesthetic norms, interpretations or attributions. It builds a bridge to the mover’s inner mindful witnessing and unreserved accepting of the unvolitional stirrings of the body. As the mover is seen and accepted as she is, she can see and accept her herself, with lights and shadows. Authentic movement that way opens up the possibility to experience what is characteristic for a good relationship between child and caregiver in the early years of life and which often remains a deep longing. Hurt feelings due to judgements and devaluation or too little attention and care can be integrated and healed, former ideas about oneself can be released.
Authentic movement was developed within the field of dance and movement therapy by Mary Starks Whitehouse who was influenced by the psychology of C.G. Jung. Joan Chodorow and Janet Adler highlighted the meditative and mystic aspect of the method. As the conscious mind becomes the silent witness, the mover follows his or her inner wisdom without knowing what it is leading towards. This non-judgemental way of self-oberservation – a state of mind which is characteristic of many meditative practices – allows for a greater distance to the inner psychic processes that reveal themselves, which facilitates understanding, compassion and change. In this tradition, authentic movement is thus also seen as a contemplative bodily meditation, a form of devotion to the natural inner guidance or universal life force and the re-connection to the cosmos.