Mind the gap
In the time of Covid19 is online work the only option for those clients and therapists wanting to avoid the physical risks? Tim Brown describes how his frustration with “disembodied” group meetings, along with a little encouragement from others, nudged his movement group into a public park – where they found tears, laughter and “something rather dreamlike and magical.”
On Thursday evening we met in a corner of a public park and shared a couple of hours of movement and reflection. How marvellous it was to be holding a group under the blue sky, lit by the setting sun, and open to the influence of trees, curious dogs and lost frisbees. Normally we’d be meeting in a ‘safe’ indoor studio space, not an option right now. It was our frustration with disembodied online meetings, and encouragement from others who are working with groups outside, that edged us towards the park, where there is space enough to move together whilst keeping a 1 metre distance. That’s why we call the group ‘Mind the Gap’. Containment is provided by two facilitators, by the group circle, and by the structure we have chosen to work within – Authentic Movement.
AM has its roots in Dance Movement Therapy and Jungian transpersonal work, with a hint of Buddhist awareness practice. The basic form – mover and witness – has endless possibilities, but its methods and rituals provide a framework for deepening awareness of my embodied self, moving in relationship.
On Thursday we moved mainly in dyads – one mover, one witness, sharing their experience of a number of ‘moves’. By the end of the evening there were tears, laughter, and a sense of moving beyond the ego into something rather dreamlike and magical. We plan to move in different ways over the next few weeks. AM is a practice – it asks you for some effort and concentration, it’s an exercise in mindfulness. The great thing is, it starts from where you are right now, so it’s impossible to get wrong. No experience is necessary.
AM has a long tradition and it’s good to honour the lineage of teachers – in our case, Linda Hartley. As it happens, there are a couple of articles about AM in the latest edition of the International Body Psychotherapy Journal – one by long-time AM practitioner Tina Stromsted which includes a good overview of AM, and another by Elyn Selu about working with AM in a group of women with multiple sclerosis. Both worth a look – here’s the link. https://www.ibpj.org/issues.php?issueid=17
We’re also influenced by Wild Therapy – the idea of working outdoors and being open to the influence of the other-than-human (dogs, frisbees…) – see http://homepages.3-c.coop/erthworks/wild_therapy.html
Meanwhile, if you’re in the Brighton area and would like to join us in the park, here’s the information. It’s currently an open group – you can come to any sessions if there’s space. https://www.embodiedtherapy.org.uk/copy-of-free-form-ongoing-group