“You are your own shaman now,” my teacher Inge told me when we were discussing tribal dances and their roles.
Inge explained during my recent trip to Oberaudorf to me that he had lived with indigenous groups in Darwin Australia for a while when researching in the most primal of contexts the theories on the connection of man and nature that he had received from his own teacher.
When I shared with him the effects I’d felt when practicing tribal-dance inspired coordinations he told me that it is a beneficial practice but at the same time I have to realise that in these tribes “the shamans had many dances for many different purposes and that the goal was always that each individual finds his own dance.”
This line sticked with me right away and in the subsequent sessions I had with my clients it started to make more and more sense how the ideas and goals of tribal dance and the principles and methodology I’d learnt from Inge intertwined.
To give an idea of what happens in these sessions I will share the basic setup: the client lies down on the floor, always in the same standard position, with the legs ninety degrees bent. Through observation of body language, mimicry, micro-movements blushing of the skin, voice, etc. I guide the individual towards a deeper perception of where the body wants to breathe and move.
In a recent session the client started to move subtly with the toes so I asked if she was aware of it and maybe wanted to move a little bit more there, which she did. The movements started to become a little bit bigger and more intense and more freedom was noticeable in the dynamic of her body. Eventually the movement that erupted from this initial micro-movement was a shake from the pelvis rotating the upper part of leg internally and externally at a powerful pace with the leg completely off the floor. This took about half a minute before her leg relaxed again, fell on the floor, and she recovered with some deep breaths.
What triggered me with excitement when witnessing this burst of spontaneous movement happening is that this movement was almost an exact replica of a movement I had been practicing as part of a Tai Ki Kung form that I had learnt from Jozef Frucek another one of my teachers who founded Fighting Monkey Practice.
And this was not the first time. I had seen many times before how clients of mine, and me myself in a state of self-regulation exhibited - in a completely spontaneous or I could say instinctive manner - movement breakthroughs that are part of these ancient forms and dances of movement arts.
It brought me back again to something that Jozef had told me so often:
“Look behind name and form.”
He told me more than once that practicing the forms can both “heal you or destroy you.”
And I sense, from the observations I’ve made that both of my teachers are pointing towards the same direction: to look within the symbol that these ancient methods and practices are, symbols that have been around for so long:
What is it in me they are trying to recover?
Which ideas are carried within these forms, these dances?
Of what messages are they the symbol?
What is this heritage in motion trying to provoke in us?
The same shaking of the limbs I’ve seen as spontaneous reactions in the self-regulation happening in Vegetative Training, I saw as executed movements in forms and dances.
It seems that both, from a different angle, are trying to create in us to the same effect and work on us as a reconciling force in order to resolve the contradictions that are saved within our body from past experiences.
One way is to move in order to ‘remember’ and 'return'. Another way is to allow in order to move.
How I see from my current understanding, is like this:
You work the form, so the form will work on you.
When the form works on you, you work what is within the form.
When you work what is within the form, you leave the form behind and cultivate it in every form.
Returning to the statement that the form can also destroy you, I feel it must be what happens when we get attached to the forms of the thing instead of what is contained by the form.
The form then becomes like an end in itself instead of the means it was always intended to be.
It is the case we see so often where the “shaman” with his many dances never found his own nor wishes for his pupils to find their own.
Why would he?
They would not need their shaman anymore as they became their own…