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Therapeutic eurythmy

Susan R. Johnson MD, FAAP, 9/28/00

Four years ago I had never even heard of the word Eurythmy. I was required to participate in artistic eurythmy every Saturday morning as part of the San Francisco Waldorf Teacher Training program. I did not like eurythmy - I couldn't do it. I was like a walking head that had no coordination between my arms and feet. Even simple movements done in a circle (movements that kindergarteners and first graders do as part of their Waldorf education), I could not do. For one thing my feet were about 8 inches apart when I stood up, and I could not get them to come together because my knees would get in the way. For another thing the only way I knew how to move was through my head. I watched our eurythmy teacher perform the movements, and I would systemically analyze each movement and note if she was using the left hand or right hand first and how she was placing her feet. Of course my head could not keep up with the intricate movements, and I would fall behind, get frustrated, become tense, and end up with a severe lower backache.

After suffering through weekends of eurythmy, I finally asked for help from my eurythmy teacher. She recommended that I see an anthroposophical doctor and get a therapeutic eurythmy perscription to help me move more easily and to bring my feet together. Needless to say I was skeptical, but I also had 3 upcoming years of weekly eurythmy classes and 4 solid weeks of daily eurythmy every summer to endure as part of my teacher training program.

I had at least 20, 1 hour, therapeutic eurythmy sessions during my first two years of teacher training, and then I repeated another series during the spring of my third year. I grew to love eurythmy. I would come to my Friday night session of therapeutic eurythmy worn out from a day of commuting and somehow would become energized by the end of the hour. The movements were beautiful to make and all rhythmical. They were sometimes very slow like 3-fold walking, and other times very quick. My hands and feet would move simultaneously and other times alternately while I was given beautiful imaginations (pictures) of stars falling down from the heavens or a seed sprouting and reaching up to the stars. I would encircle my body with my hands like a blue velvet cloak of protection-protecting that space that I usually gave away too freely during the day, depleting my energy. I would pass a copper ball back and forth to my therapeutic eurythmy teacher while she would recite a beautiful poem. Pretty soon I was moving my arms and my feet and not even realizing it. My mind was on the pictures and my body was freely moving. I started feeling goose bumps up and down my spine while I moved, and slowly but surely over the next 4 months my feet started coming together. It was amazing. During a summer conference in Fair Oaks I was able to line dance for the first time in many, many years!. What absolute joy to be moving to music and not even paying attention to my feet. I had tried to dance 5 years earlier at a neighborhood Greek festival, and I had dropped out of the line because I couldn't even follow the simplest of movements.

Eurythmy is now a part of my life. There are special movements for the soul that I love to do and can be taught to anyone who is interested. The

"A (Ah) veneration" develops devotion in the soul, helps overcome insomnia, activates breathing, and strengthens our constitiution making us less prone to outside influences (illnesses, stress etc.). The Love E (A) helps overcome the type A personality and any tendencies to cardiac disease. It also warms the body, something which one can feel immediately after performing the movements. Hope U (oo) brings hope and a metabolic warmth to the blood circulation and breathing. It is also used to treat insomnia caused by indigestion.

I like to do the 3-fold walking movement in the morning because it lets me know if I am grounded. I can't do the movement without losing my balance when I am not grounded. There is also a beautiful sequence of movements that accompany a series of consonants and vowels known as the " Hallelujah". The word Hallelujah itself means "I purify myself of all that prevents me from beholding the Divine". This series of movements strengthens the etheric (our vitality and immunity). There are consonants that help a child with bedwetting, a vowel sequence that helps children who stutter, sequences of consonants, vowels, and other movements that help children and adults with learning difficulties, sensory-motor integration problems, hyperactivity, poor memory, tics, asthma, diabetes, cancer, menstrual difficulties, indigestion, enlarged adenoids, and many other conditions.

Movement integrates our senses, and "every movement which we perform with our body is a visible expression of our will." Every movement we make, counts. The way we move is a mirror of how we feel about ourselves. How we move reflects who we are and the values we hold.1

1 Willi Aeppli from his little booklet called "The Care and Development of the Human Senses"

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© Susan R. Johnson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
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