Authentic Movement as Tandava:
A Postmodernist Re-dreaming of an Original Yoga
The heart of the discipline of Authentic Movement is training in awareness of impulse.
Impulse, as a non-volitional arising, reveals directly the embodied resonance of past experience.
Awareness is the intimate, non-discursive witnessing of immediate experience, including sensation, feeling, thought, impulse, and action.
Initially, impulse arises in relation to the many psychological issues that impede ease and clarity.
The nature of impulse is movement, and it arises with force proportionate to each immobility it encounters.
Impulse that moves in relation to past experience may be called “healing impulse”.
Healing impulse may arise out of the resonance of positive experience, called privilege, or negative experience, called trauma. Both privilege and trauma must be processed and integrated before practice opens to the impersonal.
Healing impulse arising from the resonance of positive experience indicates that the experience may not be fully integrated into the self, or that the experience comes to be seen as not fully positive.
Healing impulse arising from negative experience seeks completion through self-protection, ego stabilization, and the return to safety and social connection.
Fully integrated experience leaves little trace other than strengthened wholesome qualities.
Surface layers of disintegration mask subtler ones. Healing occurs best sequentially. Skipped layers will have to be returned to and integrated before deeper unbinding will happen.
Witness by another person is extremely helpful in cultivating awareness, disinhibition, and confirmation of shifts in expression of impulse.
Witness of our own impulse and movement is productive of insight and realization.
When self-witness is absent, distraction and dissociation are unchecked, and impulse based in craving leads to harmful action.
Ego is unable to interpret impulse except as an expression of itself. Ego is the expression of the blockages of impulse that impede processing and integration.
As the inner witness becomes confident, able to discern the distortions of ego, an external witness becomes less imperative.
As healing impulse moves, and is witnessed, progressively subtler impulses may be felt and followed, resulting in encounter with deeper layers of the self.
Tuning into ever subtle layers of movement impulse is also tuning into layers of ego less busy with security and individuation.
As initially ego-driven impulses are moved and completed, the mover may connect with cultural, biological, and existential content, the foundations of embodied experience, and dances closer to the mysterious source of impulse, of which one name of many is Śiva-Śakti, unified source.
Śakti, a name for creative force and created reality, is Mover, impulse, and movement. Śiva is a name for the Witness, awareness, wakefulness, the knower. They co-arise, never separate.
Śiva-Śakti, co-arising Mover and Witness, shines through even the most egoistic impulse.
As impulse moves, and knots of immobility are unbound, subtler impulse is revealed in greater and greater purity, and the foundations of the self are revealed.
As impulses complete, disenchantment with their propagation arises, inspiring the practitioner to deeper healing through renunciation of ego-sustaining repetition.
The sweetness of subtle impulse is indescribable, but even subtle impulse must eventually be completed.
Practice conditions movement through ever subtler layers of impulse, immobility, and habit, revealing the end of impulse as a still point.
A still point ends each phase of a healing process. No further expression of past experience is needed, and so none arises.
When healing impulse has reached a still point, its imperative ends. After each still point, impulse arises less fettered by the past and tends toward creativity and service.
Śiva Natarāja, a Hindu image of God dancing, performs the impulse from stillness into movement that is all creation, both verb and noun. His dance is called tandava.
Authentic Movement may be seen as a training in tandava, listening for both healing and creative impulse, moving through layers of ego and immobility, arriving at still points, then enjoying life after completion.
When there are no more layers of self to move through, impulses after still points arise from love, compassion, and service, and tend to be joyful, non-anxious, relational, and without personal agenda.
Contentment, wakefulness, and non-urgency are characteristic experiences of those who have passed through many still points.
The path of awareness of impulse, moving through healing, still point, and into creation manifests at each layer of the self as well as describing the larger arcs of practice and life.
As the end of impulse is experienced fully, the discipline of Authentic Movement is revealed as inseparable from ordinary life, and formal practice is optional and celebratory.