Mapping and Tracking Bodily Experience through Writing and Remembering
The primary text of a mystic. . .is his human body. – Antonio de Nicholas
Embodied writing seeks to reveal the lived experience of the body by portraying in words the finely textured experience of the body and evoking sympathetic resonance. [E]mbodied writing is itself an act of embodiment, entwining in words our senses with the senses of the world. – Rosemarie Anderson
Since beginning this practice, I was encouraged by my teachers to write down what happens in Authentic Movement. Writing is one way of developing the Inner Witness.
As a mover closes her eyes and steps into the empty space, questions may arise: Which inner impulse or prompting do I listen to and follow? What am I doing now. . .and now? How am I feeling? Do images appear? Sounds? Sensations? What of my witness – am I aware of her and how do I feel moving in her presence? Will I remember all that’s happening?
In addition to the speaking practice that accompanies Authentic Movement, writing can help to expand our conscious awareness of the bodysoul and strengthen the Inner Witness. Writing regularly is a practice, one that helps to reflect our journey with the discipline over time, tracking our bodies, our questions and their answers.
Moving and speaking are ephemeral; writing is tangible and can be returned to later. I have journals that span over two decades of moving and witnessing and I periodically revisit them. Reading, I am pulled in again to the living story of my body. . . into the experiences, images, postures, gestures, energetic phenomena, emotions and memories that have moved and continue to move my flesh and bodily tissues. Reading, I recognize a hidden order, patterns which have unfolded over time in postures and gestures, at once unique to me and universal. I am certain of the brilliance of my body, of all bodies. I return to remember. Writing is an entry point and a destination.
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name. – William Shakespeare
How to Write
I like to write before speaking about my movement, while the experience is still freshly reverberating. Writing first offers an opportunity to continue steeping in the movement, to become even more intimately acquainted with it. Inviting the postures, gestures, sensations, and sequences to imprint themselves in my bodysoul, my pen serves as the conduit from body to page.
I choose journals with spines that open easily and lay flat. I like pages without lines. . . pens that glide easily on the paper. I write in present tense, as though movements are still happening. I name the movements: postures, gestures, sensations, where I am in the room – what am I doing? What is happening NOW. . . and NOW? I start at the beginning and track what happens, in sequence. Feeling, seeing, sensing into words – waiting for them to climb the long ladder of the body into conscious awareness – they slowly or quickly find their way onto the page. Naming body movements first honors the body, privileges its voice over thought and idea.
Embodied consciousness requires a study of articulation not only of body but of word. – Janet Adler