Eurythmy – A Path To Self – Knowledge
In 1912 Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) an Austrian initiate, scientist, artist and philosopher, brought a new art of movement into existence on the foundation of Anthroposophy.
Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, which changes one’s whole outlook on life. A new world of consciousness opens up. “Anthropos” in Greek means the human being, striving through the inner wisdom or consciousness, “Sophia”, to receive the wisdom or universal consciousness.
Dr. Steiner talks of Anthroposophy as having its roots in the perceptions already gained in the spiritual world. The branches, leaves, blossoms and fruits of Anthroposophy grow into all fields of human life and action.
Anthroposophy has touched and enhanced, bringing new light of consciousness, into every field of life, from education, curative education, arts and science, to medicine, architecture, social science, bio-dynamic farming and a new art of movement called Eurythmy.
The new art is not a dance, nor a mime, but an art of movement, making visible the “Eu” – beauty and harmony of sound in speech and music – and creating a new health giving rhythm in the organism. Eurythmy is speech and music made visible through conscious movements of the limbs. Eurythmy uses for its expression the most flexible of all instruments, the human body. Eurythmy knows no limitations in its possibility for the development of body, mind and soul.
One can perceive the human organism as micro cosmos, mirroring or containing the macro cosmos. Through Eurythmy one attempts to make the very working of these laws visible. As Paracelsus (1494 – 1544) a Swiss mystic and doctor says: “The human being is a spread out macro cosmos and the micro cosmos is a condensed human being.” Each part and particle in nature is a sound and the human being – The WORD!
Sounds contain wisdom, laws and mystery of the universe. Sounds made visible through conscious movement of the limbs in Eurythmy, make these very laws more real and unlock, step by step, the dynamic force behind the tangible world. These are the very forces, which are working in us, sustaining our organism. The very fabric of our being is created by the formative forces of the cosmos. The whole universe is created out of sound, with its seed in OM or AUM. Upanishad says: “Brahma begins creation”. It means the whole creation comes out of sound. OM is the universe.
Every organ, every breath we take and even a single thought is in relationship to the dynamic forces around us. Our roots are in the universe, mirroring the undying spirit behind our individuality, giving us the power to strive over and above our physical boundaries. With this in mind, every sound made visible works therapeutically. Each sound is in tune with the health giving formative forces working in our organs, in our organism, in our very breathing.
Invoking these sounds, activating them through the movements of Eurythmy, we strengthen a general feeling of wellbeing. Not only that, but Eurythmy is differentiated, since sound is also differentiated in its structure, and the process of its unfolding is highly curative for any particular illness, be it of the psychosomatic kind, chronic or acute.
At the same time, when one experiences the sound through the movement with full attention, one is striving step by step to unlock the mystery, the beauty and the wisdom of the universe. Yet the most difficult of all instruments of the world – the human body – is not so easy to play in tune and harmony with the world around us. That is why the average human being is not able to hold the full impact of this dynamic force all at once. This way, we are protected by the Guardian of our Threshold, since any short cut may prove to be harmful. It is a step by step process to lift the veil of Isis, the Reality behind the veil of Maya. This Reality is the very fabric of our organism. When sound is made visible, one comes nearer to the essence which lies behind the existence.
Dr. Steiner has developed Eurythmy along a three fold aspect. Firstly, as a performing art, secondly pedagogical, as group Eurythmy for children and adults, and thirdly, therapeutically as curative Eurythmy in Rudolf Steiner clinics, hospitals, institutions and homes. Dr. Steiner has given innumerable indications for Curative Eurythmy for innumerable physical and mental problems. These curative exercises have to be done under the doctor’s guidance, otherwise the same could be harmful if given without proper guidance or responsibility. Through Eurythmy one experiences health in its totality, since the apth of working consciously for health is also a path of knowledge.
The three soul functions of thinking, feeling and will activity, represented by the central nervous system, the rhythmical system and the metabolic-digestive system, overcome the darkness of one-sidedness, bringing these three main systems into one whole. Thus, health means “making whole”.
One repeats the movements, bringing full attention to what one is doing, with open eyes and breathing according to one’s own normal rhythm. Never stress, hold or strain the breath, nor any particular thought, but bring your full attention to whatever movement you are practicing. I had my training in Dornach, a town near Basle in Switzerland, which houses the University of Spiritual Sciences, known as the “Goetheanum”. Complete study to become a curative Eurythmist can extend upto six years of sound study, which also includes subjects like speech formation, painting, sculpturing, geometry and basic study of anatomy and physiology with its dynamic functioning in the organism. I would be side stepping if I were to describe the study of the dynamic functioning as well, because that includes the subtle members of the physical body like the etheric body, the astral body and the higher Ego, as well as the five elements (panchabhuta) and the twelve senses (five gross and seven subtle).
Another point to be followed is to bring one’s attention only on the movement one is doing, breathing normally. Do not close your eyes unnecessarily, nor try to breathe according to the Eurythmical movement. Also do not utter the sound because when you move the sound, you are the sound. So please keep your mouth closed whilst doing Eurythmy. The whole organism is thinking, feeling and willing at the same time. No background music is necessary for any extra support, since one’s attention gets divided. Wait at least for an hour after meals, otherwise no definite time is imposed. Be free to chart out your own time when you do your exercises. Also the duration of the exercise should be kept free. Do not “overdose”. About ten to twenty minutes, three to five times a week, continue to practise for six to seven weeks. Thereafter, take a break from the exercises for one and a half to two weeks. You may start again, if you wish, with the same exercises. Do all these movements slowly, not fast.
Through Eurythmy one becomes more sensitive, more ecologically conscious and more aware of one’s self and of the environment in general, forming a deep connection to whatever one is doing in everyday life. Eurythmy does not try to manipulate one’s destiny in order to seek a quick and easy way out of one’s problems. Instead, Eurythmy tries to strengthen one’s inner self, the individuality, to combat and overcome difficulties and not to push away any difficulty by some kind of strategy. Here the emphasis is on overcoming the pitfalls, potholes and stumbling blocks of destiny in order to create inner strength. To sum it up, Eurythmy is self-knowledge and self-purification.
~ Dilnawaz Bana