Authentic Movement: A Truly Moving Experience

By Steven Libowitz   |   August 29, 2019

Until two months ago, your faithful correspondent had never experienced Authentic Movement, a simple form of self-directed movement in the presence of at least one witness, with attention directed inward. As movers follow present-time inner impulses to produce spontaneous gestures and movements as well as moments of stillness, the witness watches and tracks his or her own inner responses. My initiation came during an Authentic Relating Games experience with the new leaders at Yoga Soup, which previously had offered a preponderance of verbal games. The idea of moving, eyes closed, while being watched – and as the witness reporting the impact also only through movement – boggled my mind almost to the point of paralysis by analysis. In other words, it was quite a challenge.

Three weeks ago, at the Body Mind Centering Conference at UCSB, I had a drastically different experience. Without having fully read the description, I had no clue that that specific 90-minute workshop slot was centered on Authentic Movement. Terror briefly ensued. In this workshop, however, led by the highly experienced Mary Lou Seereiter, half the group witnessed the other en masse rather than individually. By the time my turn came – and wearing the teacher’s scarf so as to make it easy to keep my eyes closed – something had shifted. Somehow my mind was willing to cede control and let my body-spirit dictate the movements not only largely without fear of judgment but mostly just as an observer of the embodied actions of my own real-time impulses. Maybe this is what most people do during regular dancing, or the ecstatic version, but for me it was a revelation. That was confirmed the next day via a second exposure with a different teacher, David Hurwith, whose style was to be the only witness as the entire group engaged in Authentic Movement simultaneously.

Last week, I finally made it to a Movement Lab at Yoga Soup, the weekly 90-minute gathering that offers any number of movement-based practices from dance to yoga and more depending on the leader. Yes, because, Authentic Movement was on the menu. Jenna Tico’s began with a warmup of quivering, stretches, and more, and a period of pairing up for interactive movement filling our partners’ negative space in turn. Then the music continued for our one-on-one approach to Authentic Movement, the first time I’d experienced the practice with anything other than silence. And we closed by sharing some impressions as the witness, again a new twist for me. It turns out I like that there are so many different ways to practice!

Just as Hurwith has written, I can’t tell you what Authentic Movement is: Movement therapy? Embodied meditation? I just know that, again in his words, my internal self senses an environment where it is right to go deep without the divisions of body and mind or conscious and unconscious… leading to being able to understand the self in new ways.

I know I’m the columnist, but can anyone point me to where we can experience more Authentic Movement locally?

Backbone is Back, at the Soup

Tico, meanwhile, has announced a second season of Backbone Storytelling, described as “a space to share the meaningful, moving, and mortal stories inspired by the place that we all have in common: a human body.” The showcase features stories that are “as physical as they are spiritual and emotional,” meaning the tellers are encouraged to share their tales through both spoken and nonverbal language.

Backbone debuted at Oreana Winery in March with stories emerging from a theme of “Gut Instinct.” The theme for the upcoming October 12 event is “Blood is Thicker,” which storytellers are free to interpret as they wish. Anyone is invited to submit a “blurb” of 250 words or a two-minute recorded pitch with the gist of your journey to Tico curates the submissions, hand-picking the stories to represent the diversity, vulnerability and truth associated with the theme. The deadline is September 12. Visit

More at Yoga Soup: Two for Tea 

Lizzie Smith, who has been studying Tea Ceremony for two years under Wu De and the Tea Sage Hut based in Miaoli, Taiwan, offers a special New Moon Silent Tea Ceremony 7:30-8:30 pm on Friday, August 30. Admission is by donation, but with only seven seats available advance registration is a must. (There’s a similar event the following Friday, September 6, too.)

On Saturday, August 31, Smith joins former circus acrobat and lifelong yogini Jazmin Ment for a special three-hour Tea + Yoga event. The elemental afternoon of movement and meditative tea begins with a blend of grounding flow, leading into restorative and seated meditation led by Ment before Smith serves tea in silence, weaving together movement, stillness, reflection and connection. There will be small breaks and time for journaling and sharing as a group throughout the 2-5 pm retreat. Admission is $35 in advance, $40 day of.

Yoga Soup is located at 28 Parker Way. More info at (805) 965-8811 or 

Deep Dives with Dawa

Sunday, September 1, is the last day to register for Dependent Origination, which will be available both online and in person from Santa Barbara Bodhi Path resident teacher Dawa Tarchin Phillips. Dependent Origination explains the process by which all phenomena and our experiences of them come to arise, be and cease to be. Contemplating and understanding this process is fundamental to knowing how to exit the cycle of unwanted painful experiences and their incessant reoccurrence. The four-week course on the 12 links of dependent origination takes place 10 am to 12 noon on Saturdays, September 7-28. Visit

Meanwhile Philips wraps up his current course, Discover the Five Wisdoms, about how to access the liberating wisdom of Buddha nature, with two final offerings, from 7-9 pm on Thursdays, August 29 and September 5. Bodhi Path is at 102 W. Mission St. Call (805) 284-2704 or visit


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