Strengthening resilience is an important factor in learning to cope more effectively with stress and adversity. As explored elsewhere there are different ways in which one can approach this (see the article 'What is Resilience?') and in this article I will look more in depth at the role Eurythmy can play.
“Skilled use of one's body has been important in the history of the species for thousands, if not millions, of years. In speaking of masterful use of the body, it is natural to think of the Greeks, and there is a sense in which this form of intelligence reached its apogee in the West during the Classical Era. The Greeks revered the beauty of the human form and, by means of their artistic and athletic activities, sought to develop a body that was perfectly proportioned and graceful in movement, balance and tone. More generally, they sought a harmony between mind and body, with the mind trained to use the body and the body trained to respond to the expressive powers of the mind.”
Howard Gardner: Frames of Mind.
This quote from Howard Gardner really emphasizes how important it was for the Ancient Greeks to cultivate a strong mind-body connection. Eurythmy takes inspiration from the Greek arts and has very close links with the Greek ideals of harmony and balance in and between body and mind. In fact, Eurythmy means 'harmonious movement' or 'harmonious rhythm' in Greek and in all its activities and uses it promotes harmony and balance and has an enlivening, yet relaxing, effect. Eurythmy can help people gain more awareness and control of their body and movement and to become more connected in all parts of their being.
Becoming more aware of oneself has an immediate impact on one's ability to cope with the changes and challenges of life. Greater awareness means being more in control of reactions and actions, which means being more alert to stress reactions and able to deal with them before they get out of hand. Being more present in our body can also help us strengthen our sense of safety and can lead to all sorts of side benefits such as developing more self-acceptance and compassion. We may even become so familiar with how our body feels that we pick up on symptoms of illnesses earlier than we otherwise would.
All this may seem elementary, but unfortunately we live in a society and a time where advertising and social media are selling us an impossible ideal of the human body that many, many people are making themselves both ill and miserable in the attempt to achieve. By coming home to ourselves and not buying into the ideals we can start the journey of liking – or even loving – ourselves as we are, which will have a huge effect on our mental and emotional health.
We also live in a world where the majority of people in the western world through the changes to work and increased reliance on technology at home have become very sedentary. We don't use our bodies as much as people generally did 40-50 years ago and when we do, the movements tend to be very repetitive and limited. In this way we become stuck in patterns of movement, which can create problems with posture, dexterity and so forth as we age.
Eurythmy is an excellent way of exploring different ways of using our body and realigning ourselves, but it so much more than being a way of creating body-awareness, presence and resilience. It is a 'living' form of movement that connects us to ourselves, our immediate surroundings and the world as such and it is a way of exploring what it means to be human and how we live.