Authentic Movement

What is it?

Authentic Movement is a type of moving meditation. It is an internally directed approach to moving our bodies, finding stillness, and cultivating our inner witness. 

This form was developed by Mary Starks Whitehouse and inspired by Carl Jung’s practice of active imagination. 

At the Embodied Leadership Project, I offer a school of thought within the lineage Authentic Movement which centers the lived experience of BIPOC individuals and communities. The work is grounded in the wisdom of the African-rooted community dance circle which models inclusion, connection, and healing across differences. 

It is important to note that healing across differences extends far beyond the human world. Spiritual and ecological trauma resulting from colonization and enslavement has created an immense disconnect within not only our relationships with self, family, and community, but also the land, the plants, the animals, and the spirits of Nature. These beings are our family. When we dance, we reconnect. 

The circle teaches us that we are intricately connected to all of life and that all of us are dancers. It is our honor at the Embodied Leadership Project to collaborate with nature herself through partnering with the wise and healing spirits known as horses. Horses help us to hold the witnessing container that is at the foundation of Authentic Movement, a form that offers an access point for people to locate themselves as dancers no matter what our experience, background, or training.  

Authentic Movement usually involves a witness and a mover. At the Embodied Leadership Project, we practice Authentic Movement by invoking the witnessing presence of horses through the imagination. This allows us to practice with or without another human in the space with us. It also allows us to practice with horses without actually being with them physically. 

Horses Use Dance as Language

Horsewoman Carolyn Resnick describes her childhood experience of integrating into a wild herd of horses. She talks about the way that each herd uses movement and mirroring of movement to create a unique way of communication based on the diversity of each member of the herd. This embodied communication allows the herd to understand movement patterns, gestures, sounds and ways of looking and feeling - that are developed anew within each herd. So each herd is using the same method: movement, stillness and feeling. But the gestures they use will differ based on what each herd develops together as a means of communication. 

She is literally describing how horses use dance as a method of creating language together. And the beauty is - that when we open our understanding of what dance can be we can access this incredible way of building language. 

There are parts of us who rarely get heard, or get listened to, because they do not use words. They live in the body, they are of the body, of the earth. These parts of us live in the places where the animals live, that nature lives, that the ancestors live. While these aspects of ourselves may be unconscious most of the time, they direct large amounts of our thinking, our choices, our leadership, and our relationship to our power and creativity. 

Practice with us

Ways to practice with us:

ONLINE: If you are a woman with any degree of sexual trauma in your body and/or your bloodline, you are invited to join Jamila's membership community to experience several guided equine-assisted movement meditations to access at any time and incorporate into your practice. They will teach you a way to practice authentic movement with horses from where ever you are in the world. You don't need to be with a horse physically to participate. 

LIVE IN A GROUP: (invoking horses through the imagination - not working with them physically) We will be offering in-person workshops in Fall of 2023. We work with horses through the imagination. Be sure to get on our email list to stay in the loop!