Dreamdancing: Re-Inhabiting Your Body through Authentic Movement

Tina Stromsted
San Francisco, USA
Society of Jungian Analysts of Northern California,
San Francisco (Candidate)

Our bodies and dreams may be our closest link to the unconscious, expressing the soul’s longing through image, breath, gesture, the rhythm of our step, and the music of our speech. The sensing body is our immediate access to all of life’s experiences. Our dreams, in turn, reflect the vitality of the body and the condition of our psychic, spiritual life.

Authentic Movement can provide a vehicle for working with dreams, whose landscapes, says somatics pioneer, Stanley Keleman, are a direct reflection of the body’s tissue states at the time of the dream. Dreams can be understood as rehearsals for action – the body speaking its mind. (Keleman, 1975, 1999) Early shamans and traditional peoples from many cultures respected dreams as oracles. Ancient Greeks made pilgrimages to Aesclepian temples where dreams were incubated to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of physical and soul illnesses. Today, body-sensitive psychotherapy and analysis can provide a temenos where dreams may be further explored through movement that springs from an inner source. (Stromsted, 1984, 1998, 2001)

Dreamdancing integrates verbal analysis with embodied methods to engage the energies, feelings and action of the dream, helping to bring it to consciousness. Clients can be encouraged, for example, to describe the landscape, the feelings and the action of the dream in sensory-grounded detail. As witness, I may then reflect back their gestures representing the emotional essence of each dream scene as they shared it.

Gestures amplify the feeling and action and can then be strung together like beads on a necklace in a dance that speaks directly from the nonverbal, emotional midbrain where the images are formed. Crystallizing a sequence of movement that gradually engages more of the body allows the dreamer to commit him/herself more fully to the action – for it is within the dialogue of gestures that the conflict of the dream is embedded.

Clients can further deepen a relationship with the images through stepping into a dream character and then dreaming the dream on by following the movement impulses, feelings and images that emerge. As I witness my client’s dream, I also note its’ impact on my body and feelings (somatic countertransference). It is the attitude and experience of the witness/psychotherapist that invites the body of the client into the room, where potentials held in the dream may touch and awaken us both.

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