As someone who started doing hatha yoga as a teen in the seventies, I took to movement ritual 1 like a fish in the deep blue sea. Movement ritual is based on hatha yoga and, like yoga, relies on the concept of structural integration. Participants engage in an exploration of early developmental patterns of mobility, releasing muscular tension and realigning the body posture. Like yoga, movement ritual 1 has, as one of its foci, the establishment of more organic breathing. (Halprin, A.,1979) This means that the breath is encouraged to be full and expressive of the mental, emotional and physical state of the person.
With movement ritual 1, the participant is encouraged to pay attention to the "inner sensations" of the bodies muscles, and the way they move, bringing habitual motor patterns to conscious attention. A motor pattern is an extensive group or series of motor acts which are performed with a nominal degree of skill, but which are directed toward accomplishment of some external purpose. On the other hand, motor skill is a motor activity limited in extent and involving a single movement or a limited group of movements which are performed with high degrees of precision and accuracy.
In the motor skill, movement is limited but accuracy is stressed. In the motor pattern, movement is stressed but accuracy is limited. Walking, for example, could be considered a motor skill, locomotion, on the other hand, is a motor pattern.
Bringing attention to the internal experience of movement involves the process of thinking, feeling, contracting and releasing. One needs to think to direct the self in movement with frequent changes of body position. One needs to notice signals, however small, of how the body is changing. This noticing results in a conscious movement and allows for the direct feedback about what and how you move, learning from the body and becoming kinesthetically aware.
In movement ritual 1, there is structure and posture and flow, and there is also no right or wrong way to do the exercises. When a direction is given, for instance, to lift the head slowly, many things begin to happen. The learning occurs in noticing how one begins to use the self, use the body, begin to hear, and to orient oneself. This discovery is how one begins to go about translating, interacting with the directions given and the signals that the body sends in the postures. There is no right or wrong; there is the experience and what is learned from how the exercise is done.
Generally in processes participants look for results and/or a particular affect. But even when it seems like nothing has happened, that in itself is an effect, a statement of learning about what one does and how it is done. Sometimes it is the absence of experience that helps to give a reference for a more full experience. Of course, even the distractions during exercises are a way of learning about how one responds to the distractions.
Doing movement ritual 1 on a regular basis has a way of facilitating growth, of revealing the self. The same movement can be done every day. Sometimes the movements are full and beautiful, and sometimes they feel mechanical. Fundamentally, what one gets from the body in terms of learning and how it is translated into words and/or images are among the goals of movement ritual and exploration in general in the Halprin Method/Motional Processing/Life Art Process.
Movement rituals 1, 2 and 3 can serve as a basis and resource for movement exploration. Practiced on a daily basis as a structured sequence, it is a method of discovery of where I am tight/holding. This can be in my muscles as a reflection of an emotional holding or as an outgrowth of a torn/injured muscle. Movement ritual 1, as a loose parameter of movement on the floor, is a way for me to fully express what is going on emotionally in a way that leads from the closed interior to the expansive exterior.
Halprin, A. (1995). Moving toward life: Decades of transformational dance. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press.
Reprinted from my unpublished manuscript: Renewal and Rediscovery of the Self in the Life Art Process: 20 years as participant, assistant and facilitator. By Richard Brunner R-DMT. Copy write 2006.