The Power of the Gurdjieff MovementsOct 05, 2022
The first time I was exposed to The Gurdjieff Movements I was transported to another time and place, perhaps even another dimension. The combination of gestures and music created a deep sense of reverence in me. I could hardly believe something so profound existed. I felt I was part of a lineage just by being in the room. A transmission was happening.
The irony of this was that my first exposure was not as a participant in the class but as the pianist. I had an infant on my back, was new in town, and had been hired by a friend to play for a class. I did not know what I was in for, and my friend was unaware that I had been an avid participant in a Zen Dojo, meditating daily for 6 years.
The second irony was that I had been living in Paris where Gurdjieff had lived for many years and had choreographed some of his best movements. “Work” groups had formed in places very near my arrondissement and I had no idea.
The third irony was that I took Martha Graham dance classes twice a week in a studio where the Movements were being taught next door. I can remember passing by a closed door late one evening after my class, hearing a hauntingly exotic middle eastern melody wafting through the cracks. I was stunned by the feeling that overtook me. The music actually called to me and I did not realize until much later after I had devoted my life to work with the Movements that it had been the very same Movements music written by Thomas de Hartmann.
The only way to really know what the Movements can offer is to experience them for yourself. The first time I was a participant in a class, I struggled to keep track of the different patterns, often irregular ones, and the interplay between my arms and legs. Adding the head took me into an emotional tailspin, inner self-bashing, and somehow anger. Part of me wrestled with the fact that as an amateur dancer, I should have been getting this pretty easily. After many classes, I began to see a process that was occurring within me. I realized the only way to do the correct gestures was to calm down the emotional histrionics occurring on the inside.
It would be countless classes later before I made the correlation between my reactions to the Movements and how I dealt with real life. They had revealed to me an aspect of my automatic behavior in a flash, and with full participation, I could learn to be present, enter into the dance, and replace that behavior in a present moment. This revelation was a life-changing extraordinary moment for me. From then on, I treated these Sacred Dances as a means to my deep transformation and I am deeply grateful to my teachers of these dances for leading me to places within my Being that I would never have known otherwise.
The Movements are designed to bring about the cohesion of body, heart and mind like no other vehicle I have ever experienced. They are vehicles for the development of our Being. The music is extremely beautiful and captures my heart every time. The gestures evoke something ancient in every one of us and so as a group dancing these gestures together, we bring about an energy that can be perceived in the room. I have unforgettable moments of presence, devotion, and understanding from doing the movements.
Through The Movements, I have come to understand the concept that Gurdjieff taught so often:
“With the present moment, repair the past and prepare the future.”
I learned to do this not just in the Movements class but out in regular life. That is the valuable gift they can offer to everyone.
The power of the movements cannot be underestimated, for they transmit certain energies that work within our bodies to create change. As a pianist, a participant, and a teacher of the Movements, I can unquestionably say that I have seen countless people make breakthroughs in their life when the movement unlocked patterns that resided in the body on a cellular level and were otherwise inaccessible.
I have touched realms that I am unable to see through my mind alone. With struggle and intention to synthesize my body, my emotions and my mind, I have found a vehicle and method that creates real and permanent results. When I am finally able to actually dance the dance, feel the dance and be the dance, I know certain patterns have been replaced and I can fully participate. This is the true value and purpose of these Sacred Dances.
Molly Knight Forde is the founder of the Awareness School and author of Be Present: Reflections Along The Way.
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