Emilie Conrad and Continuum Movement at Breath of Life, London 2013
Our latest guest post is contributed by Emma Roberts (pictured above). Emma is a certified 5Rhythms teacher and has been a movement facilitator, performer, dancer and theatre practitioner for over 20 years. She is also a trained movement and drama therapist, and works as a movement director and educator in professional theatre. Emma’s deepest purpose in holding space* is to liberate, inspire and inquire deeply into individual and collective potential. Her tool bag is rich and her approach subtle, infused with creative curiosity. She works extensively in the UK and France.
(*Holding space in this community means ‘teaching’ or facilitating in its broadest sense – not instructive but inviting.)
Here she shares her very personal experience of a 3 day work shop led by Emilie Conrad at the Breath of Life Conference in May 2013 in London.
‘This year I had the good fortune to meet Emilie Conrad (see details at Breath of Life Programme) and her inspiring body of work when she presented at the Breath of Life Conference 2013 in London. This was Emilie’s first visit to the UK and she had come as a guest speaker at the conference as well as to teach a 3-day workshop on Continuum Movement. I had never before come across Emilie and the concept of Continuum Movement. In his book ‘Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance’, Jim Oschman describes Continuum as ‘at the same time a philosophical, scientific, artistic, musical, poetic, and spiritual concept, a cosmology, and an advanced state of consciousness. When applied to our affairs, Continuum leads us naturally to a saner and happier world. In other words, Continuum as an experience is a direct involvement in the harmony and congruence of our inner and outer realities. It enables us to live the real lives of our bodies.’
My happy attendance at the Breath of Life Conference made me feel as though the universe conspired for me to meet her. In a short window of time two of my contacts had independently mentioned Continuum Movement in relation to the content of my own workshops and this led me to research Emilie and her work. For those of you who know nothing or very little about Continuum movement I highly recommend her personal and insightful book ‘Life on Land’.
From the first pages I was drawn into a very intimate and compelling story of an immigrant family landing in a ghetto of New York. This very real and painful retelling of personal history explains the deeper motivations and journey that Emilie went on as she discovered the incredible healing potential of the fluid systems in the body, planet and universe. It was through her own breakdown that this intelligence emerged from her body and since then she has embarked on pioneering work relating to what she calls a movement cosmology. She is in her 80th year and has been exploring this element of her journey for the past 48 years.
Breath of Life Conference 2013, London
The venue was a disappointment – an airless, functional, carpeted room – not the space I had expected as a setting for Emilie’s inspiring presentation, but as soon as Emilie came in the room the whole space became enlivened. When she began to speak it was as if I was able to open up and plug into the incredible material of her work. In truth, I feel hesitant as a novice to put into words the content of her workshop so I will relate my experiences and personal interpretation.
In the practical sessions the focus was on slowing down the body and movement. Throughout the three days we learned various breath and sounds that are used to penetrate compression in the body and to help restore our ability to experience the subtlety, healing and responsiveness of the fluids which make up about 80% of the body. We worked on particular areas of the body with certain sounds and movements. These would be repeated until the body pulsated, spiralled and moved in waves in its own dynamic and unique way. Most of the time these enquiries were done with the lights off, eyes closed and in one’s intimate space. As I dropped deeper into the subtle realms of the movement in my body, time seemed to disappear and the experience was as if the container of the edge of my body dissolved and my inner movement expanded into what might have been my imagination or a greater sense of the universe.
On the last session on the third day I experienced a profound and cosmic experience. We had been working on shorter sequences earlier in the day and at this point we were given the chance to connect them all in a longer session. The room was really dark and as I closed my eyes I imagined myself back in the womb. As I worked through the sequence of breathing, sounds and movements, I experienced all the cells in my body livening, as if they were plumping themselves out and were operating at their most vibrant frequency. As I worked on my sacrum area I began to experience waves and a flooding sensation running all the way up my spine out through my face and right through my limbs of the most sweet, pleasurable sensation, like an orgasm but without intensity or peaking. As I kept moving the sensations just kept flooding through my body. At the same time my body was receiving all the other sounds in the room from the other participants. I experienced their vibrations as if my own body was making them. There was no sense of distance or separation. All this was experienced with eyes closed in my little area in the horrible carpeted room. I had felt I had been in the most intimate dynamic with the energy running through the universe. By the time we came to completing and opening our eyes, my body felt like a flower in full blossom. Emilie turned to the group and then directly at me. ‘You look like you have something to share’. In this very softened but awakened state I tried to find the words to describe what I experienced. I guess the words didn’t matter. It was tangible between all the participants.
This is only a brief and short account of my time with Emilie Conrad, but if any of this captures you, I highly recommend doing your own research on her work, or better still finding a way of working with her.