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A Little Taste of Bodyspeak

By Zohara M. Hieronimus

Thurs, May 23, 2002

For those looking for a way to investigate the inner self and outer world through movement and reflection, Samuel Avital's BodySpeak™ process is unequaled. I have known of Samuel's work since taking a summer Mime workshop class with him in 1975, when I was twenty-one. I revisited him, twenty-seven years later in May of 2002, taking my eldest daughter, Mare, who was 28 years of age at the time of our visit, for a weekend workshop, A Little Taste of BodySpeak™.

BodySpeak™ is a process for exploring the way in which we live in the world and within ourselves. Through dozens of different physical exercises, created over three decades of teaching, Avital provides each person with the tools for inspection of the self. Big questions like, who am I? How do I navigate my life? What is balance? How can I create wholeness? All of these important life questions are explored without being focused on directly.

Samuel's acute observational skills as a performing artist, developed in his early days in Paris as a Mime, are part of his gift. Combining an ancestral lineage and upbringing in applied Kabbalah, Avital awakens, through BodySpeak™, body intelligence. There are exercises like finding the edge and then discovering what happens when one goes over it, or, how to give another person what they need, and not what we think they need. If we walk or sit and lay on the floor, what does it show us about the many ways in life we can support ourselves and work with others? Are we daring, are we afraid, do we give ourselves what we need to unfold our fullest potential? All of these questions are addressed without being asked.

Avital guides the participant in using the body and conscious self as detective of the self. Finding how we each stand or move physically shows us to some degree how we are in life. While the exercises are given to groups of people, the work is at the same time highly individual. As in life, we are both one, and one of many in a community.

Samuel's teaching style is precise and serious, while also being enjoyable and humorous. His fluid and sometimes expertly comical demonstrations of the infinite ways we humans express ourselves, reminds us of our unlimited capacity to be who we are consciously. "To dare to be," as he has urged his students for decades, is not just a statement. Avital gives you a way to discover our own set of tools for doing just that.

Demonstrating, for instance, the difference between motion and stillness, horizontal and vertical, inside and outside, self and other, breathing and not breathing, we discover qualities about ourselves, and the way we look at the world. First we may notice a holding of the breath. Do we do that in life? Do we freeze under certain circumstances, unaware of what we are doing? What happens when one exaggerates a state of being, heightening the feeling of cold or heat, for example, or fear or joy? BodySpeak™ offers pathways to navigate time and space, opening up inner understandings about one's diverse capacities and creative potential.

In an exercise called Bases, the participant is guided from a vertical to a horizontal position. It is a demonstration of the many ways we can use our bodies, which are made of many parts but are one whole. Beginning with one base point, then moving to two, then three, then four and so on, we examine the differences: the change in our focus and what gives us balance as we shift from the simple to the complex, where are our eyes focused, what is this beginning to tell us about our nature, as being at once a horizontal and vertical consciousness.

What reveals itself, first by working alone and then in groups, is that while there is laughing and sharing and exploring how to support each other in various ways, it is clear this is about life: how to relate honestly with self and other. Each exercise reveals that the physical, emotional and mental being has to become integrated while working alone or with groups of people in order to achieve balance. It is a big work that through individual experience is revelatory.

Through a deep involvement with Kabbalah, Samuel Avital's vision of the world is guided by sacred texts and a lifelong personal practice. And while kabbalistic principals are only mentioned in passing on occasion, it is clear, for those interested, that his exercises are in fact revealing a deeper wisdom, an ancient science based on the cosmic laws of creation. Learning how to proceed from thought or conception, to action, is the process in fact unveiled internally through the BodySpeak™ exercises. Qualities like emotional flexibility, "conscious innocence," focus, certainty, and being centered and balanced are reflected in the BodySpeak™ explorations, such as learning how to trust another as one falls backward or forward in life; or knowing how to take small steps in life and in space; or how to hold an image of what one wants to create in a relationship or in work of any sort. Universal truths are revealed moment by moment in a playful yet introspective, practical yet dramatic way.

One exercise called The Great Puzzle examines how we help others in the world. It is demonstrated by first watching someone sit down, and then, aiding the person to sit down, without falling by touching different parts of that person's body in a sequence that they will respond to. The exercise accentuates the need to observe carefully and allow communication from body to body, to find what is needed to execute the action. What adults quickly discovered is that, unlike children who easily perform this exercise, we think we know what someone needs, but often superimpose an idea, rather than really feeling and seeing what another needs and offering it spontaneously.

In short, BodySpeak™ is a language, which integrates the inner self and the self in the outer world. It is an active and thoughtful process that awakens a superior intelligence, centered in each person's inner being. Avital's work is a kind of universal body alchemy. A highly informed spirit invigorates it. By exploring the deeper kinesthetic quality of movement, or impulse, identifying what initiates an action, who within is responding and how, one learns what begin as seemingly abstract concepts: how to be that state of being, how to become that quality of being in an applied practical and physical way. One becomes, in a specific and authentic way, that which is being examined. For example, if one is looking for balance in life, these exercises show how to create it by experiencing what it feels like and understanding the ingredients that make balance possible as though moving across a threshold. BodySpeak™ provides the keys. This is the genius of Avital's work. He creates the opportunity to ingest spiritual and scientific laws in a way that reveal a much broader scope of choices for the way we live and think about our lives.

Avital's brilliant system of sequenced exercises progressively unfolds the potential within each person, allowing one to learn how to be, to do, and to know with certainty. BodySpeak™ shows that life is both about our inner self being clear about it's own nature, while also being aware, listening, with our entire being, to what other's say and need. BodySpeak™ reveals how to remain impermeable but not insensitive to others actions; how to read a person's body better than their words; how to be what we say we are, and to know with clarity, why we do what we do. Whether one is an artist, a business person, a scientist, a home-maker, an adult or child, the creative life is awakened and the conscious self given an illuminated map for learning how to learn, and more importantly, how to act and be, without ambivalenceto become self-aware. BodySpeak™ unveils how to live in greater harmony with the ongoing movement of life itself.

As an experiential art, BodySpeak™ is of value for any person of any age or occupation. If one is willing to be honest with oneself and with others in exploring the unknown aspects of the inner life we share in common, then Samuel Avital's BodySpeak™ will be a great adventure. It certainly has been and continues to be for me.

Zohara M. Hieronimus

Zohara M. Hieronimus is an award winning radio broadcaster, TV commentator, news analyst, new paradigm columnist, social justice, health and environmental activist and author. She hosted the longest running 'whistle blowers' program in American radio history (1992- 2001). She is as well, the Founder and Director of the Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center, which has since 1984 served east coast clients with holistic health care services and programs.

In partnership with her husband, Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D., Zohara has, since 1977 participated in numerous world projects in Egypt, Israel, Great Britain, and the United states. With life long participation in the esoteric sciences and leading edge research, Zohara currently hosts a national radio program called Future Talk, (www.futuretalkradio.com). She is involved with several philanthropic funds that support work she refers to as 'threshold' work, efforts that move us towards a more just and sustainable future. She resides in Maryland with her family.

"Samuel brings awareness to the soul of people and gives the artists who work under his direction the need, dedication, and love for the world of silence and the beautiful art of movement."

 

- Marcel Marceau, BIP 1961

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LCDS is an independent school for self-discovery through the human Arts.  The school offers seminars and workshops teaching the concepts of Theater, Mime, and Movement.