Authentic Movement, Somatic Inquiry, and Post-traumatic Strengths

What follows are three video clips, with comments by the two people in them, Aileen Crow and Annette Geiger, captured extemporaneously during a break at an informal movement-oriented retreat. The work they share here serves to illustrate one of the many ways authentic, spontaneous, automatic movement work, done with responsiveness and awareness, can go. The two author-participants in the clips are in touch with themselves and witness their actions in movement as their interaction develops. Unlimited exploration awaits us all!

Aileen: Annette and I have been friends and colleagues since she graduated in 1985 from one of the Alexander Technique teacher training programs I ran. During Annette’s training, I’d led the group through an imaginary pre-birth exercise. When it came time for the “babies” to be “born”, Annette suddenly got up and sat against a wall. She was just “out of it”. I learned later that she was born through cesarean section.

Since her training, Annette and I have done Dreambody Process Work and a lot of Authentic Movement together. We have good rapport and much trust between us.

In the video clips that follow, Annette and I were with a familiar group at a yearly get together in a comfortable place. We began to work with the idea of me showing how I would do Alexander Technique now—some twenty-five years later. Annette was to role-play a client of hers’ who had body distortions. I planned to start by asking “him” to show his worst body attitude, then ask him what his body wanted, and proceed from there. I chose this approach rather than guiding him to the Alexander Technique ideal, which we both knew works to some degree.

My plan soon changed after we began. Annette quickly transitioned into being herself instead of role-playing her client. She now sensed what her own body wanted to do. Because the first thing Annette wanted was pressure on the top of her head, I was pretty sure a replay of her birth was what was going to happen, although I thought Annette was not conscious of this.

I had no fear Annette would get stuck in old trauma. We’re both experienced in following Authentic Movement’s body sensation and spontaneous impulses into movement and sound. And both of us were working with our inner witnesses present and active.

As we progressed, it was clear to me we were working in a very unconventional relationship. What started more typically, with me in a therapist role and Annette in a client role, evolved into something more because we were equally involved in our own authentic movement. My “therapist” followed her “client’s” movements in an unusual “moving together” therapist-client relationship.

I’ve been studying how to release trauma, so I did what I’ve been learning. I made a clear distinction between what, for Annette, was a re-experience of what had happened in the past with what was happening now. I encouraged her to do now what she couldn’t do then. I said things like, “Get what you want! Do it your way!”

Part One: Let’s Just Wait and See What Your Body Wants to Do

Annette: Aileen and I have not exchanged Alexander work for a long time. So we talked about how each of us has integrated Alexander’s principles into our present work. Aileen suggested that I go into a role-play, and I chose to show the physical habits of one of my clients.

She asked me to sense and see what his body wants and proceed from there. I did not expect at all what unfolded from my body during the work. It certainly is not an Alexander approach. But it offered me a chance to react spontaneously, without knowing at that moment that I would go into my own process. Because I trust Aileen completely and because I have been going into trauma physically many times, I felt very secure about going into dark and difficult places, even with people around me who watched us working. 

Aileen: I believe it’s important not to get stuck in re-enacting past trauma. “Going into it” and “coming out” again many times can help keep one’s identity in the present. So I asked her to “come out” of the depth of her experience several times as well.

Part Two: “Coming Out” for a Moment

Aileen: One movement session usually doesn’t finish an issue. The issue in this case, a baby’s traumatic experience of cesarean birth, seemed determined to resolve itself.

I believe this piece of the release of Annette’s cesarean birth trauma needed the possibility to express high emotion and make noise—doing now what she couldn’t do then.

Rather than acting-out a mental idea of what did or should happen, the story reveals itself. By following authentic sensation and movement, it unveils its importance and meaning through the unexpected and spontaneously authentic movements.

Annette: “Get what you want,” and “do it your way,” are some of Aileen’s supporting words—an invitation that definitely was contrary to my traumatic experiences. These invitations allowed me to go into enormous physical strength and to make archaic primitive sounds that came almost out of an animal world.

This trauma is about a big fight—a fight for survival.

Only today—after going many times into these traumas, being in my life process, and developing as a private and professional person—do I realize the themes behind them.

I believe that not having had the chance to be born in a natural way is a trauma. I never had the chance to choose to be born and to do so together with my mother. Instead, my mother was drugged and I was cut out. For me that was the beginning of beliefs like: “You have no choice”, “you cannot do it anyway” and “you are not good enough”.

Every journey I take into trauma helps me to lighten the heaviness of it. It opens up and shows me ways to transform difficult energies – like being a victim – into strength and power. I feel grateful to myself for having come through such traumatic events so well.

Part Three: We Are Doing it Now


AileenphotoAileen Crow
. . . is in private practice in New York City and New City, N. Y. She combines Process Work, Authentic Movement and Art in her work on transforming trauma. Aileen is collecting some of her writings, drawings and calligraphies into a book, “PANACEA or Who Do You Think You Are?”


Anette_03Annette Geiger . . . studied classical music, jazz and improvisation in Switzerland and New York. Early on, she discovered the body is an instrument and that it is as vital an instrument as the flute or singing. She has been exploring the secrets of the body and the mind since then. Annette trained in the Alexander Technique with Aileen Crow who also introduced her to Authentic Movement. As a certified coach and pioneer in the field of Bodymind coaching, Annette has a practice in Zurich, Switzerland that spans both the business world and the arts. She loves working with people who want to develop their potential. Her website is:





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One Response to Authentic Movement, Somatic Inquiry, and Post-traumatic Strengths

  1. Aileen Crow says:

    P.S. from Aileen Crow,
    This has been an extraordinary group project. Thank you all! Behind the scenes were CAROL ZAHNER and JAIME STOVER SCHMITT.
    Carol Zahner, MS, Dipl PW, did much of the technical work, in addition to her busy schedule. Carol likes figuring things out. She has learned about raising cattle in Central America, ergonomic engineering in the US, oyster farming in Maine and
    process oriented psychology in Oregon (Mindell’s Processwork). Carol began studying with Aileen in New York in 1988, happy to find work that combined movement, awareness, emotions, personal history and creativity. Carol lives in Maine and teaches Processwork in Spain and Colombia.

    Jaime Stover Schmitt, views her editorship for JAMSI as seva, or service to the world community, as she feels the nature of the movement inquiry represented here is vital to the evolution of human consciousness and well-being. Dr. Schmitt is the founder and director of Spanda® Yoga Movement Therapy; a path of yoga based in traditional yoga vidya (science) that includes spontaneous movement. She offers yoga teacher and yoga movement therapist trainings while maintaining a private practice in Princeton, New Jersey.

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