Gifts of Gratitude: Eurythmy for Healing and Eurythmy in the War Zone
Today I would like to share with you two of the inspiring emails I have received from people who have used Eurythmy for their own healing journey. The first is a woman recovering from cancer: the second is a vet who writes about how he used eurythmy while stationed in Afghanistan. I hope you will enjoy these writings.
I just want to drop you a note of appreciation for creating online Eurythmy. I so love the feelings I am able to access- and these grace filled movements. My husband so loves the space I come from in doing it that he has created a calendar he checks off for doing my practice when we see each other at the end of his workday. Together we celebrate the great job I am doing.
My practice is now up to an hour a day. I love all of these gestures- they have become beloved family members to me. I can’t imagine not visiting and spending time with them everyday.
You would be proud. I started The Sister Goddess Marriage Club. At the end of our salon we girls- married and dating all do Eurythmy for the health of our marriages and relationships with men.
On the note of health- mine is coming along beautifully. Eurythmy is my “radiation and chemo” treatment. I attain a magnificent state of being are unparalleled to any meditative practice I have done. I am soaring with the angels! No comparison to what the doctors want me to do! Eurythmy is my medicine- my pills- my chemo- my radiation- that gratefully I take every morning- rain or shine- whether I feel like it or not.
(Note from Cynthia: I applaud this woman’s dedication, but her decision to chose eurythmy over medications was hers, not mine! Each person must find their own way!)
My Experience with Eurythmy in a War Zone
I am a 47 year old man who has been active for many years in the Waldorf and BD initiatives in the high desert near my home in Reno, Nevada, where I live with my wife and two daughters. Life had settled into a predictable and comfortable rhythm for our family. Two winters ago, however, I was quite unexpectedly notified that as a reservist in the US Navy I was going to be mobilized in the upcoming spring. I would be called to serve for one year in order to support a military unit in Afghanistan. The notification told me that I had about three months to prepare. Needless to say, many thoughts and emotions immediately flooded into my consciousness. My consciousness suddenly became more heightened, and I grew aware of every aspect of my life.
My immediate response was to focus on putting all of my affairs in as good an order as possible. Due to the training and preparation I had received I found this to actually be a fairly straightforward process. It included taking letting my employer know I was going to be gone for a year, completing a whole lot of pre-mobilization training and ensuring for the care of my family in their transition from a civilian family to an active duty military family. These things were fairly easily accomplished.
However, when I was visiting my Anthroposophical physician about one month prior to my mobilization, it was suggested that I see about learning some eurythmy exercises that might help me through the course of my impending journey and separation from my family. I had of course heard of eurythmy and had even practiced eurythmy at some events and classes that I had taken in the past. I immediately thought to myself, “Yes!!! I need to look into this”. So I contacted Cynthia Hoven, explained my situation, set an appointment, took a day off from work, and drove to Sacramento to the Rudolf Steiner College for my first session. In this and two more sessions Cynthia taught me several exercises that I could do for my own personal practice. These included what I will call warmups, threefold walking, contraction and expansion, and of course the Halleluiah exercise. I diligently practiced these exercises between each of our sessions so that I could ensure that I could remember them with my body and mind prior to my departure. I did this because I knew that I was going to have many demands, changes, challenges placed on me over the next year and I would not have too much opportunity to try and “remember” the exercises later. This initial commitment turned out to be very helpful.
When I first mobilized I did not immediately go to Afghanistan, but rather spent a month preparing and training in the United States. I took this time to make a nearly daily practice of incorporating the exercises into my personal practice. I managed to do them well over 90% of the time, even when this required me to wake up early before my fellow shipmates to be able to spend 15-20 minutes in the large open bay barracks in the dark. This room was a large space lined with bunk beds and lockers. Many people sleep and live in the barracks, yet is a very military environment.
Before long my preparations were complete, and I was on my way to Afghanistan with a brief stop in Germany and a couple of days stop in Kyrgyzstan along the way. I did not get any chances to do my exercises while I was travelling, but upon arriving in Afghanistan I was able to finally get some time and made a priority to resume my practice. It was at this time that I first became aware of a noticeable shift in my consciousness while doing these exercises. I felt how they enabled me to become more centered and more at peace with my surroundings. This was especially important to me now, for one of the many emotions that I had been experiencing was fear. This was the first time I actually had entered a “war zone.” I was surrounded by lots of armed people, given specific training on what to do in the event of an attack, and I had my own full body armor and helmet to wear, complete with my own personal arms to bear.
The next couple of weeks were a blur as I had to catch yet another flight to my final duty location, introduce myself to the folks who I would be working with, set up my accommodations, receive a full load of ammunition, recover from jet lag, start learning my new job, and acclimate myself to the higher altitudes of the Hindu Kush. As soon as possible, I also needed to find a time for physical training. I discovered I was able to incorporate my Eurythmy exercises in a quiet place after my “gym” time. I soon discovered that the best place for my eurythmy practice was my own room when my roommates were at work. Thank goodness that I did, because already within the first month I experienced the cacophony of a fire fight within a quarter mile of my location. I heard the full barrage of bombs, machine gun fire, and rocket propelled grenades. The eurythmy practice helped me to keep my equanimity.
I also faced other difficulties there. Several personalities made me uncomfortable in many different ways, my living accommodations were certainly less than what I was accustomed to, my ability to communicate with family back home was limited, and I was generally even less comfortable than I was even in the training prior to my actual deployment. I was struck by the realization that this was going to be my reality for the next 11 months, and pained by the thought that I was going to experience a near complete turn of the seasons in which I was going to miss every birthday, anniversary, and holiday at home with my family and friends. I knew that I had to choose how I was going to respond to this situation and that I could either work to be conscious in the situation or not. This was coupled with my personal belief that I had learned in studying the Hawaiian Ho’ Oponopono tradition, that everything around me was a result of my own creation or a reflection of some part of me. On some level, I had chosen to be in this world of discomfort, fear, exhaustion, different personalities, and imminent danger, through the culmination of my own thoughts and subsequent actions leading up to these moments.
I was tired at many levels and this provided many opportunities for what I call negative thoughts and emotions to manifest themselves in my consciousness. I soon experienced that the Eurythmy exercises were becoming a necessary part of what I call my soul and spiritual practice. I started to notice that when I did not do my “daily” practice I became more agitated and experienced a sort of disconnectedness from my body and immediate reality– whether I liked this reality or not.
One of the practices that Cynthia taught me was to do a series of three “Halleluiah’s:” one for myself, one for my spaces, and one for those who had crossed to the other side. My experience in the war zone provided me many opportunities to do this Halleluiah numerous times with what I call necessary conviction. I found myself grateful for the chance to ground myself, expand into my spaces and as well spaces of loved ones back home, and to release the impact of being near and around the death of many people. When I was doing these exercises I found myself mentally back at the Rudolf Steiner College in the small Eurythmy room grateful for the brief time away from my present circumstances.
I can most vividly remember doing these exercises right after receiving the news of death of others. One time in particular stands out for me. I had just arrived at a small base when reports of an attack that had just happened arrived. I witnessed what happened when the news was delivered, and even spoke with some of the people directly. Three service members had been killed, young men whose death was especially tragic. I could not wait to get back to my “quiet” place and do my exercise. This kind of experience occurred several times, and I have become more and more grateful for the opportunity to have the tools to do this.
Many times I felt myself wanting to go negative in terms of my thoughts and actions with the people I was working with or for, and in the past I would have become angry or bitter in similar circumstances. In my months in the war zone, I committed myself to work to not do this. The Halleluiah came to my rescue many times, because it enabled me to clear the spaces where I would meet with people in my mind. I have found it to be incredibly relieving and inspiring in my dealings in these uncomfortable situations to do Halleluiah’s both before and after these meetings. I was also able to allay some of my fears and concerns regarding my family by holding an image of my home during this exercise as well. I was also able to become more conscious of my own personal feelings and physical reactions while doing my exercises.
I would like to say that I have become a perfect practitioner, however, as it always seems to be when one climbs a hill I can see that there are many more hills to climb. I continue to make a regular practice of doing my exercises and see no reason to stop especially now that I am learning how to reintegrate back into my home life a changed person. The eurythmic exercises have withstood the forge and anvil of war and I can think of no good reason not to use them as I move forward.
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