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Curative Eurythmy
GA 315

Lecture V

16 April 1921, Dornach

Today we will go over to some of those eurythmic exercises more related to the activity proceeding from the soul. Before we begin, however, it will be necessary to take note that it is usually assumed when a person produces an expression of will or when he arrives at a judgment, that these expressions are connected with the human nervous system alone. This, however, is not at all the case; one must make it clear to oneself that the judgments which the human being passes, for example, are bound up with his entire constitution; that man pronounces a judgment out of the totality of his being. Thus when one makes the eurythmic movement corresponding to a judgment, here again, the whole human being is influenced in a certain manner; it is not only the head which will be subject to the influences of what arises through judging eurythmically. Mrs. Baumann will show us the movement which corresponds to confirmation, and then the one corresponding to negation. Naturally it should be carried out several times without interruption when used as therapeutic exercise. Now this confirmation and negation is precisely that which can be called a judgment; when one confirms or negates something one has to do with the nature of judgment in its essence. When you give such a confirmation or negation, the movement works, when it is repeated frequently, by way of a detour through the etheric body very strongly on the respiratory system. One can by this means counter a tendency to shortness of breath. You can for example repeat the confirmation ten times consecutively, then the negation, and follow this up with confirmation, negation, confirmation, negation—both ten times consecutively. Whatsoever illness this shortness of breath may be the symptom of, by this means one will be able to counteract it in such a way that the entire constitution is affected as the whole matter occurs by way of a detour through the etheric body. You must only keep in sight what is being done here. One could interpret what Mrs. Baumann has done touching upon what is essential in it as follows: what she projects thereby into the world is a thought that has become fleeting, a thought which has gained wings and gone over into movement. When a judgment is fixed eurythmically—as a confirmation or negation—then it is a thought which rides on the movement. And because the thought rides on the movement one projects in fact on the one hand, a part of this being outwards; on the other hand, because the thought rides on the movement one takes a part more thoroughly into oneself than otherwise. That is to say, one makes a movement through which one becomes more awake than one otherwise is. Such movements are actually movements that awaken. However, because one does not wake up with the ego at the same time in the same manner, the activity of the ego is in a certain way dampened. This dampening of the ego is not absolute, however, but in relation to the organism. In fighting shortness of breath by means of this detour through the etheric body this constitutes what would be the first symptom reached and what is introduced into the whole human constitution by means of the byway through the etheric body.

Now a disposition of the will:1Willenszustinnung sympathy and antipathy. Now imagine you make this movement repeatedly, one after another: sympathy, antipathy, sympathy, antipathy, or only one of these two. When one does this, in a certain sense one is setting out something which one carries within oneself; naturally this can only be confirmed through observation. It is a sort of falling asleep. The other movement (confirmation and negation; the ed.) must be carried out quickly, and this must be carried out slowly. It is indeed a movement which brings forth the imagination of sleep in the observer; imaginatively one falls asleep in a way with such a movement—not in reality, however, at least that shouldn't happen. But because one in reality doesn't go to sleep while making this movement, the “I” is more strongly active in relation to the body than it usually is. And by means of such a movement the circulation and the digestion as a whole are stimulated. The entire digestion is really stimulated in such a manner that through such a movement the tendency to belch, for example, can be counteracted.

Now we want to express that which one could call the feeling of love towards something (Mrs. Baumann). Take a good look at this, the feeling of love for something. Imagine it carried out ten times consecutively and accompanied by a powerful E between each of the movements. Thus, Love-E, Love-E, and so on, one after another. You accompany the movements which you have learned as expressing feeling in eurythmy—it could be another feeling as well—with the movement for E. Here we have a strong influence which proceeds from the human etheric to act on the astral nature and which has the effect of warming the circulation. It is something which really works on the circulatory system in a beneficial manner. One cannot say that it accelerates or retards the circulation; it affects it in a beneficially warming manner.

We also have something which could be called a wish: Hope. (Miss Wolfram) Look at this and picture to yourself that one carries out this movement for the wish repeatedly—always returning to the position of balance, then carrying out the movement for the wish again—and always alternating it with the movement for U. This means that the astral will act very strongly upon the etheric and it can be said that a beneficial warming effect on the breathing system will result. Naturally one must take into consideration that all these things of which we have spoken today occur by way of the etheric body and can, therefore, never show what effect they have on the following day. Some effects may appear after two to three days and are then, however, all the more certain.

Now imagine that we make a bending and stretching movement with the legs and at the same time a definite B-movement (Mrs. Baumann). That which I have just shown you simultaneous with a decided B movement, now rest, B while bending, ten times consecutively. That is something which people who very frequently have migraine or other headaches should do. The time for them to do it, however, is not when they have the headache, but rather when they do not.

A particularly effective movement is the following: bend and stretch the torso forwards and backwards accompanying this movement simultaneously with the movement for R. (Miss Wolfram) Bend forwards, bend backwards with the R; that consecutively and often. That affects the whole rhythmic system, the rhythm of breathing and of circulation, positively. When there are irregularities present there, this will work extraordinarily well under all conditions.

Now I will ask you to take a look at another most effective movement which consists in shaking the head to the right and left with the movement for M. The head should not be turned, in so far as possible, but only bent to the right and left, and that with the M-movement. That is something which when practised has a very strong quieting effect on all possible irregularities in the lower body, again by way of the etheric body. Irregularities in the lower system which express themselves through pains can be mitigated thereby. One must combat tendencies to such pains when the pains are not present. That is the crux of the matter. While the pains are present it cannot very well be carried out. The important thing is to carry it out so long as the pains are not present.

Please take note of the following: strike the knee with the foot, stemming the movement of the foot against the knee; picture this accompanied by an E movement with the arms. It is a very beautiful movement. It can and should be carried out as an exercise with children in school, as when it is done frequently it wages war against the most varied aspects of clumsiness. The children will at least he well cured of their clumsiness when they practise just this exercise. And when the children come and say that their shoulders hurt so and everything possible hurts, then you should reply: that is exactly what I wanted; you will be especially glad about it once it's better again! Every pain that is brought about in this manner combats clumsiness. Thus in respect to this one can deal quite energetically with the children.

Figure 1

Now we will take a look at another variety (of movement). Imagine every sort of E movement which can be carried out with the arms now projected onto the floor. This movement comes into existence when this line crosses the other at an angle. Now let us imagine it in this way: Mrs. Baumann places herself here, Miss Wolfram there. Now walk and accompany the whole thing with an E movement with the arms. Run so that you pass by one another, but pay attention that you don't run into each other. So you make an E on the floor and an E with the arms and you pay attention at the same time that you don't collide. It is this taking notice of the other person, this exerting of one's concentration on him combined with the E-gesture which works together with the movement here. This exercise can only be carried out with two people. It is—when carried out by two people—essentially what one would call a strengthening of the heart, all that which is connected with the phenomena which one generally terms the strengthening of the heart.

Question: Could one have this exercise carried out by one sick and one healthy person?

One can readily do that, but one would perhaps have to have the healthy person omit the E-movement with the arms. This movement is especially intended for the clinical situation where one will, of course, have two people in need of a strengthening of the heart; it really is better if one has two such people.

Figure 2

Now let us imagine the movement so: one of the ladies stands here, the other here, behind one another. When you arrive here, then Miss Wolfram carries out the path which you have begun, but in such a manner that she is always facing forwards. Then as the movement carries on, you take this part of the path and you the other. You initiate the continuation of your own movement in the other person and accompany it with the O position of the arms. Now one must see that the people who do this begin at a certain tempo; to begin with it must be slower, then become ever faster and faster. This rapid tempo should then ebb out into a slower one. That is then a movement which serves to strengthen the diaphragm significantly and thereby the whole breathing system. Here again, when one leaves out the O movement with the arms one can have a healthy person participate, but it is of course best to employ two people who are in need of healing.

Now I will ask you, Mrs. Baumann, to demonstrate the H movement for us once again. And now I will ask you to make this movement in such a way that you hold the arms still and imitate the movement with the shoulders alone as well as possible. In this case, however, one must accustom oneself to doing this movement with the shoulders and making an A with the arms at the same time, an A of any sort with the arms. That should be repeated frequently. You see, that is what could be designated as: “laughing eurythmically”. That is how one laughs eurythmically. And when one laughs thus eurythmically that which one has in the curative effect of laughing itself is really very greatly heightened. The curative effect of laughing is well known. But when one practises laughing eurythmically, this curative effect is proportionately greater. You could do it otherwise as well, however.

Miss Wolfram, please make an A movement of some sort. And now try to make the same movement I spoke of before, the shoulder movement of the H, but do it quite slowly as if you wished to do it thoughtfully. Thus into the A movement of the arms one makes the shoulder movement of the 11. One could designate that as follows: the whole organism is brought into accord with the feeling of veneration. It encompasses all that which the feeling of veneration actually effects in the organism. The effect on the human organism of the feeling of veneration, when it is habitual, is to make the organism as such actually more durable, more sturdy. It becomes capable of greater resistance. People who really have the capacity for veneration inherent in them become more capable of resistance within their organism. That is why everything which brings children to veneration, to the gift or capacity for reverence makes children more resistant. And one can come to the assistance of this capacity for resistance through this last eurythmic exercise.

One must keep in mind that what we have demonstrated today as decision, expression of will, hope, love, what we have shown in respect to certain organic pains, what we have demonstrated as a means of combating clumsiness and so on, all these things are related to man in such a way that the human being is gripped through them in the innermost part of his organic being and by way of a detour through the etheric body actually derives the possibility of making this etheric body into a workable instrument. The etheric body is a part of man which becomes stiff in most of those people who sit out their lives, spend their lives without interest for their surroundings. And it is not good when the human etheric body becomes stiff; nor for the organic functions is it good. When one has the exercises which we have described today carried out by children in moderation and by the appropriate patients very energetically (one can see by the indications given which patients have need of them), the etheric body will become supple and inwardly flexible. And by means of them one will do the children as well as the adults a good service.

These movements are indeed such that one can give them priority over the usual gymnastic movements; the usual gymnastic movements are taken in reality from the physiology, from the physis of the body alone and they tear the physical body continually out of the etheric body. Thus, the physical body then makes its own movements which do not pull the movements of the etheric body in the appropriate manner after them. For this reason the usual, merely physiologic, gymnastics is basically a school for materialism, since by means of it materialistic thought is transformed into feeling. Eurythmy makes man capable of recognising himself within increasingly and of gaining control over himself inwardly. Therefore such exercises have a pedagogic-didactic value as well as therapeutic and hygienic value. The attempt should be made to have these exercises—those described today, I mean—carried out by adults as well in moderation and to develop them in such a way that they could be carried out by the sick in a clinical situation.

A question has been put to me which could perhaps lead to something—and some other questions as well. Here is the question: “The Chinese cannot pronounce the letter R, they substitute L for it. Strawberries thus becomes stlawbellies, for example. Does that have to do with their race?”

It has to do with the organisation of the organism insofar as that is racially determined, of course. Through the particular gift of one part of mankind for one sound or another one can see what tendencies are inherent in certain people by virtue of their race. I brought such things to discussion just a few hours ago.

Other questions have been put about exercises which could be used in relation to conditions of indolence, insufficient reaction, lethargy and so on; conditions which frequently have to do with an insufficient thyroid activity. And here it has been brought to our attention that Fliess, in his well-known book about the course of life, has placed this complex of symptoms in the intermediate sexual category. How could a contemporary author not do so? Everything about which he knows very little he chalks up to the intennediate sexual category, or some other way. He puts the left-handed, for example, in the same category. I want to emphasize, expressly, however, that I have never recommended a eurythmic exercise with a special right-left emphasis to anyone.

(Attention was drawn to the exercises which one should begin either to the right or to the left: iambus, trochee.)

That is not in order to particularly accentuate an emphasis on the right or left, but rather in order to call forth the feeling of the iambus or trochee within the forward motion. That is thoroughly justified. The fact is that it has less to do with the long-short than it has to do with the particular movement. It is quite correct; it has to do with the fact that what lives in the breathing system is reversed when it is transferred into the system of movement. The upper man and the lower man are the reverse of one another. Thus every imaginable iambus in the breathing system, brought forth in speech, must of necessity become a trochee in the movement of legs and vice versa. Eurythmy in its entirety is based on this principle. You may test the whole of eurythmy in respect to it: eurythmy does not follow the principle of similarity in its execution, but the movement which is in keeping with the polar image. It is all entirely in accord with the image formed as the other polarity. This idea must be maintained throughout. But I have never recommended to anyone that he do something especially right or left; that should be left completely to the feeling. The question of whether a thing should be done with the right hand or the left hand should be determined only by those matters which would otherwise come into consideration. I do not want people to have the impression that I would have suggested an emphasis on the right in particular eurythmic exercises to any more left-sided person whosoever. That is not the case.

In addition I would like to emphasize the following. It is the case that when one has to do with insufficient reaction or with lethargy this more general indication will fall into some category which I have already given; lethargy is a general expression and can be relegated to something or other about which I have spoken. The appropriate movements should then be carried out.

On the whole one should see that with an exercise such as I have just given in connection with judgment and expression of will2Willensäusserung—that the appearance of indolence, of lethargy and so on can be combatted very especially by that which I have given for the expression of will. And if one should notice that this is not particularly effective, one can alternate that exercise with the exercise that I have given for judgment, but in such a way that one attempts to discover—as it is here a question of trial—whether it is more effective when one varies the expression of will and the expression of judgment in a ratio of three to two or of two to three—one shorter, the other longer. And since these things work by way of a detour through the etheric body, one will find that one will first have to begin and carry on with these exercises for two to three days and according to the circumstances—when one sees that they are not having the proper effect—make a change on the third day. But in general one can say that the one exercise so well as the other will have an awakening effect on man in both directions. The will exercise and the judgment exercise are thus the ones that come into particular consideration.

In order that there be no misunderstanding, I emphasize that of course the opinion must not arise that these exercises would have a very significant effect after being carried out for two or three days. That would be an error. In order to produce an effect, these exercises should be carried out for at least seven weeks. Thus one can maintain—without necessarily being mystically inclined—that the space of time necessary for the beneficial effects just described to show themselves would be about seven weeks.

That is what I wanted to tell you today concerning these matters. I would like to request that the corresponding session tomorrow follow the other directly, after a short pause. Tomorrow will be the last eurythmy session then, as it will be necessary to have two purely medical sessions one after the other on Monday.