This is an article I was asked to write for ALUNA TEMPLE MAGAZINE n 5 “ALCHEMY”. Available soon at www.joomag.com
“The Continuum Sounds of Breath and Movement, an alchemical dance between Spirit and Body in a world of lead.” by Sylvain Meret
1) The meeting
My journey with Continuum Movement began in 2010 during a “Mystery School” retreat in Israel, led by Emilie Conrad, the founder of Continuum. I knew little about the practice at the time, just that it was a somatic inquiry supposed to help chronic pain and physical injuries. I was interested in somatics from the beginning of my dance education and had experience in several different approaches, including Body Mind Centering, the Feldenkrais method, Qi Gong and Yoga. I was striving to heal my body as critical physical issues were limiting my future as a dance artist. However, I knew intuitively that the healing I sought encompassed far more than the tending to physical dysfunctions. Emotional, mental and spiritual matters would show up in this process.
On the first day of the retreat I helped set up the workshop space, which was a rested on the border of the Galilee Sea. Suddenly I felt a presence watching over me. In my felt remembrance, it was similar to a spiraling breath, which moved and penetrated everything in the retreat room. Moments later a woman entered the door, full of life, radiant and fierce. With a potent sense of being seen like never before, I was meeting Emilie Conrad. To me, she embodied the living alchemy of the Eye of Spirit in a friendly and engaging way. From this beautiful woman, in her mid-seventies, emanated waves of fluid motion that penetrated matter, body, personal history, psyche, atoms, cells and molecules. Through her, the Eternal was breathing: inhaling the manifestation of Form, exhaling the dissolution of Form, rhythmically and cyclically transforming the physical world into a constant process of renewal and regeneration. Emilie’s presence carried this Eternal Dance, and that was her teaching and life long inquiry—the history of Continuum Movement.
2) How does it work?
Continuum is a prayer. It isn’t religious in a dogmatic sense, but invokes a longing to meet and encounter the fluid resonance that penetrates the material world. The invocation occurs through breath and vocal sounds, which vibrate and touch the vast web of connective tissues and fluids present in our bodies. From this invocation unfolds the alchemy of sound and breath as vibratory waves inform our bio-systems that we are part of the vast world of Nature: living forms that pulsate, undulate and spiral through the embryonic mandala of creation. We see this mandala of creation in the human fetus, the emerging fern, the solar system or the movement of water twirling down the syphon.
The invocation responds through Sensations and Movements. Like a dance, the body starts to undulate, take on serpentine motions and once dull limbs reconnect, the fluid system floods the arid and desert parts of our body with new moistened drops of living water. The alchemy feels delicious, ecstatic, sensual, and sometimes unbearable due to foreign sensations, the loss of the original resonance. This alchemy is in its nature rejuvenating and medicinal. The lead is compression of time and space, holding trauma, stress, and personal history in deep tissues. One could also see lead as the social straitjacket of bodily concepts such as fitness or “working out,” which limit the expression of how we move creatively and gracefully through life.
The mystery school retreat in Israel was about the embodiment of the symbolism of the Ouroboros, the Eternal Return. We learned a sequence using specific arrangement of sounds and breaths in addition to mapping the body with soft touches for opening various layers of bodily tissue. The room filled with a carpet of sounds—a vibratory field supporting the unfolding process of Returning to an Eternal place, the home of all species, the yolk of continual re-creation. I engage my tongue to make a circular path in my mouth as I hum. It feels very ancient, slow, and archaic. I go into “Open Attention”, the receptacle in which we receive the Grail, the nectar of SENSATIONS. My system shifts and starts to undulate from the ground, a very old place of power. I spit fire, I shape shift into the old creature, a Dragon in this place out of time, in the middle of my fellow participants, on the seaside of Galilee. Ancient waves surf up my spine, my core. I ask Emilie: “What is this?” She looks to me with a smile, “It’s an Initiation, it’s pretty good!”
This was my entrance into the mystery of Continuum. A mystery carried forth and nurtured by a vibrant dark haired woman-scientist-artist-shaman-healer-dancer-visionary and, most important, human being.
Years have passed since this first encounter. Emilie left us a couple of months ago with a flamboyant lesson of life: the absence of fear in front of Death. June 2014, I sit in her studio in Santa Monica, California. For forty years that space was Emilie’s laboratory. One afternoon, we dive, sound, move, suspend and inquire into the expressions of fluid wisdom. The alchemical Mystery manifests itself again: all cells, molecules, atoms in my body are penetrated, I am dissolving in the space, I am no longer matter, the breath of Spirit blows me into the quantum. It feels ecstatic, yet I am fully present, aware of the time and space. My inner eye shows me a vision: a black curtain closes the room creating a dark chamber, in the center a God-like-Being lays in the shape of a sarcophagus. I look at its face, which looks like the embodiment of a “sensory system”, anthropomorphic with Hathor ears. Above the being’s heart there is a delicate unknown device, resembling a feather, which rotates and spirals. The God Being emits a sound that is carried through the actual sounds present in the room made by the group. I hear it, but I am not able to describe it. I do know it is the Sound-Song composing all-the-Feelings-of-the-human-species. In this depth, I hear, “You have lost your Song!” Tears fall, I cannot stop the watery flooding, even when I write this, it is still with me. How is it that we have lost our Original Song? How did we lose the template of feelings representing who we are?
4) The legacy
It was Emilie’s belief that we are at a time where we need to make choices about our own evolution. We must inquire deeply. What is the future of the human species? What are we envisioning? In an everyday more technologically controlled world, the question arises bit by bit, every second: are we becoming robots? Are we morphing into a species that replaces bioorganic components with new composite materials, implanted electronic chips under the skin, or software penetrating the intimacy of our body? That future would sing quite differently on this planet from that created by our ancestors. The alchemical outcome will be certainly very different between these two directions. Are we part of the evolutionary process of the Earth? Are we searching for our original Song?
The critical point is to understand the profound connection between fluid resonance and living tissues. Some scientists such as Mae Wan Ho and Gerald Pollack have begun to make serious inquires in this field of study, which is promising.
I have chosen my path: I am following Emilie’s last words that she said in her last class: “I will never give up my humanness”.
Thanks to Josh Bryant.
With Much Gratitude