Shakespeare has been called the world’s greatest playwright. Yet most of his plots were actually borrowed from ancient plays, myths and stories that had been told for thousands of years. What Shakespeare did was bring the archetypes to our human experience, so that we could recognize our own inner Hamlet or Iago. Are we born with these stories inside of us? How do we choose the stories that unfold in our body language and behavior?
Carrying unconscious attitudes such as fear, arrogance, sadness or other habitual postures influence the decisions you make, the internal story you tell and the archetypes you choose to embody. Sometimes we try to “fake it till we make it.” In his book, Body and Mature Behavior, Moshe Feldenkrais said, “Everybody works out his personal pattern of holding breath, of stiffening here and there – smartening up, it is called – contracting his mouth or brows; in fact, every part of his body that he believes may convey an idea of his personality. This method of covering up instead of perfecting, being the result of ignorance, succeeds only superficially.”
Awareness Through Movement lessons helped me become aware of how my habits were influencing the “story” I was telling myself and others. While it’s true that I can still be triggered to behave more like Durga, the Hindu goddess of destruction when cut off by a careless driver, I also have moments of being able to remember that I can be like Guanyin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. I don’t have to be the misunderstood victim Desdemona, but can access my inner Hercules. Sensing my breath, relaxing my face, allowing my skeleton to support me, gives me the power to bring my humanity to the epic story in which I am a minor character.