Areas of Study
Sensorimotor Awareness, or the mindful study of the self in action, is the basic starting point for the study of awareness and movement science. More than a method or clinical practice, sensorimotor awareness is the practical science of, and exploration into, our potential for gaining greater awareness and control in action as the basis for a new approach to living more mindfully and healthfully.
Breathing and Vocal Studies is based on the holistic study of the voice as part of a total interactive system involving the entire self. Vocal study focuses on specific aspects of vocal production with the aim of improving vocal quality, but ignores the role of efficient coordination of the whole person in developing a full command of the voice. In this section, we examine breathing in relation to the larger system upon which it depends, how breathing and the voice function seamlessly as part of a total integrated system, and how an awareness of the mechanisms involved is fundamental not only to good vocal technique but to vocal health as well, and plays an integral role in a complete model of conscious development.
The human being is the most complex structure in the known universe. Our upright posture, the free use of the arms, our voice—all add up to moving system that is mind-boggling in its complexity. The section on Anatomical Function and Design examines these systems in depth, beginning with basic anatomy and progressing to the functional design of specific systems. Motivated by the insight that the body is organized around our upright posture and, based on this, is designed to function effortlessly, the study of our human anatomical design and function is given new meaning, transforming dry empirical information into a vital and meaningful subject.
Developmental Movement is based on knowledge of the evolutionary stages leading to human upright posture of movement—the progress in structural and sensorimotor functions. As the most complex movement system in the animal kingdom, the human body evolved sequentially from earlier and more primitive forms of movement. Studying these developmental movements makes it possible to effect improvements in the working of the muscular system, to gain insight into how to move more efficiently, and to progress from more basic to more advanced forms of balance and support. Various stages of movement will be explored, from the earliest total body patterns, crawling and creeping, to anthropoid and human movement.
Awareness begins with the embodied organism, which forms an essential component of a system of conscious development. The section on Bodily Awareness and Control examines the moving body, how it works as a coordinated system, and how to gain greater awareness and control of this system as the basis for conscious action.
The section on Awareness examines the processes of paying attention and becoming more highly aware in living. This section examines the elements of awareness including the perceptual basis of awareness; the relation of attention to states of stress; how to focus the mind; the role of the self and self-directed behavior in attention; the stages of attention; and awareness as part of evolution to a more conscious plane.
Child Development and Psychophysical Education is concerned with the central role of the child’s complex mental and physical makeup in our conception of complete and healthful development. Our Western educational tradition has put so much emphasis on the teaching of specific subjects that it is difficult, if not impossible, for us to think about functioning and development in a truly holistic way. But a child does not learn simply with his or her brain but as a psychophysical whole, and an education that omits an understanding of the workings of this total system is lacking knowledge that is fundamental to the child’s development, ability to learn, and well-being.
The section on Skill and Performance examines the role of the self as “the central instrumentality upon which all learning depends.” This course examines practical issues in teaching performers. Topics include: how to address basic learning problems; tension in performance; the role of habit in skilled performance; learning to perform effortlessly. We will pay special attention to working with children with learning problems, how to teach performers, and how to observe and identify problems in performance.
Biosynergetics is the philosophical and theoretical study of man’s higher-order faculties based on an understanding of the emergence of complex designs in nature. Although the evolutionary modifications leading to the human being can be understood as the result of incremental changes taking place through natural selection, the Darwinian model cannot fully explain the increase in complexity that emerges as a result of this process, such as upright posture, vision, and consciousness. Drawing from anatomy, biology, psychology, education, and neuroscience, biosynergetics identifies and describes the operating and control systems that make up the human design, the higher–order faculties that emerge from this design, and how these systems contribute to new forms of apprehension and learning.