Expressive Arts Therapy, The Sphere in Voice Movement Therapy, VMT UK, Voice Movement Therapy

Earthing Your Infinite Voice by Veronica Phillips

EARTHING YOUR INFINITE VOICE

Courage     connection     focus     perception     containment

These are some of the key concepts that I find and explore in my fascination and enjoyment in working with the Sphere. The practice of working with “kinaesthetic space” in VMT was beautifully written about by Sebastiana Black in her recent blog.

The sphere certainly consolidates focus and containment, rather like a concentrated spot of oil on water before it dissipates into the lake; within this highlighted arena perception and connection can be sensed, realised, embodied, sounded, contemplated and held with compassion; often with courage.

Everything in the universe is within you. Ask for everything from yourself.”  – Rumi

Working with and within the Sphere offers a universe that is within and without. I would like to reflect on 3 different but related aspects of the Sphere. First in our sights is the idea of the Kinosphere and Space Harmony conceived by Rudolf Laban*. This concept relates mainly to our physical relationship with people and objects in our environment. Here, we remain at the centre of our sphere; allowing us to reach out or pull back. Our emotional, psychological state is clearly visible in the quality of our movement.

Paul Newham, originator of VMT, introduced Spherical Space, inviting us to explore our inner emotional, psychological state with the sphere as a space in which we can move to its back, front, up, down, and so on. We can seek protection in one of its curves at our back, or enjoy an outwardly relational stretch at its front. For me, this exploration begins from the Laban model, at the centre, then allowing us to move and explore from the centre of our sphere , large or small. (In a sense we are never anywhere but at the centre of our sphere; this awareness and juxtaposition intrigues me.) Within VMT Spherical space our breath moves out to the comforting, supporting “ caring” breath of the sphere, which supports our body as it moves and loosens. Moving within the sphere offers a concentrated experience of imagination and movement.

My client, “ Peter”, so embodied the movement from cowering child, crouching at the Sphere’s back, then almost in slow motion moving through the space, deeply embodying his growth towards the freeing, strength and exuberance of the enriching reVPhillips_SphereDrawingbel subpersonality, expanding towards powerful archetypal energy. His voice, here emerging from movement, was recognisable in terms of VMT vocal timbres, (a palette of vocal colours which can initiate expression): the thin whiny sound of this child, changing to exhilarating, powerful loud shouts of authority and defiance. The intensity of contained movement and re-claim of non-verbal voice together offered a wonderful, freeing “aha” discovery for him . His new authority and empowerment, began to take effect in daily relationships, loosening his “ being put upon”. In addition, Peter’s wounded inner child felt nurtured and began to uncover his gifts with the strength and love of his more assured adult self.

The VMT sphere is a very strong way of exploring all our unexplored suppressed aspects of self, our dreams and wishes to be more confident, fuller beings. This can lead to a rewarding, embodied connection with wider archetypal energies. The added witness, empathy and of therapist or facilitator can enhance its safety to express very deep emotion in sound . As well as being a transitional space an echo chamber; a womb ; a mandala, it can equate with the “window of tolerance” ( Pat Ogden ), a device for understanding autonomic arousal and keeping it within boundaries that curtail re-traumatising. Given that trauma is increasingly seen as “endemic not exotic” (Vivian Broughton): that is to say that all of us are caught up with varying degrees of emotional trauma, so the watchful sensitivity and care can be modulated by both client and therapist through the containing Sphere.

VPhillips_SphereActiveImageThe Rumi quote above includes, for me, both the physical body and beyond. The body is indeed the instrument from and through which voice emerges. The collaboration of the finite physical body and the infinity of the voice is fascinating. Sound does not disappear but turns into light moving into infinity: enthralling ! The awareness and knowledge of us, particularly our voices, being in harmony with the universe becomes increasingly less fanciful. In addition, the body has layers that are more subtle than that which we see with our finite eye. I consider this subtle energy, always at work, to be a powerful element to be brought into VMT, that supports expressive psychological and spiritual exploring. I am reminded that VMT employs a metaphorical Vocal tube, at the centre of the body, wherein different timbres are explored to open out the voice and the “touch of sound” (Kristin Linklater). Sound vibration and light move in many ways:  spiralling up and down, inwards, outwards like a vortex or labyrinth, curving movements relating to spherical movement, as well as more directly as lines or waves. Fascinating that in much the same body areas as the timbres are found the spinning spherical wheels of subtle energy Chakras**: the correlation is not direct, but for me and many clients, breathing with, connecting with and sounding the chakras in individual ways is a profound exploration of the wider being. From sensing and sounding the chakras within my being I discovered my “ Snake Song”: bodily sensuous, feminine and transforming, inviting a bluesy quality in the singing :

Dare I slither with this new snake skin ?

Can I bear the pain of this farewell?

Reach out for the colours ever changing, never staying,

Leave this safe old house where my fear dwells. “ [verse 1]

The VMT sphere can very easily be seen as the Medicine Wheel or Wheel of Life. The four VPhillips_TheSphereImageStandingdirections East, South, West, North and those in between, become the spherical sphere of planet earth. Moving within or without this sphere becomes a pathway towards interconnection at so many levels, beginning with oneself. Staying inside the spherical wheel of life, connecting with aspects of soul, her own at centre, a client, “Jan”, discovered the presence of an ancestor who came to nurture her as vulnerable child and empower her as middle aged adult. The strong and deeply heartfelt vocal sounding exchange, also made possible and poignant with Jan’s experience of VMT vocal timbres: extremely powerful recognition, honouring and love manifested, igniting much yearned for leadership qualities in Jan.

I love the whole idea of the Sphere and its nurturing qualities. Also I am aware that it can be a prison . Though in my practice, although the sphere can be uncomfortable, I have not witnessed it become unbearable. The client makes the sphere the size that is right in the moment, along with the strength of softness of its periphery. There is a balance to be sought between comfort and the crucible of change, wherein becoming can be explored with courage: leading to deeper connection with oneself, authentic and intimate connection with others, a resonance with all that is, in this world and beyond.

*Rudolf Laban : a Dance Artist, choreographer from the first part of 20th Century. Extremely important in introducing Modern Dance and Laban Movement analysis.

**Not only emerging from the more favoured Yogic, Hindu traditions, but also found in Hopi, Inca and Maya traditions among others.

REFERENCES

Katya Bloom : The Embodied Self (2006)

Vivian Broughton: The Heart Of Things (2013)

Don Campbell: Music Physician (1991)

Kristin Linklater: Freeing the Natural Voice (1976, 2006 )

Pam Montgomery: Plant Spirit Healing (2008)

Paul Newham : Therapeutic Voicework (1998)

Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton, Clare Pain: Trauma and the Body (2006)

Dan Van Kampenhout : Tears of the Ancestors (2008)

Alberto Villoldo : Shaman,Healer, Sage (2001)

 

by Veronica Phillips, VMTR

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