By Saraphir Qaa-Rishi
The world is changing and the pace of change seems to be increasing every year. Advances in technology are creating permanent, but ever-changing, developments in how we live and work and we are living with the constant threat and awareness of ecological breakdown, international political tensions and the rise of the new far right. On top of that everyone has their own, individual challenges to do with areas such work, family and personal life and finances. The last four years in Britain has brought further uncertainty in the form of Brexit and the consequences this may bring once it happens and this year the spread of COVID-19 and the national lockdowns around the world has created much anxiety – although for many it has also been an opportunity to slow down and re-evaluate their lifestyle. It is no wonder the western world is said to be in the middle of a stress epidemic.
While it is essential to look at what positive changes we can make in our lives to reduce stress, it is also necessary to look at what practices and strategies we can learn and use to manage it better. While some of the most common stressors such as work-related pressure, relationship breakdowns or difficulties, loss, and financial difficulties are universal, how we deal with them is entirely individual, as is which ones constitute the most difficult area for us. Thus, one definition of stress is: “Stress occurs when pressure exceeds your perceived ability to cope.” (Palmer and Cooper). The actual manifestation of stress is the negative effects this pressure has on your physical body, behaviour, and mental and emotional state. In the long run, stress can have serious consequences for your physical and mental health, and with the world being as unpredictable as it is today, it is essential for us all to find ways of managing how we cope with the pressures of life and increase our personal sense of well-being.
Many people around the world have turned to practices such as mindfulness and various movement forms that enhance our mind-body connection and awareness of ourselves. With its focus on harmony, consciousness and flowing movements, Eurythmy is ideally positioned to work in this area. Stress makes our bodies tense up, our movements constricted and unfree, our breathing shallow and arrhythmical and our minds fragmented and scattered. Eurythmy can provide a calming and soothing effect in that it helps us to relax and free our movements and re-establish a sense of flow and connection. It can also help our breathing become deeper and more rhythmical and create a sense of spaciousness and calmness in ourselves. When focusing on our movements, our minds calm down and stop racing and we can become aware of how the stressful situation affected our body as well as how it restricted our ability to feel well and rest within ourselves. This effect increases over time and with practice and you eventually become able to notice the stress reactions when they happen and counteract them sooner. This is why it is so important to establish a practice before major stressful situations occur, as it is hard for most people to establish practices like that when they are in the middle of the stress reaction.
While Eurythmy started as a performance art, it has many other aspects to it, one being the positive influence on well-being through the development of an increasingly flowing and inwardly connected way of moving. It brings harmony and balance to your physicality in that it can improve your posture and help you achieve a sense of centeredness and alignment in your body and physical space, and when practised consciously can be very grounding. It can nurture and strengthen your life-forces, bringing them into a more rhythmical flow, which mostly has an enlivening and at the same time calming effect. On the soul-level it can harmonise and calm your emotions and bring increased consciousness to the different levels of your being.
You don’t need to have completed a training in Eurythmy to experience these benefits. Practising a sequence of exercises under the guidance of a eurythmist or participating in regular classes and workshop can provide the beginning of a regular practice that with focus and dedication will deepen and grow over time.
Saraphir Qaa-Rishi studied Eurythmy in England at Eurythmy West Midlands and then Camphill Eurythmy School. She graduated in 2013 and since 2014 has been based in Edinburgh, where she works as a Eurythmist at Garvald Edinburgh and The Columcille Centre, providing regular Eurythmy Sessions to people in need of extra support. She also works regularly with staff groups, is a tutor on the annual Introduction to Social Therapy Course and teaches regularly on other training seminars for staff in both organisations. She has a deep interest in Eurythmy for wellbeing and Eurythmy in Social/Working Life and has worked with this both in her regular workplaces and in other organisations. She runs public workshops on different themes and has taught in various other organisations around Edinburgh. Saraphir has a degree in Social Science and has recently completed a Diploma in Coaching and Mentoring (SCQF level 8). She set up this website and the websites for the Eurythmy Association and the Eurythmy Therapy Association and still manages this website and the Facebook page. You can see more about her work on her website www.movingpresence.co.uk and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.