Eurythmy therapy in school – why?

Erika Leiste

Take Lisa for example. A lovable eleven-year-old girl, overflowing with kindness – after all, she does have a “communicative gap” between her two front teeth through which her soul can flow out unhindered. So lovable, yet unfortunately – unbearable! She constantly fidgets about, is everywhere at once, words tumbling out, her smooth brown hair flies in all directions. How on earth does her teacher manage to teach her at all? She has arrived with a diagnosis of hyperactivity and dyslexia. There is a wonderful eurythmy therapy sequence for that: MN BP AU.

M – a sound which senses its way into the space in a calm, warm and sympathetic way.
N – a sound with which we can draw the external world towards ourselves; it is also effective against diarrhoea, so why not also against logorrhoea?
B – a sound which places a warm mantle around us and which can also demarcate us from the surroundings, with which we can set boundaries for ourselves.
P – a sound which reinforces B; it is also effective against bedwetting and against any kind of outflow – and outflow is very much the case with Lisa.
A – an incarnation sound, we find ourselves.
U – a sound which can calm us down. On the other hand also a sound which can lead us out into the surroundings in a gentle way.

Is that not the ideal sequence? She needs all of those things!

So M – cautiously and calmly sensing our way into the space … But what is she doing?
The flails around with her thin little arms – she cannot do it. Perhaps with leaping? As a metabolic sound? It is easy to let children leap all of these sounds and I know from experience that when they do this they are truly calm at the end, so calm that they do not want to move at all any longer … But it does not work with Lisa. After a minute she throws herself despondently and desperately on the nearest chair: “I can’t go on!” – and it becomes clear to me that I have overwhelmed her, have insulted and hurt her, have not understood her properly. Slowly I realise that she really cannot manage it, her delicate, thin body is not capable of capturing and accommodating her spirited sparkling soul. In her soul she is out of herself and fluttering around.
Rudolf Steiner describes such children in the curative education course. He remarks how in some of them the soul and spiritual entity flows out and how as a result the child is too far outside themselves and becomes chafed. As a result, Steiner says, “there is too much consciousness as the will unfolds, there is pain as the will unfolds. This pain is there in the beginning stage. We want to hold it back. That happens very intensively. We fidget in what we do because we want to hold back the pain.”

Deeply ashamed of myself, I tell myself: dear Lisa, finally I understand you. And suddenly I feel how my own skin has holes in it, how I flow out, how painfully I knock against the surroundings. And a deep love for the child grows in me; now I know how I have to guide the sounds with her, alongside her, to draw in the soul and spiritual entity in a breathing way, breathing in and breathing out. I know that I also have to consolidate the body so that it becomes a suitable mantle for this human being in the first place.

The sequence of sounds I was considering is not unsuitable as such but now I have to use it not in a formulaic way but only for Lisa, individually for her.

M – warm and supporting, gentle, balsam, I have to accompany her with the M hand-in-hand so that warmth can develop.
B – consolidating, also with variation of speed as appropriate.
A – for breathing in.
U – for breathing out, i.e. A-U A-U A-U, finishing the U with the Saturn movement, that has a strongly delimiting, skin-forming effect.

It will nevertheless be a long journey until her clammy hands and skinny arms can really immerse themselves in the movements. But once she has learnt it, when she has learnt to make herself at home in her body – then she will also be able to read.
Thus each child is actually a new riddle which wants to be guessed – including for me, even though I have already treated many hyperactive children.

One teacher in our school said: “Eurythmy therapy is a way of setting a new course. At the beginning there is a delicate, almost unnoticeable change and then we travel on in a different direction.”

About the author: Erika Leiste was a eurythmy therapist at the München-Schwabing Rudolf Steiner school for 24 years.