Ecosomatics has been emerging out of the somatic field as a named body since around 2007. This natural expansion of somatics has found form through the work of Martha Eddy, Andrea Olsen, The Moving On Center, Schumacher College, Earthdance and many, many others, bridging the fields of ecology, dance/movement and activism into work that revives and reconnects. In the late 1990's I worked with the Javanese movement artist Suprapto Suryadamo, who took us onto the moors and creeks of Devon, UK, to dance. And of course, the pioneers of earth-based performance work! Anna Halprin and the Sea Ranch Collective have been doing this work forever. The further I look, the deeper the imprints are. We've just given it a new name.
This is the work that has always been there, as a way to guide us back home, through our bodies onto the earth. We are re-cognizing that our health and well-being is not separate from the well-being of our environment. What happens to the Tasmanian Tigers, Tecopa Pupfish, Hoverflies, bats, bees and earthworms, has an impact on all of us. And that impact is psychological as well as physical.
In my two decades of learning, teaching and living somatic work, the step into ecosomatics has developed organically. The prefix is a reminder of the continuum within which our sentience evolved, and without which we would not exist. The shared aspects of ecology and somatics are awareness of relationships, patterns and change. The small shift to ecosomatics is to extend our perspective from human life to all life, from human movement to all that moves, breathes, lives. These small shifts are perceptual. My breathing is a dialogue with the trees and the plants - not just an activity of the lungs and diaphragm. That breath is a living exchange at the cellular level, where the notion of "me" both evaporates and unfolds. This inner/outer exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is an on-going act of balance between me and the other, a movement through which I live into the interdependencies of complex systems. And at the same time, in all of its complexity, I can still rest into the breath, allowing it to take place, unhindered by my thoughts.
A lot of our pain, depression, sense of isolation comes from a loss of contact with the natural forces. Our nervous systems and hormonal systems are on overload, creating further chaos, stress and lack of resilience. Sustainability is a somatic theme as much as an ecological principle.
In my work ecosomatics seeps in through the desire to keep re-contextualizing our somatic practices with the larger issues we face in the world. Ecosomatics for me is about engaging with complex questions and challenging conversations with an embodied self. And these times require the participation of many. With diversity of experience around a given subject, we may glimpse more than just our own images reflected back. A practice of ecosomatics is an act of rewilding, protecting and restoring our natural resources for introspection, communication and action.
My latest performative work based on ecosomatic practices was the Bewilderment Project (2015-) created together with poet/healer Laressa Dickey and artist/activist Julia Metzger-Traber. It was a creative response to the sense of urgency that we collectively share, prompting us to provide a space for grief and loss around the extinction of diversity; be it species, plants, languages, spaces or places of origin.
We are the world perceiving itself, it is our responsibility to find ways to creatively respond to what we perceive. We don't (need to) have answers, but we invite eachother to keep exploring the questions.