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2021 - Colourful variety of eurythmy therapy /Eurythmietherapie

Every two month we present eurythmy therapy work from different countries and areas in this diversity section. In this way we would like to bring the abundance of eurythmy therapy into visibility.

The third installment focuses on eurythmy therapy in schools. You are invited to visit a therapy session at a Taiwanese school.

  • The beginnings of eurythmy therapy in schools (Extracts from the memoirs of Elizabeth Baumann)
  • A resilient force grows and gathers in Taiwan (Shin-Huei Tseng)
  • Take up the invitation … (Jitka Čápová)

The beginnings of eurythmy therapy at school

Rudolf Steiner's question to Henk van Deventer in Holland in the spring of 1921 as to whether he had anyone who would be interested in eurythmy therapy was answered by him by referring to Elisabeth Baumann as well as his future wife, Erna Wolfram. This led to the lectures of the eurythmy therapy course. Already in the years before 1921, both Erna Wolfram and Elisabeth Baumann had received hints from Rudolf Steiner on how to treat children therapeutically with eurythmy.

Elizabeth Baumann recalls: „Children of all ages grasped and carried out the movements of eurythmy so naturally that we experienced every day of our lives that the visible language of eurythmy movement is a language that is in genuine harmony with the laws and requirements of both man’s spiritual -soul nature and his bodily nature. We also experienced daily that hindrances the children had, whether in the realm of the will or in the realm of thought could be loosened up or actually overcome by eurythmy. At the Waldorf School we had to deal with children, almost from the very beginning, who had hindrances of this sort. Sometimes these difficulties were only slightly in evidence, sometimes the children were so overwhelmed by them, that they could not keep up with the lessons of their class, and a special remedial class was started where they could be given what Rudolf Steiner prescribed for their care.

Experience showed that for children of this sort eurythmy more than anything else could get across to them and they could take immediate hold of it. Therefore we asked ourselves whether it would be possible to find exercises that would help the spiritual part that was having such difficulty in incarnating because it met with such strong bodily resistance – exercises that would give the physical sheath a better form, movement exercises which would help the etheric formative forces to penetrate better and give their support to the creative upbuilding forces of the organism.

Out of our close connection with so-called difficult case […] we developed an intense desire to discover and take hold of the hygienic, therapeutic element of eurythmy. From many conversations with Erna van Deventer-Wolfram, who was actively engaged in eurythmy, it transpired that through the work she was doing she, too, had been powerfully drawn to this healing aspect of eurythmy. After due reflection we decided to ask Dr. Steiner for instructions on eurythmy therapy. Rudolf Steiner reacted positively and promised to think about it. It was not long before Frau van Deventer and I were requested to go to Dornach in April where he wanted to give lecture on eurythmy therapy alongside the doctors’ course he was going to give at the Goetheanum.“

In his introduction to the Eurythmy Therapy Course Rudolf Steiner said: ‘…one can work towards a eurythmy therapy which will be of extensive use in the treatment of various chronic and acute conditions, but which will prove to be especially important and to the point in those cases specifically where we attempt to treat impending sickness and tendencies to sickness, prophylactically through eurythmy.’ 

Frau Baumann: „We soon started to use eurythmy therapy at the Waldorf School. Most often with children where we could follow personal recommendations by Rudolf Steiner, in other cases the school doctor and teacher developed a diagnosis out of which we could work.

Eurythmy therapy cannot be applied mechanically, it demands an ongoing empathic understanding of the patient. Eurythmy therapy springs from active creative realms, and only with creative humanity can it be practised and developed. The therapist is called on to pay careful attention to the 4-fold human being. Just as the physician pays attention to heartbeat and breath, so the prescriber and instructor of Eurythmy Therapy must pay attention to what expresses in the being of the patient, be it in the nerve-sense-system or in the metabolic system. The therapist must learn to perceive how the eurythmic movements order and heal at either pole. Learning from Rudolf Steiner’s example we can develop the ability to derive the treatment for a child taking their whole being into consideration and not to get lost in dealing with individual symptoms. The perception of symptoms as reflections and expressions of the whole of the individual will enable a treatment that addresses and supports the individuals healing capacity. In his pedagogy Rudolf Steiner helps the teacher see how the spirit acts in the bodily sheaths and how the body in turn works back upon the soul-spiritual constitution.“

It was in ancient times,    在古老的時代
There lived in the initiates' souls    在先知的心魂中
Powerfully the thought, that ill     強烈的活著一種思維
By nature is every human being.    每個人天生就有病業
And educating was regarded    而教育被視為
Akin to the healing process    等同於療癒的過程
Which to the child maturing    它使孩子逐漸成熟
Brought health along the way    帶來健康
For life's fulfilled humanity    終其一生成為完滿的人

Rudolf Steiner

    -魯道夫• 史代納---


A resilient force is growing and gathering in Taiwan

Taiwan was formerly called Formosa from Portuguese, which means "Beautiful Island". Taiwan is an island in East Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait. The island of Taiwan was formed approximately 4 to 5 million years ago at a complex convergent boundary between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate. The total area of the current jurisdiction of the Republic of China is 36,193 km2, slightly smaller than Switzerland. The estimated population is around 23 million.

The Formosan languages, a branch of Austronesian languages have been spoken by the Taiwanese aborigines in Taiwan for thousands of years. The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese.

Furthermore, 70% of the population belong to the Hoklo ethnic group and speak Hokkien natively in addition to Mandarin. The Hakka group, comprising some 14–18% of the population, speak Hakka. 

The culture of Taiwan is a blend of the dominant Han Chinese culture and some Taiwanese aborigines’ cultures together, Japanese culture elements and Western values, which are often perceived in both traditional and modern understandings.

Anthroposophic work has been growing in Taiwan for more than 25 years, pioneered by Waldorf education, and now increasing interest in Anthroposophic medicine and biodynamic farming. 

In 2006 a KOLISKO conference in Taiwan was held and a first IPMT (anthroposophic medical training) got under way in 2010.The participants on the 5-year course comprised doctors, pharmacist, therapists and teachers interested in developing holistic health education and life for the future generation. It has led to more and more doctors becoming involved with Anthroposophic medicine in Taiwan. 

In August 2015, I returned to Taiwan from Switzerland where I was doing an internship to participate in a curative education course taught by Dr. Renata Wispler in IPMT. More courses on " Curative Education and Waldorf School Doctor” followed yearly till 2019. Dr. Renata taught doctors, therapists, psychologists, nurses, and curative educators etc. to do Child Study, child observation and practical skills for education, medicine, and family life. We were enriched and inspired by her teaching, it led to my work with eurythmy therapy at the Ji-Shi Waldorf School since 2016.

Their small class sizes suit the needs of children with special educational needs particularly well. The SEN coordinator organizes child studies and liaises with the therapy and doctor team. Dr. Chuang Hui-Ya is the school doctor and one of the founders.  The parents fund the eurythmy therapy privately.

In November 2017, I started to teach eurythmy in Ci-Xi Waldorf School one day a week. I was also able to see a few children for therapy after school hours. Ci-Xi Waldorf School is the biggest Waldorf School in Taiwan. The school offers kindergarten to class 12. Dr. Hsu, Wen-Ting is the school doctor. In 2016, the Anthroposophic Medical Professionals Team was established. Members include teachers, special education teachers, doctors, therapists, psychologists, nurses, and curative educators. Regularly Child studies are held. All participants prepare contributions and share of their expertise. A therapy plan is created and it is moving to feel the selfless love and care for the child, interwoven with firm and warm power from each other's heart. This power alone affects the child's self-healing process, and “magical” changes are frequently observed in response.

In November 2018, I moved my eurythmy therapy work to the “I Mirror Natural Clinic”. The clinic is established by Dr. Wu, Jing-Wen in December 2017, providing not only the main-stream medical service, but also Anthroposophic medicine, Counselling, and family psychodynamics, Rhythmical Massage and Quantum Touch Therapy is available. The team meets from time to time to exchange perspectives or progress of patients.

I am grateful that I can learn, work, exchange experiences and skills with colleagues as described. We would welcome more eurythmy therapists to help build up a resilient, strong, etheric healing stream.

Take up the invitation …

Imagine a small country in the heart of Europe. In it an old conservative town and in it a square school building from the communist era. The Czech Republic, the town of Písek, a Waldorf school. This is the setting for my story about eurythmy therapy in the school.

Ten years ago, my colleague and I put a lot of effort into introducing eurythmy at school. This proved to be good preparation for the introduction of eurythmy therapy in a Waldorf school a few years later. We built it from scratch, literally. In finding a room where ET could be done, we had to exercise our inner flexibility, not a big problem, but we also wanted it from six other colleagues, and that proved more difficult. After all, we have almost no classrooms in the school and every square meter is precious. We racked our brains and finally managed to make an offer that couldn't be refused. We cleared out a small warehouse and sorted it. We gave up our precious desks and seating, had a carpenter make a frugal four desks and shelves and bought soft cushions for the worn chairs. Only then did we suggest to the six colleagues that they move from the run-down cubicle to the new room. This was actually our first therapeutic eurythmy assignment, it required a lot of tact, but was obviously necessary in view of a stagnant response.

Alongside this free activity, we began to cultivate more intensively a warm relationship with eurythmy and an awareness of its benefits for the children, colleagues and parents of the school. In this, my colleague and I had the great advantage of having been at the school for a long time and having our work visibly behind us. We diligently attended parent meetings and did public relations work. We often came across the fact that the parents at our school were generally not very familiar with the basics of Waldorf education, let alone had an anthroposophical background. Again, it was a nice challenge to put everything in understandable terms and not rant in "anthroposophical jargon".

At school we practiced eurythmy quite regularly. By including both joyful and sublime exercises, we managed to create a beautiful experience, full of healthy breath. Then all we had to do was to skillfully point out that this is exactly what eurythmy can do and the colleagues positively joined in. As a result, the vast majority of them had no problem allowing children out of lessons for  ET, something they had previously struggled to contemplate.

After four years of doing both school and eurythmy therapy in the school, there are still enough interested children for two therapists. Some parents specifically don't want their children to miss school, and some children don't want to miss anything either, so I have work in the mornings as well as in the afternoons. Most of the children go once a week, the smaller ones with their parents, and from fourth grade onwards they often go alone, and in between they practice at home every day. 

It is very noticeable whether the practice epoch is in the autumn or at the end of the school year. The autumn and the beginning of the school year are the best, the enervation of the human soul and the receptivity to oneself are naturally increased, and progress tends to be greatest. Now in June, on the other hand, I have to adjust myself, the parents and the children to the fact that it will be work, but worth it. 

In the spectrum of requirements to be adjusted, learning difficulties and constitutional things are represented as well as special areas such as delayed dental development, short-sightedness, asthma, eczema, epilepsy and many others.

One of the biggest advantages of working in a Waldorf school for me is that I teach many of the children eurythmy, I have often represented them, they come to my drama club, I take them to outdoor school, to the mountains, in short, I know them. Their family background, what they do in the classroom, their movements, etc. During the practice epoch I meet them in the corridor and by this alone act a bit like a conscience for the youngsters as to whether they practiced at home yesterday…the smaller ones wave furiously and jump into my arms because our relationship through therapeutic eurythmy is deeper than that of their classmates. They are then a support in the eurythmy lessons with the class. They know it. It is the same with my colleagues.
In contrast, the change from the role of teacher to the role of therapist is very challenging. Of course I mean the internal one, but there are more than enough disguises.

Beautiful work, challenging work. Thank you very much for that.

With respect to the children