The very first time I attended a Continuum class with Mary Abrams, somewhere about midway through, my awareness shifted from the external world to my internal state. I remember realizing that I felt like a prisoner in my own body. As we did what appeared to be very simple exercises, a wave of grief and sadness welled up in my tears and passed out of me. Since that day, as I continue to do Continuum, I experience being more in control of the state of my nervous system, and so my symptoms. This, in a word, is AMAZING. I encourage you to try it.
LT: I am speaking today with Mary Abrams. Mary is the owner of Moving Body Resources in Manhattan. Mary, what officially is it that you do?
MA: Well, I’m an Authorized Continuum Teacher and also a Registered Somatic Movement Educator with the organization called the International Somatic Movement Education Therapy Association, affectionately known as ISMETA.
LT: OK, that is a mouthfull. Would you explain to us simply what Continuum is?
MA: Continuum is an inquiry process into recognizing that as a human being we are basically an expression of a greater planetary process, and its particular expression in the human body is actually as a resilient fluid body. Emilie Conrad, who is the founder of Continuum came to this kind of inquiry and understanding through her many years of exploring movement. She really began to see that the way we are developed in terms of a biological organism is that we are a cellular structure, and a cellular structure is primarily fluid, and it is fluid that is in reponse with its environment all the time. So in Continuum what we are interested in is what we become when we are more in contact with our fluid resonance, or you could say our fluid creative design. What will happen for us in terms of how we live our lives, what we discover about life, the way we literally move our bodies and the way we move in terms of our thinking/feeling/belief processes as well.
LT: So how do you accomplish that? How do you tap into your fluid body? What’s the technique for that?
MA: The primary techniques in continuum are exploring with breath and sound, and exploring movements that are non linear, so movements that curve, spiral, wave, undulate, rock, and shift. Movements that might be random in the sense that they don’t seem connected, but if you were to connect the dots between them they would very clearly be a wave or spiral pattern.
LT: Now are these movements that you direct?
MA: These are movements that we, I wouldn’t say we direct them, but what we do is we we try to get them to come to the surface of consciousness.
LT: So each individual?
MA: Each individual starts to find ways to feel these movements and how they are alive for them in their own body. By working with breath and sound, the movement of our breath and sound helps awaken sensation awareness, awaken movement awareness, and that’s one way we become more conscious of these kinds of fluid movements. Then sometimes actually, by a directing of fluid type movement, like making an undulation with my arm or a little rocking movement side to side with my torso, that can begin to wake up more fluid movement in my awareness as well. So it’s a back and forth participatory process. Sometimes I’m initiating something, other times I’m riding the wave of things that are already there.
LT: I noticed in my own experience that when I first started to do the Continuum work with you, I felt sort of out of control of my body because of the PD, but the more I did it I started to feel more and more connected to my body. Were there specific things that you did when we were working together, specific sounds, specific breaths? Did you find that certain things were more helpful than others?
MA: Well particularly with something like Parkinson’s you’re dealing with kind of a neurological distress. So that means that there is a type of movement in your nervous system, which is then in your whole body, that’s kind of the same thing over and over and over and over and over, and that creates a kind of density. What we are interested in is what happens if we interrupt that density, and so we use certain breaths and sounds, like a theta breath, a lunar breath, an O sound or an E sound, sometimes even what we call the jacque sound.
LT: We didn’t get to that one… something to look forward to!
MA: Yes. These particular ways of playing with breath and sound can interrupt or mediate the density of that neurological movement and open a space for other things to become more present and even to emerge. Then with some of the movement pieces we play with, micro movement can be very helpful for this kind of density of neurological stimulation— and even just taking the time to feel the movement underneath the distress pattern in the body generally helps a person feel connected more to the whole of their being. Then the spotlight on what the PD does starts to diminish, in a sense, and you are starting to take advantage more of your whole body and the health that’s present, giving you a way to inform the distress or mediate the distress.
LT: Mary that is a wonderful description and you do wonderful work. I’d like to thank you for talking with me today.
MA: You’re very welcome, and I’d like to thank you for interviewing me and giving me an opportunity to to describe some of the wonders that Continuum can offer.
Mary Abrams, Moving Body Resources
A great video with Emilie Conrad, the originator of Continuum, introducing its principles: