Mindful Movement (Book)

The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Conscious Action

In Mindful Movement, exercise physiologist, somatic therapist and advocate Martha Eddy uses original interviews, case studies and practice-led research to define the origins of a new holistic field – somatic movement education and therapy – and its impact on fitness, ecology, politics and performance.

Category: Dance, Performing Arts


In Mindful Movement, exercise physiologist, somatic therapist and advocate Martha Eddy uses original interviews, case studies and practice-led research to define the origins of a new holistic field - somatic movement education and therapy – and its impact on fitness, ecology, politics and performance. The book reveals the role dance has played in informing and inspiring the historical and cultural narrative of somatic arts. Providing an overview of the antecedents and recent advances in somatic study and with contributions by diverse experts, Eddy highlights the role of Asian movement, the European physical culture movement and its relationship to the performing arts and female perspectives in developing somatic movement, somatic dance, social somatics, somatic fitness, somatic dance and spirituality and ecosomatics. Mindful Movement unpacks and helps to popularise awareness of both the body and the mind. 

Martha Eddy, MSMT, CMA, MFLCI, EdD is sought after speaker and advocate for the field of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy, Health Equity, Dance Education, NeuroMotor Development, and Holistic Health. Integrating her experience as a licensed teacher of Body-Mind Centering®, and faculty member of the Laban/Bartenieff Institute she founded Dynamic Embodiment® somatic movement therapy, and BodyMind Dancing. She has her doctorate in Movement Science/ BioBehaviorial Studies from Columbia where she has taught, along with Princeton & NY Universities. She is co-founder of two non-profit organizations - Moving for Life and Moving On Center.

Part 1: Influences and Development of Somatic Education 

Chapter 1
Introduction and Overview — The What and Why of Somatic Education
Chapter 2
The First Generation — Founders of Somatic Education Technique
Chapter 3
Second Generation — Set One: The Influence of Dance on Somatic Education
Chapter 4 - Kelly Jean Mullan
European Antecedents to Somatic Movement
Chapter 5 - Sangeet Duchane
Global Roots of Somatic Movement: Asian and African Influences
Part 2 - The Emergence of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy

Chapter 6
Second Generation — Set Two: Dynamic Approaches to Well-Being in Dance and Fitness
Chapter 7
Third Generation — The Amalgams: Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Today
Chapter 8 - By Sara Reed and Sarah Whatley
The Universities and Somatic Inquiry: The Growth of Somatic Movement Dance Education in Britain
Chapter 9 - Rebecca Nettl-Fiol
How Dance Has Helped Situate Academic Fields of Somatic Inquiry: Case Study University of Illinois-Urbana
Chapter 10 - Kate Tarlow Morgan, Eve Selver-Kassell, Lauren Lipman and Mary Ann Brehm 

Somatic Movement and Dance Education in pre-K-12 Education
Part 3: Current Trends in Somatic Thinking and Being

Chapter 11
Healthy Movement, Healthy Mind: Neuroscience Connections to Somatic Healing and Action
Chapter 12
Conscious Action and Social Change: “Social Somatics”
Chapter 13
Somatic Dance and Environmental Activism: Is this Spirituality?
Chapter 14
Concluding Thoughts: Does Somatic Awareness Interplay with Genetics, Ecstasy and Space?

'Mindful Movement is a thoughtful and comprehensive chronicle of the history of the field of somatic movement education as well as a critical and conscious call to future steps and advocacy. [...] This book is an asset to dance/movement therapists by identifying the multiple roots of somatic education. The book also begins to name the ways in which somatic education both intersects and differs from DMT and how each field can inform the other.'

Valerie Blanc, American Journal of Dance Therapy

'Dr. Martha Eddy literally wrote the book on somatics: Mindful Movement: The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Conscious Action is the most comprehensive examination of the field thus far.'

Nancy Wozny, Dance Magazine

'Building on the wholistic embodied feminist vision of Rev. Dr Letty Russell and Rev. Dr Margaret Peg Eddy, Martha Eddy's book Mindful Movement: The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Consciousness Action argues that Spirit-led bodily movement [...] becomes activist power for the practice of prophetic pedagogy and transformational urban ministry. This is so important for activists who need to keep our bodies in good shape, so we can keep on "moving for life" in the faith-rooted justice movement, with grace and strength.'

Dr Peter Heltzel, Founding Director, Micah Institute

'Eddy’s material is valuable, tracing the history and geography of somatics from its origins in Europe to its flowering in twentieth-century North America, where primary exponents have included such pioneers as F.M. Alexander, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, and Moshe Feldenkrais. The book provides charts, interviews, first-person testimonials, and photographs, and it includes several chapters written by other people, such as Rebecca Nettl-Fiol’s “How Dance Has Helped Situate Academic Fields of Somatic Inquiry: Case Study University of Illinois-Urbana.” Anyone planning to teach either dance or somatics — actually, anyone with a body — will find useful information here.'

Village Voice - Elizabeth Zimmer April 25, 2017

'Eddy’s considerable expertise in both movement science and varied somatic practices, along with 15 years of case study, practice-oriented research, and personal interviews research, results in a rich investigation of the somatic arts. Eddy is also
responsible for the development of the somatic program entitled “Body/Mind Dancing,” which provides additional depth of expertise and context throughout the book... Eddy’s extensively-researched book on approaches to kinesthetic intelligence and embodied un-derstanding, together with its comprehensive bibliography, serves to greatly inform and enrich the literature in this multi-faceted field.'

Nancy Romita, Journal of Dance Medicine and Science

'Mindful Movement, the first comprehensive and large-scale study of somatic education, will surely become a foundational account in the field. It clearly and convincingly demonstrates the importance, breadth, and wide-ranging implications of somatic work. This book, doubtlessly a work of years of meticulous research and personal engagement with somatic practices, abounds in inspiring pathways for future scholars, educators, and students of somatics. Eddy’s text helps to further establish, validate, solidify, and clarify this exciting field.'

Hiie Saumaa, Dance Chronicle 2017, 40.2

'This is an important fundamental text for anyone who wants to understand the richly proliferating collection of bodyworkers, dancers, somatic psychotherapists, expressive artists, and others who have been intersection across many geographical, ethnic, and philosophical boundaries to affirm our shared existence in flesh on earth, and to join the many others who, from different skills and perspectives, and taking stands to protect and nourish the gifts we are given at birth. Martha is able to see through the confusions of so many different practitioners and scholars to bring forth their fundamental unity in working to turn our consciousness back and down into our fluids, bones, and nervous impulses, that connect us more fully to each other and to the earth that brings us forth.'

Don Hanlon Johnson, professor in the Somatics Graduate Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and leading author in Somatics

'Involved in Somatic practices since the 1970s, Martha Eddy has produced a significant review of the history, participants and practices of a field which, in my perfect world, would be part of every person’s education. It is about our ability to perceive ourselves, to feel bodily movement and structure. Somatics is the softest revolution in human consciousness that can be imagined. Many of the practices are informed by ancient Chinese and Indian disciplines; in 1970 Thomas Hanna coined the word we now use to name these integrative approaches. Somatic education has been enthusiastically embraced and developed in large part by performers who love science or philosophy. In my own years of study and exploration I found it a missing link in dance practice and especially know that my solo dance practice is based on it. It is the most basic awareness of dance a dancer can have. Mindful Movement describes how somatic education has been made more visible by university performing arts and psychology departments and how it is beginning to be used in some schools for children and youth. The body is profoundly neglected in primary education, as though the child will be taught by their parents (they aren't) or somehow discover the body's many levels just by having one (they don't). One thing a child has is sensations; indeed, some of my childhood sensations remain with me still. Education in this field, which can guide one through the body and even improve the structure of the body via the perception of how it feels, would be an excellent starting place. The feelings are there; it may dawn on educators and our culture that learning to perceive oneself is why these feelings exist. Eddy has related Somatics’ many facets to give movement practitioners today a sense of their elders and the profound achievements that this approach has provided. She opens doors to the importance of ‘the hidden senses’ of proprioception and kinesthesia in education, culture, and health. She also makes a case for how attention to the body through somatic practice can help ignite and sustain activism in these realms.'

Steve Paxton, developer of Contact Improvisation, founding member of Judson Dance Theatre and Grand Union

'I just wanted to say that your book is clear, inviting, rich in detail, and also beautifully honours the many paths to somatic practice. Brava! I will definitely be recommending this book to my students and peers...Just wanted to connect and pass along my appreciation for this book and all the work you do in this field of work.'

Nancy Romita, author of 'Functional Awareness: Anatomy in Action for Dancers'

'“Mindful Movement: The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Conscious Action” is Martha Eddy's masterfully researched book that traces the complex spider web of somatic influences on American - and European -contemporary dance, particularly in higher education. This is a dense (as in nutrient-rich) read - the bibliography alone is worth the price of the book, with many valuable citations to keep any researcher busy for quite some time. I can easily imagine this volume being required reading in university dance departments worldwide.'

Jamie McHugh, Dance, Movements & Somatics

'Written for discerning professionals and students in the social sciences, performing and visual arts and humanities, readers will find plenty to anchor their understanding of the field of Somatics by delving into the book from any point. The scholarship reflects decades of Eddy’s passion to bring together an octopus of a field, whose diversity appears to defy categorization. Yet, she has been able to achieve this in a captivating narrative. At the same time, her choice of title for the book, Mindful Movement, implies that dualism still requires a continuing commitment to disciplined movement practice, one that evolves beyond multi-, inter- and even trans-disciplinarity, towards the truth of the soma.' 

Glenna Batson, Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices

'Together with eleven involved authors, Eddy offers the reader a rewarding and eloquently detailed anthology that honours the constantly growing ways of somatic learning in a wonderful manner. This book is of great relevance for those who are already familiar with the various ways of somatic learning and living, as well as for those who only start venturing into this area. The style of writing is dialogical and personal, inviting a wide readership into the book. Furthermore, the clear structure and richness of subchapters allows non-linear, comprehensive reading.'

Jenny Coogan, Feldenkrais

'In Mindful Movement Eddy comprehensively draws together a rich array of past and present identities from across the globe to explicate the diverse and multifaceted rhizomatic growth of what is viewed as contemporary somatics practice. Representing some 15 years in the writing but more than 50 years in gestation, this book is also a highly-personalised account of Eddy’s lifetime commitment to movement and dance prior to specialising in her somatic-based therapeutic and educational practice. With a focus on somatic-based learning to increase the ability in participants to communicate effectively through the body, this book will be of interest to educators in both dance and drama. [...] The text is replete with excerpts from original interviews conducted by Eddy with practitioners steeped in knowledge and experience within their somatic discipline.'

Sue Mullane, NJ: Drama Australia Journal
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