Friday, January 10, 2020

When they danced to a Mahler symphony


That photo shows the father of Gestalt therapy Fritz Perls. In the fascinating The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the Human Potential Movement it is recounted how after Fritz Perls' death in 1970 a memorial service organised by the Gestalt Therapy Institute of San Francisco was attended by more than five hundred people. Perls had requested that postmodern dance pioneer Anna Halprin, who had led workshops at Esalen, should dance at his funeral. She danced to a recording of Perls' favourite Mahler symphony; then Halprin instructed everyone to dance with her and they circulated around the hall with lighted candles. Fritz Perls wrote the statement of personal independence below known as the Gestalt Prayer. It was a favourite of the 1960s counterculture movement but still has powerful relevance in the era of the social media movement:
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.
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