Home » Blog » What do the movements of Thrust, Hang, Swing, and Shape have to do with ensouling one’s life?

What do the movements of Thrust, Hang, Swing, and Shape have to do with ensouling one’s life?


In one of the Ensoulment Initiation monthly sessions, I focus on ensouling the diversity of Thrust, Hang, Swing, and Shape by teaching where each movement pattern centers in our body. As we attune to body AND soul we don’t let go of our body wisdom. We seek to embrace joy, suffering, and challenges as paths to wisdom. I’ve found that in order to do this, we often enter an “initiation” as we take on the support and tools needed to incorporate wholeness.

How does bringing them into balance assist in letting soul shine?

In my body when I presence all four centers of these primal patterns, I feel like I do when I dance. Yum. I’m grateful that I can play with each pattern and its offering both on the individual and collective level. And I am REALLY grateful to call the patterns into cooperative alignment.

In what way do you ensoul the wisdom of Hang (the “open to the field” visionary), Swing (the community-based collaborator), Thrust (the warm, earth-grounded driver), and Shape (the heart-centered organizer)? 

When we resist any life experience within or outside of us, an initiation awaits. You may choose to engage with your resistance or let life work on you indirectly. (What we resist persists). Either way is fine. Soul is in no rush. But I find that the fruits of ensoulment –peace, compassion, joy, connectedness, presence, love, and happiness– are worth engaging the harder stuff.

InterPlayers are lucky because we play with the language, idea, and experience of the four patterns every time we meet. We are initiated in their presence. Sometimes, we get stuck in saying we are one thing or another. Over time, I found that my most relaxed and soulful way of being, swing and hang, required a deep incorporation of thrust. Until my thruster could express its energy and be loved, a graceful balance wasn’t possible.

I am so thankful for colleagues like Marcia McFee who dance and teach from Soul. Her research is included in the 12 sets of ensoulment initiation tools in my year long course on ensoulment initiations. Coming from a background as a professional dancer, she ably joined InterPlay’s Wing It! Performance Ensemble and did the Life Practice Program. There she learned about the movement patterns and went on to complete a Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union in Liturgical Studies with an Allied Field of Ethics. Her focus on ritual featured the Four Movement Patterns as The Primal Patterns. Today, Today, Marcia travels all over offering a powerful worship design studio helping church leaders to bring body and soul, wisely, fully, justly and beautifully into the community.  As Marcia knows, it isn’t easy to speak in the language of body and soul. I so appreciate how clearly she names this challenge and is helping people to move personally and collectively into soulful, embodied practice.

In regards to the Primal Patterns: Towards a Kinesthetic Hermeneutic, Marcia says,

“Kinesiologists have found that a person’s dominant pattern (called a “home pattern”), based on their particular neuromuscular excitation,[1] affects the energy with which they move in the world, perceive the world around them, and thus, behave in relationship to that world. They are patterns of “somatic integration” and are a psychomotor connection between movement qualities and cognitive/affective processes of the brain.[2]

Like the best sense of the word “home,” a home pattern is one in which we find our greatest ease of expression and resonance in terms of energetic identity. The difference in energy between persons depends upon the amount of force and timing with which their muscles “fire.” Although we use all the patterns, our home pattern is one in which we feel most like “ourselves.”   Cynthia Winton-Henry describes her experience of finding “home.”

I was forever trying to hold myself in. I felt too big and too weird most of the time. I judged my energetic bursts of joy, anger, and opinion. I was self-conscious about my high level of activity… When I realized that thrusting was an intrinsic part of my unique nature and not a personality defect, I was relieved. The more I let my energy move out from my center in strong, joyous beams, the more I felt inner peace and clarity in my body.[3]

In Winton-Henry’s account, we see that each home pattern has its own characteristics that make it distinct from other patterns in its formative effects.   Energy patterns are characterized by “what you can feel and what works in and around people… It is the power and motion that is inside a person and that also combines with the power inside other people too.”[4] Because the dynamics of ritual are created by individuals who “body forth” the power and motion at work inside them through various media in the context of community, the dynamics of ritual may also be described in terms of these Primal Patterns. Various ritual strategies carry dominant patterns of energy dynamics, each having their own characteristics and effects. The energy dynamics of ritual are produced as bodies enact these various kinesthetic attributes through ritual performance. Thus, we can observe and describe dominant patterns of energy dynamics as ritual strategies that are determinative of particular energetic effects. In other words, variations of energy patterns have implications for “what ritual effects.”[5] 

[1] Neuromuscular excitation refers to the stimulation of the nerve cells (neurons) of the muscular system which creates the particular force and timing of muscle movement.

[2] For more on the neurophysiological process of formation through ritual, see Marcia McFee, Primal Patterns: Ritual Dynamics, Ritual Resonance, Polyrhythmic Strategies and the Formation of Christian Disciples, Graduate Theological Union, dissertation (Berkeley, 2005), 146-184.

[3] Cynthia Winton-Henry with Phil Porter, What the Body Wants (Kelowna, BC: Northstone Publishing, 2004), 72.

[4] A Macumba-Christian priestess as cited in Valerie DeMarinis, “Movement as Mediator of Meaning: An Investigation of the Psychosocial and Spiritual Function of Dance in Religious Ritual,” in Doug Adams and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, eds., Dance as Religious Studies (New York: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1990), 201.

[5] In Ricouer’s discussion of hermeneutics, there is always a “dynamic, relative tension” between “sense” and “reference.” The “sense” is “what is said”–in our case, the kinesthetic attributes of the patterns themselves. The “reference” is about its “extra-linguistic reality”–the “about which” of the patterns that is the associative images produced by particular dynamics. The dialectic here is the confluence of physiology and a “philosophy/theology of the flesh” for a kinesthetic hermeneutic. See Joyce Ann Zimmerman, C.P.P.S., Liturgy and Hermeneutics (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1999), 37-39 for a brief discussion of Ricouer. For an extended treatment, see Joyce Ann Zimmerman, Liturgy as Language of Faith: A Liturgical Methodology in the Mode of Paul Ricoeur’s Textual Hermeneutics (Lanham: University Press of America, 1988).

Always keen to hear your thoughts and comments. 


Love, Cynthia





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