Marianne Ehrat, Zurich, Switzerland
I took my first workshop with Charlotte Selver in 1984, shortly after completing my training as a breath and movement therapist. I can still see her entering the room at the conservatory for music in Winterthur. She seemed so small and fragile and I wondered how she would manage a crowd of 50 people. And how she did! Even just the way she came to sitting and how she put her headphones on commanded attention and quiet. I remember Charlotte speaking about Elsa Gindler and how deeply committed she was to sharing her experience with as many people as possible. She emphasized that she wasn’t teaching a method and that we should forget everything we had learned before.
What a relief! I came from a family in which what authorities said or what came from books was more important than our own experience. Here I was in an environment in which people experimented and asked questions that could be explored by everyone. There was no “right” or “wrong” in the usual sense. I felt that a door was opened to a path that – if I was ready and awake for it – I could follow until the end of my life.
I also remember a conversation with Charlotte in which she asked me about my profession. When I told her that I had just finished my training in breath work and that I was a beginner, she looked at me and said: “I’m a beginner too”.
In my own classes I want to give students space for experiencing and opportunity to reconnect with their “inner authority, which will never betray them” (Jacoby), so they can live life less habitually. That is not easy, of course. I the case of my work with patients from the Lung Association I often had great doubts about my ability to reach them but when I wanted to give up my job at the Association they did not want to let me go. Working with cancer patients has always been easier. They seem to be more receptive to the Gindler/Jacoby approach.
Starting in 1987 I began taking lessons with Ruth Matter. She did not work with groups and she spoke little, unlike Charlotte. A stillness radiated from her which always helped me to come back to myself and created an atmosphere in which it was possible to listen to impulses from within.
Charlotte once asked me about the difference between her, Ruth Matter and Sophie Ludwig. For me, Charlotte was the artist, Sophie Ludwig the teacher, and Ruth Matter the one with immeasurable patience….