I’ve written about Viewpoints several times on Elephant.
For those who aren’t aware of Viewpoints (or The Viewpoints in some circles), it originated from dance, pioneered by Anne Bogart and Tina Landow (if you wanna check out their book, it’s here).
Viewpoints is a technique focusing on using the outer world to inform the inner world. It’s also used to help acting and dancing ensembles to build trust, synchronicity, and harmony.
In my opinion, people would benefit from Viewpoints techniques in therapy to help reduce the effects of trauma, powerlessness, and self-defeat. It is a powerful way to connect with the most intimate truths without being intimidating or scary.
We can also use it as a stress reducer, anxiety helper, and a way to come back to the present moment.
I came across Viewpoints when I was an actress. A teacher of mine started using it with my theatre group to help us build connection.
Let’s get into what they are, and then, I’ll tell you about the “Facts & Intuits” game.
There are nine physical Viewpoints:
1. Spatial Relationship: how far or close you are to someone or something.
2. Kinesthetic Response: the reaction after an interaction with someone or something.
3. Shape: how someone or something looks/exists/takes on a form.
4. Gesture: how someone or something expresses itself.
5. Repetition: how many times the same motion or movement is expressed.
6. Architecture: objects in space and how they affect us (this can be an entire building or a small piece of glass).
7. Tempo: how fast or how slow someone is doing something.
8. Duration: how long someone chooses to do something.
9. Topography: the path someone will take to get where they are going.
PS: There are also Vocal Viewpoints.
Viewpoints uses our bodies and the physical environment to get us present and then delve deeper.
Do an experiment for me right now (pretty please—it will be enlightening).
Hold your arm out in front of you, extended fully. Make a fist. Now, pretend you are about to punch something in front of you (really hard) and repeat the gesture 20 times with your full body getting involved,
After the 20 punches, stop and take note of how you feel.
You may have noticed:
1. Your heart rate increased.
2. Your breathing increased.
3. Anger, frustration, or an old negative memory surfaced.
4. Your face started to get involved without you realizing it.
5. Your face became a bit flushed.
6. You became weary or tired.
7. You became irritated.
8. Your arm/back/shoulder started burning.
You just used repetition, gesture, shape, tempo, duration, and a touch of kinesthetic response to change your inner world. You informed your inner experience using something outside of you.
This is the power of Viewpoints.
Now, change the gesture to something softer. Repeat it 20 times. Maybe you repeat taking a loved one in your arms and hugging them or petting your dog. Notice how your body responds.
Start using Viewpoints during the day. Notice your behavior.
>> What is the tempo of my speech? Does it change around different people?
>> What shape is my body taking on that is causing my hips to hurt?
>> What is my kinesthetic response to this person? Do I like how it feels?
>> What gesture really turns me off? Why?
>> What thoughts do I repeat over and over?
Let me tell you about the “Facts & Intuits” game—a wonderful tool you can use anytime to get grounded, centered, or more present.
This is one of many games or exercises in the Viewpoints repertoire.
1. Walk around your space. This helps us get in the body and out of the head. It allows us to loosen so we can receive more resonant information. Do this anywhere you feel comfortable. Do it in a park if you want! Take note of your tempo, topography, and your shape as you walk.
2. After you feel more in your body, start to name facts about yourself and the environment surrounding you. Do this for two full minutes.
Some examples are:
My walls are painted yellow.
I have a working oven (versus a “big” oven, which is subjective—we’ll get to that).
I’m wearing jeans.
My shoes are a size 8.
I have blond hair.
The dog is sitting on my bed.
There is peanut butter in my fridge.
Naming facts gets us present and here. It forces us to observe the physical environment and primes us for the next part.
3. After you’ve named facts for two minutes, walk around and release that energy. Take a few deep breaths. Place your attention on your lower belly and gut.
4. Now, start naming intuits about yourself and the environment. Intuits are feelings and opinions about things. Keep walking the space and notice your tempo, topography, and shape as you walk.
Some examples are:
I hate these yellow walls.
I have the best oven in the world.
These jeans are too big for me, and I need new ones.
My shoes make me feel sexy.
I love my blond hair.
I would do anything for my dog.
Peanut butter is so delicious!
Name intuits for 3 minutes or more and here’s why: as you start with more surface intuits (“I love my blond hair”), you’ll eventually find yourself getting more and more honest, raw, and real with yourself.
You may suddenly blurt out these kinds of deep truths:
I don’t feel appreciated at my job, and I want to quit.
I’m terrified my partner is cheating on me.
I want to travel the world, but I’m afraid of what others will think of me.
I’m not happy, and I want to be happy.
I want a divorce/I want a relationship/I want to get married.
My responsibilities make me feel stuck.
I want more affection from my parents.
The thought of switching careers makes me feel excited.
Allow yourself to keep digging deeper. We all have inner wisdom that is screaming to be heard. This exercise helps to dig it up.
5. After you are done with your intuits, pause walking and take a few deep breaths. Take note of what has changed—on the outside and the inside.
When we did this game in my theatre company, the results were incredible. People had breakthroughs about something that had been nagging them or became aware of emotions they had been stuffing way down.
Using our bodies (walking and movement) to unleash our inner truths is visceral. The mind, body, soul, and ego (yes, the ego, too) all work together.
The “Facts & Intuits” game can be used anytime you want and it’s free!
As you use it more, you’ll become more comfortable saying your feelings and experiences out loud. You get to own them and give them breath.
Use Viewpoints throughout the day to become more specific about what you observe and about yourself and others, which can inform change and evolution.