Canyon Consciousness

  • Sondra Fraleigh
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 73)


I morph freely when I dance in canyons. My body becomes calm and receptive, sometimes shapeless. In such states, I can dance from emptiness, and feel better. Letting go of stagnant history, I can change in the flowing present, heal and re-gather form. I think of this mode of being present to nature as “canyon consciousness.” In touch with canyons, consciously undertaken dance can expand into a state of gratitude, inviting arms to reach out spontaneously from the heart. Dancing in canyons can release pain and worry – drifting and lingering in the valley depths. Healing, I believe, is a daily, always renewing, occurrence. It isn’t a permanent one-time event. Attentiveness to valleys and alluvial plains is a moral imperative. We need to be past ignoring nature, wasting water and forests. Appreciative attention to the environment can enhance quality of life. This is my commitment, and the reason I take students in my somatics program in Utah to dance in Snow Canyon, to Zion and the red cliffs above Saint George. The key word here is attention. I can ignore environmental exploitation, or partner with nature in a transformational dance. Attention is not all that is needed, but is a good beginning.


Nature Consciousness Attention Care Phenomenology Lifeworld 


  1. Adler, J. (2002). Offering from the conscious body: The discipline of authentic movement. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, H. (2005). In J. Kohn (Ed.), The promise of politics. New York: Schocken.Google Scholar
  3. Augros, R., & Stanciu, G. (1988). The new biology: Discovering the wisdom in nature. Boston: Shambala.Google Scholar
  4. Bohm, D. (1980). Wholeness and the implicate order. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  5. Caldwell, C. (1999). A biologist’s contribution to the field of somatic psychology. Somatics: Magazine-Journal of the Mind/Body Arts and Sciences, 12(2), 4–8.Google Scholar
  6. Casey, E. S. (2003). Taking a glance at the environment: Preliminary thoughts. In C. S. Brown & T. Toadvine (Eds.), Eco-phenomenology: Back to the earth itself (pp. 187–210). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  7. Darwin, C. (1859). The origin of species. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  8. Fraleigh, S. (2004). Dancing identity: Metaphysics in motion. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fraleigh, S. (2015a). Enacting embodiment and blue muffins. Choreographic Practices, 6(2), 161–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fraleigh, S. (2015b). Blue muffins. Retrieved from
  11. Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time (trans: Macquarrie, J. & Robinson, E.). New York: Harper & Row. (Original work published 1927).Google Scholar
  12. Heidegger, M. (1973). Overcoming metaphysics. In J. Stambaugh (Ed.), The end of philosophy (pp. 84–111). New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  13. Husserl, E. (1989). Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy, Book 2 (Ideas II) (trans: Rojcewicz, R. & Schuwer, A.). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. (Original work published 1925).Google Scholar
  14. Husserl, E. (1995). Appendices. In E. Fink & E. Husserl, Sixth Cartesian meditation: The idea of a transcendental theory of method (pp. 167, 192, trans: Bruzina, R.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. (Original work published 1988).Google Scholar
  15. Margulis, L. (1998). Symbiotic planet: A new look at evolution. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Margulis, L., & Sagan, D. (1986). Microcosmos: Four billion years of microbial evolution. New York: Summit Books.Google Scholar
  17. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). The phenomenology of perception (trans: Smith, C.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Morris, R. (2016). Exploring grief and climate change. Weeping Rock: Selected choreography. Retrieved from
  19. Moustakas, C. (1990). Heuristic research: Design, method, and applications. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Murdoch, I. (1993). Metaphysics as a guide to morals. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  21. Oliver, K. (2015). Earth and world: Philosophy after the Apollo missions. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ricœur, P. (1966). Freedom and nature: The voluntary and the involuntary (trans: Kohak, E. V.). Evanson, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Seale, D. (2000, October). Invited lecture. State University of New York, College at Brockport.Google Scholar
  24. Springsted, E. O. (1986). Simone Weil and the suffering of love. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.Google Scholar
  25. Volinsky, A. K. (1983). The vertical: The fundamental principle of classic dance. In R. Copeland & M. Cohen (Eds.), What is dance? Readings in theory and criticism (pp. 255–257). New York: Oxford University Press. (Original work published 1925).Google Scholar
  26. Weil, S. (2002). Gravity and grace (trans: Crawford, E. & von der Ruhr, M.). London: Routledge. (Original work published 1952).Google Scholar
  27. Weil, S. (2015). First and last notebooks: Supernatural knowledge (trans: Rees, R.). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock. (Original work published 1970).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sondra Fraleigh
    • 1
  1. 1.SUNY Brockport; Eastwest Somatics InstituteSaint GeorgeUSA

Personalised recommendations