Have you ever heard of The Viewpoints?
I came across them when I was an actress and ended up studying them for a few years.
The Viewpoints (or, simply, Viewpoints) are a powerful tool.
They originated from dance and were first developed by Mary Overlie, who started with six Viewpoints. At its core, Viewpoints is a practice for improvisation, but it is used for many different types of performing.
Dancers, actors, physical performers, and ensembles use it to build trust, connection, and synchronicity. I’ve done this myself, so I know how helpful it is.
The Viewpoints are a language to describe and think about space and movement. It will make more sense as you read further.
Later, directors Anne Bogart and Tina Landau developed the work further to add three more physical Viewpoints. They also created five vocal Viewpoints.
The Viewpoints use our outer world to inform and change our inner world.
Let’s talk details so you can see how this work can help your anxiety, mindset, physical connection, self-awareness, self-trust, and self-assessment.
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: Remember, there are also Vocal Viewpoints.
Viewpoints are a hands-on tool because each one can get us back to the present moment through the physical environment.
We can use them to help us calm anxiety, stress, tension, and overwhelm—as well as find more laughter, joy, support, and love.
How we interact with the physical world says a lot about our conditioning, our habits, and our point of attraction. And most of the time, we respond unconsciously and with little awareness of how it affects us internally.
Viewpoints are an eye-opening observation method. When we start to hone in on each one individually, it can lead to incredible discoveries about ourselves and our own life.
There is so much we do out of habit or unconscious conditioning. This is a way to become more aware of your behavior and responses without judgment, condemnation or even needing to change anything.
Since Viewpoints is a physical technique, we can apply it in that way as well.
Frustrated? Find a gesture or shape that expresses this and repeat it until that energy has moved through you. Bored with the route you take to work? Change up the topography and see what you discover. Feeling sad? Find a piece of architecture that helps you reconnect and ground.
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.
9. You started having stressful thoughts.
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 makes me feel powerless? Why?
>> What thoughts do I repeat over and over?
>> What piece of architecture brings up a positive memory for me?
The reason I love Viewpoints is its specificity. You now have a language to talk about your body, the world, and space in a new way. This can help you get clear about what feels good and what doesn’t.
Imagine being able to say to someone, “When you take this shape, it terrifies me because I’m so much smaller than you.”
Or, “When the tempo of your speech changes, I can tell you’re anxious.”
You can describe your experience with more ease and detail, which can help communication, self-trust, and self-acceptance.
Play the Facts & Intuits Game!
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 blue.
I have a working oven (versus a ‘big’ oven, which is subjective—we’ll get to that).
I’m wearing shorts.
My shoes are a size 7.
I have red hair.
The cat is sitting on my bed.
There are leftovers in my fridge.
Naming facts gets us present. 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 blue walls.
I have the best oven in the world.
These shorts are too big for me, and I need new ones.
My shoes make me feel sexy.
I love my red hair.
I would do anything for my cat.
Leftovers are so delicious!
Name intuits for three 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 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 going to leave me.
I want to start my own business, 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 imprisoned.
I want more affection from my parents.
The thought of switching careers makes me feel excited.
I want to take a dance class but I’m afraid I’m too old.
Allow yourself to keep digging deeper.
We all have an 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.
The results were incredible when we did this game in my theatre company. 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 and is 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.
I hope this has given you a new tool for stress relief, overwhelm, mindset mishaps, and overall anxiety.
And remember, you can use Viewpoints to squash a bad mood and turn your emotions around! It’s always available and accessible.
Have you used Viewpoints before?
What came up for you in the Facts & Intuits game?
Is there someone you know who could benefit from this work?
Let me know in the comments!
ps. I always appreciate social shares of this blog so it can reach and help as many people as possible. Thank you for any shares, likes, or comments!