The Awesome Woman for Wednesday, March 21, 2012 is Charlotte Selver, one of the pioneers of western sensory awareness training or "body psychotherapy," born April 4, 1901in Germany, died in the USA on August 22, 2003.
In her 20s, Selver began studying with somatic body work pioneer Elsa Gindler (http://judythweaver.com/writings/the-influence-of-elsa-gindler-ancestor-of-sensory-awareness/). Gindler began as a gymnastics teacher who healed herself from tuberculosis by practicing profound body mindfulness so that she could breathe with her healthy lung and rest the infected lung. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsa_Gindler.
Charlotte Selver studied with her in Germany for 11 years, then brought her work to the United States, where Selver became a catalyst for the human potential movement and taught and collaborated with Erich Fromm, Alan Watts, Paul Reps, Fritz Perls, Richard Baker, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Ruth Denison and Zoketsu Norman Fischer. http://www.returntooursenses.com/charlotte-selver.html
Fromm in particular recognized the connection between Selver's work and zen practice, and the mindfulness methods they taught became the foundation for what are believed to be the most effective ways of helping people heal from trauma (see, e.g., the somatic work of Dr. Peter Levine).
However, the usefulness of sensory awareness goes far beyond healing illness. (Eastern cultures have known this for thousands of years, but we in the west traditionally have had less easy relationships with our bodies :( ). “Sensing is getting more in touch with oneself, with others, and with the world. We are offering to you a work which, in its very character, somehow embraces our possibility of getting in touch with whatever we do or whomever we meet – and going as deeply as possible into this coming-in-contact-with-what–we-do.” ... Charlotte Selver, Waking Up"Charlotte Selver did not want to teach a technique, but encouraged her students to 'find out for themselves' how breathing, movement or interactions with objects and other people unfold naturally," said Stefan Laeng-Gilliatt, president of the Sensory Awareness Foundation in Tesuque, N.M. "At the core of her teaching was the realization that the true understanding emerges from organic levels of perception."
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2003%2F08%2F28%2FBA182950.DTL#ixzz1pl9iqmZc