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Lessons from Water

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Through physical movement, this activity connects people to different energies found in nature.


This activity stimulates embodied learning that is somatic rather than intellectual. The dynamic forces of nature have always been a great source of emotional inspiration and the element of water epitomizes a vast range of energies from which we can learn. In this method, participants are asked to embody three different faces of water: a lake, a small creek, and a large river. Participants walk around the space expressing the spirit and the feelings of each body of water and the room becomes a combination of different energies that intertwine and communicate silently.


  1. Introduce the purpose of the exercise and the value of somatic learning;
  2. Identify and describe the qualities of the three bodies of water and ask participants to walk around the room expressing the energy of each (see sample script below)
  3. After 2 minutes, ask them to make a different choice, and embody another type of energy;
  4. Ask people to return to their seat and sit in silence with their eyes closed, imagining the three different bodies of water (this could be combined with 17. Pose Poem, p. 41). (optional) People can reflect in pairs or groups about what the different qualities of water can teach them in general or related to a specific project or case study.
Sample Script
  • The lake expresses calmness, steadiness - it is confident and reflexive; the creek is fast, energetic and restless, manifesting vitality, lightness, and flexibility; the river is full of impetus, force and determination, its power and energy pouring constantly down the stream; Stand up and scatter around the room.
  • We are going to walk all together at the same time freely using the space;
  • Before we start moving, decide within yourself which energy you want to embody: the one of a lake, calm, confident and stable; the one of small creek, fast, light and energetic; or the one of a big river, forceful, determined and constant?
  • Now walk around the table embodying that energy, and feeling its effects on you and in the collective space.

Place on U
5 - 20 minutes
Materials Needed

Images of water, either posted in the room or on ppt slides.

Ecological Mindsets
Disruptive Practices
Movement and Somatics
Human-Nature Connection
Online Engagement
Metaphorical Thinking
Tip and Experiences
  • Make sure there is enough space to move freely;
  • If the space is conducive, people may be asked to be
    barefoot to feel the connection to the ground;
  • Be aware of the group’s capacity for experimental learning. This exercise might be too far outside some people’s comfort zone and could be modified. Some people could also be invited to observe the activity and then share their observations.
Relevant References & Resources

This exercise was shared with us by the Helsinki-based improvisation theatre group “Not a Hospital”

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