Spontaneity Training

What is Spontaneity Training?

Spontaneity itself is an elusive concept that defies description. So what is spontaneity? Jacob Levi Moreno, the father of psychodrama, defined it as an adequate response to a novel situation, or a new and adequate response to an old situation. 

Webster’s defines Spontaneity as: 

*spontaneous(adj.) coming or resulting from a natural impulse or tendency; without effort or premeditation.

And Training as:

*training(n.) the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained.

So therefore with that in mind how can a truly spontaneous behavior be taught? 

We can think of spontaneity as the impetus behind the act of creation.  Moreno believed that we are born fully creative beings. Unfortunately, over time and with the constraints of society’s expectations we lose our ability to act spontaneously and become frozen in our responses.  If you conceptualize creativity as the computer chip of a car’s engine and spontaneity as the physical vehicle then one without the other is incomplete. The engine can’t move the car if it doesn’t have wheels. We may have thousands of creative ideas but if we can’t put them into action then they can never come to fruition.  Conversely, we may have lots of energy but very little creative thought and thus our actions become impulsive and fruitless. Therefore, we must work to develop our ability to act on our creative impulses and undo any historical damage. In psychodrama particularly, spontaneity operates not only in the dimension of words but in all other dimensions of expression such as acting, interacting, speaking, dancing singing and drawing (Moreno, 1946). Spontaneity includes the fun, playful and free spirited part of the self that is often neglected if not completely suppressed by the time we have become “responsible” adults.  So, spontaneity training is the act of clearing away the negative internalized voices, patterns of behavior, and self -perceptions that keep the individual locked into frozen responses. It is the opportunity for the individual to experiment in a safe environment with new ways of behaving. Moreno believed and wrote about in his book “words of the Father” that to regain spontaneity, perfectionism had to be abandoned and the moment- by- moment experience fully embraced.  

Spontaneity is the return to a state of innocence where the creative instinct hasn’t been lost.  It is an excavation of the buried treasures, which connect us to our greatest and most creative potential.  So…..

Spontaneity Training helps with:

  • Flexibility                                              
  • Initiative
  • Problem solving
  • Thinking “outside of the box”
  • Capacity to act more quickly in an adequate way
  • Expand and explore roles. 

To begin spontaneity training we must try to tap into that younger child like self.

We must be:

  • Willing to look foolish
  • Take risks
  • Not compare ourselves to others
  • “Unplug” from our critical voice.

The goal of these or any other spontaneity training exercises is to slowly warm the group up to increasingly more challenging tasks where they can begin to transcend their fear.

Examples of Spontaneity Exercises

  • Foreign Languages-Speak in a foreign accent using nonsense words
  • Baby Elephant Walk –Move to the music and feel your spontaneity begin to bubble.
  • Strange Walks of Life-Try out different kinds of walks e.g. limping, hopping, Frankenstein, zombie etc…
  • Object Change-Pass objects down a line with each person having to change it into something with a new use e.g. a banana becomes a phone and then a gun and then a mustache and then a……
  •  Animals-Using a drum and a steady beat each person picks an animal and embodies its essence. Then the groups mills around and interacts individually as their animal.  Several animal sessions should occur with a change of the drumbeat.      

Moreno believed that we are healthiest when we have access to a wide array of roles and that we are able to play those roles with spontaneity and creativity.

Thus, the ultimate goal of spontaneity training is to provide the protagonist more access to creative and spontaneous responses and exposure to more roles giving them a greater degree of freedom of choice and expression.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”  Mary Oliver

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