Mindful movement techniques can help you conquer Tower Bridge walkways

  • Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Londoners and tourists who suffer from Vertigo or a fear of heights will be able to conquer their fears at the capital’s iconic Tower Bridge this weekend, thanks to mindful movement techniques developed by Dance Professor Emilyn Claid.

The 123 year old bridge has recently had heavy duty glass panels installed in one of its walkways 42 metres above street level. On Saturday 6 December, Professor Claid, an expert in body movement and the sensation of falling will help visitors deal with their fears by building the confidence to walk across the panels.

She will lead a series of mindful movement based sessions to help people face their fear of heights and will explore sensations of fear around the body, with the end goal of walking across the glass floor.

At the University, Professor Claid is currently researching physical, metaphorical and psychological relationships to falling, through movement and psychotherapy practices. Her research is based on the paradox that when falling, people are both victims and agents of change. “Falling is dangerous, shameful and painful and a necessary part of living, a source of creativity,” she said.

“There are ways to get across the glass walkway by detaching from the event, not looking and focussing straight ahead,” said Professor Claid, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme on Thursday morning to talk about the project. “But I want people to experience it, to feel the fear and excitement, to be aware of being so high above the ground, to notice what is going on below. And I want them to experience it without freaking out, or feeling dizzy or panicking.

“Walking across the glass walkway plays into our fears of falling, fears that are pre-verbal and deeply instinctive, so no amount of words will help. We must get in touch with our bodies and work from there.”

By learning breathing exercises as well as grounding and centring methods, participants will discover how to see the floor as an ally rather than a foe until they feel confident enough to make the walk.

Professor Claid’s work at Tower Bridge is one example of the Department of Dance’s commitment to using dance practice and theory to benefit the wider world, through research which changes lives, as well as providing high quality dance training at undergraduate and postgraduate level.