Erica Marx

Brownian Motion (stop and start as group)

by for .  
1 - 15

Silent exercise. Three modes of walking at the top of the exercise: neutral walk, fast/hurried walk, slow walk. Then add full stop, then stop & jump, then any mode. Whole group responds when it changes. 



Group learns to move together. Group awareness. Give and take. 

Explore impact of eye contact / body language


Facilitator establishes three modes of walking at the top of the exercise:

mode 1: neutral walk

mode 2: fast/hurried walk

mode 3: slow walk

Take consideration for people with different physical abilities, of course.

Start everyone off in a neutral walk, filling the space. Observe folks walking. After 30-60 seconds, ask them to consider if they’re avoiding eye-contact and just looking at the floor. If so, ask folks to look up and make eye contact as they pass one another. If you see it happen, also ask folks to walk in no particular pattern: walk randomly.

The exercise is played with one person making an offer by switching modes. Once anyone notices a mode shift, ask EVERYONE to make the same mode switch. Once everyone has switched into the new mode and everyone can see that the group is on the same page, then someone ELSE should initiate a switch into a different mode.

Coach people for 2-4 min here as they get used to working as a group and switching modes.

Questions to ask the participants:

Do you find yourself making lots of initiations? If so, consider letting others make some and feeling the joy of identifying a change and following it quickly.

Do you find yourself avoiding making an initiation? If so, consider making a few and feeling the joy of getting everyone to follow your lead.

What happened with eye contact? 

Eye Contact Variation
From Nancy Watt: As an opening exercise I have participants walk around the room in silence. Side coaching includes: “Feel the space, use the whole room, swing arms, breathe” etc. Then, after about 30 seconds I ask them to make eye contact with the people who they pass around the room. Results: 100% of the time, the physical distance between humans is shorter. Also, when humans make eye contact they smile.

Now, introduce the 4th mode:
A full stop. Ask folks “Now that we’re all stopped, what do you think happens now?” Someone usually initiates a new mode change and starts walking. Good! If not, coach them to do so.

Introduce mode 5
A stop and a very deliberate kind of jump. This deliberate jump works like this: someone stops, pauses, bends her knees, swings both hands down and then jumps up just a few inches and lands with both feet on the floor at the same time. Very controlled, and very deliberate which is important. Folks with physical limitations can just use their arms to indicate the jump if they need to!

Have them do a jump and then, remind them of all the previous modes. Get them moving again. Let them run the 5 modes and coach them as needed. It’s normal for groups to not do well with the jumping in unison at first because they don’t understand the requirement to better communicate that it’s coming. If that happens, ask them to consider (silently) why.

If they turn EVERY stop into a jump, remind them they don’t need to. If folks go back to walking in circles, remind them not to.

Introduce a 6th mode: ANY MODE. In any mode, anyone can initiate ANY physical motion they want: a funny walk, spinning in circles, making odd faces, swinging arms, you name it. Coach people to watch bodies and faces and to do EXACTLY what they see with all of the same rules applied.


what did you notice? what did you feel like? how could everyone finally jump together at (almost) the same time if no one was talking? if my back was turned to the person who initiated the change, how was I able to still know that we’d made a switch? did you find yourself initiating or resistant to initiating? etc. 

Online variations
from David Koff

Five physicalities
1. Arms Folded

2. Ears Covered

3. Standing

4. Sitting

5. Jumping

6. Any Mode - any physicality

Debrief - how does communication travel

Everyone hide / show

3 people show at the same time
2 people show  etc.


From David Koff
See also Start/ Stop/Synchronize from Jenny and Ellen

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