School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: October 2011
What if the whole of your life was one long creative project that you were totally in toÖ..

By Ya'Acov

Happy Autumn Equinox one and all. Iím writing to you from the train (as usual!). This time, Iím on the way back from a wonderful week in Orval with 12 fantastically courageous and luminous beings, namely the participants and assistants of this yearís Burial Ceremony. Although I wonít be running this workshop next year, I plan for it to return in 2013 with a new title that came out of this yearís event. It will be called Digging, Dancing and Dying, a 3D Movement Medicine special, or just 3D for short.

No need to bring your plastic 3D glasses, just a good shovel, a sense of humour, a little courage and your dancing feet. I want to honour the dancers who came this time. Every one of them did so fantastically well and if the shining brightness in their eyes during todayís closing circle is anything to go by, the rewards of a more conscious connection to the reality of death and dying are already beginning to come through.

This morning, one of the participants found a very small female baby deer whilst out walking, contemplating the week, and thanking the land. The deer had died in the night and was lying, neck back, staring at the morning sky. This was particularly meaningful to the dancer who found her, but thatís her story to tell. We all gathered at the spot where we had been in ceremony and together, we dug a small grave for this beautiful being. A small bunch of meadow flowers was placed on her heart and to the sound of drums and whispered singing, we buried her. It felt so appropriate to be together in a simple funeral ritual as our work came to an end. Though the workshop is over, our relationship to death is not one we can walk away from.

During our work this week, I was very deeply struck by the creative power of the dance. I once heard someone describing dance as the highest of all art forms because it exists only in the moment, and then it is gone. Its beauty is enhanced by its impermanence. So many new exercises came through this week. We worked with the voice. We wove together our dances in a circle, exchanging movements and sound and the invisible threads that link us all together became stronger with our attention. And thatís of course the magic of the dance. As in life, what we give our attention to grows. And in the dance, when we really dance, we are surrendering to the creative force of life and letting it move us, all of us, body, heart and mind, roots, trunk and branches. When we add our intentionality to that process, we consent to being part of the ongoing dance of creation. Throw in a little yin and yang, invite the elemental forces of this earth to join in, breathe deep, expand, contract, create, be created and create again. Anna Halprin says that dance is the breath made visible. Even more than that, dance is our dreams made physical. Itís through engaging the bones and muscles, the fluidity and the empty spaces of the body that we are able to give form, movement and life to the experience of human being. And in Movement Medicine, we are all invited again and again to dive into this most creative of creative processes. Think it, feel it, dream it, dance it, become it and yes, build that bridge between the dance floor and the stage of life.

Those of you who have been working with us will know how passionate we are about bringing the freedom, creativity and imagination that lights up inside us and between us when we dance, into the day-to-day challenges of being human in the 21st century. Integration is a key word for us and we are always fascinated by the latest research about how change happens (or doesnít). If youíve done a longer workshop with us, then for sure, you will already have your list of incantations, self-created and designed to change the neural pathways in thought, feeling and action that no longer serve the sense of who you are. You will know how important we feel it is to take the power of what happens in the safety of the workshop into all areas of life. You will no doubt have heard us talking about the importance of practice and repetition. Indeed, a lot of the very foundations of Movement Medicine were put in place in answer to the question: ĎOf all the crazy things weíve done and experienced, which of them made the most difference in terms of our own empowerment, taking of responsibility and, ultimately, living the dreams we came here to live?í

Integration is a challenge. It takes time. No doubt about it. We rise, we fall, we follow through, we forget, we make good choices that support the deepest threads of who we are to shine and make a difference. And we do things that dull us and place us back firmly in the known ground we have trodden again and again. I think itís called being human.

Iíve spent years trying to explain what fun discipline can be. But this week, I had a little insight. Try as I may, discipline (in the spiritual practice sense of the word) just isnít sexy to most folk! There we were, Sari, Jasper, Anne and myself, sitting by the fire at about 3am. It was raining. The wind came and went and the forest next to us was alive with the mysteries of the night. We could hear singing and the quiet murmur of prayers or conversations with death that were taking place in the graves spread out like rays of the sun from the fire. I was deep in the trance of the ceremony. Occasionally, in my imaginal world, I saw a soldier dying in the First World War and reached out a hand to him, offering him the warmth and light of the fire. The ceremony was taking place in the Ardennes, which was the unfortunate venue for some of the horrors of trench warfare, and Iíve had this experience before doing other burial ceremonies here. Death focuses the mind I find. And there, in the rain, with the hiss of the wet wood releasing its sunlight and keeping us warm, I found myself wondering, how would it be if we recognised that our whole existence is a creative project that we are invited to direct? Not just the workshop part of it, but all of it. Wouldnít it be wonderful to stop playing a role in someone elseís movie and remember who we are and what we are here for? Wouldnít each day and every situation seem like the deepest invitation possible to create with life. After all, human beings are born to create and indeed we do. All the time! We create through our choices, our feelings, and our actions or sometimes lack of them. We create through the story we tell about who we are and what life is. And what is life if it is not an invitation to participate in creation? And what is healing if it is not an invitation to remove whatever gets in the way now of joining in fully? And what is Movement Medicine if it is not a way to bring these things together. So dear dancers, creators, creatresses, thatís the autumn equinox news I received from the 3D fireside as my brothers and sisters took full hold of the opportunity that lying in your grave can offer!

Dance, on the dance floor or on any other floor for that matter, is an opportunity to remember what gets your juices flowing. The body moves, rhythm speaks through the bones, the muscles stretch and warm, the sweat forms and runs, awareness awakens in this present moment and the intelligence of life that dreams us takes hold of the body and then whatÖ.? The dreams and hopes that get stuffed into the tight corners of our unvisited internal orchards, where the beautiful fruits of our imagination rot and create the acid rain of disappointment and despair, wake up. We get the scent of freedom in our animal noses and we dare to dream again. We remember what matters most to us and we see clearly that the life planned out for us, that offers nothing but more and more deadly consumption to desperately try to fill the emptiness where the soul used to dwell, is truly somebody elseís dream. And then the fun can start. And even though it sometimes hurts to dare, and even though we run the risk of exposure, the dancer in us demands that we bring our care for the life that lives us to the surface, to a place where it can be seen and heard, a place where it can take charge and direct the life we are living. A life lived is full of tenderness. And what tenderness when we look up, and we keep moving, and the tears flow, and the rage cracks the mask of detachment. And what a blessing when someone is there, in their own dance, daring to look, and daring to be seen and daring to bring their dreams too from the anonymous safety of nowhere land into the broad light of day. Dreams that stay locked inside remain perfect, unspoilt, untouched by contact with reality and of course, uncreated. Dreams that the dancer inside us risks bringing into form will change. What creative project ever stayed the same when it moved into relationship with reality? Thatís the delightful danger of creating. Just like that perfect sunrise that has already changed before you can get your camera out and capture it, just like the dance, change is the only constant.

So perhaps itís time, as the autumn does its dance, to recognise our role as co-creators. Maybe itís time to liberate ourselves from the lists of things to do to improve who we are. Maybe itís time to recognise that the whole of life is one big creative project. And the more we are willing to design it, the more in to it we will be. Our practice then becomes something else. It becomes a joyful place to rock up, listen in, connect to the creative source, remember what matters and juice it all up with a little rhythm and shape. We can stop trying to be good practitioners and wake up to the creative task of the moment. Whatever it is, dance with it, create with it. Enjoy!

I hope to see you somewhere on a dance floor or perhaps at our next webinar on October 4th when you can shut the door, wear whatever you want, and join in with a whole bunch of dancer/co-creative/imaginal dreamer types from all around this beautiful world wide web not afraid of a little dance action. Hope to see you there. Our first webinar was attended by over 180 of you from 18 countries. Letís see where we can take this thing. All power to your yin and yang thing.

YaíAcov DK.

Autumn Equinox 2011.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.