School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: February 2012
Our amazing January in Ecuador and Peru

By Susannah

There is so much I want to share with you and so much to say! Where to begin? Do I start with me falling in love with 2 bulls, as I learnt how to plough with them in a little field in San Clemente, a community high in the Ecuadorian Andes? Or how it was to drift silently in a canoe down a tributary of the Amazon, with pink river dolphins blowing and arcing around us in the water?

Or do I start with meeting the Achuar in their territory deep in the rainforest, including a beautiful, quiet, strong shaman who greeted us as colleagues and held the space as we lay on our banana leaves under the Amazonian night sky? Or how it was simply to be in the pristine rainforest - to feel its wholeness and wellness and vibrancy and life, and to feel it stretching for 100’s of miles around us?

Or shall I begin with how, on New Year’s Eve, Ya’Acov and I were invited to sing a song at the gathering of 400 or so members of San Clemente’s local community in their school’s yard? (Taita Inti). Or how it was doing the Hussle and singing Bambalela and All the Earth is Sacred for the Achuar? (Hilarious, wonderful and deeply heartful, in that order!). Or doing ceremony in a 4000 year-old temple in Peru, again high in the Andes, on the banks of the headwaters of the river Amazon, where the vibration was total, absolute, unconditional love, joy, creativity and balance? (I’m recalibrated.) Or the jewelled turquoise humming birds who blessed us? Or how it was to watch a woman washing quinoa and her deep thoroughness and total engagement with her work with not an ounce of rush or hurry in her being? (A totally new reference point of embodied action in peace). Or how it was to spend a whole month continuously with my taurean (there’s a theme here!) beloved and hold hands with him for hours everyday. (Like a teenager in love).

Or the moment when I had made a movement medicine mandala out of stones on the beach, and as I prepared to give it back to the sea a huge pelican flew right by me and looked me straight in the eye. I do believe my first stone would have hit it had I not looked up - (now what does THAT mean?). Or the wonderful ancient and tiny shaman called Maria Juana (really!) with whom we had a mutual falling into love. We ended up hugging and sobbing in each other’s arms as she cried “Mamita! Papito!” (“Little Mother! Little Father!”) (Communion.) Or the experience of being totally, rapturously still and silent for long periods for the first time in my life? (Yes……! )

Or how it felt to fall in love with the waters, over and over, and to witness, as well as their strength and aliveness, their pollution, over and over, even high in the Andes? (Tears falling as I sang the waters song and that line: “we shed sweet tears for our ignorant ways” was totally right.) Or energetically falling into a tree by a glacial lake at a place our guide called the “Heaven’s Gate”? (I felt the tree of life like never before - the ecstasy of the branches, the satisfied delving of the roots, and the way the tree seemed so happy to have me inside it, and me so happy to have tree inside me, and how slowly, gently and respectfully we eventually disengaged). Or how it was to see my husband by my side in that 4000 year old temple up at 12,000ft with Llamas grazing in the ruins, and to feel such immense gratitude for him that my heart burst. I knew I could never have done, or do, what I do and will do without him. Or how we walked into the gathering square of that temple and I felt such joy that I simply had to run. I began to run in circles around Ya’Acov, then he about me, then both together galloping a great circle opposite each other, until the altitude had me gasping on my knees, seeing the universe being dissolving and being born anew, our marriage re-consecrated. I’m so enjoying sharing with you some of the key moments of our journey, so I’ll just keep going! I’m writing them down for you as I remember them, so this is “pop corn” style, no particular order, just as they “pop!”

This temple high in the Andes was a revelation. Here was a culture which was came to fruition 4000 years ago, where feminine and masculine were honoured in balance, where ceremony was used to release individuals into their creativity. Where violence does not seem to have featured. Where love was at the centre of everything. Where people came from a long distances (and I tell you, it was hard enough in our mini bus, rattling away for hours on those untarmac’d roads. It was like sitting on an erratic pneumatic drill, and then the altitude as we went up to 15,000ft! At least we could hold hands!) from many different cultures and language groups to partake in ceremony, over a long time frame. And we’d not even heard of it! The creativity that streamed out of this place is recognisable in the style of artwork which emanated in great vigour from it. Many individual styles, and some recognisable. Unity and diversity.

When we were in ceremony with the Achuar, I saw the forest, in its luminous, iridescent, light filled, green beauty. I saw the waters. I felt the life. It breathed through me. I felt the privilege and blessing of being alive in the midst of this vast tract of unlogged pristine forest and wild bio diversity. I felt an extraordinary deep peace. I felt blessed.

Later, in the night, suddenly, unbidden, I had a different sort of vision. I saw a bus hurtling through the forest on a rough road. It was going at speed, and Achuar warriors were attacking it. Spears and arrows were glancing off the windows. And still it came on. As I witnessed this, which I knew was the Achuar defending their territory against the incursions of the oil industry, I heard what I call the “teacher voice”. It said: “Susannah, tell them if they have to fight, then they do, but tell them it is equally important to communicate with the world why they are fighting.” I logged this dream and the message for the morning, and returned to the bliss of breathing in the stillness.

Before I go on, there are some things I need to explain so that the next bit makes sense. The Achuar have a history of being fierce warriors. They were so strong and resilient in repelling the Spanish conquistadors that they were left alone. In the 1990s their shamans began having dreams and visions about a grave threat. They knew, both from this, and from seeing and hearing about the damage done to their neighbours and their neighbours’ environment by the oil industry. So, they made a bold move. They reached out to the modern world for partnership. Some North Americans, including Bill and Lynn Twist heard their call. The Pachamama Alliance was born, at the request of the Achuar, to do two things, to protect their lands and forest, and to “change the dream of the north”. “Changing the dream of the north,” means finding a way to make conscious, challenge and change the unexamined operating assumptions of the acquisitive modern world that is leading to us collectively, ‘to eat up’ the resources of the earth far faster than they can be replaced. This little request (as you can imagine) at first puzzled the North American partners of the Pachamama Alliance, and eventually led to the creation of the “Awakening the Dreamer Symposium” which we first experienced with Bernadette Ryder, and has now become a treasured aspect of our work. To use Movement Medicine mandala speak, the “Awakening the Dreamer Symposium” helps us focus in a deep, intelligent, emotional and spiritual way on the 3rd dimension (how we relate to the wider community which includes all life on earth) and on the 4th, 5th 6th, gateways, (our relationship with past, present and future) and on the 7th, 8th and 9th gateways, (how do I fulfil my potential (7) in the context of inter-connectedness (8) and the oneness at the heart of it all? (9)).

And a bit more context…. The government of Ecuador, though it has enshrined the rights of nature in its constitution, has not made this into law. The Achuar, with the help of the Pachamama Alliance and the Fundacion Pachamama, have title to their land, and until recently it was believed that they and the forest of which they are the guardians was safe. But now the government has now sold off to Asian oil companies the rights to what is below the surface. And so the next round begins.

So, the day after the ceremony, we all met with the shaman, and in his house, one after another, we told him about what we had experienced in the ceremony, it was translated into Spanish, then into Achuar, the shaman gave his response, and it was translated back through the languages. After telling and receiving his comments on my experience, I gave him my vision and the message which had come with it. He told me that I had seen something which may be coming. Something which is a real possibility. He continued by saying that he is will protect the land and the forest with his life, for the sake of his people, his children, and for the whole earth. In reply to my communiqué about communicating to the world about “why” they may need to resist, he said “That is for you to do. Please speak for us, for the forest, for life. We will do what we can here. You (and he looked at all of us) please do what needs to be done to let the world know.” It took me some time to really take this in. Later, in Peru, on the way to the place our guide called the “top of the world” I heard again his words, framed like this: “We are the part of you that can look after and protect the forest here, on the ground. You are the part of us that can speak to the world”.

So here we are. It seems to be time. Our work is an encouragement to all of us, as individuals and as communities and as part of the community of life on earth, to find our own creative, heartful ways of becoming more conscious and playing our part (if each of us chooses it) to create a more healed whole world. And I know it’s scary and painful to acknowledge the crazy state of the world, and to risk the loneliness of becoming aware. The good news is, we are not alone. There are so many people waking up to the joy of taking responsibility, there are so many creative avenues waiting for someone to have the courage and imagination to dream them and say “YES!”.

Some of the creative ways we are involved in to stand up for life on earth are here:

Party and Prayer, a fund raising ceremony and party for the Achuar on March 17th and available for you wherever you are on the planet to tune in to by webinar and be able to pay a small amount to participate all of which will go towards the fund raising (see Ya’Acov’s article). We’ll send out details in our next newsletter at the beginning of March.

The One World Mosaic: A super positive way to speak out your love for life on earth and communicate and empower the politicians to make the choices that will protect life on earth for future generations.

And a wonderful way to access new music and support the Mosaic at the same time:

And the Awakening the Dreamer symposium, integrated with deep MM practice, is available with us at our Dancing With the Heart of the World workshops.

And the Journey of Empowerment, the start of the MM Apprenticeship journey, which this year begins in May in Switzerland.  This workshop is being booked by a great group of dancers.  You would be very welcome to join this intensive voyage on which we have seen many people flourish in recent years

And the Pachamama Alliance, see

We’ve felt the privilege and blessing of being alive now. It’s wonderful. It’s a sacred opportunity. I do not know yet what this means, except that step by step I and we will find out. This is a beginning. I want to ask you, our community, to join with us in your own way, and if you want, to help protect the forest. We know many of you are already involved in such work, and we are grateful for your love in action, however it is expressed.

Lots of love and wishing you every joy.

Susannah. February 2012.

P.S. Do check out our webinars (they are working well and are a real way to Bring the Dance Back Home. And sign up to the MM Facebook page if you want to stay in touch as things develop and add your voice!

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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.