School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: March 2011

By Ya'Acov

So after another very full month, this time in South Africa, we are now back at home. And the day we arrived home, it seemed as if the promise of spring arrived with us. To travel in Africa with Susannah was truly an unforgettable experience. Susannah spent some of the formative years of her childhood living in Kenya and she had made a promise only to return to Africa once she had felt she had something to offer. Well, I'm here to report that she kept her promise!

Knowing about Susannah's promise, I wanted to make sure that our first journey to South Africa together consisted of a variety of different working opportunities. Sian and Leslie, two very strong South African women, who both trained in London at the Sesame School for drama therapy, provided the bridge for us to bring Movement Medicine to a wider and more diverse group of people, most of whom would be unlikely to make it through the doors of a regular workshop. Both Lesley and Sian had danced with me before in my previous trips to teach in South Africa and I am truly grateful to them for this.

Any of you who follow us on Twitter on our Facebook page, will know that we got straight off the plane and went straight to work at the University of Johannesburg. We spent a day and a half working with students from all over Africa who were beginning a course in the excellent Drama for Life Department. For quite a while now, we have been thinking how good it would be to be able to offer movement medicine within already existing educational establishments. We had particularly been thinking how good it would be for students beginning their courses to have some Movement Medicine time in order to meet, share where they have come from, create a strong circle, and know each other's intentions for the journey ahead. Our work at the University of Johannesburg provided just that opportunity and we were delighted with the outcome. The students, many of whom had dance very deeply woven into their backgrounds, and some of whom absolutely didn't, used the opportunity to the full.

10 days later, after a beautiful early-morning drive from Knysna, we had another opportunity to offer Movement Medicine in a new context. We had an eight-hour workshop with participants from local theatre groups, all of whom were working on the front line and dealing with some of the more difficult situations of post-apartheid South Africa. We had an excellent day with them and though the day was short, we felt that the seeds of our offering were planted in fertile ground. We are already in discussions about continuing our work in these areas in our next trips to South Africa. We are also happy to tell you that the Movement Medicine Sponsorship Fund played a big role in enabling this work to happen. Although we didn't charge a fee, there are associated costs involved with putting on such events. We feel very strongly that the fund has a very important role to play as Movement Medicine finds its way out into the world through many different channels. We have decided to give a percentage of our income from each workshop to support the sponsorship fund and we hope that the fund will enable Movement Medicine to reach into communities and situations which are well out of the range of normal workshop activity. There are now over 40 Movement Medicine teachers and facilitators, so the sponsorship fund has many resources through which to reach out into the wider community. The sponsorship fund exists to support anyone from difficult or conflictual situations to be able to attend Movement Medicine events and even to train to bring Movement Medicine to their respective communities. We hope that you will feel moved to contribute to the fund so that it can maximise its usefulness and effectiveness. We are hopeful that the fund will be one of the main recipients of this year's Summer Long Dance.

They say that Africa gets into your blood. And whoever they are, they are right. It may be more accurate to say that Africa is in all of our blood. It is indeed where we all come from. It is the original Motherland, and I want to thank Jayne Bullen and her fantastic team for all the work they have done to bring us and our work to Africa.

Apart from the work which included a weekend Circle and The Sword workshop in Johannesburg, a day-long Move! Workshop in Knysna, and a five-day intensive Re-Creation workshop in Cape Town, we were blessed to be given the opportunity to spend 3 extraordinary days in the African bush very close to the Kruger National Park. Even as I write the words, my senses sharpen, and the smells and the sites that filled my senses come flooding back. I will never forget the grace, poise and wild majesty of the leopard our trackers found hunting in the late afternoon sun. To be set within five metres of this extraordinary animal, to feel her calm, certain intent, has left its mark in a very visceral sense within me. When I move, when I stretch, I feel her, her strength and fluidity, the sharp senses, and the pure and wild river of life that runs through her veins. This is a memory that I will add to my little sack full of pearl moments. I have a little dream. It goes like this. In the moments before I breathe my last breath in this body, I will take out this little bag of pearl memories from the place where they are hidden deep inside. I will pull them out one by one and offer them back in gratitude for the life I have lived. Who knows, but I sure hope it works out like this.

And talking of pearl moments, we are hoping to create a few more on March 16th and we hope that you will be able to join us in creating them. In our visit to Ecuador in January, we heard the request of the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest to support them in their current plight. After a brief period of security when it seemed that their lands and customs had been protected through their partnership with the Pachamama Alliance, it now seems that the Ecuadorian government have sold the rights to what is hidden underneath their lands. Black gold is at a premium and it seems that our collective inheritance of the biodiversity and magnificence of the pristine rainforest means little in the quest for profit at any price. The Achuar are a fierce and proud people. Their courage in reaching out is inspiring. They are working with the Pachamama Alliance to stop this destruction on behalf of us all.

So we have got together with Tripitaka, a band we have played with once before, to create a night of dancing ceremony to raise a mountain of energy, support, and cash to help the Achuar in their cause. Joining us in the band will be Shiuli (voice) and old friends Pete Scott on saxaphone and Ben Burrow on drums. The event will happen at The Ariel Centre in Totnes. It will also go out live over the internet so wherever you are in the world, you can join us from your living room, or you can get together with a group of friends and join us in the dance. It's easy to book and to pay online and we will use the same technology as we use for our monthly webinars. Even if you can't make it on the night, if you pay (and all profit will go towards supporting the Achuar), then you will be able to watch the recording at your leisure. The live event will run from 7.30 until midnight and the internet version will run from 7.30 until 10. For more information and to book, please go to:

There is also a pdf file at the bottom of the page which has more information. Please feel free to pass on this information to all of your networks.

We’ve called the event Shamantics, and who knows, it may be the first of many such global get-togethers. We will dance, pray our socks off, and visualise the success of the Achuar’s campaign. With our collective love for life on Earth and the strength of our collective imagination, and the power of the dance itself, let's make what offering we can to support our brothers and sisters in the forest.

As the spring knocks on Winter’s door, this is the time for all that has been growing in the dark winter months to become visible. It is a time for a new season of growth. Wherever you are and however you are, please remember that the dancer inside you is already connected, empowered to create, and a great resource in times of need. We hope to see you on a dance floor in the near future and wish you good health, happiness, harmony and sweet contentment as the dance of life rolls on.

Ya’Acov. March 2012.

For an up to date report on the Achuar people please go to

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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.