School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April 2012
Spring time and the Call of the Land

By Ya'Acov

“It’s so strong to be in nature and to feel part of it. Everything seems clearer from here away from the distractions of the modern world. My place in the landscape feels the same as that of a tree, the rocks, the birds hunting overhead, the wild horses and the river. Here, I don’t have to be anyone. I can truly just BE myself.”

From Vision Quest notes.

Spring is in the air and I’ve just put a date in my calendar to take myself out on Vision Quest again. At some point during our Spring Equinox ceremony at the end of the SEER Process this last week in Switzerland, I had the realisation that it was time to get out on the land again, to fast and to look into the great mirror that is nature. As I was looking through our calendar for a spare few days (not an easy task!), I began to ask myself why it feels so important for me to regularly do this. After all, I am already following a vision for this life. It’s been clear for a while. And surely I spend enough time in ceremony! I came up with two reasons. The first is that it’s been nearly two years since I went out and spent that time alone in nature. I’ve come to know that something inside me needs the very particular medicine that being out alone without distractions brings. It’s a bit like not knowing you’re hungry and then walking into a baker with the smell of fresh bread just coming out of the oven. Suddenly, hunger jumps to the front of the awareness queue and bread is what you need. The smell of the spring has catalysed that hunger to go and sit, dance and be with the land we live on and to drop into the very unique state that only close contact and dialogue with nature can bring us to.

The second reason is that we’ve come to recognise recently just how important the Vision Quest is as part of the School of Movement Medicine’s curriculum. So much so that we have just decided that from now on, all Movement Medicine apprentices will be expected to participate in a Movement Medicine Vision Quest either before or during their apprenticeship. I’d like to tell you why.

Any of you who have been to one our workshops or attended one of our webinars will no doubt have heard us talking about the essential intention of Movement Medicine as a practice. We can tell you in nine words: Be who you are and give what you’ve got. Our whole curriculum is based on travelling through three journeys, made up of the nine gateways that arc across the top of the Movement Medicine mandala. The Journey of Empowerment covers the first three gateways of the body, the heart and the mind. The intention here is to help students to find their ground in the body, give more space to the intelligence of the heart and give the mind a useful role as the receiver of information. When all these three parts of the human being are working well together, then the vertical axis or the connection between heaven and earth is active. In the ancient tradition of Kabbalah, it is said that the soul is woven from the three strands of the body, the heart and the mind.

The second journey is The Journey of Responsibility that covers the gateways of the past, the present and the future. The intention here is that we can transform the past from being a weight of undigested stories that interfere with our ability to be who we are in the present into a source of energy and wisdom that gives us the backup to be the ones we are. From this strong, grounded place, dancing at the centre of our own circle, we can consciously participate in dreaming and co-creating a future that is sustainable, just and free for all beings. The SEER Process and the Initiation workshop teach the main tools we have for working with the past. The Phoenix Retreat teaches us the tools for understanding and releasing the host of understudies that crowd the stage of our lives, and bringing back the lost fragments of soul that these understudies came into being to protect. And yes, the Vision Quest is the place where we bring all that we have learned to the great mirror that is nature to pray, dance and ask for guidance in receiving and choosing a story that dignifies and enlivens our existence. The future is not predetermined. It is the result of the human dance of a massively complex web of choices, actions and responses with the rest of the web of life and with what one of our teachers used to describe as the ‘will of the Great Spirit.’ The Vision Quest is a time to look into the perfect mirror that nature provides and see where we are in the creative project that is life on earth. Why is nature such a perfect mirror? It is because everything in nature is simply being itself. The river does not try to be the wind and the willow tree has no ambitions to be an oak. Nature works. It balances itself out. I am not trying to paint nature as a pretty new age form of perfect kindness. Nature creates and destroys. It exists in cycles. The autumn will strip the trees bare and the spring will begin the whole dance again. Humans are different. We have been taught to wear masks. We are being encouraged all the time to be a ‘self’ that is designed for us by others.

Movement Medicine as a practice teaches us how to connect the deepest places inside us, through the intelligence of the dancer, with the space and the environment around us. The MESA practice that we teach is the perfect tool for being in dialogue with the environment around us through being connected to the landscape of our own body-heart-mind. Come into your body and into your heart and open your mind and then ask nature a question, and nature will answer. Indeed it does all the time. Add to that the giving up of our daily habits and distractions and the huge gift of undivided attention in an expanse of time, and the Vision Quest becomes a pilgrimage back to the heartlands of what really matters to us. Are we on track? Have we recognised the beauty of what we are, the gifts that each of us brings, and the path we are choosing to walk? Have we committed our lives in the direction that is in harmony with the reality of who and what we are? A few days in nature in ceremony in this way is like a visit to the Oracle.

And in talking with some of our friends at the SEER Process late one evening this past week, I came to understand that the healing that happens in the workshop becomes real when it manifests in our ability to make our contribution through whatever we do with full heart and commitment. Full-hearted actions that are in alignment with the truth of who you are, whether they be large or small, public or private, are the fruit of the work we do on the dance floor. Giving what you’ve got with full heart is where love manifests; love for yourself, love for life, and love for creation.

And there is one more thing I want to tell you that makes my body shiver with anticipation when I think of getting out and setting up my circle in the beautiful place on Dartmoor where we take our ‘Vision Questors.’ As strong as it is to recognise oneself as earth, fire, water and wind in the dance studio, to get out on the land and let these elements inside you connect with the elements that are all around us is a profound source of strength and nourishment. As I write, I’m remembering a session we had recently with Helen Poynor, our movement mentor, and our fantastic staff team, Jo Hardy, Sue Kuhn and David Rose. We spent an afternoon moving on the cliffs near Beer, a beautiful little fishing village in Devon. Helen held the space for us and gave us a movement score to work with. It involved bringing into nature what we had spent the morning practicing in the studio. Lying on the ground, eyes open or closed, moving from position to position, slowly following the dancer into the dance. I lay down on the beautiful earth, and promptly fell deeply asleep. I woke a few minutes later fully awake and ready to move. The earth of my body was ‘talking’ to the body of the earth and I felt fully alert, nourished and recharged.

A friend of mine this week was telling me his understanding of this whole 2012 story we’re in. He told me that he had learned that for the past 26000 years, we had been travelling through the underworld of the universe and that the coming of the new sun means that we will move around the circle and up into the light of a new consciousness. I don’t know if he’s right. His story certainly sings in my heart as a prayer. The thing is, we cannot know the future. But we can pay our part in shaping it. And in order to know how to play our part, we need to be with the Oracle from time to time. I have learned so much from the many Vision Quests I have been on. And these teachings have become the foundations of so much of the trust in life that has grown and grown in me over the years. Nature has taught me that things grow in harmony with the seasons. Nature has taught me that decay and death are part of the health of life. And nature has taught me that a fulfilling life comes from the knowledge that we are part of the web of life and that behind it all, there pulses the unfathomable dance of empty space, silence and mystery.

And that, dear travelers on life’s road, is where we are all headed, sooner or later, surrendered or resisting, screaming or singing, clinging on or like a leaf in the autumn, giving everything to our last dance before we become the compost for whatever comes next.

Think about it. The circle gathering for this year’s Vision Quest still has space for you. If you feel that one of those spaces may have your name on it, why not give Roland a call? Wishing you the peace of the wise ones, the passion of the new buds, and the recognition of your own true nature.

Ya’Acov. April 2012.

P.S. A huge thank you to everyone to got involved in our fund-raising webinar Shamantics, in aid of our Achuar brothers and sisters in the rainforest. We managed to raise over £2500-00. Watch this space for more global based Shamantics dance ceremonies. Yx

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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.