School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April 2012
What have the Achuar got to do with Movement Medicine?

By Susannah

This article goes on an elliptical journey which includes a little review of DK history, but does answer the question not too far down the page! Please be patient and read on!

The guiding aim of Ya’Acov’s and my life since we met in 1986, has been to find or create a creative, holistic modality through which people can heal their relationship with themselves, each other, the earth and the spirit.

The vision which originally brought me to dance as my healing path (it was back in 1988) was of people; people of all ages, of all cultures, dancing and singing together in a great snake through the rain forest. That vision led me to Gabrielle Roth, Ya’Acov got there too, by his own route, (though we were already together) and the rest, as they say, is history.

When we met Gabrielle Roth and trained in teaching the 5 Rhythms, one stage began. When, 18 years later, in 2007 we founded the School of Movement Medicine, another step was made. And when we first participated in an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium in 2008, (with Bernadette Ryder, thank you!) and Movement Medicine met the Pachamama Alliance a new stage of our work began. So what’s all this got to do with the Achuar?

The Achuar are a tribal people indigenous to the Amazonian rain forest in Ecuador and Peru. They so fiercely protected themselves and their forest home when the Spanish invaded South America that the Spanish left them in peace. In the 1990s they realised that they and their lands were once again under threat, this time from the oil companies whose exploits had already been disastrous for the people and eco systems of their neighbours to the north of Ecuador. In the face of this challenge, they did a special thing; they reached out for alliance and partnership to the very world that was threatening them. A group of people from the USA heard their call and answered them and the Pachamama Alliance was born. That was in 1996. This alliance has been successful in protecting their lands and forest through supporting the Achuar to gain the legal title to their land. And the Pachamama Alliance has also created a potent process called the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, which supports and challenges us to awaken from the “trance of the modern world” the paradigm of apparent necessity which traps us in the consumerist mode which is eating up the world. This process was created in answer to a direct request from the Achuar to find a way to “change the dream of the modern world.” We find it to be a deeply moving, intelligent and exciting process which is awakening, empowering and inspiring on many levels. We trained in how to lead these Symposiums with Bernadette, and now most often present this work in a workshop called “Dancing with the Heart of the World” which is an integration of movement medicine and the symposium.

The next ‘Dancing with the Heart of the World” is on 18th - 20th with me in Copenhagen in May

And Ya'Acov is running a Pachamama Symposium on May 10th in Dublin and Susannah is running one in Warsaw on October 19th.

The Achuar are very present in the Symposium, so we have “known” them for several years, on this level. Then this January we went on a journey within Ecuador with the Pachamama Alliance. They took us deep into the Amazon to visit with the Achuar, and we found ourselves meeting and being met in mutual recognition and joy. The connection became deeply personal.

As it happens, our visit coincided with a time of new crisis for the Achuar. Despite having legal title to their lands and despite the Ecuadorian government having enshrined the rights of nature in their constitution, the Achuar and the forest of which they are guardians are once more under serious threat from oil and open cast mining. They and their neighbours, with the Pachamama Alliance, and the Fundacion Pachamama together with other organisations such as Amazon Watch, are making an all out effort to protect them and the forest of which they are the guardians.

During our time with them, they asked us to help tell the world about why and for what they are now fighting with every atom of their strength. They are fighting for the future of their children, for their forest home which they love so much, and for the future of our children and for the whole world and all of us who live here whose future hangs right now in the balance, and whose fate is inextricably interwoven with the fate of the tropical rain forests.

Our recent Shamantics gig was one way we (and many of you- thank you!) answered the call we received from the Achuar to spread the word and support them and their forest, for the sake of the whole world and all of us and all future generations.

So it feels to me as if the vision which led me to dance as a healing path has come full circle back to the forest. I hope you can sense why this work of comradeship with the Achuar and with the forest is not just “Susannah and Ya’Acov’s private passion” but an intrinsic and fundamental part of the vision and direction of Movement Medicine. I hope you will continue to join with us in finding creative ways to speak out and act to protect them, the forest and all of our futures.

Information below:

Pachamama Alliance Awakening the Dreamer sympsosium:

In Copenhagen for ‘Dancing with the Heart of the World” our integration of movement medicine and the ‘Awakening the Dreamer Symposium.”

love to the big “we” which includes everyone and everything,


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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.