School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
 

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Issue: November 2012
From seed to tree: the long-term nature of cultivating dreams and making books

By Christian de Sousa
About 15 years ago I had the experience of a dream-seed planting itself inside my heart. I can remember the exact moment when it happened, although at the time I had no idea that I was unwittingly letting myself in for what would become one of the most challenging processes of my life.

I was young and living in London, studying photography and aspiring to become a photojournalist. I was full of worthy ambitions to document the state of the world, the human condition and other somewhat grandiose notions which I felt passionately about. One of my teachers introduced me to a book called 'The Americans' by a photographer called Robert Frank, a black&white portrait of 1950s America which is considered a seminal work in the history of photography. The book blew me away with its evocative and emotional, almost visceral portrayal of American people and society in the post-war years.

As I turned the pages of this book for the first time, I experienced one of those lucid, ecstatic moments that we call inspiration, and the dream landed. I knew I wanted to make a book, a photobook like 'The Americans' about the way human beings live in modern times and how, as I saw it, the state of our souls is connected to the state of the world. My version would be about the end of the twentieth century (as it was then) and the increasingly global urban Western society. I can do that! I thought, it will probably take me about a year - like Robert Frank (who travelled across America for a year to take the photographs that became his book) - and I can find a publisher when I've finished college.

I lived to regret and want to disown this moment of inspiration many times over, as I was to spend the next 15 years on a roller-coaster ride of journeys, challenges, obstacles and breakthrough discoveries that stretched me beyond anything I could have imagined as a fresh-faced student. I spent hours and days and weeks and months and years pacing the streets of London and other cities with my camera, looking for images that would tell the stories of our world, of how we live - and of my own personal story within all that. I met all sorts of fascinating characters and explored diverse worlds from global finance, CCTV surveillance and techno nightclubs to Alpine farming, permaculture and Zen meditation.

Many times I gave up or let go and tried to forget about 'my book'. It was too much, too big, too absurdly impossible a project. But the dream wouldn't let me go. It remained, insistently alive in one of the central chambers of my heart, and there was nothing I could do but keep feeding it with photographic adventures, ideas and dream journeys.

A year into the project (in 1998) I discovered the 5Rhythms and the liberation of discovering I was a dancer affected and changed me in profound ways. I found that in the dance I could go far deeper into the soulful nature of reality and my existence than I could through using my head. And one thing I realised was that my book needed to be not just about the condition of our intense world and our often damaged collective psyche, but also how human beings find creative ways to live consciously and soulfully within and alongside all this. I discovered electronic music as a response to the concrete landscapes of the city and I experienced ecstatic dance as both resistance to, and transcendence of, the oppressions of the capitalist system that serves its sweet-and-sour menu of freedom and destruction.

So I danced and I photographed, and I danced and I wrote, and gradually the book took shape, evolved, and just like the dance, kept changing pretty much any time I thought I had it worked out. Together, the dance and the book carried me deep into the nature of reality and the roots of my story, bringing healing to core wounds and catalysing the reclamation of my origins. The deeper I went into this the more I felt that healing on a global level needs human beings to understand and heal our wounds and reconnect with our roots, from our geographical and ancestral roots, to the roots of our living interconnection with the web of nature.

Soon after discovering the deep dance in the form of the 5Rhythms, I had started working with Ya'Acov and Susannah, first as a dancer, then over the next decade as organiser, assistant and apprentice, finally having the privilege of becoming one of the first three 'pathfinder' trained teachers of Movement Medicine last year. Throughout this time, I've been beavering away on my book, occasionally attempting to explain my absurdly ambitious vision to them and being grateful for the supportive energy that always came back - whether or not, in the middle of my epic artistic processes and neuroses, I was making any sense. For a year-long ongoing group called The Zero Zone, I danced with my camera to create images of and from inside the dance. This project became a chapter in the book called 'The Medicine Circle', about Movement Medicine and the experience of dancing in a community of dancers. In the middle of the image sequence is a picture of an acorn, taken as I walked off the dancefloor and into the trees near Croydon Hall one autumn day.

Last month, 10 years to the month after taking that photograph, and 15 years to the week since the original dream seed landed, I launched my book 'Postcards from Babylon - a rough guide to liberation' in London - down the road from where I first saw 'The Americans'. And here I am sending out dream-seeds to you dancing beings all over the world… I love the way life goes in cycles.

You can see and buy "Postcards from Babylon - a rough guide to liberation" at http://www.postcardsfrombabylon.net

- and it will also be available from the Movement Medicine shop at some workshops.

Here's what Ya'Acov and Susannah have to say about it:

"Christian's 'Postcards From Babylon' is less of a book and more of a journey. It charts his own explorations through many years into just what is going on in these times of great change. Stunning imagery and sharp and concise text rattle the cage of our status quo thinking and open us up to the questions that make life worth living. How do we escape from the consumerist Babylonesque nightmare, bringing with us the gritty edge of urban creations and dance our way into a down-to-earth, out-of-our-minds, into-our-hearts embodied dream that will sustain us and the generations to come. Christian turns things inside out and invites us to do the same and find our own answers to the maze of human being in the 21st century. We can't recommend this brilliant invocation of possibility enough!"

Christian de Sousa is a fully qualified Movement Medicine teacher, offering MM both 'pure' and in combination with 5Rhythms and elements of shamanic and Taoist practice. He teaches ongoingly in London and Paris and has been a visiting teacher in Berlin and Switzerland, with Italy and South Africa possible destinations next year. Visit http://www.dancingtao.net or email contact@dancingtao.net for more info. Christian is quietly ecstatic to have just moved to the Devon hills with his partner Chloe and their daughter.

 

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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. schoolofmovementmedicine.com