School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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By Lindsey Spinks
This year’s Long Dance was blessed by the presence of Manari Ushigua Kaji, visionary leader of the Sapara nation in the Ecuadorean Amazon. He invoked the spirit of the Amazon and shared his traditions of healing through the spirit of the tobacco.

As he presided over the ceremony with his brother Ya’acov, I really got a sense of a true tribal chief.  He held a gentle yet strong presence with his headdress of toucan and macaw feathers, firmly rooted in the earth and connected to the spiritual realm.

We weaved an itiniery of visits in to his time at the Long Dance as it was very important for Manari to share the reality of what is happening in his community right now and get support.  The Sapara Territory is threatened by the Ecuadorean governments 11th round of oil exploration at a time when communities in the northern Amazon of Ecuador are dealing with devastating effects of three decades of oil drilling by oil giant Chevron.

He was special guest at Schumacher College where he shared his traditions with Colin Campbell, a traditional doctor from Botswana, accompanied by Dr. Stephan Harding who was delighted to make a connection with Manari and translate his knowledge.

The following day we held a gathering in Glastonbury where Manari was received by Denise Michell, deputy mayor and druid and Jon Cousins, local green councillor.  There was a very inspired discussion with much interest, with questions and answers on spiritual and practical fronts.

The Long dance came to an end with a family gathering around the fire.  Manari felt totally at home with his family around him.  In fact, it was the first time that he has been out of his community in the Amazon that he has felt so at home and connected to the spirit world. 

The following morning we left for London for more meetings and interviews and an evening event at Passing Clouds, a vibrant venue with lots of young people and spiritual awareness. 

The whole week created a connection to Manari, his community and the spirit of the Amazon forest and raised awareness of the threat to his beautiful culture.  So many people were keen to support the cause and signed up.

Many ideas are evolving to help the Sapara.   Manari has a plan called Naku, Sapara for forest, including the establishment of a research centre in the community in order to document and prove what the Sapara already know in terms of healing properties of their traditions including medicinal plants.   They also need an international presence as there is a threatening Police presence and those that are defending the land are facing criminal charges as well as manipulation and threats.  Other avenues involve letter writing and a petition.  We certainly need funds to facilitate all of this.  

We will follow up with a meeting with Pachamama Alliance and be in touch to let you know what action you can take.  In the meantime, if you would like to help in any way, please contact Lindsey at and see for more information on what is happening in the Amazon and elsewhere.

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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.