School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
 
Issue: Newsletter November 2014

New Editor
By Roland
You might be surprised to hear that we have been running this newsletter since 2003. During this time we have published nearly 1000 articles in about 200 editions. Now, I am pleased to tell you that we have a new editor, Hanna Richter, to whom I am handing over the running of the Newsletter for a while.

Hanna, I am sure, will do a great job of editing the newsletter and I hope you will give her lots of encouragement and support and most importantly keep contributing articles.  Hannah is a passionate Movement Medicine dancer and has connections with South Africa as well as Europe and is bilingual in English and German.

I will still be working in the office taking bookings, answering the phone and doing all the other mysterious things that seem to take up so much of my time.  And I also fullly intend to write the occasional article.

This is not the only change that is happening at this time.  Rosie Perks, who has been designing for us for 18 years, has decided that she needs to move on and to concentrate her energies on her practice as Movement Medicine teacher - http://www.dance-scapes.com/We thank her for all the great work she has done and wish her all the best on her future journey.

Rosie has put her stamp on the school with her great eye for design and for taking the ideas presented to her for the various workshops and translating them into an artistic and creative visual format that has become the schools' very identifyable in-house style.  One of the last major bits of work she has done for the school was the creation of the stunning slide show on the new website.   If you haven't seen it yet go and check it out at http://www.schoolofmovementmedicine.com/.

We have started the process of looking for a new designer and hope to introduce her (or him) to you shortly.

Please see Hanna's article for all the forthcoming events.  Please note that we are now taking bookings for Dancing with the Heart of the World  17 - 22 Dec - this is a great retreat which we are presenting for the 2nd time at the wonderful Waldhaus venue.  We are also starting to take bookings for Journey of Empowerment, Phoenix Retreat and the Summer Long Dance, all of which will take place next year.

Wishing you all a fun, insightful, loving and joyful time on the dancefloor.

Roland

Seasons and changes
By Hanna
As I am sitting writing this introduction article to the November newsletter, the limes in front of my window are shedding their beautifully colored leaves, the morning mist is lifting only very slowly, I am wearing my extra super thick woolen socks, my nose is running and I am sipping away on a herbal good-for-throat-tea. Yes, all signs for the changes of the seasons.

Here in the northern hemisphere its the change from summer into autumn and into winter. Its the change from bathing costumes, late warm evenings outside and meeting friends for ice cream, to burning candles, sitting by the fire, enjoying pumpkin soup, to shorter days and more time spent inside, to less sunlight and to possibly more internal processes.

Our sisters and brothers in the southern hemisphere however experience different changes: the air is getting warmer, father sun is getting stronger, spring flowers are blossoming, the signs of new life and fertility are everywhere and an energy of new beginnings can be sensed in nature -and so in us.

I absolutely love the change of seasons!

It reminds me of all the aliveness around. The aliveness of nature and of us. The aliveness of life. This might sound strange, for what else could life be. However, I do catch myself again and again to experience fear of changes, I catch myself to at the back of my head and mind wish for this or that to not change again. While I write this, I cant help this big grin on my face: how human, but how “ridiculous” to think or hope that known situations, relationships, places, etc shall be excluded from the universal life and movement of change. Watching nature go through her seasonal changes offers a feeling of peace, trust and serenity. Its all good: mother natures is allowing and giving space to constant change, and so can I. And the trees that let go and shed their old leaves can fully trust in new and fresh ones when the time is right.

Each year I find great inspiration in these processes when watching nature transforming herself naturally, as a matter of course, slowly and with so much beauty and grace: A shedding of skin and a letting go of the old; or the daring and the joy of bright, fresh leaves and new flowers. The going inward and the growing outward. The reflecting and meditating and the daring and moving. Possibly even mirroring one of our themes of this past Journey of Empowerment module I took part in: The balance between and the trust in my own being and growing.

No, I am not surprised that nature mirrors exactly these truths and insights, since she holds all the wisdom we are part of, but sometimes need reminding. Thank you, nature.

The “seasonal” changes reached all the way into the running of the Movement Medicine Newsletter, and I am very happy to share with you that I will be in charge of the newsletter from now on (until the next changes might blow our way).

Please keep daring and sharing! Send us your experiences of workshops, or of your dance in and of your life, with your colleagues, in your living room, or on your balcony. This is what makes this community. We all share the dance, yet its different for everyone and we love to hear about your dances, or whatever else moves you.

You can either send it to Roland: roland@rwevents.co.uk, or directly to me: hannaspostbox@gmail.com


Upcoming events and workshops:

Back from their well deserved break in October, Susannah and Ya`Acov are offering and sharing the last workshops this year:

November workshops:

7-9 Love Stories with Susannah in Warsaw (Poland) on 7th-9th November: A beautiful, very touching and deep workshop, looking at and dancing through love and relationship. Love-stories: the patterns (stories) we live when showing, asking for, needing, extending or sharing love and living relationship. Its about the relationship with yourself, and your self love, as well as relationships with and love towards others or your partner.

Contact: Olga: +48 509 774 884 info@movementmedicine.pl

8th A Matter of Spirit and Moving into Dreaming. London. Ya`Acov is holding an evening workshop, together with Charlie Morley, a lucid dreaming teacher, with whom Ya`Acov has worked and taught before. The talk and practical parts of this evening will look at the bridges between spirit and matter, between dream and “reality”, and the intelligence that travels through both -body and spirit. You will meet your inner dancer and mover and recognize some of the power you hold inside.

14-16 Dare to Dream. Hamburg. Embodying the Yin and the Yang in movement and in body, this workshop with Ya`Acov invites you to establish a balance of being in your truth and condition on the one hand, and moving into your courage and commitment and responsibility on the other. Through dance finding yourself as co-creator of your life and your dreams.

Contact: Jens +49 40 729 100 61 mm@spirit-in-movement.de

18th Bringing the Dance back Home. In this Movement Medicine webinar you are able connect with other Movement Medicine dancers, experience a led Movement Medicine session in your own living room and invite friends to join in. Its £35 for 10 webinars, plus the online access to all the past webinars. For further information contact Roland +44 1803 762255 roland@rwevents.co.uk

21-23 Dare to Dream. Zurich. With Ya`Acov.

Contact: Kristin +41 78 801 32 10 movementmedicinebasel@gmx.ch

22-23 Power of the Heart, with a preceding “Move! Evening” on the 21st. Amsterdam. With Susannah. Exploring the great beauty and power of the heart. Dancing and moving with and from your own heart, identifying it as your personal guide, and learning about your full emotional landscape.

Contact: Frank +31 71 8893253 info@karuna-events.nl

28-30 Holy Trinity. London. With Ya`Acov.

In this weekend workshop participants dive into the intelligence as well as the unity of body, heart and mind through movement and dance, and through meeting with the Dancing Warrior, the Wise Elder and the Fool.

Contact: Alex + 44 7868842219 alexhanly@hotmail.com

December Workshops:

5-14 Apprentiship Programme, Module 2 

For Information on the next one starting in 2016: Apprentiship Programme

16th Bringing the Dance back Home. In this Movement Medicine webinar you are able connect with other Movement Medicine dancers, experience a led Movement Medicine session in your own living room and invite friends to join in. Its £35 for 10 webinars, plus the online access to all the past webinars. For further information contact Roland +44 1803 762255 roland@rwevents.co.uk

17-22 Dancing with the Heart of the World. Susannah and Ya`Acov. Waldhaus (Switzerland). In the wonderful and nurturing home and land of Waldhaus in Switzerland, Susannah and Ya`Acov invite the dancers to a workshop focusing on each individuals heart, dreams, and visions. During our Winter Solstice and close to a new year dawning (both a time of shift, change and giving space for the new), this workshop will help the dancers to remember their love for life and the voices of their hearts. It is about seeing where we are as individual and as collective spiritual human beings in this world. It is about own choices, empowerment and responsibility -towards your own heart, and towards the heart of the world. Reflection, choice and growing. What an inspiring and beautiful way to celebrate the Solstice and yet another year coming to its close.

Contact: Roland +44 1803 762255 roland@rwevents.co.uk

From 5th-19th January, there is the Amazon Edition of Dancing with the Heart of the World, in Quito, Ecuador.


With many happy greetings, and the courage and trust instead of the fear of change,

Hanna

Samhain 2014
By Ya`Acov
We’re fully into Autumn in our neck of the woods. The gutters need cleaning every week as the leaves just keep on falling. We’ve been blessed with some good rainfall and our hydro electricity system is purring away transforming the movement of water into electricity at a greater rate than we need it. It’s hard to take in the beauty sometimes.

It’s so overwhelming to witness nature doing its thing and to feel the land and the animals preparing for the winter. And so are we. Susannah is just leaving for Paris to go and teach her first weekend away since the Summer. And my mind is turning towards all the events I’m involved in later this month and into December. And you can find them all on our beautiful new website which we are delighted with. Please go and take a look and feel free to send us any feedback.

We recently took a trip away from home to celebrate 25 years of marriage and 25 years of teaching. Since the summer, I’ve been in a deep internal dialogue about will and surrender. As any of you who regularly read our newsletter contributions will know, our summer break was very much taken up by the death of Susannah’s mama and her funeral and all the upheaval that the death of a close family member or friend brings. We were really in need of a rest and we were very grateful that we had planned a break for October in order to go away and then return to take some time to begin the next chapter of our creative projects.

Our holy days took me into a whole new level of enquiry and experience on this subject. Even though there is so much we have learned and love to share, it is no cliché for me to recognise just how much of a beginner I am. The basics of our self-knowledge, I mean to really know who we are and to live from this knowledge, seem to take a whole lot longer to land than my mind thinks they should! To accept my own limitations and to really put my trust in the great choreographer is no easy task. And even though Susannah and I have been together for 28 years, we have recently come to see how, at times, we have been deeply and unconsciously engaged in the battle between the sexes. Peace is not something that just arrives by itself. It takes a lot of energy and attention to become conscious of the patterns that so often drive our behaviour in a strangely human attempt to repeat the dramas of our old stories. On the other hand, as our friend Usha used to tell us over and over again: ‘you can’t stretch a leaf, it’s a growing thing.’

Having said all this, I am more and more astonished by the wisdom and sheer intelligence of this mirroring universe we live in. I had some quite clear ideas of how I wanted to celebrate our anniversary but they were all very quickly blown out of the water by circumstances. I used to think of surrender as a form defeat so it’s never been easy for me to let go and for the part of me that still believes in the reality of that story, it’s still just as big a challenge as it ever was. What has changed is my ability to be able to witness the story that’s being told, and my access to the strength of the one who knows he has a choice, always. So when life is demanding my surrender, it’s not so hard to predict which characters are going to come into play and do their best to fight off the inevitable. Surrender, I have discovered, is not the same at all as giving up. It’s not a passive place. It’s a step-by-step process of bringing consciousness into the dark caves within the psyche and letting myself see what is necessary in order to help me to let go. I am beginning to find the subtle blend of safety and courage that is enabling me to enter the realms of relationship and living that I have been longing for.

Consciousness is great but when it comes to making changes and bringing what we learn into form, it is only the beginning. Dare to Dream is my new workshop this Autumn. It’s all about the yin yang balance needed in the art of bringing our dreams to earth and into form. And I’m noticing that when I’m in a process of deep change, life keeps on giving me opportunity to choose whether or not to fall over the old banana skins and maintain the status quo or wake up and decide to walk on new ground.

So back to this intelligence that seems to know what I need even if it seems to be opposed to what I think I want. I often ask how does that work? What is that intelligence? The truth is, I have no idea. It’s part of the mystery and I often say, I kind of prefer it that way. Some things are in the realm of the unknowable mystery that is part of life.

Let’s go back to our holy days then. Here we were, in no mood for celebration, in a beautiful place, and having the ground shaken beneath us by an energy field we were vaguely conscious of. We ended up staying right opposite a super sacred power point that had been the home for rituals and prayer for many thousands of years. We then met a very fascinating man who had spent 40 years working on this island power spot as an archaeologist. He was our guide and he turned out to be a guide in many more ways than one. He was in fact more of an Oracle. As he showed us around the ruins of an ancient city dedicated to the union of the Masculine and the Feminine and the celebration of life incarnate, he slowly, really slowly, opened up to us. By the time we had boarded the boat for the short trip back to the mainland, the old, rather unremarkable and stooped being that had politely but rather unenthusiastically greeted us was no longer visible. In his place, here was an elder, a wise one in touch with the old ways, a seeker and a finder and a genuinely mysterious being. He enigmatically and indirectly pointed us along roads we needed to travel down. The Great Mystery had brought us to our Don Juan and it was like drawing back a stage curtain to reveal the underlying purpose of our visit to this part of the world.

He really opened up to us when over lunch, we told him about the latest challenge we had set ourselves. We had seen a documentary on the BBC, recommended to us by our good friend Jem. It was called ‘The Men who Made us Spend,’ and it cleverly and concisely brought our attention to the way our collective awareness has been caught by the apparent need for new things. It described in great detail how big business had made a conscious choice to attempt to keep us dissatisfied and feeling like we were deeply and genuinely in need of buying the next what-dya-call-it to secure our happiness. Even though we knew the story and had written about it in our first book, we had to admit that we were still caught in the clutches of consumption in ways we didn’t actually want to admit. But once the cat is out of the bag in our household, there’s no way of getting it back in there. We decided there and then to make a pledge not to buy anything we absolutely didn’t need for a period of one year. So, naturally, food and music and things that we need for running our school or looking after our land are within the range of genuine need. However clothes and gadgets and things that may be beautiful, we decided just to stop. As you may have noticed, when you make an intention known to life, life has a way of testing you. And here we were, staying right opposite a sacred site, surrounded by the most beautiful clothing stores we have ever seen, all of them in 60% end of season sales. The shopper in each of us was truly awake and sensing a great deal of prey all around us. But we had made this commitment. And so we watched as all kinds of characters rushed onto the stage with ever more intricate and clever ruses designed to persuade us that the need we felt was real and genuine. We watched as the theatre piece played itself out, occasionally recognising the need to dance and bring a little love and healing to the insecurities and emptiness in some of those characters who believed they were born to shop.

And yes, in our rituals and prayers, that storm that seemed to have infinite energy, soon petered out and left the kind of calm that only ever follows a storm. And there it was, a new ground of peace and plenty grounded in the beauty and bounty of what already is.

Since we returned, we’ve been integrating our experiences and I’ve been coming back to writing my book. It’s been a struggle and a really worthwhile one. This may take me a while. As I write down the stories of my initiations into the shaman’s way, I am having to look very closely at what I have learned along the way. The writing in itself seems to be a ritual of integration and clarification of what everyday shamanism means to me. The one thing that seems to show up again and again is that life responds to our deepest intentions. In the journey of bringing our dreams to earth, intention is the rudder that guides us through the vast ocean of the unknown. And I have found that coming back again and again to this rudder, adjusting it, and making sure that the underlying intentions that we set are in alignment with the growing sense of who we are and what we are here for is super important. If you recognise the need for that, you may want to take a look at the Dancing with the Heart of the World workshop that takes place at Waldhaus over the Winter Solstice. Solstice time is a perfect moment to listen deeply and re-confirm your choices for the new year ahead and to dance for all that we care for.

We are very happy with how Movement Medicine is finding its way into the world. There are a bunch of wonderful teachers and facilitators out there making their offerings and we are proud of how this Movement Medicine child is growing. Movement Medicine is now being taught in Australia and Japan, as well as throughout Europe and South Africa.

I hope you can join us for one of our Autumn events in London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Zurich, Warsaw, or Waldhaus. I am particularly excited about presenting at the Gateways to the Mind conference in London and then bringing my Holy Trinity workshop to the big smoke.

Wishing you all the time to stop for a moment and feel the miracle of the changing seasons and the beating heart.

Ya’Acov DK

Samhain 2014

On being a woman shamanic practioner
By Susannah
Tamara Sertic, one of our new Apprentices, asked me to write about the journey of being a woman shamanic practioner. I found that a fascinating invitation, so below is my answer. Thank you Tamara for the suggestion! Before I go into that, I have a few other thank you’s.

First of all, I want to thank each of you who sent love and support over the time following the death of my mother in July. Your response to what I posted on Facebook at the time and to what I wrote in the last newsletter has touched me deeply. My father is doing well with the dual task of grieving his huge loss after their 55 years together, and at the same time embracing the new configuration of his life and stepping forward into it with open arms and great deal of aliveness.

And thank you for all the celebration and honouring of Ya’Acov’s and my silver wedding anniversary. We had a challenging and rewarding silver honey moon in Greece in which we fought our way through the thickets of habit to a new level of relating and love, in which I still feel like a total beginner. I do recommend relationship as a spiritual path. There is nowhere to hide and the rewards are so rich and deep when each new veil is finally lifted.

On being a medicine woman

For me being a medicine woman is about the journey of being a woman; a physical, emotional, intelligent, spirited, strong, sensual, vulnerable, creative, wild and delicate woman. It’s quite a journey as I’m sure you know yourself, whether you are woman or man, this journey of learning how to be and embrace yourself. Because that’s what it means to be a medicine woman, or a medicine man, it means to be yourself, for your medicine is YOU. My medicine is ME, and it means daring to include and own all of me, shadow and light. For me that is a task, and a journey, and I’m still very much in the middle of it. The more I learn, the more I know about how little I know, and the more conscious I become, the more I am aware of the vast vistas of my own unconsciousness. It’s very humbling and at the same time liberating and exciting.

A lot of what I am learning right now is about being a woman. In fact, I might more accurately say that I am beginning to unravel some of the unconscious assumptions I’ve held about being a woman and about being in relationship with a man. I’m in the process of seeing and emerging from a skin of an apparently paradoxical mixture of insecurity and superiority, defensiveness, arrogance and unconscious aggression. It’s been a journey over the last 2 or 3 years to recognize these aspects of myself, as I normally think of myself as a kind, gentle and caring person, which, of course, I also am.

My story and “herstory”

In the early 1980s I was studying Anthropology at UCL and at the same time was studying Gestalt Psychotherapy at the Gestalt Centre London, and was also involved with pagan women’s work and direct action (a la Starhawk) with a group called ‘London Peace Action’. I became fascinated by trying to understand different interpretations of the witch burnings in our European history and wrote my Anthropology thesis about it. Last night on the train to London I read this text that I wrote 30 years ago and had not read since handing it in to my tutor all that time ago.

We occidental women share a common history (or ‘herstory’) of the witch burnings. Not so many generations ago and for several centuries, women who were powerful, different, eccentric, creative, challenging, magical, healers, or marginal, lonely or poor could be and often were tortured and killed as witches. This is not all that far in our distant past. Something I recognized through this study was that, not many generations ago, women must have learnt, for their own survival, to hide their power, their creativity and their healing capabilities. The message “showing your power can be fatal, so hide it!” went into our lineages and became part of an unconscious and unexamined inheritance. As I read my thesis, one quote jumped out at me and struck a powerful chord:

“A woman during the ages of Christian imperialism in Europe could either become a totally subservient ‘wife’ - beaten and bullied by her husband, her eyes lowered to the ground, or she could stand straight, proud in her own woman wisdom, and be burnt as a witch” .

This was written by a modern woman, and I’m cautious about taking it literally, as there certainly were many powerful and even despotic women too throughout the ages. Nevertheless, it certainly has a resonance in me which makes sense of a kind of deep defensive alertness I have come to recognise in myself. In turn, I think this has made me more aggressive, untrusting and defiant than I need have been. The big shift in awareness that I am still integrating is how this fear in my cells has created in me the same arrogance, aggression and imperiousness that I fear in others. Thus the victim-persecutor wheel turns. This is painful and shocking to recognise, for those of us who identify with being victims of present or historical violation, that, in that identification, it is likely that we become the energy that we fear, and unknowingly, keep the wheel of suffering turning. In admitting my own lack of trust in others, and my own assumption of being more “right” I’ve had to admit the arrogance and, ultimately the fear and insecurity which underlie the “know it all” position. I say a thousand thank you’s to Ya’Acov who has been helping me unpeel this one with such understanding and gentleness. Remaining entrenched in this story has robbed me of a level of support and softness which could have been there if I had dared to trust my man, myself and life. As I begin to realise and release this, the support and softness appears and I feel received, loved and honoured as I am.

I know how much time, inner work and outer support I have needed to feel confident to stand up within the power of the woman I am, to become visible in my medicine, and to know that it is safe and valid to make my offering without restraining or diluting it even as I offer it.

Movement Medicine is shamanic practice

This kind of enquiry is inherent to the journey of becoming a medicine woman or man. “Know thyself” and “Heal thyself” is a totally key instruction for anyone called to a healing path. As Gabrielle used to say, shamanism is indigenous to its culture. I would add that is also indigenous to its time; its moment in history. It is through knowing yourself intimately that you know your culture, know the dilemmas and pains and struggles of your people’s zeitgeist. It is through working with the dilemmas and pains and struggle’s of your culture and your time as they show up in yourself that you became able to work on this level with others. That is intrinsic to any true medicine path as I understand it. 

Movement Medicine is medicine for the dis-ease of our times, for the dis-ease of disconnectedness: disconnection from the sacredness of life, disconnection from our hearts, our bodies, our imagination, our creativity, each other, our earth, from spirit and the ineffable mystery and beauty of life itself. As we know, this disconnection and the actions it is creating are proving disastrous for the planetary eco-system which we are part of and depend upon. So this dis-ease carries within it a beautifully perfect challenge, simply put: “wake up now!”

The name I feel comfortable with for myself is "medicine woman”. I regard my work and my life as being shamanic practice, though I do not call myself “shaman”.  For me shamanism is a way of orientating in life that respects and tunes into the spirit and energy which everything and everyone has. It’s about a vibrational awareness that simultaneously feels and appreciates the spirit, vibration or medicine of specific beings (e.g. a person, a fire, a waterfall, a dog, a drum) and at the same time feels and appreciates the connectedness and interwoven quality of everything through time and space. Thus a systemic and particular view of reality co-exist within it. In this world-view it is clear that individuals depend for their health on the balance and health of the whole system, which simultaneously depends for its health on the health and connectedness of all its constituent parts.

For me, shamanism is spiritual practice, and like all spiritual paths, it’s about bringing together meaning, inspiration and vision with the practice and action of our actual lives. One of its dangers is that it can attract “psychonauts” who are into visionary experience more than the work of integrating that vision into the daily practice of our lives, simply put, the work of walking our talk.

The light of body, heart and mind

One key aspect of awareness and practice that supports me as a woman on this medicine path is the integration of body, heart and mind. This is a key element of Movement Medicine practice, which we call the ‘Journey of Empowerment’ and corresponds to the integration of the first 3 gateways in our mandala.

Body

My physicality, sensuality and pleasure in my own body support me to feel viscerally connected with the earth and to resonate and empathise with other people and beings through my interoception. Interoception is the physical perception of one’s physicality- one’s skin and physical sensate interior, and it has been found to be related to one’s emotional intelligence about oneself, and one’s capacity to resonate accurately and empathise with others. Sociopaths and psychopaths generally have very low interoception.

The good news is that we can practice interoception by choosing to pay attention to the sensation in our bodies. This means giving it importance and choosing to actively tune into the body sensation channel of the inner radio station of our own consciousness. At first its signals may be feint, and this is quite normal. But if we keep making an effort to tune in, eventually this station will begin to work loud and clear. And it pays off. The increase in presence and empathic wisdom can be huge. These are some of the most startling changes we have seen in participants on the Movement Medicine Apprenticeship programme. The cost of increasing our interoception is that we are going to have to start feeling our own feelings. A classic (and useful) way to survive overwhelming feelings is to numb out and literally not feel, not feel  ourselves, our bodies, each other. It’s a bit like taking an anesthetic. And when we choose to attune to our interocpetion sometimes people (including myself) report a feeling a bit like when a dentist’s anesthetic is wearing off.

Sometimes this is surprising for people. We think we live in a body-orientated culture, or a culture of librated bodies, a sexually liberated culture because we live in a culture strewn with images of the naked or sexually suggestive body. But we don’t. We live in a world where surface and image is everything, and has taken over from inner experience. I would say we live in an asensual and anti-sexual culture where the experience of connected sensuality and sexuality is further from most of us than we can imagine, because most of us haven’t been there, and therefore don’t even know what we are missing. So retrieving the experience of our bodies and their pleasure and their sensation, their wisdom and through this the power of our own embodied and empathic hearts is a big piece of the jigsaw of the initiation as I see it of the modern medicine woman (or man). It is and was for me.

Being with the Achuar people in the Amazon has been very powerful on this front. Here are a warrior people, never cowed by Christianity or the conquistadors, showing us how it is to stand powerfully; with everything they are, to protect life and the forest. They are so strong (and I mean physically as well as emotionally and spiritually) and at the same time there is a gentleness and empathy in them which has a different, fine tuned and hugely patient quality from ours.

Heart

On the heart level what supports me to work as a medicine woman healer is having become friendly and able to resonate with the whole emotional spectrum in myself, and therefore in others. It means knowing the true value of our emotional instincts, and being able to distinguish between instinctive emotion and that which arises as a result of our outdated stories, as well as

being able to distinguish between primary and secondary emotions and knowing how to track the primary emotion. The key element here is developing the power of the inner compassionate witness (or wise elder) who is able to include all of it, without being identified with any of it, just as the white light contains the whole spectrum of light, but is not colour. I’ll write more about this next month.

And knowing my own shadows and traps and having got (at least some of the time!) to a place here I can witness and acknowledge the cavortings and distortions of my own personality (my “spasms” or “understudies”) with kindness, knowing that they are part of me but do not define me. Through this, when I am working as a healer with someone else who has got caught in one of their “spasms” or “understudies” I know the need for this to be witnessed and acknowledged, not as the truth or essence of that person, but as part of the theatre of their personality.  Once this happens, and we find the strength and centredness to be in our own central axis as witness (wise elder) to ourselves, we can tune into our deep values and true orientation (dancing warrior) and can start to update, to move in new ways, to step into the unknown asking “why not?” and creating new stories which fit our current reality (dancing fool). (Related workshops: Power of the Heart”, “Fire in the Heart and “Journey of Empowerment” “Apprenticeship.”)

Mind

Being a medicine woman means valuing my mind, my consciousness, my awareness and my conceptual intelligence and my imagination. I “grew up” in the human potential movement of the 80’s and 90’s in which the mind was often dismissed as if it were the problem. It was as if having “no mind” would help. That’s not my take on it. I feel we need every bit of our intelligence, every bit of our rationality (the attempt to see truly and to be more interested in reality than in our stories) every bit of our imagination and our understanding, connected (and this is the crux) with our emotional, physical and spiritual intelligence. In this time its as if people got confused between the stuck repetitive stories of our minds and our minds themselves. I feel that developing our self-reflective consciousness (our capacity to become aware and reflective about the workings of our own minds) may well be one of the keys to the liberation of a benevolent human presence on this earth.

So, for me, being a medicine woman, or man, means being conscious and awake to the multiple levels of unexamined assumptions which filter our perceptions, influence our interpretation and therefore condition our emotions and therefore our actions, which create results which almost inevitably tend to reinforce our initial story (unexamined assumption). I find developing this level of capacity to make our stories (our unexamined assumptions) conscious and thereby to dislodge their apparent monopoly on reality is deeply humbling, as I discover how strong my own filters still are.

And then there is the medicine task of becoming ever more awake to the interplay between micro and macro, between individual and system, to whole and part, to self, other and field, to the meta evolution that is happening or trying to happen which our individual struggles are all part of.

There is a whole other chapter to write about this theme, which is about the relationship with the elements and spirit helpers. Coming up soon!


Finally on this mind level, and most importantly, there is the ever-deepening acknowledgement of my fallibility, the certainty of the vastness of all that I do not know or understand, about myself, about you, about the universe and the way things work. And, as my mother said a few months before she died, the certainty that this is also true for us as a species. This was one of the things she shared with me when I asked her to share the wisdom she had gained in her life: the knowledge that the universe is infinitely mysterious, and however much we know or will ever know, it is within the context of so have much that we don’t have any idea of. Which does not make our understanding or our seeking of understanding worthless, it’s simply important to remember the mystery and not knowing that it is always situated within. (“Journey of Empowerment”” “Phoenix Retreat” “Apprenticeship.”)

Interwoven intelligence

In a Kabalistic image, the soul is likened to a plaited candle, made up of three candles plaited together, which together make the light of the soul. The three candles are the body, the heart and the mind. I agree. I would say that the light of myself as a medicine woman depends on the light of these three intelligences interwoven, interdependent and aligned. I feel very blessed to feel so much joy, pleasure and vitality in my body, so much potency and empathy in the full resonant spectrum of my heart, and the sense of sparkling intelligence in my mind. I celebrate all 3 levels in myself and in all of us. I love being a sensual, strong, emotional and thoughtful healing woman. I know that whatever I experience on these levels is just the beginning, there is far more, and that is exciting and humbling.

All this is part of my ground as a medicine woman… as well as my love of song, my voice as channel for healing energy and trusting it, in spoken words, in song, in melody and my drum, which often feels like an extension of my heart. I think that is the key feeling of myself as medicine woman. It’s about the power of love. Not as some kind of generalised pink haze, but as an attunement to a vibration of love, service and respect for all life which is often very precise and particular. As I remember writing some time ago, the light of love is not a comfortable fuzziness, but a searing discipline to let myself be seen and to see myself with love and truth, to be transparent and through this to rest and live in integrity,  in wholeness.

So I’d say that the journey to become the medicine woman I am so far, is all about trusting myself; my being, my intention, my capacity to respond to and meet what and who life brings and ultimately to trust my own self as healing medicine. What this means is to trust the simplicity of what is obvious to me and to trust that what is needed from me is already within me. At the same time, it means to be in a continual process of self-challenge and enquiry within the context of gratitude and love for my life, my being, the dear beloved earth of which I am a beloved, grateful, dancing daughter, doing her best, in the mystery of it all, to turn up fully in this life and to give and receive everything,

My very best wishes to you and to the life that dances through you,

And I look forward to sharing a dance floor with you sometime soon,

Susannah Darling Khan

November 2014

A Dance Awake - My PachaMama Dream
By Claudija Rieger-Reinecke
I was a bit short on sleep already when arriving end of September at last JOE module, where I had the privilege and joy of assisting Susannah. Not having slept so well nor enough during the next three nights at beautiful Waldhaus-seminar house, I was really annoyed, when I heard a sharp “SssZzzzeee” right at my left ear. A hungry mosquito, preparing for her meal. OMG, that feast would be ME!

It was about 4:30 in the morning, all my inner bells rang, here I was wide-awake AGAIN! Must tell you I’m allergic to insect bites – what is an insignificant sting for most people, can turn into a massive one for me: In the past attacked areas pretty often had become enormously swollen and inflamed. A mosquito bite in my foot or leg can sometimes turn out into such a swollen limb, I can hardly walk for two days. A bite at certain areas in my face will let me look like a monster the next day… That I just could not allow to happen now!

So I was hiding my feet under the duvet, trying to cover my face completely with my long hair – a pretty desperate, neurotic program in my mind started: I just HAD to sleep now, I just had to BE FIT in the morning, I just NEEDED that rest, OR I wouldn’t be able to do my job as MM-assistant the next day, which is asking presence and concentration… Feeling I couldn’t give care and attention during our next sessions, if I would miss the only 3 hours of possible sleep left!

As the walls of the room where covered by wood completely, camouflage for the beast was easy and there was no way to find and kill my enemy. Turning out the light again and lying in my bed, full of tension, mental and physical resistance: My feet and legs covered by duvet, but not so sure face and neck were really protected by my hair?! Then I decided to “offer” arms and hands as an alternative source of blood supply for the mosquito: A sting there would be unpleasant but at least my feet would be safe, I would still be able to dance and probably also not looking like a monster tomorrow. Aahh! While offering my arms deliberately, I could feel a slight relaxation going through my whole body – as I had learned in many, many hours dancing with Susannah for being open to the possibility of pleasure, I now consciously tried to surrender to the possibility of UNpleasantness…

And then my thoughts went to that little, maybe even VERY hungry mosquito, now hiding somewhere on the wall and waiting patiently or maybe lurking excitedly for her opportunity: It might be unpleasant for me, but it is her nature to do so, it’s just her way of staying alive! Realising that, I invited my breath to let me sink deeper into my body and let my body sink deeper into Mama-Bed…Aah… But of course I didn’t want to overdo it, by now switching from the Victim into the role of the Martyr: There was still a possibility this mosquito was not soooo hungry and might not find or hurt me, if while sleeping I’d cloak and protect myself in an energetic bubble of bluish light, and so I did…

The next thing I remember is one of the most stunning pictures I have ever seen in my life: On the wall behind my bed, right behind my head suddenly were hanging very exotic, little brown insects with very strange folded wings. At first glance they looked a bit scary or even disgusting but when I came closer I could see, they were just the most amazing little winged animals you can think of, somehow like tiny, tiny baby bats. All hanging in a row and smacking, and guess what, they were smacking MOSQUITOES, one after another! Oh, THEY are not only liking these pests, they are LIVING on them, I thought and I was so, so touched by watching these smacking little beings. And suddenly felt so safe and protected. Oh, THEY would deal with all mosquitoes around here, in fact they would be SO HAPPY for any mosquito existing!

I was deeply in awe for these exotic beings, felt surrounded by wonder and such a strong connectedness to nature and all of life! And then my eyes wandered from the maybe-baby-bats to green leaves nearby and while getting closer I could see that the supposed blue dots on the leaves were all skyblue little butterflies resting and sleeping on the big leaves. They were gossamer-winged butterflies, a species which still could be seen often when I was a child and nowadays vanished from where I live. Wow, they were so unbelievably beautiful! Struck by awe I realized the interconnection or interbeing of everything and all: Such a beauty in this world!

It was then it just hit me, “this is just not possible, that this is in Switzerland, that this is happening in the Waldhaus NOW!? This must be in the jungle, maybe in the Amazon? And with this doubting questions I woke up from my dream. Again! Wide-awake again, but now due to the vivid experience I’d just gone through. And now feeling so nourished by all the beauty and bliss, I could easily fall asleep again.

Next morning I had had enough rest to do my job properly. Later in the afternoon I discovered an itching sting on my jaw: No allergic reaction, no monster-face… In the late evening when all JOE participants and all assistants too, had their moments on stage singing their personal songs, I was sooo tired. And must say, gave a relatively weak performance – forgot even temporarily my melody, although the song was about gratitude for Pachamama and my life…!

Yes, the beauty of that dream and the wise loving lesson of Pachamama teaching me, is still with me: I am safe, I am surrounded and held by so many beings, visible, invisible and some beings visible just in the dreams… I’m full of gratitude: For the assisted Journey of Empowerment just finished yesterday, for the blissful journey in my dream AND for the next journey ahead, which means a long dream coming true:

Starting my own offering of Movement-Medicine-classes in Munich/München beginning from 28th of October: Please come and join celebrating the wonder, beauty and love for all life – including your own!

Classes are offered every second Thursday evenings and on Sunday afternoons once a month. Details and times see www.move-life.com or my Facebook page. Hope to see you soon!

 

Claudija Rieger-Reinecke

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