School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: January 2009
The Middle East in Us All

by Susannah
This New Year’s eve, we were partaking in a great party some friends had thrown. They were MC-ing, and we were contributing with some DJ-ing, and some serious dancing was happening.  Just before midnight the music came down, Big Ben came on via the radio, and the New Year struck. Amongst the kissing and the hugging, the radio announcer announced the first news of 2009. It was about Gaza. At that moment no-one wanted to hear more painful news.

Auld Lang Syne rescued us and we were back in the arms of our sweet community here in Devon, and after singing and some intense “tunnel of love” (don’t ask!) antics, back to the deep groove. Since then I’ve thought of many alternatives to that moment. On hearing that news we could have had a minute of silence to pray for peace. The news announcer could have started the New Year by talking of the millions of people all around the world who were celebrating at that moment and wishing each other and the world well. Or we could simply have managed to get the radio turned off after Big Ben and before anyone said anything. But we didn’t and the pain of what is happening in Israel and Gaza did mark that moment and has been and is colouring this year along with everything else. There is the anguish of what is happening now, and the anguish of what it may betoken for the future. The pain of the polarisation inherent in this situation has been with us, and between us, as we each strive to understand and to find a response.

It’s difficult to say anything because it’s so complex, and to find a balanced stance feels like trying to balance on a thin edge of rice paper. I’m not going to say anything about the rights and wrongs of it as I see it. I feel for all those who are hurt and who have lost loved ones. I fear that violence can only lead to more violence, but sincerely hope that I am wrong and that the horror of the last weeks (as well as that, on both sides, of the last years) leads to everyone saying “Enough!” and that honest leadership emerges to broker a peace which acknowledges both side’s right to exist, to have a home, and to dignity.

Monty Roberts (known as a the “horse whisperer”) talks about violence as being an admission that the violence-doer does not perceive any alternative.  I find that illuminating.

When Ya’Acov and I are having a bad argument, and we’ve done our fair share of that in our 23 years together, we’ve noticed that normally:

1)     Each one of us feels as if the other is attacking us, and

2)     That “I” (whoever “I” is) feels as if I am only doing what I need to do to defend myself and that if I don’t, I risk annihilation.

Each of us feels vulnerable and that the other is a formidable opponent. It’s been a surprise over and over again to realise how powerful one is perceived as, whilst at the same time as feeling so vulnerable oneself. 

Over and over again I recognise what I now call the  “leap.” This is the leap from the defensive stance of protecting myself (often by attacking) to seeing and feeling what we both need, in my case, what Ya’Acov needs, and caring equally for him and me and the two of us a couple. It always feels impossible to the ‘me’ who fears that if I give up protecting myself I will be annihilated. And it is always amazing how any move or truly spoken word which enables the other to feel seen, understood and cared for melts the impasse and makes the impossible possible.  Its certainly one very real place to practice the leap from war to peace.

Our workshop for couples, “The Space Between Us” uses much of what we have learnt on our ongoing journey together. Being in a space with other committed couples is very special. It allows for an unusual level of sharing of the challenges, lessons and delights of the couple journey, which each time has enabled us to share and learn in equal measure.

In the world, we seem to me to have got to a point where the way forward to a sustainable future requires us to make the leap to thinking for the whole, to working on the premise that what we need to do needs to work for everyone. Which means we need to learn how to operate from an allegiance to all of life.

What complicates this is the dilemma of how we integrate our loyalty to our own people, family or group, with our loyalty to the bigger whole. It can be a really tough one, as these allegiances are not always aligned. 

To feel our participation as part of the whole web of life, which includes our ‘tribe’ and then continues out to include everyone and everything, we need to feel our connectedness and our love for the whole web of life on earth.  And we need to be strong enough to stand by our truth even as, at the same time, we examine and re-examine it. This is how we are coming to understand the function of Movement Medicine. To support each of us, in our own way, to free our individuality in the context of deep connection with the whole of life, integrating the left and right brain and integrating the personal and the global. That sounds so good, and so serious, I’m so happy that we can practice through dance. Thank-you Gabrielle, for showing us that dance can be a practice of consciousness.

I look forward to dancing, singing and growing a dynamic peace with you on a dance floor sometime soon, and wish you the strength, imagination and courage to take the leaps which your soul prompts you to.

Blessings, in prayers for the Middle East and the Middle East in each of us,


January 2009

We have space for 2 couples on the “The Space Between Us” which takes place Feb 11th - 15th at Waldhaus in Switzerland.  For application forms please contact Roland on  or call 01803 762255


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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.