School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: February 2009
Mind Battles in the Snow

by Roland
I was struggling on the last day of a four day walk that had led me from north Oxfordshire across Northamptonshire and into Leicestershire.   I was focused on getting to Market Harborough and catching my train.  In order to avoid a path that led up over higher ground, which I knew would be covered with thick snow, I had taken a longer but, I hoped, quicker route along a small road which had been cleared of snow.  So it was that I found myself in front of an information board telling me that I was standing on part of the site of the Battle of Naseby, a key turning-point of the English civil war.

I squinted my eyes and tried to imagine how it would have been here on the 14th June 1645 when Charles 1st and the charismatic Prince Rupert led the colourful Royalist army over this spot in the early morning fog on their way to attack the forces of the New Model Army of the Parliamentarians commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax.  And how later in the day they would retreat in disarray back across this same road having been routed due to the endeavours of an upcoming cavalry commander called Oliver Cromwell.


As I was standing there performing this visualisation, I was reminded of an interview that I had heard recently on the radio.  It was with an historian who specialised in writing about battles.  He talked about how his wife had asked him why he always wrote about battles when surely one battle is much the same as another.  His response was that each battle is very different as they take place in different historical periods, between different sets of people motivated by the particular circumstances they find themselves in, equipped with the weaponry of the era and on the unique terrain chosen by the participants.


My walk had started very pleasantly with a comfortable stroll up the Oxford canal from Heyford to Banbury in the company of two friends, Cathy and Hilary.  Hilary shot some film of this which you can see at   But during the following days the snow on the gentle Northamptonshire hills had been slowing me down.  Each evening I had arrived at my destination well after dark.  On the third day, as I was crossing the Watford gap, where the transport links from different centuries  - the old A5 road, the Grand Union Canal, the West Coast Main Line railway and the M1 motorway  - all come together and use the narrow space of the gap in parallel, it had started snowing again. When night fell I lost the path and found myself padding through a small orchard.  Two owls started calling to each other in the valley below.  On a ridge on the far side of this valley I could see a few lights twinkling from the village I was making for.  It didn't seem so far away.  Nearly an hour later, having scaled fences, leaped ditches, squeezed through gaps in hedges and crept though farmyards I, at last, arrived at the B&B where the concerned owners sat me down by the fire and gave me  two large cups of tea and two slices of friut cake.


On the last day of the walk a small ‘battle’ had been waging in my mind between one part of me that was determined to press forward so that I could catch my train home and the more relaxed side of me that wanted to sit down on tree trunks and breath in the view.  The ‘push forward’ side was winning but in order to distract me from the struggle across large fields covered by snow it was insisting on doing mathematical calculations in my head.  These calculations focused on the money that I am raising for the Sponsorship fund by doing this walk.  First I worked out how much money I would have raised for the Movement Medicine Sponsorship Fund per mile of walking during these four day.  The answer was about £2.40p per mile.  I went on to do a series of other tedious calculations such as how much would I raise if I completed the whole walk at this rate and the answer to this came to £1500 which is somewhat short of the target figure I have published on the donations page


‘But,’ protested the part that wanted a more relaxed and contemplative time ‘This walk is in memory of your father. Why are you doing all these depressing calculations?’ This battle in my mind continued in this fashion for the rest of the day.


Now, as I stood on the Naseby battlefield, I realised that it was time to shift the focus of my attention.  I had a choice, I reminded myself, about how I was going to use my mind.  I set off walking again but now allowed my steps to jog my mind to a quieter, more reflective, place but without the insistence on stopping and sitting down.


Very soon two realisations came to me.  The first of these was that the Civil War in England was not just a piece of ancient history from a text-book but was a real event that had generated such strong feelings about the justice of either the royalist or parliamentary cause that very often it had divided close-knit families into opposing sides.  I glanced over at a small wood where the information board had told me a number of musket balls had been found recently and so verifying that at this spot a number of escaping Royalists had been surrounded and shot rather than being given a chance to surrender.  The fact that this real, nasty and unglamorous incident had happened right here brought home to me not only the reality of the suffering and pain of those in our English Civil War but also of those who are living in areas that are in conflict now or have been in the recent past.  Whatever side one stands on politically in a conflict, there is no ignoring the damage that is done and the damage that needs to be healed.  My belief is that Movement Medicine work can provide people with the tools to do that healing and this is my motivation for trying to raise money for the Fund.


I also realised that one problem with the Sponsorship Fund is that we have not yet identified anyone who might be able to benefit from the fund.  It would be far easier to raise money  to help support a real person with a name and a face.  When I talked about this later with Susannah and Ya’Acov we realised that the reason we hadn’t been looking for someone was that we didn’t have much money in the fund and so we felt that we weren’t able to offer much - a classic chicken and egg situation.
I don't know if it was the choice of route or if the mental clearing of my head allowed my body to walk faster but I arrived at the station at Market Harborough in such good time that I was able to catch an earlier train than I had planned.  I had to change trains at Leicester and as I stood mingling with the commuters on the platform,  I noticed a tall, smartly dressed paratrooper with highly polished black boots, sitting on his pack.  The thought flashed through my mind that with his looks and bearing he could be the reincarnation of Prince Rupert. At that moment, as if he were aware of my attention on him, he turned his well chiseled face towards me.  His face registered a flickering sign of recognition of some kindred animal as he took in my dirty boots and muddy gaiters, and then he looked away.  'Well' I thought 'If he is the reincarnation of Prince Rupert then I am the reincarnation of one the soldiers who survived that massacre in the small wood and who, once the battle was over, picked himself up from the mud on the forest floor and walked home.'
Within 4 years of the Battle of Naseby, Charles I was executed and the Commonwealth Republic was instated.  Prince Rupert became a buccaneer in the Caribbean. Following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, he returned to England, becoming a naval commander, inventor, artist, and first Governor of the Hudson's Bay Comany.

My battle was over too but I will be returning to Market Harborough in March to walk for 10 days from there to Huddersfield in Yorkshire.  I will of course bring you up to date with my further adventures in the next edition of this newsletter.


The themes of ‘giving back’ and of our ‘ancestry’ which are central to my walk are also central to the For All our Relations workshop that Ya’Acov is running at Waldhaus in Switzerland in May 11 -17th.  Contact me on 01803 762255 if you are interested in this workshop.


It still not too late to book the Awakening course which is going to take place here in South Devon at Dartington 31st March to 4th April.  The ecletic mix of dance teachers, Movement Medicine organisers, experienced Movement Medicine dance together with some who have less experience of the work should prove very exciting.  This is a great chance to work with  Susannah and Ya'Acov together teaching the essential practices of Movement Medicine.  And the gardens at Dartington are usually stunning at that time of year with their displays of spring flowers. For more details contact Susanne on 01803 762999

Susannah is off to the elemental Isle of Sylt on 12th of March to teach Move! followed by Life Moves! over the weekend of the 13th (evening), 14th and 15th. This workshop is residential and could make a great dancing mini-break. Contact Petra + 49 4651 871276 for more information.


Spring is time for a bit of Source.  Ya’Acov has just taught this workshop in Padua and will be teaching it again in Paris on 13 -15 March  Contact: Amelie + 33 1 55 59 94 01 for more details and to book. 
He will also be teaching Source in Manchester 10 – 12th April.  For the Manchester workshop contact:  Elaine + 44 161 881 2644 for more details. It should still be possible to get the early payment discount for this workshop if you are quick.
Also on the 10th and 11th March (Easter Friday and Saturday) Susannah will be teaching Return of the Light in London. This workshop takes the Easter themes of death and re-birth and turns them into an elemental dancing journey to let go of the old and dream in the new. Contact Alex on + 44 7868842219 for more information. It is still possible to get the early payment discount if you are quick.


Hoping the kiss of spring will reach you soon

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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.