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Issue: April Newsletter
Compassion and Rumi in the Winter Dream Dance

By Catherine
I want to start with Rumi. Even if you donít read anything else, you might like to remind yourself of Rumi's poem 'The Guest House'. This poem is so extraordinary in its offering to those of us whose feelings sometimes seem too big to be held. I will come back to its specific offering to me in this yearís Winter Dream Dance.

The Guest House 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thoughts, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes.
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi (translation by Coleman Barks)


This year’s Winter Dream Dance was extraordinary for me. I guess one of the reasons was that I came to it broken open. I had travelled there with Dreaming Intentions to do with my work. But in the 24 hours before Ceremony, my intentions were blown Sky High.

Over the years I have been on a roller-coaster with someone very close to me. Mental Health problems are savage. You wouldn’t imagine it was possible would you? To be on the verge of a state of crisis for 15 years? But there it is: the ride goes on and on. Periods of joy, when we believe that the worst is over. The upswing of the roller-coaster. And then, out of the blue, a new devastating turn of events. Is it a roller-coaster? Or a game of snakes and ladders? Anyway, back to zero we go, with our hearts in our mouths all over again.

And the day before the Ceremony, the roller-coaster lurched, and we were plunged into fear and grief. A brand new detention, under some section or other of some wretched Mental Health Act. My ceremony was punctuated by having to field emails and phone calls, punctuated by interceding on someone else’s behalf, trying to cut off at the pass new terrible decisions by yet another group of professionals who are new to this “case”… who happens to be a Beloved One for us, rather than a case!!

But by the first round of dances through the Dimensions, I had landed.

Witnessed by my beautiful pod-member, I slipped into a dance for Other that was full of grief and longing and pure anguish. Careful not to step into anyone else’s circle, my yearning for him was wordless. Dancing for peace of mind, for the mysterious Best Outcome, my body expressed my longing for things to be other than they are. I was Beyond the Beyond. To use the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, I was “Pitched past pitch of grief”.

And then… miraculously… into this tortured dance came Rebecca Mayes’ song “You are Enough”. It pierced me gently right through my dance, through my body, through my mind, and into my heart. For maybe half the song, it was about me. “You are enough”.

I am enough. In my grief and inarticulate rage, I am enough. But the miracle happened when the song was about the person I was concerned about. I dropped into a bottomless well of Yin love. All the phone calls and emails and intercessions are my Yang love for him. And good, indeed great, it is that he has a fierce Yang team on his side. But this was something different. “You are enough, I sang to him. Even if you never get well. Even if things go from bad to worse. Even if you sabotage yourself at every step. Still! You are Enough.”

Dancing this dance has stood me in good stead these past weeks, stepping again into the Yang story (service level agreements between NHS Trusts, funding battles, negotiating with Mental Health Acts). But in all the Yang negotiations my boundless Yin love has been my refuge and my touchstone. He is enough. I am enough. We are enough. Thank you Ailsa L for bringing this song into my life. Thank you Jurek for bringing it into my Winter Dream Dancing.

That sounds like enough. It was enough. It is enough.

And yet there is more.

Quite late on the second day, we were once again dancing through the 5 Dimensions. And into the Community round, Christian dropped a most beautiful offering: Dancing with Tribe, with Nation, with Community. My heart quickened at the chance to dance with the loose knit ‘community’ of Mental Health professionals. The dance was deep and powerful and gave me so much information.

In the weeks following the WDD, I have had a great deal of contact with Mental Health professionals. And my heart has been softer. Thank you Christian, for softening my heart again. Thank you for giving me the chance to step past the rational, to step beyond the history, to sidestep the fear and the cynicism.

Now here’s the funny thing. You might think that with all these gifts, I might have just been in seventh heaven. And yet and yet. Somewhere in the midst of these powerful dances, these generous gifts of Ceremony, I managed to fall into a very ordinary place. After the ecstasy, the laundry. After the generosity, the mean spiritedness.

And so, we come back to Rumi, if you are still with me.

I’m not sure when in the Winter Dream Dance… somewhere or other, late on Friday afternoon… I lost the plot. The guests in my guest house were a picky horrible lot!!

In my humble (or not so humble) opinion the person using the microphone had it too close to his mouth and every P and B exploded on my shredded nerves. I don’t think I can spell the explosive noise of “Take a PPPPPartner and feel it in your BBBBBody.” Aarrrgggh!

In my humble (or not so humble) opinion, the music was flat and uninspiring with no melody or beat or beauty or anything. Aarrrrrggggh!

No-one was dancing. Everyone was lying about on the floor (in my projection!) exhausted.


For two pins, I could have gone home. Beam me up, Scottie. This is not where I belong.

So I sat with myself.

And thought about Rumi.

And I made a little list of my feelings.

The top one was ‘fractious’. For those who are not familiar with the word fractious, fractiousness is the scratchy frame of mind toddlers get into when they are over-tired. When they are fractious, little ones are prone to fling themselves on their backs and scream. Nothing is right. And nothing is going to be right!

And I felt lonely. After all those phone calls, and all that negotiation, I wanted to talk to my wonderful husband and my fantastic daughter. And after all that worrying, I wanted to chatter with my good MM buddies. I wanted to tell the blow-by-blow story of all the phone calls and emails and changes of heart.

And I felt sad.

So… I took Rumi seriously.

“The dark thoughts, the fractiousness, the loneliness, the sadness… Meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond”.

And so I took my visitors to the dancefloor. I thought I would give each an airing and see where we got to.

First up: Fractiousness. I strode around, hugely energetic, finger pointing, vigorously shaking, expressing my disapproval of the exploding microphone and the pointless music. I stomped and jerked, finding powerful reserves of judgement in the muscles of my back. And then…

Without losing any of the energy, I started making the movements smaller, bringing all of that more deeply into my conscious sensation. I owned my feelings at the physical level. And what I found was that my body could scarcely contain the energy. I became deeply aware of my intense desire for things to be Other Than They Are.

With all the aching in the world…

I long for Peace in the Middle East.
I long for the Arms trade to stop.
I long for my loved one to be well.
I long for pornography and exploitation of women and girls to be a thing of the past.
I long for an END to the inexorable march towards extinction of our beautiful companions on this earth.

And on and on and on.

And as if by magic, the gift from beyond arrived.
I slipped into SUCH a place of compassion for me (and all of us).
I was flooded with compassion and gentleness and softness.
And the popping microphone was nothing, just nothing.
And funnily enough the music started being better too!! ;-)

And I was back in the ceremony.
Thanks to Rumi, I had regained the plot.
Fractiousness was sent as a guide from beyond to bring me compassion. All I needed to do was welcome it at the door.

How to say my gratitude to Susannah and Ya’Acov for this great gift to us? In this moment, I can’t quite find the words. My eyes are full of tears of admiration and gratitude. This dreaming is so precious. During the ceremony, from time to time, I found myself utterly grateful for their masterly holding of us. I bow to them and all of my mighty companions in the Winter Dream Dance.

And of course, thank you to my Dancer, without whom… who knows where I would be. What a brave, faithful, creative, funny dancer!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you… far more than 21 gratitudes!!

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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.