School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
 
Issue: April Newsletter

Holding and Unfolding
By Hanna
In our northern parts of the earth, spring is weaving its light and its scents, its colours and sounds still softly yet visible into our life, living and experiencing. I AM aware that this is happening each and every year. Yet! every spring anew, I really am touched by all the miracles and wonder right there in front of me: little buds about to burst with life, small flowers protecting their individual secrets still to be revealed, the first greens and colours, or the joyful, chirpy birds - all suggestions of new beginnings, new courage, new daring, new awakenings, and joy of living …

These buds, still shy and in their earliest moments of growth and the preparation of unfolding, mirror some of the processes and learnings of my Movement Medicine practice.

Firstly they made me wonder... whether the ever so slight movements of these blossoms are the careful manifestation of their winter dreams. Dreamt through many months of cold, little sunlight and hibernation, covered by a blanket of snow or some “wintersilence”, maybe it is their dreams which are now, slowly slowly, finding their first forms and appearance – in various buds and processes – towards leaves, flowers or plants.

And fairly obviously this also reflects one of my most-loved gifts taken with me from the Journey of Empowerment: the natural and crucial balance between being and becoming. It is so simple, yet for me and my story, an invaluable reminder – again and again… and again...

One of my dear fellow journeying dancers shared a most beautiful metaphor of this being and becoming in one of our one-on-one sharings:

"If I was to witness the entire process of a bud growing into a whole beautiful open flower, and if I was to take a photo of each and every stage of growth and development of this flower opening, I see and understand that every single photo taken, each moment of being, growth and becoming, however early or far, is always perfect in itself. Not once does an opening flower look wrong, not-enough or unfinished. In every moment of this process, it is a perfect bud, or a (becoming) flower – just as it is right then."

Yes: it is ALL already there (in the seed, the bud, and in me and everyone...). It is all in the holding. It is all in the unfolding. Each has its own space and timing, guided by its own wisdom within. A flower-bud does not have to addsomething to become a flower; it is all held inside, and revealed to the outside – in time.

These words have stayed with me as a precious gift, and time and again gently guide me out of yet another 'I am not enough'-movie playing in my head.

These words have stayed with me; this sharing has stayed with me and has become a part of my being, growing and learning.

And so have many valuable moments of sharing, dancing and being together with many Movement Medicine companions through our processes, like seeds planted, witnessed by me in their growth as they pop up in my experiences and integration from time to time.

I am truly amazed, as well as deeply touched, by these profound shifts and healing experiences, kindled through the dynamics of the group – through our relations, through our presence with each other, through our truths, caring, compassion and love.

...So deeply touched that I share some more about my fascination with this healing within the group of a MM workshop in a separate article.

Enjoy this newsletter! And its various expressions and manifestations of our unique opening flowers and the voices of our hearts. Consider it your Movement Medicine Easter surprise, where you may find what you possibly did not search for, but what wants to come your way anyhow.

For your very own personal and communal dreaming, creating, holding and unfolding, you may find some inspiration in the following, numerous and colourful workshops offered by Susannah, Ya'Acov and guest teachers:

The Phoenix Retreat (Devon, UK, 22–28 May) is coming up, and is only offered once a year: an intense MM journey, guiding you to discover and free yourself from stories of the past, uncovering and distilling more of your true intention and purpose.

Or if it is Initiation (Devon, UK, 4–13 September) which is calling you, there is still an early bird discount, running out on the 14th of May!

And following the offering of your very own colours of unfolding and blossoming outward into the world and into all your and our relations, there is theSummer Long Dance (Devon, UK, 3–9 July) – a ceremony of dance, song and prayer, embodying community, responsibility and the deep interconnectedness of all beings and spirit.

I wish us all grounded and happy dancing feet, and pure joy in these spaces of and between holding and unfolding.

 

Forthcoming Events and Workshops:

April 4–5: Circles of Connections with David Mooney. Antwerp, Belgium. 
With a preceding Open Dance! on Friday, 3 April.
Contact Luc: +32 61 329 920; info@owc.be

April 10–12: Dare to Dream with Ya'Acov. Edinburgh, UK.
Contact Catherine: +44 131 557 4278; catherine.wright@phonecoop.coop

April 17: Move! Evening with Ya'Acov. Paris, France.
A great introduction to Movement Medicine!
Contact Pierre-Henri: +33 61 532 5816; letsmoveinfrance@gmail.com

April 17: Move! Evening with Susannah. Dublin, Ireland.
Contact Kate: +353 83 370 3601; consciousfeet@gmail.com

April 18–19: Power of the Heart with Susannah. Dublin, Ireland.
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 Kate: +353 83 370 3601; consciousfeet@gmail.com

April 18–19: Arc of Time with Ya'Acov. Paris, France.
Contact Pierre-Henri: +33 61 532 5816; letsmoveinfrance@gmail.com

April 28: Bringing the Dance Back Home  with Susannah and Ya'Acov. Online.
In this webinar you are able to strengthen and experience your practice at home, dance a led Movement Medicine session in your own living room and invite friends to join in. It's £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

April 30: Awaken and Live Your Dreams – a Talk by Ya'Acov. Gunmaken, Japan.
Contact Megumi: +81 802 213 2077; flamenco.studiogracia@gmail.com

May 1: Move! Evening with Ya'Acov. Tokyo, Japan.
Contact Megumi: +81 802 213 2077; flamenco.studiogracia@gmail.com

May 1: Move! Evening with Susannah. Berlin, Germany.
Contact: Kathrin +49 302 845 8820 kellerkathrin@yahoo.de

May 2–3: Power of the Heart with Susannah. Berlin, Germany.
Contact Kathrin: +49 302 845 8820; kellerkathrin@yahoo.de

May 2–3: Way of the Dancing Warrior with Ya'Acov. Gunmaken, Japan.
Contact Megumi: +81 802 213 2077; flamenco.studiogracia@gmail.com

May 8: Move! Evening with Susannah. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Contact Matthias: +45 21 261 120; movementmedicinedanmark@outlook.com

May 9–10: Arc of Time with Susannah. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Contact Matthias: +45 21 261 120; movementmedicinedanmark@outlook.com

May 12–16: The 'Hollow Bone' Medicine Ways of Movement (Module 1) with Caroline Carey. Western Cape, South Africa.
This Dancing Shamanic Path is the first ongoing residential group in South Africa, which I welcome joyfully. A deep and intense Movement Medicine experience for South Africans and neighbours, without extensive travel efforts, costs, and a healthier footprint.
Module 1: 12–16 May 2015; Module 2: 10–15 November 2015; Module 3: 12–16 April 2016
Contact Jayne: +27 73 748 7743; info@movementmedicine.co.za

May 13–15: Beyond Muscle and Bone: Making Death your Ally in Life with Ya'Acov. Luzern, Switzerland.
A learning from, walking with, and engaging in, the qualities and forces of Death as part of our life, being and unfolding – through dance, ritual and relations. “When we dance deep and long, all that we cling to can start to fall away. Let the spirit dance the body. Experience yourself beyond muscle and bone.”
Contact Katriona: +41 33 676 2708; kat@kf-events.ch

May 15–17: Circle and the Sword with Susannah. Vleuten, Holland.
Exploring, embracing and dancing your opposites within.
Contact Frank: +31 71 889 3253; info@karuna-events.nl

May 17: Ascension Journey with Ya'Acov. Bern, Switzerland.
This is a shamanic journey, discovering more about the Tree of Life within our being, growing and dreaming. Your dancer is invited to travel through the different worlds and realm of your Tree of Life.
Contact Sylvia: +41 79 462 2009; info@nytala.ch

May 19: Bringing the Dance back Home. Online webinar.
In this webinar you are able to strengthen and experience your practice at home, dance a led Movement Medicine session in your own living room and invite friends to join in. It’s £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

May 22–28: Phoenix Retreat with Ya'Acov. Rill Estate, Devon, UK.
This intense workshop is one of the longer journeys into Movement Medicine, and is also one of the stepping stones towards the Apprenticeship Programme.
Contact Roland Wilkinson: +44 1803 762255; roland@rwevents.co.uk

May 22–24: Circles of Connection with David Mooney. Frankfurt, Germany. 
Dance. Connection. Liberation. With a Move! Evening on May 22.
Contact Katrin: +49 163 315 2714; katrin@movement-medicine-frankfurt.de

The Super Ego and the Soul
By Susannah
This article may be a challenge to read. It’s deep stuff: the result of many years of study about the potency of our assumptions and the power of the negative way many of us talk to ourselves. We believe that these perspectives may be really useful to those with the patience to chew this over. Good luck!

A lovely woman who interviewed me recently asked me for my thoughts. She said: “I have come to the point of seeing that what I long for the most is at the same time what I’m afraid of the most – the same thing pulling me in two opposite [directions]. My deepest desire AND my biggest fear are the SAME. It seems crazy. And it is tying me in knots, limiting me from living fully... I feel you know what I mean. Please tell me your thoughts.”

So here they are. My current meditations on the matter!

We humans are complex beings. We have evolved over billion years, and our beings retain layers of patterning from our ancestral and personal histories: reptilian, mammalian, plus our many human patterns, which sometimes, or even often, pull us in opposite directions. We want to grow, but at the same time, we are scared of the unknown. We want to love, but at the same time we want to protect ourselves from being hurt. We want to be individuals, but at the same time we need to belong. We want to belong, but at the same time we need to exercise our autonomy.

Under-studies and “SPASMs”

Many of the patterns that arise in us from our personal histories take the form of what we often refer to as our “understudies” – those aspects of ourselves that developed as survival strategies in our babyhood and childhood. Some of our understudies take the form of SPASMs, i.e. the “Self’s Protective AdaptiveSurvival Mechanisms”. Spasms in the physical body are created around physical injury to help hold the area stable whilst healing occurs. Once healing has happened, however, the body does not seem to have a mechanism for integrating this knowledge and releasing the spasm. That’s why we need body-work to help the body update and undo those out-of-date knots. The same thing seems to happen with injuries to the psyche with the result that we operate with psychological spasms that were generated in a totally different life context, mostly when we were little and did not have the power to actively protect ourselves or communicate clearly. These psychic spasms are probably ‘out of date’ but still powerfully functioning. They operate “under the radar” of our consciousness and they tend to fulfill themselves. They operate as unconscious self-fulfilling assumptions because they condition our perceptions, interpretations, emotional responses and actions, and we do not know that this is happening. The unconscious selection and interpretation of information about what is going on is very powerful because it operates pre-consciously, and therefore it seems to us that what we experience is just the way the world is and we don’t receive the updates of new and different information. In other words, our SPASMs are like glasses we have worn so long that we do not know we are still wearing them.

Tools of transformation

In Movement Medicine, one powerful tool we have for decoding these patterns is a methodology called “mapping the dance of the understudy”. Through seeing the steps of the dance that ends up re-confirming itself over and over again in our lives, we gain a “viewing point” through which we can compassionately witness this repetitive dance, begin to dis-identify from it and open to other possibilities that we can then reality check. In everyday English language use, the term “understudy” refers to an actor who steps in to take the part of the main actor if the main actor is unwell or injured. This is the reason that we use the name “understudies”; they act as under-studies for the soul until the soul is ready to take the main stage. This process does not happen by itself. The choice to bring our soul into the driving seat of our existence often feels like an almost impossible choice. In their commitment to protect us from harm, our SPASMs are often very defensive of their roles. They are like soldiers who do not know that the war is over. So they need respect, compassion, gratitude and clarity, as well as help from a part of ourselves that has access to the compassion of the wise elder, the choice, clarity and steadiness of the dancing warrior and the imagination of the fool.

The Phoenix Retreat is the chief place we teach this liberating practice. This year, it is being taught by Ya’Acov. He writes:

The Phoenix Retreat is a place for people who are truly committed to getting a hold of their ego and making the choice to make the essential self or soul the final authority in life. It’s a challenging and safe place to deepen this enquiry through the dance, and the Phoenix Process itself is a truly phenomenally useful tool for supporting that process in your life. Doing this level of the work is all about responsibility: being and becoming more responsible for who we are in relationship to ourselves, each other and the wider community of life of which we are a part. I very much look forward to seeing you there and taking this journey with those of you who feel that call.”

The super-ego

There is another kind of understudy, which is often called the super-ego. This is different from a SPASM in that it is an “introject” – to use the Gestalt term. That means it is something that has been taken in from outside, un-chewed and “swallowed whole”. Typically the super-ego is full of judgement, ‘shoulds’ and rigid standards about how things should be. It judges the self, it judges others, and it can really impair the flow of life energy. Many people have super-egos which are vicious: punitive, emotionally violent, and damaging to themselves or/and to others.

For those with extremely self-punishing super-egos, which can turn on self-loathing and immobilizing shame at the drop of a hat, the super-ego is an internal demon that can dis-empower and paralyse a person for their whole life. So what is the super-ego and how did it come to be here in our psyches? What purpose could it possibly serve? And how can we become its master rather than its slave?

Below I explore my musings about these questions.

What is the super-ego and how did it come to be here in our psyches?

We are social beings. We have evolved to be very strongly affected by the culture in which we find ourselves. In indigenous life, this means the culture of the tribe in which we find ourselves. In modern life, this mostly means the nuclear family, or whatever part or aspect of family or institution was around us as we grew up. We have an intrinsic need to connect with our people, to come into resonance with them. This is recognized by practitioners as diverse as Winnicott (attachment theory) and Carlos Castaneda’s master teacher Don Juan. Don Juan talks about the existential imperative for the infant’s “assemblage point” (the energetic point in the being around which reality is assembled) to shift from its original “buddha station” to the assemblage point of his or her people, which Don Juan calls the “modality of the time”. This is a reflection of our inherent social nature and absolute need to belong. We imbibe the modality of the time through the energetic fields of our parents and those of others we are close to. We imbibe it through what is said and not said, and, in modern times, through the array of ‘shoulds’ and directives that we are exposed to.

What purpose could the super-ego possibly serve?

In my perception the super-ego is an understudy for our own moral compass or sense of conscience. It was designed to make sure that we belonged to our people, and to orientate our choices within the field of our people, until (or if) we became ready, as mature human beings, to assume the authority and responsibility to decide, consciously, for ourselves. In an integrated tribal culture, where the culture, cosmic vision, world view, and people’s actions and words was un-fragmented and consistent (if such a thing ever existed), one can imagine that imbibing the cultural super-ego would prepare one smoothly for life as part of that culture.

Bert Hellinger (founder of Family Constellations) explains the reasons we may feel an inexplicable and apparently irrational fear of death when we leave our family patterns, however toxic they may be. He said that this can occur however clearly good and healthy our new choices may be. This is because, as we leave our tribe’s dictates, our ancient memory fears that, as a result of breaking this ‘tribal custom,” we will be expelled. For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, that would have meant almost certain death. To be a lone human in the savannah was to be a dead human very quickly. Understanding this gives me more scope to be compassionate and understanding with my fearful self. This does not mean colluding with it, but being big enough to scoop it up into my arms, reassure it about the current reality, and take the step that is right and timely for me to take. And let’s be clear, it’s not that some groups do not anymore “ex-communicate” those who break their explicit or implicit taboos. But rather that, for better or worse, we are no longer hunter-gatherers dependent on belonging to our small group for survival. We can choose to be autonomous, inter-connected human beings, and find others to co-create this with.

In a damaged culture where (this is a British statistic) on average, children hear 10 negatives for every positive (10 “no’s” for every “yes”, 10 “you are wrong” for every “you are right”, 10 “you are bad” messages for every “you are good” messages), it is no wonder that the average super-ego is so self-punitive. A damaged culture breeds individuals with damaged and damaging super-egos. This in turn feeds the consumer culture that is eating up the world, as we seek to allay our inner sense of lack with more and more “stuff.”

How do we get a grip on this? What is the remedy? When one is in the grip of a “super-ego attack” one often feels completely powerless, as if at the mercy of a great destructive monster. In the face of this, often the best thing seems to be to curl up and pretend to be dead. However, in the long term, this does not solve anything; the monster remains and remains in charge.

So how can we become the master rather than the slave of the super-ego?

Imagine a horse and carriage. The driver is holding the reins, and encouraging the horses, or slowing them, or steering them. If the super-ego has the reins, the super-ego is in control, and you, in the carriage, just have to endure the ride as best you can. The super-ego is driving the carriage with the aim of keeping you on track, keeping you safe and keeping you “acceptable” according to what it knows, according to the map it absorbed when you were young – a map which is probably out of date.

The surprising thing is that, if one has the will and energy to take up the reins and take control you can. However, the super-ego is never going to tell you that. That is not how it works. From working with many of our apprentices on this over the last years we have found that the triad of the wise elder, the dancing fool and the dancing warrior are the appropriate parts of ourselves to call in. The wise elder witnesses what is happening, and perceives that the super-ego is in charge and we are hurting ourselves or others. The dancing fool suggests that there might be other truths here, and that other versions of reality are available everywhere we look. And the dancing warrior has the capacity for choice and authority to take the reins and start steering a course in accordance with our true values, with our soul.

Whenever we do this, it’s a moment of maturation. It means we have decided to take responsibility. It means we have accepted being the authority at the centre of our circle, which I sometimes call “crowning ourselves”. Developing the power of the dancing warrior is about developing the power of the vertical axis: body, heart and mind integrated into your own heaven–earth connection. This is the journey of empowerment. It’s also about owning our fire, our anger and our strength. From this connectedness comes the power of choice and the power of discovering what our real core values are – what we really want to stand for as human beings – as well as the ability to acknowledge our power and bring it into the service of love. It means letting go of identification with the victim, and it means standing up inside our own moral compass.

Alpha dogs and dog whisperers

When we make the move and our dancing warrior takes the reins, often the super-ego backs down surprisingly easily. It’s like seeing a master dog whisperer working with a powerful alpha dog. Until the master arrives, the alpha dog rules, intimidating everyone with its growls, raised hackles and sharp teeth. Once the master arrives, suddenly the dog is relieved of this role, and becomes a happy, compliant member of the pack. Dorrie, our dear friend and Movement Medicine artist, used to have a dog who was half wolf. He was an absolute beauty with a huge heart. But he would have become the alpha being (and therefore potentially very dangerous) in their family pack in the blink of an eye had he not been reminded continually of Dorrie and Tom’s alpha status. Dorrie told me that she could not be complacent with this for one moment. So it is for those of us with big alpha domineering super-egos. If our dancing warrior lets go the reins for a moment, boomph! – the super-ego has them.

I count dog training (I was 15) as my first real training. I had a terrific teacher (human) and lots of training companions: whippets, corgis, my own brilliant fox terrier, and 3 gorgeous Russian borzois. What I learnt with them was all about congruency. You’ve got to mean what you say, and be consistent, clear and congruent with what you do, what you say, what you feel – in other words, aligning body, heart, actions and words. You’ve got to have a responsive mix of kindness, firmness, enthusiasm, gentleness and energy (every dog is different, and each dog is different moment to moment). And you’ve got to believe whole-heartedly in your role. This applies equally to developing our own dancing warrior.

Imagine you’re the super-ego

Imagine you’re the super-ego. Your job is to keep your human safe from being expelled from the tribe by ensuring that they follow the norm, even if that is painful, demoralising and depressing. You are committed to not failing at your role. You know what the norm is, because that is who you are as super-ego – the particular set of “shoulds” and norms your human swallowed when he or she was little.

One day your human gets it in their head to do something different and new and to challenge that norm. You go berserk, threatening them with the worst things you can, calling them names. You’ve just got to bring them down to size before they rock the boat and risk everything. That is, until the dancing warrior steps in, takes you to one side and gently but firmly insists that they are now the authority, and they are taking responsibility. You are thanked for all your hard work and relieved of your duties. You can relax. Your sense of danger lessens, and you let yourself take a break, knowing you’ll be back at the reins the moment there is a lapse of wakefulness from the dancing warrior. But right now, it’s OK. You get into the carriage and take a nap. In this way the active presence or not of the super-ego can ultimately become a barometer of the level of awareness we are holding, moment to moment.

You’re not mad or useless!

I hope it’s clear from all this that the devastating struggle that many of us have with our super-egos is not because we are mad or useless. To some extent it’s a reflection of the dysfunctionality of our culture. The harsher the super-ego we were served by our family of origin, the more challenging the task. So, there is no point in comparing ourselves with others. Each of us has our own unique starting point and dialogue with our own super-ego challenge. The super-ego is a challenge to our maturation as autonomous individuals who may finally become strong enough to trust our own moral compass, our own individuated sense of conscience and our own soul.

It’s all about energy

Who has got your energy? The super-ego is not really a “thing” inside you that you have to put up with or deal with. The super-ego operates as part of a system with a certain amount of energy. Think of a balloon – the kind of long, thin balloon that kids’ entertainers tie into animal-shaped knots at a certain kind of children’s birthday party. Imagine one of these balloons semi-inflated. Squeeze one end, and the air goes down the other end. Do you inflate your dancing warrior or your super-ego? What is your choice?

The problem with toxic super-egos is that when we fail to control them, they even use that as another reason to shame us and make us feel like failures. It’s a familiar bully tactic. And the trouble is, some of us have got so used to being bullied by our super-egos that we’ve normalised it. We don’t realise that this is not normal, healthy, or inevitable. If you need it, get help.

Choose your company with care

The transformations I have talked about above are, above all, supported by good company. Who do you choose to hang out with? What do they reinforce in you, what do you reinforce in them? We have long realized that this is why ongoing programs are so effective; and this is one of the main benefits of ourApprenticeship Programme. You can choose to become part of a community of empowerment and responsibility – a circle of individuals committed to being and becoming part of co-creative community.

If you want to give feedback to me about this article, please do so on the Movement Medicine FB group. It’s a private group that you can join via our website.

Thank you for all the dances and songs I’ve shared with many of you in the last weeks. Your courage, beauty and huge hearts have touched me very deeply. I hope to see you on a dance floor (or sense you in a webinar!) soon.

With love,

Susannah

 

Upcoming workshops with Susannah Darling Khan:

April 17: Move! Evening with Susannah. Dublin, Ireland.
Contact Kate: +353 83 370 3601; consciousfeet@gmail.com

April 18–19: Power of the Heart with Susannah. Dublin, Ireland.
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 Kate: +353 83 370 3601; consciousfeet@gmail.com

May 1: Move! Evening with Susannah. Berlin, Germany.
Contact Kathrin: +49 302 845 8820; kellerkathrin@yahoo.de

May 2–3: Power of the Heart with Susannah. Berlin, Germany.
Contact Kathrin: +49 302 845 8820; kellerkathrin@yahoo.de

May 8: Move! Evening with Susannah. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Contact Matthias: +45 21 261 120; movementmedicinedanmark@outlook.com

May 9–10: Arc of Time with Susannah. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Contact Matthias: +45 21 261 120; movementmedicinedanmark@outlook.com

May 15–17: Circle and the Sword with Susannah. Vleuten, Holland.
Exploring, embracing and dancing your opposites within.
Contact Frank: +31 718 893 253; info@karuna-events.nl

In Memory of Susanne Perks 1940–2015
By Susannah and Ya'Acov
Susanne Perks winged her way into our lives very early on in our relationship, in the late 1980s. She and Roland came into our lives before we started working with Gabrielle Roth, before we got married and before we started living together. We were living in the East End of London, Ya’Acov in a community in Bow, and me in a women’s squat in Hackney. I was training and working as a Gestalt Psychotherapist. Ya’Acov was inventing photo-therapy, and we were both involved in non-violent direct action with the peace movement.

Ya’Acov and I went together to a Deer Tribe workshop called Quodoshka (sacred sexuality) and were blown away by the medicine maps, the practices and the teachers: Batty Thunderbear and Donna Talking Leaves. And there we met Susanne and Roland, and almost instantly became friends. They invited us to visit them down in Devon.

We arrived at Nappers Crossing in the dark in our beat-up little Toyota Starlet. Getting out of the car into the watery smells and sounds of the leat and waves of spring blossom fragrance, I felt like we’d arrived in another reality. Their house was a perfect little sanctuary, filled with Susanne’s art, pots and ceramic beings, plants and her famously daring but altogether “right” colour schemes. Nappers Crossing had been a derelict old railway man’s cottage, which Susanne and her former husband Dick (Rosie and Jay’s father) had bought and renovated. They had lived in great simplicity with their two kids in the midst of a building site as they made it into a real home.

By the time we got to know them, Susanne and Dick had separated and Dick was living in New Zealand, and Susanne and Roland were together at Nappers Crossing, with their incredible garden. Susanne was an artist, potter and clay sculptor, and worked as an art therapist and yoga teacher with people with learning difficulties, whilst Roland ran the innovative ‘Totnes School of English’ and they both cultivated their beautiful garden with passion and committed attention.

Susanne was a long-limbed being of quiet grace, humour and insight, and we quickly came to love her as a really good friend, as we shared the adventures of our new medicine path with her, with the local leadership of Sue Jamieson.

We moved to Devon six months to the day after that first visit to Nappers Crossing. Through being with them and their garden in the Dart valley, we’d realised that if we wanted to leave London we could. It was simply a choice.

Following visions and prompts (Susannah’s emerged in Deer Tribe ceremony with Heather Campbell and Donna Talking Leaves), we met and then trained with Gabrielle Roth and started teaching. Susanne got behind us and our work in a gentle and powerful way. She became our first long-term organiser and her quiet grace, gentle humour and capacity to get things done calmly, happily and seemingly effortlessly was a source of support when we really needed it. Susanne’s belief in us and her accompaniment in the first years of our work are a crucial part of the ground from which our current work is blossoming. Susanne was there soon after Reuben, our son, was born, when he learnt to walk, and she and Roland and our friendship was a steady and important part of our lives. Meals at Nappers Crossing were always a special moment, especially the stuffed baked apples that Susanne used to cook for us.

When Susanne had her stroke 20 years ago, all our worlds changed. Roland called us early that morning and we were quickly on the way to the hospital. Susanne survived when the doctors thought she had a very low chance, living through an eight-hour operation in which thunder, lightning and fierce rain battered the hospital. Her aneurism left her with a paralysed left side and her memory scattered. She described it thus: “I feel as if my memory is a bowl of fruit that someone has thrown up in the air, and I can see each piece of fruit clearly, but I have no idea of their sequence, of how events are related in time.” Remembering something, she’d have no idea if that was yesterday or 40 years ago, and so had to reconstruct her own time line of memory.

With Roland unerringly at her side, she put her mind to it to recover all she could and they worked and worked at her exercises and practice. She and I (Susannah) made the mythic tale ‘The Walrog’ together, which was done as a dialogue between words and art, and gave us both much joy. For this next year, we will be selling it and the accompanying CD in aid of the art and garden fund at Mt Tyron, the nursing home in Torquay, which gave Susanne such good care in her last years. You can purchase it from: www.movementmedicineshop.com

In the first months after her stroke, Rosie did much of the work Susanne had done for us, and in the end, Roland took over being our organiser in order to ‘keep it in the family’, with the intention of giving the role back to Susanne as soon as she was better. But though Susanne made great progress, she never re-found that capacity. We remember her dancing with effort and determination with her walking stick across the floor at KEVICCs, waving it in the air in jubilation as she made it to the other side.

Roland was a loyal companion for many years after Susanne’s stroke, accepting the change in his life and his lady with dignity, commitment and surrender. Susanne was 14 years older than him, which had not shown so much pre-stroke, as she was such a willowy, youthful woman. But after her stroke, Susanne aged and Roland aged too. In order to stay alongside her in resonance, in a way, he had to. He grew his beard, became a bit plump and remained her loyal and loving consort.

Until one day, after 7 years, it was clear that he could not do this any longer. His vital life-energy demanded to be expressed. He shaved his beard, re-appearing as a youthful man, and fell in love with another Susanne (Fehr). This tender situation was handled by all three of them with as much honour, honesty, dignity and care as was humanly possible. Eventually Susanne Perks moved from Nappers Crossing to a new home in Totnes, creating another magical kingdom of colour and beauty in a little bungalow. Her family supported her to live on her own with the vital help of social services and some amazing personal caregivers. One of them, Jane, came to love and care for her as a dear friend. For a while, Malcolm Barradell lived in her new house and cared for her.

Over the long years in which Susanne has lived with the results of her aneurism, she always has lived to the full within the restrictions her body imposed. I remember our son doing a school project with her in which she told him: “I don’t think, if I had not had my stroke, that I would ever have found the level of awareness that gives me such joy in such simple things, like the song of a bird, or the colour of a flower”. Susanne continued to have more small strokes over the years, which slowly depleted her physical capacity, until in the last years, she needed a level of care which meant she had to move to Mt Tyron.

We have witnessed the strength of her spirit and her powerful commitment to life, to finding joy and humour in every way possible. We remember how, when we saw her, she would always find a way to show us her care for us, as well as receiving ours for her. We are so pleased that she was able to come to see us here in our new house last autumn (thank you Mt Tyron), and that she saw where we are now, and was so happy with us for the beauty of this house and land. We will always remember the holy peace and silent mystery of her death, and feel blessed to have been there with her, and with Rosie and Jay.

We wish you Susanne, free, joyous flight now that this long, courageous vigil is over. Thank you for all the support, love and encouragement you gave us. We recognise you as an ancestor of the work we do now. Bless you and your freedom and your memory, which will always remain with us.

Fly free!

Susannah and Ya’Acov

 

“Your words are a lovely remembrance of your connections to this extraordinarily beautiful woman. I remember so many of the threads and feel blessed to have been part of many aspects of them; the love and friendship shines bright as the star that is now our dear friend on her eternal flight.”

with love

Malcolm Barradell

Compassion and Rumi in the Winter Dream Dance
By Catherine
I want to start with Rumi. Even if you don’t 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 year’s 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.

Aaaarrrgghh!

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!!

Kat's Teaching
By Kat
Hello, here’s Kat: I’m half way through my 4th year of teaching Movement Medicine, and just two years beyond the threshold of graduation at Winter Dream Dance 2013, with a bird on my head.

Starting out: After the first module of Professional Training July 2011, I couldn’t wait to begin: I leapt into the teacher role with alacrity, starting with local sessions for friends (asking donations for the MM Sponsorship Fund); five months later opening my first official class in my local city, Thun (Switzerland), once every two to three weeks, with a flyer and entrance fee. From there my offering has grown through invitations to teach in other Swiss towns; the organisers have become my collaborators – assistants – and without them I could not be doing this quantity and quality of work. I deeply appreciate these relationships.

The first 3 years: I have been teaching drop-in sessions in five different locations, and often take the same theme around the different places, like a sort of travelling road show. I love the opportunity to refine and adapt the theme as I take it around – something like a painter who takes the same subject over and over; the evolution of each theme is consistently in the direction of simplicity and distillation, and I observe how this tendency makes the sessions more satisfying for the dancers. To support myself in reaching this clear simplicity, I envision and write down in a very few words a clearly defined intention for each class; this intention is also reflected as metaphor in the altar. (Examples follow below.) I also plan the sessions in quite some detail – this is what makes me feel safe in holding the space – and as time goes on I more frequently move around in or away from the planned sequence and playlist, as a response to what is happening.

Examples of defined intentions: My drop-in sessions started out with exploring yin and yang, the elements, the vertical axis and aspects of dancing with partners. This has grown into a repertoire of themes related to current seasons, such as: New Year – seeds of dreams, spring rising (tender power); Equinox – finding balance, inner space clearing (as in spring cleaning), blossom/fertility (inviting the senses), playing with fire, colours of the summer (dance like you! + visibility); Equinox – finding balance, harvest thanksgiving (receive/give), falling leaves (letting go), evergreens (the themes that remain in deep winter), keeping light in the heart (in deep winter).

I keep on going with this kind of theme as the years turn. I was a bit concerned about being repetitious, but each time the seasons come round again it is different, and my approach has evolved. I think: "The trees do the same thing year after year – sprout up in spring, drop leaves in autumn – so where’s the harm in repetition?" Not only is there no harm in it – but it turns out to be a wonderful and universal reference point for our personal life journeys on the dancing path. And the dancers keep changing, which I sometimes forget. I keep good class notes and play-lists, so I can return to these as that season returns again. I am struck by how the universal themes reappear each time, and also by how I have moved on and my focus has changed, by a little or a lot.

In amongst this, I now more often hold sessions which I call “Let’s dance”, without a particular theme, and I present them like this: “We’re made for movement. Life is movement. Movement is medicine. Through movement of body/heart/mind, we can find self + soul. The altar is empty – a white cloth represents a blank page for the dancers to write or draw on – an image of Nataraja (a small bronze statue) reminds us to dance with everything.”

At the same time, a second river has been running. In a series of small ongoing groups over three years in Littau by Luzern, I have explored the 21 stations of the Mandala in some depth, which has allowed me to stretch gently into less familiar areas, for example, Gateways 7–9, dimensions 4 and 5. The ongoing group structure has invoked more commitment from the participants – a kind of contract between us to explore more deeply; the small size of the group (limited by room dimensions) has allowed me to step into this without too much exposure and responsibility to begin with. Most importantly, from this I have found out my own way of inviting ourselves to move with awareness of the Divine Mystery – alongside my personal reservations like, “who do you think you are to be doing this, Kat?”, and the suspicions of my Scottish Calvinist ancestors.

Recent weavings: Then, last year 2014, these two threads came together in a moment at Easter time: I found myself teaching a two-hour drop-in class on Good Friday (Venerdi Santo/Karfreitag/Vendredi saint) and I asked myself: What do you want to do on this day, Kat, if not the Tree of Life and Life-Death-Life cycle? So we did this and it turned out to be a prayer meeting. Not because of the complexity of it, but indeed because of the simplicity of it. I guided quite precisely to begin with; then at a certain point I found that we were in a ritual space, which I was holding like a ceremony, with minimal input from me – just a few instructions to provide a clear container. I could feel myself simply holding the vertical and horizontal directions of the MM Mesa, consciously holding that container, no longer knowing where the dancers had gone to, and trusting this, and finding a way to bring them back at the end.

From here on, the ritual dimension has appeared in many of my classes, with new themes emerging such as Peace Dance and Spirit World. I asked for my mentoring to switch focus directly onto this new theme of holding ritual space, and discovered through that guidance that I have a whole lot more personal work to do to strengthen and clarify myself in order to hold spaces of this kind. What this feels like is that now I have stepped further forward into the limelight, my shadows are showing up more strongly too – as it is in nature on sunny days.

To begin with I was reluctant to shift the attention back to myself and my own process, and to continue with the personal themes that had emerged in the Apprenticeship. The work is not easy: I keep on meeting resistance and fear in there, and the support of my beloved peers is precious. With the support of my mentor, I am now discovering the richness of re-engaging consciously with my own process, designing rituals for myself, and bringing that ambiance along with me to my sessions. Over and over again, I am finding that I do not need to have everything sorted – I simply need to show up with all of myself, where and how I am at this moment, and that this IS the medicine for the dancers and for myself. Slowly, slowly I become more willing to let the inside be visible outside, and to be able to show up with my heart, as well as my mind and my body; this enriches all sessions, whatever the theme/not theme. The bird on my head has found a landing strip in my heart.

Continued Professional Development: I feel like adding here that I’m experiencing the CPD (Continued Professional Development) requirements – dry and formal as they may look on paper/screen – as an outline of an essential support system, which requires me to stay current with MM developments and updates, to continue with my personal learning and development as I teach, and to visit the community at Long Dances (Summer and Winter) to be held, challenged and inspired there. Part of me is arrogant enough to believe that I could easily dispense with all this if it were not required. I have fallen out of several professional formations in my lifetime, which did not have this essential support system, so I deeply appreciate that we have this as a part of post-qualification requirement (PQR) for ongoing membership of the Movement Medicine Association. I’m currently finding it so valuable that I’m doing far more than we are asked.

A final wink from an elder: When I was a child, the elders I met in the form of my four grandparents gave me the impression that older people know everything and have life all sorted. Now I am nearly 69 and I can say it’s not like this for me. (Just in case any of you are under the same illusion!) If anything, the big life questions become bigger with age, and even more confounding. At this point, if I know anything at all, it’s that what we know as “wisdom” can appear from anywhere in our circles – and an advantage of age can be to have learnt to recognize wisdom more easily when it appears, from whatever source.

Thank you for reading me. If anyone wishes to correspond, you are welcome to e mail me at: kat@kf-events.ch 

Kat Forrester

 

Winter Dream
By Kristin
travelling within
the sacred marriage of inner masculine and feminine
those words drumming in my head
headlines
deeper in the dance
where the confusion gets thicker and sweaty
so many faces
faces of love
all facets of my own dance

still unravelling
black wolf running up
standing behind me
letting me know
don't be nice
just be yourself
if this confronts–
allow movement
bring healing
embrace your art
chaos arising
clusters fragments
broken pieces
postcards
keep going
travel deeper
meet white rabbit family
creative source laughing
creating without end
full of soft juiciness
where do you find this source of love?
rabbit’s smile
all come close with their faces
touch me with white fur
just love me
love sinks into my skin
where is the sacred marriage
of feminine and masculine taking place?
Will I be there?
it will happen in your body
the owl says
her face clear like the moon and no doubt
everyone will come
into you and unite for this celebration
once you truly understand
that you are in everyone and everyone is in you
ecstatic dance
self disappears
whale deep underwater
witnesses fearless

Kristin Glenewinkel

Together We Heal
By Hanna
As I open the email list of the 'Journey of Empowerment' I was part of last year, and as I see and read all the names on it when looking for someone’s email address, a warm wave of joy and love rushes over my heart region. Wonderful! I get all warmed up from inside, and a soft and happy smile forms on my face: such deep and honest connections and moments experienced together, and such nurturing gifts received, which I enjoy unwrapping and honouring time and again.

I suppose it’s the secret of the spirit of Movement Medicine and the secret of teachers like Susannah and Ya'Acov that it is possible to create and hold such tender, safe, real, loving and truthful spaces in such a short time, amongst people who – for the most part – did not know each other before they met.

For me, Movement Medicine presents spaces in which I don't have to pretend, but am invited and welcome AS I am, by myself and the community. And this almost says it all… considering what is initiated for me when in a community and a space like this in which I am allowed and encouraged to be and express all of who I am. It is a major healing step, as well as a delicious daring for me, each time anew.

All my 'outer' layers may melt away and leave a clearer experience and 'sight' of this essence, moving, breathing and expressing inside and outside of me. A space where I can let all guards down, and still feel safe! Where I can be fully opened, or totally 'broken', where I can thrive in joy and ecstasy, or find release and cleansing through moments of deep sorrow… whatever my naked and pure being expresses and experiences – this space and my companions can bear, witness, encourage, celebrate and hold it all.

In this space all veils between two (or more) people may fall, and I experience encounters directly from heart to heart, from soul to soul, from essence to essence, refreshingly pure and clear, 'as-it-is', held by this real truth and love that everyone brings into this.

For me it is exactly these kind of spaces, which only make this healing, this letting go, this allowing and this being and becoming – all in such an intimate way – within the group and within myself, possible, because it opens up whole new levels of connection and relation with each other, with spirit and with myself. Beyond stories, masks, compromises and restrictions, or any holding back preventing me from being myself fully.

I come as I am, you are received as you are, and together we take this into the dance, into the witnessing, into our relation, and into our presence and healing with each other.

It is a space in which I get to know the other person through the dance, or play or ritual. I might not know how many children you have, how old you are, what your everyday life looks like, or what your favourite dish might be – yet, you allow me to meet your essence and soul, expressed through your spirit moving your body.

Pure and clear encounter and connection.

And in these spaces, co-created by me, I was given the gift of many moving encounters, bringing light, joy and transformation on various many levels – since much of this healing is through the fact that the journey is SHARED with all these other loving, daring and courageous beings.

In the last newsletter I wrote about embodiment and how processes become real, true and tangible, when moved into and through my body.
For me, the connections and experiences with fellow dancers are essentially the 'same': embodied healing and embodied process, initiating and inspiring a re-weaving and creating of new patterns in mind and psyche, bringing forth new possibilities of thought, feeling, being and action, and offering 'new glasses' (a new view) to play with in life/in the moment.

It is, for example, this warm and firm hand placed on my back, opened arms and heart to welcome me, or a steady gaze that seems to see and grasp all of what I bring into and am in that moment. It is someone totally 'catching' me in a never-ending fall, and another welcoming me after an emotional, sweaty, danced process, or someone quietly joining my side in exactly the 'right' moment to just be there. It is in the hands and arms stretched out to me when I feel I am slipping into a panic. It is in a group building the 'parent's nest' I am allowed to bathe and cry and feel protected in, when maybe in 'real life' it dissolved before being experienced. And it is in the being encouraged and witnessed in my daring, my fire and my joy.

All these manifold expressions of Love – such as acceptance, sharing, holding and encouragement, presence, comfort, trust, companionship, and truly being seen – are all 'things' my soul, heart and body longs for… and there it is, embodied in this beautiful dancing community I feel deeply honoured to find myself in.

At the same time I am also allowed to experience for myself that I too can hold (a dear dancer or a safe space), and how beautiful it is to fully welcome someone with all my heart and being. That I too can be an inspiration, offer my presence to witness something deep and meaningful of my partner’s dance and process, and that I too can be the comforting companion at someone's side, or the encouraging and rejoicing dance partner.

One particular aspect of this healing together I appreciate greatly is the witnessing, and the being witnessed. So simple and so powerful! Meeting Movement Medicine and Susannah for the first time in a weekend workshop, she said: “Be aware that anyone in this group can become a key person in an important process of yours, and through that an important person on your path, just through this one moment of shared experience.”

Yes! Indeed. I do not remember my partner’s name nor face, yet I will never forget her energy and her presence while witnessing me in a crucial, intensely liberating and profound process during that workshop! Just her witnessing gave and is still giving so much more reality and manifestation to my daring and hugely transforming dance more than a year ago. Why? She has witnessed it! She is the witness that it happened; she is that Being 'out there' who has seen and knows (in her cells, her energy) about this part of my 'shedding of skin'!

What I cherish greatly about Movement Medicine is its down-to-earth truth in the reality of 'hands-on' experience. All these and many more moments mentioned here are all real, are all happening, and are all fully embodied and even witnessed -they have been manifested! For me the discovering and dealing with old stories or deep pain, as well as the blossoming and surging of new inner dimensions of resources, cannot be any more real than that. Processes, stories, and healing which I don't have to somehow solve in my head, but which I can live and fully experience with all I am, in community with other human beings!

It is also the seeing and feeling that I certainly am unique, yet still no different from the other, in his/her pain, stories, insecurities, and in our uncovering of more and more of this essence 'underneath'.
And how awesome is this: I am not walking, healing, breaking and rejoicing alone – fancy that! And this 'simple' fact in itself has been my most delicious 'therapy' or medicine!

And of course there is all the playing, daring, dreaming and creating together, or the collective prayer in ceremony, and experiences of being totally welcomed by my human family through play and ritual!

Then, there is this dance partner who through her dancing energy inspires me to discover new spaces and possibility in my movement and my body...

And there were moments, myself 'one-legged', on crutches, doing the 'sitting-dance', during which I experienced such joy when observing all these other agile, expressive and moving legs and feet on the dance floor! Inspiration through my fellow dancers’ healthy body parts, together with real gratitude just for having two legs.

Together we heal – in our free and safe interdependency.

I do 'have to' share yet another particular experience of this embodied and collective healing (an example for totally being seen and accepted as I am): I was in a process of realizing and embodying that I am actually welcome here on earth, that I am allowed to be here (a serious quantum leap for me then!), and that I am held and supported by spirit, by the ground, by the earth herself. In a crouching position with my hands and feet firmly on the floor, I simply could not move even just one inch further away from the ground; I had to stay this close to the earth and feel and bathe in this being held and being safe here. We were to take partners, yet I could not get up off the floor. A fellow dancer came right down to me and met me exactly where I was with her loving, seeing and accepting eyes and her natural and supportive presence. No judgement. No expectations. This experience moved me very deeply: I had been seen! I had been met, accepted and received simply as and where I was!! I did not have to pretend or hide. I had change nothing in order to be seen and accepted!! I was enough and lovable as I was.

An incredibly profound experience for me and for my being!!

And the last one: I was finding myself in a painful process, with immense fears of falling, of failing, and of being abandoned and left alone. Great fear and the strong urge and necessity to find holding! I dared and reached out, finding someone’s hands and arms to hold as firm as I could. This dancer held me and the space so strongly with his presence and with his eyes not leaving mine: it was an embodied and real experience of reaching out and actually being held, being seen and being accompanied.

The self-inquiry, the healing and expansion of self is created, inspired, and sometimes even made possible only through and in the presence of the whole group.

Together we heal.

Yes. I do have this fascination, wonder and infinite admiration for the whole of what makes Movement Medicine and its refreshingly simple complexity: the richness of its 'philosophy' and tools it offers, the beauty of its mandala and its maps, and the moving and living tapestry it offers, comprising seemingly all of what it can mean to be human and spirit.

Deepest gratitudes to the Spirit of Movement Medicine and to all fellow dancers I have had the honour to meet so far.

Thank you!

Moving Conflicts - Where the heart is in contact with itself
By Katrin Kohlbecher and Ben Yeger
A conversation between Katrin Kohlbecher (Movement Medicine Apprentice and Organizer) and Ben Yeger (Movement Medicine Facilitator and Teacher), reflecting on a series of events they co-created together with Sabine Michel, Nina Nisar, Karin Radtke and Eleonore Bueschges.

Background

In January 2015 Ben and Katrin intiated a combined set of Movement Medicine and Combatants for Peace events, which Katrin and her amazing team engineered and supported. The combination included inviting Ben's Palestinian colleague Raed AlHaddar of Combatants for Peace to join him for a series of public awareness and fund-raising events and workshops in Germany before and after ‘Elements of Conflict’, the first ever Movement Medicine Weekend Workshop in Frankfurt. Through speaking and acting from their hearts, Raed and Ben evoked deep listening, community-feeling, movement and love among the more than 450 interested humans joining the different gatherings across Germany and 1,400 EUR were raised for the peace work in Israel/Palestine. Elements of Conflict was attended by 38 brave dancers.

Ben: What was your initial vision and dream for our work in Frankfurt?

Katrin: I was moved by the personal story of your life and the clear intention of bringing your work with conflicts to Germany. I felt touched and felt a resonance with my own history, of being German. And it spoke to my dream of bringing more Movement Medicine to Frankfurt, my home-community. That was the initial spark for me, to say YES and make myself available for what wanted to emerge.

Ben: And when you imagined it, what were your dreams and hopes about it?

Katrin: I imagined a room full of lively dancers and a space strongly held for change, healing and transformation to happen, both on an individual and on a collective level.

Ben: For me it particularly resonated to come to Germany for the first time, having an opportunity to continue to transform the conflict inside of me. In terms of my own ancestral line, what happened in the Holocaust, I suddenly got that doing conflict transformation work in Germany is fundamental. And then I got the vision and dream: How would it be to be there as Combatants for Peace as well as with Movement Medicine work? How would it be to ask very directly, if we could have a very intensive dance workshop for transformation AND invite a brother from Palestine to lead other work together with me, around it. I was excited by the potential of trying out this model of combining a dance workshop with other events and seeing what impact that would have in Germany.

Katrin: What have you learned from these different fields of your offering coming together? What made it special?

Ben: First of all, what made it potent was the process that you, Katrin, created in response to me putting forward my intention. I suddenly found myself speaking to four people in Frankfurt and I got that they were all contributing different bits. I got how clear their roles were but also how collectively owned everything was. So I thought: Wow this is amazingly held. So the process of realisation and manifestation was just great.

Ben: And how was that for you, Katrin?

Katrin: For me, the beginning of this process was marked by a very clear decision that I don’t want to work alone, that I wanted a team to create a strong platform and container to hold your coming to Germany. And that developed in a beautiful way. There were other committed people with me that felt that strong call inside of them that what you bring would help us and respond to a need that we felt in us. It was the joy of working together and observing how it then all fell into place.

Ben: So let’s look at how the different events happened.

Ben: Starting from that first evening in the Meditation Centre, I arrived and thought: Wow this is not where Combatants for Peace normally does events. And is anybody going to come to here? And in the beginning there were not many people and suddenly it was packed out with 50 or 60 people there and really engaged and deeply listening, asking great questions. And similarly with the Workshop at the Frankfurt Social Impact Lab, just the kind of atmosphere of interest and engagement, which was clearly generated through the team, which you initiated. There was a really really clean platform for doing the work. And then onwards into 56 people turning up for the MOVE on Friday such a strong community of dancers, who really wanted to go and look at conflict and how to transform it, really wanting to dive deeply into this work.

It’s like when you throw a stone into the water and the actual ripples do connect onwards. It was just like that: an extraordinary ripple. And there was a strong sense in me of not doing it just for us. There is really a big piece of work going on that we were just in service of, all of us. That we were tapping into some energy that needed support at this moment in time.

Katrin: That’s true. There is something very specific that I learned through working with you: I realised the importance of a clear intention and purpose, and from there, of how to create the structures that we need, to be held in this creation. But then, there was a lot of trust and that we just needed to make ourselves available for it to happen. The different events we had lined up were kind of empowering each other. It needed effort and it became a great synergy and symphony of things falling into place.

Ben: Absolutely. I, more than ever, understood the power of the collective and of collaboration. And it’s not that I haven’t looked at it before. It just made my job so easy. Really just like: Pay Attention. Listen. Get out of the way, constantly. That was really profound and I learned a lot about that and I also learned to say this I feel quite moved  there was a real desire to transform the stories that we have around the past. We can do some stuff here. We are active participants in this; we are not going to be just bystanders.

Katrin: So what is the special medicine that is created when Israelis, Palestinians and Germans come together?

It’s a sort of saying ‘No, I’m not living by this story anymore'. And next to it is a deep caring about the ancestors and their pain and their anguish and their starvation on the Jewish side and the oppression on the Palestinian side and the horrors of the ancestors of the German people, the wounds that these narratives leave in the generations after, of guilt. So a real compassion saying: ‘Yes I really feel the ancestral wound. It’s in my body, my heart, in my mind; I get it, really deeply. I am here for you, for us AND I don’t want to live by it anymore. I want to stand on my own two feet. I want to be my dancing warrior now, in this body, today, so that I can transform that.' The Medicine is that we can say: We can participate in healing this wound  not throwing it away, not forgiving, just healing it.

Katrin: And we do it by being in contact, by the heart being in contact with itself and the body being in contact with itself. And that’s what I witnessed both in the dance-space and the other events  how people were engaged with their own hearts, with their own bodies and their own imagination. And I witnessed it in the way people listened from their hearts to your story, to Raed’s’ story, and how much they allowed it to enter them and how much it met a readiness for transforming their own story. And the readiness of the German people that I observed to engage in a different, more healing way with their past and the burden of it.

Ben: I saw that too. I definitely felt that in all the events, the readiness to go there.

Katrin: What are your dreams for the future, Ben?

Ben: Well, I want to come back to Frankfurt for sure. I want to continue working in Germany. I feel there is a lot of work for me to contribute to. I dream of coming and finding a way to step into the ancestral realm in a very direct way, through going to the Holocaust-site, going there together consciously, us as a group with Palestinians, Germans and meditating, addressing that, within the work. Making it publicly known and making it a thing not just for us.

I want to keep on helping the growth of the collective in Frankfurt. I am really honored to be part of that evolution that you are dreaming. I want to be part of your dreaming and I want you to be part of my dreaming. That’s really what I want. Your commitment to the collective is really exciting.

Ben: What about your dreams for the future, Katrin?

Katrin: I feel the dream that brought us together in the first place, as we dreamt it during the Movement Medicine Summer Long Dance or maybe even before that, when our dreams met. It is a dream of Israelis, Palestinians and Germans dancing together, healing together at the very places where the pain is still stored. And that is in the body, in the hearts as well as in the physical space. So I strongly resonate with that dream of dancing at Holocaust-sites, dancing in Auschwitz, and being in ceremony and in a healing process together that involves the individual level, the collective level as well as the sheer soil and land of where it is stored. Let’s do it for our ancestors, on behalf of our ancestors and for the future generations.

Ben: Mmm. Wow. That will be something. Won’t it? Let’s dream on that one. Let’s make it happen. I’ll be there. Wherever you say, I’ll be there.

Both laughing. 

***

For questions and comments, please write to us at:
katrin@movement-medicine-frankfurt.de and ben@movingconflicts.org

 

Upcoming workshops in Frankfurt/Main, Germany

May 22-24: Circles of Connection with David Mooney. Frankfurt, Germany

 

Ben’s upcoming workshops:

May 22-24: Wisdom of Conflict. Bologna, Italy 

 

November 13-15: Wisdom of Conflict. Frankfurt, Germany 

 

November 20-22: Wisdom of Conflict. Warsaw, Poland

 

To find out more visit:

Moving Conflictshttp://movingconflicts.org/

Combatants for Peacehttp://cfpeace.org/

The Summer Long Dance Devon, UK. July 3-9.

Playing for Time
By Ruth Ben-Tovim
There are those moments in life when things come together, when what has been at the fertile edges comes into focus and occupies the centre… As a socially and ecologically-engaged artist, as a creative Movement Medicine facilitator, as a human being looking for ways to act in the world at this moment in time, this coming together has just happened for me with the publication of a beautiful book by Lucy Neal called 'Playing for Time: Making art as if the world mattered'. It's been two years in the making and I am very proud to have been part of a small team, writing for the book and supporting it to come into being.

I can’t really express what the book is about any better than the back cover does!

"This ground-breaking handbook is a resource for artists, community activists and anyone wishing to reach beyond the facts and figures of science and technology to harness their creativity to make change in the world.

This timely book explores the pivotal role artists play in re-thinking the future, re-inventing and re-imagining our world at a time of systemic change and uncertainty. Playing for Time identifies collaborative arts practices emerging in response to planetary challenges, reclaiming a traditional role for artists in the community as truth-tellers and agents of change.

Sixty experienced artists and activists give voice to a new narrative – shifting society’s rules and values away from consumerism and commodity towards community and collaboration with imagination, humour, ingenuity, empathy and skill. Inspired by the grass-roots Transition movement, modelling change in communities worldwide, Playing for Time joins the dots between key drivers of change – in energy, finance, climate change, food and community resilience – and ‘recipes for action’ for readers to take and try".

I feel really proud to be part of this cohort of practitioners, all of whom work outside of the art institutions with people of all ages and backgrounds, as if the world mattered. The book shares examples of transformative projects under different chapter heading, for example: Water, Land, Activism, Food, Rites of Passage, Street, Body.

For me, seeing all of this work together in one place is extraordinary, a marker in the sand, a milestone, a manifesto for the role of creativity in changing our world. It brings what is often invisible into technicolour! When I held it in my hands I felt myself relax. I felt a sense of being held, of belonging. It's hopeful; it reminds me of the silent revolution to bringing about the change to a more interconnected and sustainable way of being that Paul Hawkins talks about and which is happening everywhere. And... it has a whole chapter at the back called ‘Recipes for Action’ where lots of artist have very generously given away tips, project frames, ideas for others to use.

In this book I have written a case study about my creative practice as an artist and facilitator, which was challenging as I often find it hard to define what I do as it weaves between disciplines, contexts, situations. I’ve also written descriptions of about three or four projects I have been involved in over the years. 

If you’d like to know more about the work that I do visit, www.encounters-arts.org.uk, which is the website of the organisation that I run.

I would love for some of you to buy the book and hope that you enjoy reading it, sharing it, passing it on.

The book is available in the The Movement Medicine Shop.

A Dance Practice that has Held Me
By Margaret Davies
I recently came across an article on Facebook, ‘The Mystery of Holding' by Matt Licata, an American psychotherapist and writer (I shared it on the Movement Medicine FB page). It sang to me and seemed to sum up so much of what I have experienced on my journey towards healing, over all my years of learning as a family social worker and dancing 5Rhythms and Movement Medicine.

“There is an ancient longing wired in us as infants to be seen, to be felt, and to have our surging, somatic-emotional world validated by another. When our subjective experience is empathically held, contained, and allowed, we come to a natural place of rest. What is love, really, other than fully allowing the other to be who they are, for their experience to be what it is, and to offer the gift of presence to their unique subjectivity? In this sense, I love you = I allow you.”

Learning about attachment theory as a social worker taught me that we are social beings, ‘wired’ – in a brain and holistic development sense – to need attuned connection with another being who can, through their attuned holding of us in their awareness and presence, ‘get’ us, mirror us, and show us who we are, and in turn who they are, enabling us to become our separate unique selves, paradoxically, only through our connection with other.

The ‘holding’ of the dance workshop – the accepting space offered by our teachers, the music and words they bring and the spirit of the dance which arrives – has been a place where my ‘surging, somatic-emotional (and spiritual) world’ has been met, held and validated. Every teacher and dancer who has met me with their embodied presence, and witnessed me as I move, has allowed me to be who I am, has given me a precious gift of validation that has healed and helped me to grow.

Later on in The Mystery of Holding, Matt goes on to say: “Through making attuned, present-time, somatically-engaged contact with another as they are – and by providing an open, warm sanctuary in which their experience can unfold and illuminate – we become vehicles of love in action.”

Most of Matt’s article could be applied to my experience of dancing in this embodied conscious field, and particularly my experience of dancing with Susannah and Ya’Acov, and the Movement Medicine Mesa, which we are co-creating.

Matt also says: “While not talked about as much, we can provide this same contact and space to ourselves and come to discover that our nature as awareness itself is in fact the ultimate holding environment. You are always, already resting in the majesty of presence and are always, already held – by the beloved – who is none other than your own miracle nervous system, heart, and somatic brilliance.”

From the strong container of the interconnected dance, I have more recently found the space to drop into Mindfulness practice, Awareness itself, Being-ness itself, and I am beginning to feel the truth of the words that I am “already held – by the beloved – who is none other than [my] own miracle nervous system, heart, and somatic brilliance”.

In this place of clearer awareness, I can see more of what Matt calls the “undercurrent of aggression towards myself” and towards others; we have worked with that on the MM Apprenticeship and Professional training, when we have worked with the super-ego, and with our conflict and mediation processes.

And so, the wheel keeps turning; the layers of dis-ease, health and healing keep unfolding; the beat goes on; and we have a dance practice to support us to engage and maintain “a radical intimacy with our experience, staying close to our ripe bodies and tender hearts”. Thank Goodness for that!

With great thanks to my attachment teachers: Pat Thompson, John Bowlby, Donald Winnicott, Vera Fahlberg, Kate Cairnes, Dan Hughes; my Mindfulness teachers: Dan Seigel, Pema Chodrun, Tara Brach; and of course, my beloved dance teachers: Susannah and Ya’Acov, Gabrielle Roth, and everyone I have danced with.

Margaret Davies, Movement Medicine Teacher and Facilitator

Re-Creation and SEER
By Anusia Meier
Dear Movement Medicine Community, I am in complete AWE about the power of Re-Creation and the SEER process. I have just returned from assisting on Re-Creation in Switzerland at the beautiful and powerful Schweibenalp in Switzerland. It has been an amazingly deep journey for me, with deep embodied realisation and relaxation into who I am.

In our last sharing round with Ya'Acov and the other six amazing assistants and Anveshi our amazing translator, I had a deep burst out of tears. It felt like a huge relief. I felt that finally I could relax into who I am. Not having to act or do things to be loved, be seen, or be appreciated by others. This narcissistic Self, which was in a way very important for my survival as a child, could finally drop. Wow. I felt at least 10kg lighter and at the same time 10kg heavier – heavier in the sense of a deeper connection with gravity, mama earth and the earth of my body. And out of this relaxation, I felt a strong focus to dream my soul even deeper and deeper into this existence. Out of the connection with Yin and the acceptance of who I am, the focus to grow and stretch into my becoming became natural and organic.

What a great gift to experience the teachings of Susannah and Ya'Acov and their amazing Movement Medicine medicine in the real reality of one's process!

And you know what? I soooo much love and appreciate myself more now than I have been able to before; the more "real" me is so much more alive, funny, at ease and beautiful than the other one, who did sooo much to be loved and appreciated.

Then there is something else I want to share with you: my real experience of the power of the SEER process.

Just in the morning after coming back home from Re-Creation I did a SEER Process. In the part where you turn towards the soul-retrieval, where the life-energy comes back, nothing came back, but I got a message from there: there is nothing to come back right now; you need to find a new lake to live in.

I had this strong image the night before of being a fish swimming all my life in a poisoned lake – the lake of my childhood, the lake of not being in choice, the lake of the alcohol issues of my father, violence, no boundaries and the whole Polish heritage of war and the Catholic faith. So I knew that now, for the first time in my life, it is time to make my conscious CHOICE where I choose to live. It's all done in the old container; there is no more use working or healing in there. I need to find a new lake, a new container to live in.

What a relief. So after this SEER Process, I wrote down on paper some words like: new lake, new container, new home.

And straight after this, I needed to go into town to run some errands, so I went into my car and, guess what? There was a big big water pool/water lake on the floor next to the driver’s seat!! The lake had manifested in my car. This has never happened to me with water in the car before. Although it was raining a lot and no windows or door were open, there was water inside the car. How mysterious is that?

Last summer I had a similar thing going on with my old car: I went through a long and deep dying process for some time, doing a lot of SEER. On the last day of this process, I had the sense that now it's over and this part had really died. I went into my car and guess what, my car was dead!! No joke.

One more story on the SEER I did today about an issue that has really been triggering me for a long time: I have a very expensive headset microphone for my MM classes, but the part that goes around the ear is broken, and for weeks now I haven’t been able to work with the mic any more.

I called Musix (the company I bought it from) at least about 100 times. At the beginning they would call me back but then they wouldn't any more. I sent many mails explaining my problem, for the first rounds being very polite, but then with a growing, slightly angry undertone.

Interestingly they weren't able to give me some constructive or clear advice on what to do now, and said they would need to find out what could be done and whether it was under guarantee. Then I didn't hear back from the company for more than a month, while I kept on calling and writing to them. No answers. Eventually they wrote in a very uninvolved way: "We are sorry, but it will not go under guarantee", without proposing any next steps of what to do with it. I replied that I didn’t care about the guarantee and that I just needed to have it fixed.

Again, no answer for weeks!!

I felt such anger and strong feelings of helplessness; I didn't know what to do with it any more. I also knew that life was providing me with this great situation to work with, something old that couldn't be expressed and felt then and there.

So I did a SEER about that this morning, and guess what? Yes, just at the end of the SEER process, as I was stepping back into the present after dancing in the future in which I had seen that they would ring me very soon, the phone rang and, guess who was on the other side? YES, Musix – the company from the microphone. No joke! I was in a bit of a shock, I have to say…

(Interesting that the SEER is working not only in "doing" something in the next 7 days, but also in really "seeing" what might happen within the next few days.)

I could explain and express to this man (who was by the way very nice to me) my anger and my helplessness and he said, "Oh I am sorry. We will find a solution. Send it to us and we will fix it." So easy, once things are cleared out the way!

Isn't this amazing how the SEER is really a tool to Re-Create our reality once we have felt the unfelt feelings and unexpressed actions and return into a place of integrity, power and dignity!!

I bow to this Movement Medicine work and to all that it is connected to!!!

Anusia Meier

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