School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

Back to contents

Issue: May 2009
Stopping the World

by Ya'Acov

I’m travelling home again after a quite beautiful week teaching Wild at Heart, my bi-annual venturing into the world of ‘for men only’ workshops. I was struck, as I have often been recently, by the mature ‘no bullshit’ approach all bar none of the participants had to the work we did together. That feeling was mirrored in Billy Connolly’s DVD about his journey through the North-West passage called Journey to the Edge of the World, which I watched on the train home. In one episode, he participates in a traditional sweat lodge in British Colombia. He is disarmingly honest throughout his epic journey and his sweat lodge experience is no different. He begins the ceremony with some trepidation.

Quite soon, he appears to be touched by the sincerity and openness of his fellow participants and their willingness to share on such a deep emotional level. And he leaves the ceremony moved and lightened. It reminded me of our journey this past week and I find myself wanting to bow to my brothers in the dance and to all the men in the process of redefining their identity as men in the modern world.

I have watched dancers dance themselves back from the brink of insanity. I have watched sons cry the tears their fathers didn’t for fear of drowning in sorrow and shame. I have witnessed the horrors of war released like ghosts from the blood soaked pages of our collective histories. I have stood together with many brave people and turned to witness and honour the bravery of our ancestors. And I have watched as dancers have brought life and movement back into areas in the body-heart-mind that had become numb through simple neglect. And I have been blessed to see people from so many different backgrounds re-member the dreams that are so close to their hearts. I have seen them reaching for the jewels in their hearts and crafting them into tangible, manifest dreams and dancing prayers.

It is a privilege and it gives me great hope that each week I see people daring to awaken the power to take responsibility for co-creating the lives they dream of in dance after dance after dance.

What a journey it is from wounding to healing and creativity! And what courage it takes to un-silence our selves. And what daring and audacity there is in taking the giant leap to shine consciousness into the dark corners of the psyche where stories and perceptions have become ossified into shapes that belong to the past. And most importantly, what a blend of patience and determination it takes to bring the freedom we experience in the dance into the dance of our everyday lives.

On the tube between St.Pancras and Paddington, I witnessed a moment that summed up the strength of movement meditation to change the way we see and act in the world. Our train was stopped at Edgware Road and there was a bunch of 5 to 8 year old kids bubbling with the excitement of a day out in London. An old lady, bedraggled and weighed down by a mass of plastic bags, her bony shoulders curved inwards and a grimace set deep into her jaw, was walking down the platform. She was swearing loudly about ‘those fucking kids’ as she walked past. She was clearly in her own movie and it looked like a bit of a nightmare. Walking the other way on the platform was a young London Underground employee. He had the glare of judgement and irritability in his eyes, muttering about mad old women on the loose. And then he looked at me. It’s amazing how much information can pass between people in one glance. In my mind, time stood still for a moment as I weighed up the road ahead. I had a simple choice to make. I could continue the train of events set in motion by goodness knows what had made the old woman into this radiator of bitterness. I could continue the thread of dismissal and separation and judge the young man for judging her. Or I could make contact, look a little deeper and make another choice. I had the briefest of moments where I was looking above the whole situation. I saw some of the horrors that had led the old woman into her current state. And I could see the ripples of energy around her as she unconsciously spread her own traumas dropping little anger bombs all around her as she travelled through the city. I saw the young employee who had reacted to one of these bombs and was now setting off a few of his own. And then I saw myself. And I saw that I had the freedom to choose. I could react and continue the film that was playing or I could be myself and throw a different colour wash across the landscape.

These thoughts and possibilities all ran through me in a split second and I realised that it is exactly that split second of awareness that all the work we do on the dance floor gives us. That’s what healing is. It’s the process by which we learn to step back for that split second that gives us the minimal chance to choose.

The young man got on our train, continuing to grumble about mad old women. I said hello and asked him if he was having a bad day. We ended up chatting briefly about his newborn baby keeping him awake at night and how afraid he was of bringing such a vulnerable being up in such a crazy and frightening world. His honesty was a breath of fresh air and then for the briefest of moments, the world stopped, and we connected as brothers and as two fathers who love their sons.

Every day, life presents us with many of these minimal chance moments. Do we continue to play our part in the movies we inherit from our past, or do we wake up from our sleep walk, take a breath, ground our selves, and make choices based on the insight our practice gives us?

In order to do that well, we need to shine the light of the dance on our past and see what we have inherited. We need to be grounded in the present, acknowledge our mortality and the brief moment we have to do our dance here on earth, and dare to dream together. That’s what Movement Medicine is all about. And our curriculum is based on learning the skills to be able to make a practice of using those moments of minimal chance that can make all the difference in our personal and collective dream.

This week, we’ll be in the studio creating our first Movement Medicine CD. And then I’m off on the road again at the weekend on my way to Switzerland for three workshops, before returning to Belgium for the last module of my ongoing group. My last event before the summer will be another beginning as we will have our first meeting with our Apprenticeship. And what an adventure that promises to be! The dates are up on our website for any of you who are interested in participating in the next journey which, all being well, will begin in 2011. Finally, I and we are so excited that our book is now complete and available to pre-order on the Amazon UK site.

So dear friends in the dance of life, I raise my May Day glass to you and to All My Relations. Here’s to translating the freedom of the dance into our everyday choices.

Ya’Acov. May 2009.

Back to contents

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.