School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
Issue: May 2009

The Kangaroos and the Trampoline

By Roland

I was at Ya’Acov’s birthday party, talking to Chris Lüttichau about his new book Animal Spirit Guides.  Chris was explaining that the publishers had asked him at the last moment to add some pages about Australian animals.  He had some problems with this at first but after some research and shamanic dreaming had successfully completed the job.

“Tell me about Kangaroos.” I asked Chris,  “What are their Spirit Guide qualities?”

He looked at me rather quizzically.

“Why Kangaroos?” he asked.

“I will tell you in a moment.” I promised.

For most of what Chris had to say about kangaroos as Spiritual Guides you will have to buy his book.  But there was one thing that he said that stuck me as being very pertinent and that was that kangaroos progress their lives in leaps and bounds.


So why my interest in Kanagroos?  For some time now, since Reuben, their son, was quite young, Susannah and Ya’Acov have had a large trampoline at the bottom of their garden.   Many years ago I had a very vivid dream.  In this dream I was walking along the road that runs behind their garden.  I looked up at the hedge and was amazed to see two kangaroos jump up above the level of the hedge and look down straight at me.  Then the kangaroos dropped out of sight behind the hedge only to reappear 3 seconds later again looking my way.  When this was repeated twice more the absurdity of situation made my wake up roaring with laughter.


After this ‘The Kangaroos’ became a very private but very affectionate shorthand that Susanne and I used to refer Susannah and Ya’Acov.


As I was relating my dream to Chris I had a moment of realisation.  At the time of the dream Susannah and Ya’Acov had masses of energy but were struggling to find the right way forward.  Hence my image of them jumping up and down on the spot.  But, of course, real kangaroos don’t jump up and down in the same place, as if they are on a trampoline.  They jump forwards.  And this forward motion is the difference between the Susannah and Ya’Acov of now and the Susannah and Ya’Acov of my dream world at that time.  Within the next few months, the School of Movement Medicine's first Apprenticeship Programme will start, some of those Apprentices will start to act as assistants at School of Movement Medicine workshops and Susannah and Ya’Acov’s forthcoming book “Movement Medicine - 9 Gateways to Living the Dream” will be published by Hay House Publishers in September. `By the way, you can already pre-order the book at Amazon UK.  Susannah and Ya'Acov's first Movement Medicine CD, will also be published by Hay House, is also available to pre-order from Amazon. Several leaps and a lot of ground has been covered. 


We regularly have conversations with people about how they can become more involved with the Movement Medicine work and eventually train to teach it.  What we tell everyone is that the path to this goal is our curriculum and the first major step on that road is Susannah's ongoing group, The Journey of Empowerment.  The next time this journey is due to start is on July 11th.  There are still some places available and it is not too late to apply for place.  If you want to gain a thorough grounding in the essentials of Movement Medicine practice amongst a group of committed fellow travellers, find much more of your own creative juice for living and maybe take a few great leaps of your own, then this is the course for you.  Please email me at if you would like an application form. Or download one from


There is still just time to book on For All Our Relations a residential workshop led by Ya’Acov which will take place over 6 days May 11th – 17th at Waldhaus Zentrum in Switzerland.  This is the first course on which Ya'Acov will be integrating the work of the Pachamama Alliance's Be the Change Symposium with Movement Medicine and it promises to be a very deep week. Two work scholarships are still available for this course. Please contact Roland on 01803 762244 or if you are interested in attending this workshop.  Ya’Acov wrote about this workshop in the last newsletter in his article entitled The Greatest Challenge.


We forgot to mention about the early payment discount date for Initiation in our last newsletter so we have decided to extend it by a few days and we will now give the discount to those of you who book for this workshop by Friday 15th May.  You can download an application form off the website at


Several of our forthcoming weekend workshops are fully booked.  Both Ya’Acov’s forthcoming workshop in Switzerland ,Ascension workshop in Bern on May 21 and Source on 22 – 24 May are fully booked with a waiting list as is Susannah’s DanSing workshop in Israel on June 10 – 13th.  But there are a few places on the Move! evening in Israel on 9th  June. Contact Aviya at if you would like a place.

There are, however, a few place on Susannah’s Dancing Yin & Yang course in Poland on 22 – 24th May.  Contact Olga at +48 509 774 884  if you are interested in this workshop.

Susannah will be teaching in Salzburg for the first time on June 5th – 7th.  This is a Move weekend and if you wish to book or find out more then get in touch with Andrea  +43 664 380 8073

There are also places available on the Susannah’s Fusion weekend in The Netherlands on 20 – 21 June.  The organiser for this event is Frank and you can get hold of him at  +31 71 889325300


Wishing you great bounds and leaps in your life




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.

The Door of Manifestation

By Susannah

I asked our editor at Hay House about whether our book could be up on Amazon for people to pre-order. She said casually “Oh, I think it’s already up there”… I looked. It was. It is. Oh my god, it’s real!

So, there it is, you can pre-order our book which is called Movement Medicine: 9 Gateways to living the Dream and our instructional CD: Movement Medicine: Movement Meditations for Life from Amazon UK. In fact please do!

It’s been an amazing process to write this together with Ya’Acov and I’m proud to say that, most of the time!, it’s been a highly enjoyable process. We’ve found that we have SO much to say. I’m reminded of an image I had of creativity when I was a young student. I saw a queue of people waiting at a door. Each person represents an idea or creative impulse. The door represents bringing them in from the dream world into the world of manifestation. When you stand within the house of manifestation and look through your door, you can only see the person, or people at the head of the queue but as you take them in, more and more appear behind.

I’ve just come back from teaching ‘DanSing’ in Cork, and what I’ve just said above is so true of this particular workshop. In our improvisational community practice, as people began to find confidence in themselves as naturally creative singing musical beings, our co-created spontaneous music began to grow, thrillingly beautiful, strong and tender. Songlines came streaming. I ‘take off my hat’ to this land of music, and acknowledge the pain, self-silencing and self-doubt which the weight of history has bestowed. I pay my respects to the song birds which took flight again this weekend. Long may you soar and grow confident in the value and uniqueness of your voice and the heart it expresses.

And I am very pleased to announce that you can now get The Walrog CD, from

This long-running project, making the CD version of the fairy tale The Walrog,  is now done! This project has been a very long time at the door of manifestation, as we tweaked and added and refined. And it’s been worth it and I’m seriously pleased with it.

It’s the story of an unusual couple.  Their elemental, adventurous, almost tragic and redemptive story is told by Margot Henderson, Ya’Acov and myself, accompanied by a sweeping, beautiful soundscape created by Be-Attitude with guitarist, Algy Behrens. We’ve designed it with car journeys and bed-time stories in mind. It’s suitable (we think!) for kids from 6 to 106 and can be heard as simply a good yarn, or as a parable on the mysteries of relationship.

With the first 50 copies ordered, you get a free Walrog book along with the CD. Roll up!

So, in this mysterious and challenging time, I wish you all grace and courage in bringing the gifts you have to offer the world through the door of manifestation and playing your part in the orchestra of world transformation. The boy in the seat behind me keeps saying: “Mummy, I’m so magic!” Yes you are!


Susannah Darling Khan





Moving Stories
This month's winner of £100 School of Movement Medicine workshop voucher

By Rob Porteous

I am fascinated by stories; in particular how the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we are doing here define and limit the choices we make. If I have to be the hero, what do I do with my cowardice? If I’m a ‘pillar of society,’ what happens to my desire to subvert the system? How can my ‘Mr Nice Guy’ get angry? If I feel like the victim or the perpetual outsider, how do I ask for what I want? If I’m always busy, what happens to my need for stillness? If I have to have all the answers, how do I cope with my stupidity?

In the process of making up my particular story, I turn facts into fiction- internalising and personalising what happened to me; and then fiction back into fact: ‘This is the way it’s always been; the only way it can be.’ But when I set the story in motion, as I did recently at Awakening in Dartington, and Source in Manchester, new perspectives emerge. New ways of being and relating become possible. I begin to see how to create change in my life, and what the next step might be.

Story is a way of making sense of our world; a container for our emotions and sensations. The story that life is a kaleidoscope of experiences, to be savoured, tasted, smelled moment by moment, is very different from the story that life is about achieving goals, setting targets and making things happen. I think both stories are true; we need both ways of envisioning the world, the near and the far. There is something wonderfully intimate about the smell of jasmine freshened by the morning dew; something wonderfully uplifting about setting sail at midnight into the huge emptiness of a star-strewn sea. Yet how often do I miss the experience that is close at hand because I’m preoccupied with a distant goal? How often do I miss the open door in front of me because I’m wrapped up in my present grief or grievance?

Often when cycling around Bristol I wonder what use a motorist will make of the 5 seconds he’s gained by overtaking me, particularly when he gets stuck at the next lights or the next traffic jam. Yet many people seem unwilling to imagine that there could be a different story, where you feel the wind on your face, the effort of climbing a hill and the exhilaration of the descent; where you know you’ve got somewhere because you’ve invested energy in it.

Moving stories- stories that move us- are stories which engage our emotions, which change or transform the way we feel. That, I think is a primary function of story: at the end of it we feel differently from when we started. An essential element of storytelling is that each telling, like each dance, is a new experience. Even while the story remains the same, each time my response to it changes, when I contact the flow of energy in my body-mind.

Sometimes, of course, I get stuck in some backwater or cul de sac from which no exit seems possible. Sheldon Kopp in his book If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him, uses the image of the prisoner grasping the bars of his cell, yearning for freedom, while behind him, in the shadows, the cell door is open.

Sometimes I’m not really present to what is happening around me. In The Tibetan Book of living and dying Sogyal Rinpoche quotes the following exchange between master and pupil:


‘Master, how can I follow the way?’

‘By eating and sleeping.’

‘But master, everybody eats and sleeps.’

‘Ah yes, but how many people eat when they eat, and sleep when they sleep?’


If my mind is elsewhere, I tend to go down familiar pathways without thinking.

The story about how we are victims of our history and exploiters of our environment is not untrue. The trouble comes when I treat that story as if it is the only one. When my aunt in Israel says, ‘They want to throw us into the sea,’ it’s part of an age old history of conflict and enmity. Lionel Blue in a recent thought for the day spoke of people who talk more about holy places than holy actions, who spend more time building walls than building bridges. Slavoj Zizek, in his book Violence, says: ‘An enemy it someone whose story you have not heard.’

For this to change, I need to be able to imagine a different future. I have to let go of familiar landmarks. I have to accept my ‘not-knowing,’ not having the answers. ‘If we would discover what we do not know we must go by the way that is the way of ignorance’ (T. S. Eliot.)

A few years ago I heard someone on the radio say: ‘There are just two kinds of story: stories about retribution, and stories about transformation.’ How we can move from on to the other is, I think, an increasingly pressing issue for the world we live in. What a different story it would be in Israel/ Palestine, if instead of the endless saga of suffering, and war, and arguments over borders, and disputes over the control of Jerusalem that seem to me the inevitable outcome of a ‘two state solution,’ there was one country, respecting the rights of Jews and Arabs, Druse and Christian; avoiding the fundamentalisms of both Judaism and Islam. The loss of the exclusive right to dictate what happens in ‘my’ land is far outweighed by the gain of letting go of the old story of conflict, suffering and exile. A growing sense of community and collaboration and connection to the earth would bring with it, I think, a sense of true homecoming.

Of course it is easy to tell others how to sort out their problems; more difficult to deal with my own. But when in the dance I really experience and let go of the burdens I have carried with me, the energy that feels heavy and obdurate transforms naturally into a dance of connection, of new beginnings. I move around the room without effort, awake and alive to the world around me. I begin to appreciate the meaning of John Heider’s statement in The Tao of Leadership: ‘Do nothing, and everything that is needful will get done.’

One lunchtime, at Source in Manchester, someone asked me why I was wearing a cap, similar to what in Hebrew would be called a kova tembel, a dunce’s cap. ‘Is it to keep your head warm, or to protect you from the sun?’

I shook my head. ‘It means, Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. I’m taking time out from being intelligent.’ So from that place of not trying to make sense of things, I offer this rhyme to all who, like me, have spent years trying to puzzle out the answers.


                                    For the answer is the question

It’s no more than a suggestion

Of an aid to the digestion

When we all have lost our way.


And the question is the answer

It’s the movement of a dancer

To the flute of an entrancer

When the stars come out to play.


                                                            Rob Porteous



Source: Why did I do this dance weekend?
by Debbie Rosenberg
“I’m going for a cardio-vascular workout,” I heard myself telling my friends as we sat in the car en route to the dance venue for Source on Friday night. My friends laughed at that and one of them expressed much deeper and potentially profound reasons as to why she was going. You know what though? I could also have chosen to do an elaborate combination of box steps, spotty dogs and grapevines to achieve that end and even a few mambo cha-cha-chas thrown in to make it seem ‘dancey‘.

Only a few years ago you would have seen me bouncing up and down on the aerobics studio floor. The story goes as follows; the very same pm of the day that I had completed the YMCA exercise to music teaching qualification (walk forwards with a clap and walk backwards with a clap, step touch single,single, double), I decided to try a Sunday night 5 rhythms class in Manchester.
During that momentous evening circa February 2005, I observed myself smiling more than I usually did. Fuck me, even the L-shaped grapevine didn’t compare to this. Nowhere near in fact. This was the healthy disco I’d been looking for. My body and mind felt narrow and rigid when under the aerobics regime. Here, anything was possible; my feet and hands had been set free and my arms and legs were loving it. This was exercise which was fun. But four years down the line and with workshops and many evening classes under my belt, was it still all about cardio-vascular health?
The next big discovery I made on the dancing path involved community. I began from word go to make friendships that seemed relevant, exciting and full of depth and understanding. A network of people close by and further afield. At first, I earnestly believed the Sunday night dance floor was the place to meet Mr Right, the love of my life and a boyfriend all rolled into one perfect package. I remember the confusion I experienced after spending lyrical and stillness sublimely connected in the dance with some man or other only to then discover THAT WAS IT. It was over. We’d HAD a connection on the dance floor but we didn’t necessarily HAVE a connection in civilian life. Usually, I stopped fancying them the moment we tried to engage in light conversation after the class had finished. After a while, I stopped trying to find a boyfriend and started to recognise my friends. To that end, the theme of the weekend could have been something less fruity and more, say, vegetably than sexuality and I’d still have been there for the simple pleasure of seeing my friends and dancing together and being a member of the group.
What about Ya’acov? Was I going because of the teacher? Well, I’d danced with him before and found myself moved, challenged, supported, encouraged and acknowledged on each occasion, my ears wide open to his words when he spoke. Probably a part of me (maybe the jewish mother part?) felt a certain affinity and pride towards Ya’acov as a fellow member of the tribe. The word in Yiddish to describe this is ’kwell’ and it means ‘glow with pride’. Maybe this is not dis-similar to Clover, a black British women I taught numeracy to recently, wearing to class a Barak Obama t-shirt, wrist bands and matching baseball cap for a few days after the election? Or, the girls in the London High School who were recently visited by Michelle Obama and certainly seeming to kwell judging by the pictures in the newspaper and Hello! Magazine? (I do like a bit of Hello! every now and then but sshhhhh, that’s just between you and me).
The last occasion I danced with Ya’acov was when I was pregnant and now Zahira is 17 months and entertaining, beautiful and funny. I was definitely at Source to have a bit of quality Debbie time. Although I have loved and admired her deeply from the moment of her conception, I, probably like most other mothers, find it easier fulfil the job description with a smile in my heart after I’ve had a little time to myself. I was grateful for my mum, a very, very,very enthusiastic grandma, being available to look after Zahira on both days.

So, how was the cardio-vascular for you if you were there? For me, I felt my heart pumping fresh, juicy blood and my lungs expanding and contraction more quickly. But basking in the sublimely crafted stillness that we landed in at the end on Sunday, was just as delicious as the more cardio raising moments of the weekend. I found my dancing feet once again. They had just needed dusting down a little. As long as there is breathe in my body and blood in my veins, I know I’ll want to dance. And more often than the infrequent opportunities at weddings and bar-mitzvas. Now, I have the exquisite pleasure of watching my daughter dance. So far she has three moves; bending her knees and stamping her feet, swinging her arms from side to side and moving her weight from one leg to the other and leaning her body over as she does it.
Thank you Ya’acov for coming to Manchester to teach and thank you to all the friends involved in organizing the weekend. I thought it all ran really smoothly.
Love Debbie x

Dance with your backpack on if you have to
leaving, homecoming, initiation and what do you put in your medicine bundle?

By Ellen Head

Come, come, whoever you are, wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving

It doesn’t matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times

Come, come again, come again, come!

Jalal Uddin Rumi

I was enchanted by this lyric when I saw it on a poster on the London Underground in 1990. The image was of a team of white-clad dervishes from Southern Sudan whirling against a dark background. I didn’t make it to the performance but I copied the lyric into my diary, and said it to myself whenever I had to leave something, which was often. Nineteen years later I’ve no idea where that diary is but the poem is in my blood and the meaning has changed as I have got older. Now it says something to me about the strength of a community of practice into which the practitioner can drop back with joy.

I started dancing the rhythms in 1995 with Angela. So many learnings, visceral memories which I think of as a medicine bundle I can open and revisit on days of rainy dark and at a distance of 5000 miles, 14 years. As I’m writing this I’m on a train trundling through urban Japan, views of tower blocks, corrugated tin roofs, broad grey rivers, punctuated by cherry trees, the occasional shrine. My pack is safely stowed in the rack above me.  If I were to chronicle the changes that dancing 5 rhythms catalyzed, I would need a bit more space, but maybe it’s enough to say that I came to Japan a few months after doing the “Cycles” initiation workshop in 1999. If you are reading this, it’s likely that you have your own story to tell of 5 rhythms and catalytic change. I want to ask you a question, what is in your medicine bundle? By this I mean practices, experiences you actively revisit, songs or words as well as actual things such as pictures, books, CDs, aromatherapy oil or whatever. Having lived abroad for almost a quarter of my adult life, I notice this kind of rhythm developing: furious work/ monastic quiet (staccato/chaos/stillness) followed by chaotic travel /deep reflection/celebration/harvest. In the periods when I return to the UK I am conscious of stocking up not just on products that I can’t get in Japan (Bengal spice tea, savlon to put on mosquito bites) but on laughter, love, times of talking very fast, quiet intimacy, and the occasional dance workshop. A few years ago I started this affirmation for my holidays “I stock up on seed corn for my future/ these experiences are seed corn for my future to help me bloom my unique flower”. My image was of an aproned Mexican woman (probably Clarissa Pinkola Estes or her grandmother) wrapping precious seeds in a big white handkerchief, folding it and putting them in her bundle. They hold vitality which needs earth, sun and water and time in order to sprout something nutritious. But actually the kingdom of heaven can sprout very quickly from a mustard seed, and the catalysts can work fast and unpredictably at times. Right now I am celebrating two wonderful catalysts that sent shoots into my life last winter.

One is the presence of a five rhythms teacher, Sahaja, in Japan. Practising with Sahaja by the sea in December was like homecoming to a place I had never been before, reconnecting me with the practice of 5 rhythms and with a new fledgling 5 R community in Japan. Many of the participants were new to this particular way of doing things but they had danced before and I have never been with a tribe more grounded and at home in our bodies. That was partly thanks to Sahaja’s gentle reminder, which became a mantra for me through the weekend:

Who is the teacher?

Your body is the teacher.

Think about your breath.

Sahaja has been based in Amsterdam but is now back in Japan, although she will continue to teach in other venues too. This is wonderful as she is a teacher of exceptional lightness and precision, humour and humility. It is exciting to see a 5 R community developing in Japan against a background of the different movement disciplines that are current here – martial arts, vigorous folk dances that everyone does in the summer, and slow “butoh” classical dance.

The second joyful discovery of my winter was a book called “A Branch from the Lightning Tree” .  Martin Shaw, the writer, is a teacher of wilderness initiation and a well-known storyteller. Reading Shaw’s work, I started to understand myself better, in the sense of “what am I doing living between two countries?” The second, more important (and not yet finished) learning for me is about the nature of initiation. At the time I did “Cycles”, I left the workshop right before the overnight vigil “meeting death as a teacher”. I was too near the edge in my life at that time and I just didn’t need another trial. And what was this kind of no-sleep thing anyway – we’d all get spaced out and I’d probably freak out, and then if I survived I’d feel euphoric. Big deal. I could do sleepless nights on my own, I often did. Martin Shaw’s book has given me a new perspective of initiation as, not meretricious and spacey, but grounded, grounding and life-affirming. He talks about how three days of fasting alert the body to the possibility of death, three days in nature and nature starts to enter our dreams. It comes to mind how after three or four days of dancing for 5 hours a day, my body feels warmer, dream images become vivid, my voice gets deeper and what I say actually seems to come from somewhere else, less chatter, more of the wise crone I aspire to be. There is wildness inside as well as outside.

“It is in silence, reflection, that we get access to a much wider perspective, the little I of I require this to feel valued become the big I of I am connected, I can help.” (Branch from the Lightning tree chapter 5)

Shaw talks about the “bespoke” life: we have to create our own custom-made lives rather than accepting what society has decreed, and we also have a responsibility to articulate wild experience in language and feed messages back to “society”. Wilderness initiation is designed to help us see that the planet vitally needs our help, and also give us the strength to move forward:

“It is in the quieter moments that we locate vision, if we are only used to our own impatient tempo then we can ride roughshod over many messages coming to us from the brush…clearly, accessing dramatically different parts of our consciousness than that which many of us are used to…often a focused gaze on small things that reveal what could emerge as a great force in our life.” (Chapter 5)

Shaw emphasizes the time needed and sometimes difficulty of integrating what has changed. Sometimes we might need the formality of a ritual and the authority of a guide, which could be in the form of a person or  a practice, and which will ultimately become part of ourselves.

“All over the world, the physicality of initiation requires change in dress, ritualized steps back to the centre ground, external language that illustrate inner change. If all you get these days is being dropped straight back into an uncomprehending sea of greyness than you are…without the vessel of ritual as container.” (Chapter 3)

I completed Cycles in my own way by walking from Totnes to Buckfastleigh alone, and not so long after I left England, alone. I had learned and processed so much during that time.  It was of great benefit, but it was a hard landing, and I now see that I had to make it hard. Later I danced again with Susannah and she greeted me by name, “You could have joined us again”. Now nearly 10 years later, I have a bit more stability which might allow me to use my experience of edginess as a strength. Having ventured so far from “home” I might be able to venture out a bit further into the wild as well. At least now I see why I might want to. Whether I’ll keep my backpack on is an open question.


With thanks to my teachers, Susannah, Jakov, Angela, Alain, Adam, Sahaja.

Ellen Head

Sahaja's website
And Martin Shaw's

Into the fire

by Tanya Sheikh
The weeks preceding ritual’s “fire module” were filled with resistance. Fatigue, migraines, symptoms that have become so achingly familiar. Telltale signs that a war is raging within. Breathing. Asking Source for guidance and being shown that a Change is coming. A first in many that would signify a turning point in my life, from that of struggle and survival,  constantly gulping down air in what seemed to be a place of stifling darkness, to that where there would be infinitely more space for authentic movement.

For arms to spread wide, not only in the dance but also in life. Freedom. Lightness of being. A new  dawn. A new day. But- ah yes, the ‘but’ that seems so often to be part of the human condition- a part of me was petrified of that change. Fearing that which is unknown. Fearing the light as the darkness was familiar in its suffocation. Preferring the familiarity of the struggle to the possibility of being able to create the life that I dream of.


Marianne Williamson’s words, quoted by Nelson Mandala in his now famous speech echo in my head as I board the train to Orval: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” Delays occurred throughout the journey, causing me to miss connecting trains, mirroring perfectly the chaos within.


The first days of the workshop. Resistance surfacing in all the different shapes and forms that my ego mind could conjure up. “Movement medicine is not my thing,” “strange music, I can’t dance to this,” “I need a woman teacher,” and so on and so forth. The ego mind seems to be simultaneously inventive and repetitive. But, as is thankfully the nature of this work, it started to weave  its’ magic, touching and releasing those frozen bits within- despite my apparently very best intentions not to allow them to defrost.


Fire. The Fire within. Ya’acov in his typical mysterious shamanic way, guided us into our hips. Being held by Mother Earth, hips explored a tender, curious, dance. And there it was…a tiny red hot lick of flame, deep between  my legs. Allowing it to grow, fanning that flame so that I could feel its’ breath, its’ tender caress. Allowing my cells, my muscles, bones and tissue, to taste it and smell it, to wrap themselves around it in an ever deepening intimacy. This invitation allowing it to grow so that it crept up, consuming my body in an ever deepening spiral until all I could feel was that heat within. Hips thrusting, side to side, front to back, rotating in circles, small, bigger, slow, faster, my breath coming in pants and moans. Innocence.


After inviting that inner connection to our fire, Ya’acov  led us to creating a relationship between the inner and the outer. The fire within to Grandfather Fire outside of us. In other words: a firewalk. Fear consumed me to the extent that I was unaware of it. Thankfully, dear friend migraine opened the doors of awareness and consciousness. Standing at the fire side, the coals and the flames spread out like a sparkling, alive, universe, visions of my inner flame entangled in loving embrace with this outer flame reached out to me, whispering, then urging me to come closer. There was nothing to fear. Seeing my fellow ritual travelers boldly, fiercely and gently walk across those glistening, burning coals allowed the decision to be made within to trust and surrender. My feet reached out and…ah, what tender bliss, what a delicious surprise. Those hot, blazing coals under my feet were cool and soft, tender and sweet. They caressed my feet with aching intimacy.


Standing again at the side, wondering if I should meet this unexpected lover again, I realized that walking upon this fire was not what my heart desired. I wanted, no needed, to lie in its’ embrace. To dig my fingers into its warm folds and cover my body with its scent. But my ego mind was nowhere near ready for such a bold undertaking so I stood aside silently, whispering to the flames: another time my love, another time…


In the dining hall that evening, being witness to all those shining eyes, realizing that they were but mirrors to the sparkle in mine, I felt a deep release within. The shackles of FEAR had been collectively broken. The “I can’t” replaced with “I can!” The many books on the power of intention, replaced in that moment by living embodiment.


            Thank-you Ya’acov , fellow ritual travelers, Source of All That Is, and Spirits that held and hold us in this journey.


Tanya Sheikh

Pacha Mama Symposium

Dear Friends,

Here is another opportunity to partake of the Pachamama Symposium  “Awakening the Dreamer”.

We (Susannah, Ya’Acov and Chris Salisbury) have been deeply moved and inspired by the work of the Pacha Mama alliance. We gave our first Pachamama symposium at Schumacher, and were inspired all over again; this material rocks!  This is a deeply creative, intelligent, empowering, and heartful response to the challenges of our time, bringing together environmental sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfilment.

WHEN: Monday 18th May 2009. 10 am 'till 6.30 pm
WHERE: The Ril Centre , Buckfastleigh, Totnes.
COST: Donation to cover costs: between £10 and £20

TO BRING: Please bring food to share- teas etc provided.

So - you are heartily invited to join us (this time its with Susannah Darling Khan and Chris Salisbury) for a day of awakening. For those of you who don’t Chris, he is a story teller who has been offering environmental education with an artistic, mythic twist for many years as WildWise. We’ve all been meaning to do something together in this vein for a long time, and here it is.

Please do pass this e-mail onto whoever may be interested!

A few months ago Bernadette Ryder introduced us to the symposium which was created by the PachaMama Alliance. It has been designed to support people to acknowledge and find a creative response to the crisis of our time. The mission statement of the symposium is to help to bring forth a human presence on this earth which is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling as the guiding principle of our times. For those already aware of and working with these themes and challenges the symposium seems to act as a deep well to re source and reconnect with the meaning behind the work you do, for those just getting the information, its a potent, inspiring and empowering look at what it happening, why and what we can do.

The PachaMama Alliance has grown out of a collaboration between the Achuar people of the Amazon, and a group of North Americans, whose number include Lynne Twist, the founders of the Hunger Project 20 years ago.

They have created a symposium which looks at where we are, how we got here, and where do we go from here? As well as being eye-opening, it is also heart opening and inspiring. We hope you can join us.

If you want more information about the symposium, look at the Awakening the Dreamer pages of the Pachamama Alliance www.pachamamaalliance

 ( ) and

Please let us know a.s.a.p.  if you want to come, and let us know  if you need directions by emailing Roland at or phoning 01803 762255

With Love,

Chris Salisbury & Susannah Darling Khan.

Walrog CD
The Walrog CD is out at last. It’s a highly improved version of the tape which came out 10 years ago, with 3 bonus (instrumental tracks). With the first 50 copies ordered, you get a free Walrog book along with the CD. Roll up! We’ll also have Morgan Doctors new CD in soon (its on its way from Canada) and Gabrielle Roth’s new CD Jhoom, with some funky tribal percussion, and a beautiful long meditative track from Chloe Goodchild.

Nick Barber’s exquisite ‘Blue Sky’ is continuing to get rave reports from those of you who’ve got it, and Darpan’s Fly Away is flying out of our hands fast as so many of you are happy to be able to play “Pacha Mama” at home.

The Walrog CD is the story of an unusual couple.  Their elemental, adventurous, (almost) tragic and redemptive story is told by Margot Henderson, Ya’Acov and myself, accompanied by a sweeping, beautiful sound-scape created by Be-Attitude with guitarist Algy Behrens. We’ve designed it with car journeys and bedtime stories in mind. It’s suitable (we think!) for kids from 6 to 106 and can be heard as simply a good yarn, or as a parable on the mysteries of relationship.

Rituals 2008 - 2009 - The power of present!

By Odet Sleeswijk

Today 29th of March. It is a week ago since I have left rituals module 3…

I feel more peace and calmness in myself. I feel so deep connected with my companions on my journey. Everybody is so focused to give all their attention to the circle, so I feel so safe to let myself go and experienced all energy through my body….

I have experienced my yang-energy on the dancefloor and in the ceremonies. I have screamed and shouted out my pain , I went all the way, without any restrictions. I gave all my tears and joy to my dance, my sweatprayers!


I have experienced my ying-energy to be aware of my feminine energy. I have danced my feminine energy on the dancefloor by feeling myself as a beautiful and sensitive woman. To be proud of myself as being a woman! And to be more connected with my (grand)mother!


I have healed the pain of my family. A deep wound, the sexual pain of a black woman! I have released my past and I have more energy and joy in daily life.


I feel more and more connected with mother Earth and father Sun. I am more soft and open and more loving to myself and Wijnand (my soulmate), my family and all my other relations (my brothers and sisters).



I don’t feel lonely anymore because I am home in my body. I feel the dancer inside of myself and she wants to come out and show herself to the world. And I am more focused on my future.  And at the same time, I go with the flow and creating my future by being present. You can call it…the power of present….



And the power of present and breath helps my in daily life to deal with all situations. To stand still and wait when the time is right to move on…to be active. Because sometimes it is better to do nothing and say my prayers.


I am ok!

You are ok!

we are ok!

We are all one!


I am grateful for life….


Odet Sleeswijk



The next Ongoing Group with the School of Movement Medicine starts is with Susannah. It begins in July and is called The Journey of Empowerment – Essentials of Movement Medicine Practice. This ongoing group is a prerequisite for the Movement Medicine Apprenticeship Programme. The next one begins in 2011.



All by accident or coincidence - after Awakening

by Hans Nusink

I 'did' Awakening this April and had a deep experience of grief and fear in the dance of the four elements, that I danced with two beautiful partners. The basis for things happening on my way home and being at home.

I travelled by ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland as I usually do. To reach Harwich I took a bus from London. In the bus I was seated next to a boy a bit younger than my son Bart. Let's say ten. He probably had had a tiring shopping weekend with his brother and father in London.

He fell asleep and his wobbling head rested at times on my shoulder filling me with tender grandfatherly feelings every time his head touched my shoulder. His father asked me if it was okay and I nodded yes from the bottom of my heart. My eyes filled with tears.


On the ferry I felt I would like to say goodbye to the UK and thank the other dancers who stayed behind in England or travelled abroad, Susannah and Ya'Acov, the spirits of good old England and Dartington and Dartmoor in particular, the elements. I thanked them on the upper deck of the ferry in some waves of fog and under the moon three quarters full surrounded by a yellowish circle of light. I felt so connected to the elements. Although I left the country I could still feel it. Surrounded by water and the air, with the moon above me, the fire still burned inside me, the essence which keeps me going


Back home having my service in the Wereldwinkel (Third World Shop) a client entered. She obviously had a bad time. We had such an open and touching contact, she cried a for while and I joined her. She was so grateful and I let her go happily.


Encouraged by Nicoline I felt the wish to organise  a common activity with Bart. And the opportunities were offered by a Compadres' newsletter and a catalogue of an outdoor shop. So we are going to a  father-son weekend and GPS workshop the coming months. Today we cut a branch of a hazel in a small natural area (without a ranger's permission, but with permission of the tree) to make a bow for me, so that we both have one for our father-son weekend.


Bart developed a game. Not electronic, God thanks. Bart is on the trampoline. He tries to catch a very soft ball which can take all kind of shapes, diving for the ball, flying  like a bird and landing safely on the trampoline in all kinds of odd postures. And I try to surprise him by not making it too easy for him. Big fun!


Inspired by one of the meditations we did during Awakening I gave the

f2fs24  'Past and our Ancestors and the connection with our descendants and the future meditation' at the end of a cycle of seven evenings for men. A training in which they search for their qualities  related to archetypes: the wild man, the lover, the king, the interpreter. the seer and the wise man.


This meditation seems to grow to a central and important one for me. At a 5Rtymths workshop in my home country I came during stillness to a huge sadness. Then that meditation came to me and my tears change to gratefulness. Wowwww....


Together with Nicoline and seven others dancers we had our first 5Rtymths dance evening around a fire in the middle of our roundhouse we built last year. We were happy one of the 5Rtythm teachers in the Netherlands liked to give this little workshop and she enjoyed it so much, a dream coming true: dancing so connected to the elements. And by accident, looking for  a free evening in our agendas, we ended up on the Thursday before Eastern on a full moon's day. Some coincidences are so lovely. Thank you.


As in the best relationships Nicoline and I had a incident about something not worthwhile mentioning. But the background was deeper. I was so happy that, as it touched me and made me sad and a bit angry, I had the impulse after dancing a Swing Free evening with friends to go in to our garden at night. I cut some red tulips and yellow and white daffodils and wrote "Thank you"  on a piece of paper and put it in a vase on the Eastern breakfast table.


If you like to see some pictures of the roundhouse, dancing and my family, please go to facebook to become a member. You can also ask me to become my friend, (I will say YES), and then view my pictures.


Thank you for reading this.


Hans Nusink

Pranamotion: The Dance of Yoga, the Yoga of Dance
by Keef Miles

I spent my twenties lost at sea, intoxicated with drugs and alcohol, occasionally debilitated with depression and feeling, for the most part, spiritually bereft and confused by life as a human on this planet in these times. If it wasn’t for the discovery of dance/yoga, I am really not sure if I would still be alive. Grace and the cosmic choregrapher had a more extraordinary Dharma lined up for me however. Journeys to
India, Thailand, Brazil and the USA opened my mind and heart to the exquisite beauty of a life lived fully, whole-heartedly and mindfully.

In the early days of my yoga and dance explorations, I found my self consistantly amazed by the fact that so few dancers practice yoga and so few yogis dance. The compatability to me seemed so obvious.

When I Dance….

When I dance my body feels……… oh boy, does it feel!

And reel and whirl

Every taste, touch, colour, shade and sound imaginable

Agonisingly beautiful!

Orgasmic-ecstatic elastic elongation…… spinal fluidity!

Flying dreams, primal screams

Reality exploding, expanding, merging……. YOGA

I feel the force moving within me, without me, all around me…


When I dance my heart feels……… oh boy, does it feel!

Reeling and whirling

Breaking and breaking and breaking, millions and billions and trillions of times

Shattering into infinite, limitless, timeless tiny pieces of bliss

Each alive and vital, vibrating wildly-gently

Chaotic peace

Paradox after paradox after paradox…

I laugh my socks off in delicious Isness

Making love with ME

Merging with the Absolute


When I dance my mind IS……… oh boy, is it!?

All of the above, but still not THERE

Mostly in my body….. beating, pulsing

Focused intently, single-pointedly

Following the movements and moments of my writhing body

With GOD in mind, my mind is peace: clear, tranquil….. mostly

Sometimes it laughs and plays mischievously

It fears, hates, loves, attracts and averts, is attracted and averted, is found and lost insane

Utterly purified, sanctified, mystified

It Dances and Yogas my body-heart-soul


The poem above touches on the beauty, power and healing possibilities provided by combining the freedom and discipline of Movement Medicine and Anusara Yoga. For the last five years I have been dancing intensively: including Ritual, Inititiation and The Phoenix Retreat. This year I will be embarking on the first Apprenticeship adventure and I am truly honoured to be offering yoga on Susanah’s Journey of Empowerment year group. Simultanously, I am apprenticing with John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga. I have been teaching for five years.  Words elude me to express the depth of gratitude I feel for these practices and their wise and generous teachers. I can honestly say that Yoga and Dance have saved my life!!!

No longer lost at sea, I now swim joyfuly, mostly, in a pulating ocean of consciousness.

The structure and discipline of traditional hatha yoga often lacks the spontaneity and freedom of dance, yet it provides a wonderful foundation that enables us to nourish and nurture the body-heart- mind with love and awareness; empowering us through soulful embodiment, groundedness and energy flow. The dance, meanwhile, offers us the opportunity  to surf the waves of life energy (Prana/Shakti) in all its manifestations and to express and explore the freedom of movement that goes beyond the apparent limitations of the  physical aspects yoga. Practiced co-creatively, yoga-dance enables us to navigate both the dark and light aspects of our being. Not much shouting, screaming, laughing, sobbing, primal howling or ecstatic revelation in your average hatha yoga class. Or at least if there is, it tends to be very quiet and private. Which is fine. But the chance to sweat your prayers on a dance floor frequently takes the yoga practitioner into more wild and unexplored landscapes and articulations of the soul than is generally available from the limited launch pad of the yoga mat. To me the marriage is obvious. Yoga IS a dance and dance is YOGA.  What a relief to hear Susannah say to me last year that not only does she feel that yoga may be useful for practioners of Movement Medicine, but actually it is essential!! The Yoga-Dance revolution has begun.

In reality this YOGA-DANCE revolution is more of a rediscovery, a remembering of ancient wisdom and sacred practice. This truth is perhaps best exemplified by the Tantric image of Shiva Nataraj: the lord of the dance and the ultimate yogi.

Sumbhamoy Das describes the beauty and power of Lord Shiva’s dance as follows:

“This cosmic dance of Shiva is called 'Anandatandava,' meaning the Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy — creation, destruction, preservation, salvation (grace), and illusion”

In conclusion, I love this beautiful poem by Ruth Peel:

"The source of all movement,
Shiva's dance,
Gives rhythm to the universe.
He dances in evil places,
In sacred,
He creates and preserves,
Destroys and releases.

We are part of this dance
This eternal rhythm,
And woe to us if, blinded
By illusions,
We detach ourselves
From the dancing cosmos,
This universal harmony…"

Keef runs classes, workshops and retreats around the world. Including Morocco in November ‘09.  He is also available for private yoga  and Thai massage: / 07834703127

DanSing! - Wow!

Letter to Susannah from David Kellett

Dearest Susannah,

Thank you for such a wonderful and inspiring weekend. I enjoyed myself so much - it was just amazing!! I always enjoy the workshops but in singing and dancing together there was a different kind of freedom - somehow something wilder, more joyful and more raw (roar? ;-)  came through. It was most unexpected actually. I wanted to do the workshop but with an attitude that was a little "This WILL be GOOD for me, so I MUST MAKE myself DO IT"

I am very self conscious about my voice - for all sorts of reasons - and I am always rather afraid of negative judgement so it was a real leap into the very scary unknown to sing. It didn't take very long though to feel safe and to feel that it would be ok to not be very good. It was amazing that actually before lunch on Saturday I already felt that I was singing differently - it was as though I was singing away and at the same time as being really "in it" I was witnessing my self and thinking  "wow!!! I can do this!!" It was an emotional moment for me.


The things that really made it happen for me - apart from just the general wonderfulness of everything and all the people - were:


  • Standing with the other men so that I could hear them and get an idea of where my voice needed to be
  • Really thinking about feeling the vibration in my body from the other singers
  • Dancing with gobbledeegook and noises (not just because of my imprint of "stop making noises" - it was also very much to do with having something I could do, not having to worry about whether it was the right pitch or beautiful in a conventional sense, also it was gloriously silly fun!!!!
  • Inviting something to come through me - being a flute rather then a flautist.



I have been dancing round the house singing Y Mela today and even recorded a little snatch of it. It was very interesting in that I sounded much better than the last time I tried to record myself - so there is a real and tangible shift. Very inspiring....


I'm having a look at Resonance in Germany. I really want to do more of the voice and dance work with you so I will find a way.


Thank you again and a great big hug with lots of love,




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.