School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: November 2009
Movement Medicine and Climate Change

by Ya'Acov

Climate Change is the story of the moment as we race towards
Copenhagen. There are those that argue that it’s already happening and those that argue that it isn’t. But whatever the truth, what has all this got to do with Movement Medicine and why do we keep going on about it?

Wow! I can’t believe it. I’ve never experienced that before. I was standing in the queue to get on board my flight to Israel and the whole of the airport was asked to observe 2 minutes silence for those who had fallen in war. We observed 2 minutes of silence at the busiest airport in the world; 2 Minutes of peace amongst the madness of us all going about our lives. Hundreds of thousands of strangers united in the simplest of rituals. Just stop, shut up and remember. And all that could be heard was the sound of a child crying, maybe for us all. I felt like joining in as an image of the soldier who was killed this morning in Afghanistan came into my mind. This was followed swiftly by the image of the millions of young men who have died on the battlefields of the world over time. What are we like!


Here I am on my way back to the conflict torn hubbub and human drama that is the Middle East. As always, I travel with the prayer and intention of dropping a little dancing peace pebble into the ocean and hopefully, being part of creating a little oasis in the desert where we will dance in Mitzpeh Ramon. Since we came back from celebrating 20 years of marriage with a honeymoon, my heart has been working overtime. I was so deeply touched by the fragile beauty of the islands we visited, As one of the many new friends we met said: “When you come here, the people welcome you, the sky welcomes you, the sea welcomes you. Everything says welcome.” And we are told that unless we make big changes collectively, this beautiful place will be gone within 5 decades. The land will sink under the sea and the magnificent coral and all the beings that depend on it will disappear too. It’s hard to believe. Conservationists are freezing corals in the hope that we will reverse the acidity of the seas in time to come and re-plant these magnificent underwater gardens. It’s hard to believe that over 90% of the ocean’s fish have already disappeared.


It’s bad news and yet at the same time, there is this wave of awakening and understanding sweeping the planet as we recognise the reality of the interconnected nature of life.  My mum gave me a well-written article by Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph (October 25th). It is important to note that his article and book have been thoroughly debunked. He categorically states that the planet is not warming up as scientists had feared. It is in fact cooling down. He says that polar bear population has in fact grown over the past 40 years. On the cover of his newly released book, he quotes a man called Professor Lindzen who says: “Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree and……..proceeded to contemplate a rollback of the industrial age.” Mr. Booker tells us that a successful negotiation on CO2 emissions at the upcoming Copenhagen summit would amount to “the most expensive economic suicide note ever written,” which would threaten to “take us back to the dark ages.”


Oh dear, what a blasphemy to contemplate moving on from the industrial age, a concept that I think is commonly referred to as evolution. As well as his arguments being works of fiction, isn’t Mr.Booker missing the point? One thing is for sure. As a species, we are sleep walking through a time of massive destruction of the natural world, of nature itself, of thousands of species and of the magnificent and delicate life support system of an entire planet. Is there any dispute that the rainforests are the lungs of the world? Is there any dispute that the holy grail of the industrial age has unwittingly created such devastation to the communities and species who live in harmony with nature? Our friends the Kogi people (Colombia) and the Achuar people (Ecuador) and the many other voices coming from humans who still have the ability to hear the voices of the suffering species  (including humans) and of the living earth itself crying out, have been warning us for years. Isn’t the point that the story we have been telling that insists on our separation from nature and from each other continues to be the cause of our ability to threaten each other and life itself? Do Mr.Booker and other climate change deniers really believe that if the warming and cooling of the planet isn’t caused by us, that we should just carry on living in a system that is socially unjust, spiritually corrupt and unsustainable for the matrix of life on earth? Would an evolution of our species towards justice, sustainability and genuine happiness and peace really be a step back to the dark ages? If CO2 emissions and climate change as the most widely reported issues of our time get the world community to realise that we are in reality one family with all of life on earth whether we like it or not and that we are collectively responsible for the wellbeing of all life on earth, wouldn’t that be a good thing, even if it means that we may have to change the way we live and the rules that we live by?


So how does Movement Medicine or any other spiritual practice come into this? What has dancing got to do with it? And why would going to workshops to study conscious movement be of any use to us, especially in the current financial climate?


Our work with the Pachamama Alliance and the Change the Dream symposium, which we continue to integrate into our work, has shown us that we have arrived in the crisis we are in because of the collective story we have grown up with about the nature of reality and our place in it. The autumn comes and the body responds but we just continue, as if the cycle of the seasons has no effect on us whatsoever. We suffer the loneliness that this story creates and we continue to try to fill the emptiness we feel by consuming more and more things. And even if we rise to the top of the pile, our suffering remains, a constant companion nagging us with its insatiable hunger. If we’re lucky, we recognise that something essential is missing and we go looking for it. And there is something essential missing. It’s us. We’re not at home here. We’re not at home in the body, or in the heart, and the mind is a maze of unexamined assumptions. We’re refugees from our own souls.


I can only share my own experience with you. I wasn’t a dancer. I definitely had a horror of dancing anywhere except when I was a little drunk. But Gabrielle Roth (our teacher during an 18 year apprenticeship and the mother of the 5Rhythms practice that Movement Medicine has evolved from) called me to come back to the wisdom of my own body and my own embodied heart all those years ago. Her call hit such a chord in me. I was SO self-conscious. I was scared of being exposed in a room full of ‘experts.’ And, I was still emotionally a victim of my history, waiting to be recognised and rescued and sent on a shamanic adventure that would entirely by-pass the very real need to engage with the raw material of my life. I couldn’t believe how quickly the dancer in me woke up and how creative he was! And 20 years later, the dance has become an oasis. It’s the place I go to remember what matters. It’s the place I go to dream, to create, and to pray. Movement is the medicine my soul hungered for and the dance is such a wonderful mistress, ever changing, ever humbling, ever resourceful. My practice is my way to remember the essential nature of who I am, and to keep coming back to the direct experience that the life that moves inside me is the same as the life that animates the corals under the Indian Ocean. It is the same as the life in this great Mother beneath our feet. It shines with the same mystery as this blue jewel of a planet as it spins through the great mystery. And yes, it is dancing, already, eternally and forever. And the more I connect with this remembrance, the more love I feel, the deeper my contentment runs, the more I wish to live a life grounded in this miracle and grounded in actions congruent with the reality of our interdependence.


And what’s more, the dance, and of course, the specific practices that Movement Medicine offers, are one of many ways, and for me, the best I have found, to embrace my responsibility as a co-creator of life for those that will follow. I believe with all my heart that we human beings are creators and that we are happiest when we engage with our capability to create.


And so, I will continue my merry dance around this planet, inviting you to join us whenever you feel the need to remember and to find your own way out of suffering and into the freedom and joy of an empowered and creative life. I know we are capable of an integration of the brilliance of the scientific and the artistic, the material and the spiritual, the practicality and survival mode of the left brain and the open page story of possibility of the right brain. I see us walking the tight rope across the great chasm of the unknown and I see us awakening to the power we have to enjoy this moment fully and create a future that shines like a birthing star. I look forward to seeing you in the alchemical alembic that is a Movement Medicine dance floor!


Please don’t forget to add your voice or picture to the growing mosaic of passionate communication that the 6 Billion Reasons project is becoming. Please take a moment and go to and communicate what you want to communicate. And if you want to be part of a powerful community ceremony in which your own heart will have the space to give expression to the deepest prayers in you for your self and family, your community and the community of life on earth during the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, there are still free places on the Alchemy of Stillness workshop. Maybe see you there.


Ya’Acov. November 2009.



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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.