School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: January 2010

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

by Rob Porteous

When I was a child I saw - or rather, I was encouraged to see - the life ahead of me as a series of hurdles to be overcome, or targets to be met: primary school, secondary school ,’O’ levels, ‘A’ levels, university, a profession, marriage, children. A succession of external markers that would prove I was good enough, and deserved a seat at the table of life.

The trouble was, I had a bunch of questions in my head that got in the way. ‘Why are people nasty to each other?’ ‘What am I frightened of?’ ‘Why does what is labelled ‘love’ feel like hate?’ ‘Where does shame come from?’ ‘How come I keep losing things, and getting the answers wrong?’ Even when I tried as hard as I could to do what was expected, it didn’t quite work out.


Now, six decades later, I have a different idea of what life is about. My aim now is to be myself, as fully and as consciously as I can.


Accepting that I have not achieved some of the things on my list that were important to me is not always easy. Being myself isn’t easy, either, when the doubting voices come back, telling me I’ll get it wrong, or haven’t been good enough. But empowerment is choosing to be myself in the face of the expectations and opportunities that come at me. It involves really questioning what I want, not in a bargaining kind of way- ‘If you do this, I’ll do that’- but taking up my responsibility to choose the next step of the way. It involves learning how to respond to what I feel. Which desires do I take literally, and which are a metaphor for something else? How can I reconcile conflicting emotions? How can my feelings inform my ability to respond?


The Hebrew word for peace, Shalom, comes from the same root as shalem, meaning full, and leshalem, to pay. The price of peace is to accept myself as fully as I can, good and bad, the bits I like and the warts I’d rather get rid of. The prize, of feeling more at peace than ever before, is sometimes there. Cycling round the harbour in Bristol early on a Sunday morning can be a magical experience, as it can be to sit in my chair and listen as someone tells their story, and feel the deep connection between us.


The delightful gift I received at the end of the Journey of Empowerment shows me how I may approach this task of being myself. It is a crown, but also a jester’s cap; an invitation to pick up my authority over my own life, but also not to take myself too seriously. Sometimes I like to stand aside and watch the changes that ripple through the dance, where nothing, and everything. matters. Out of deep sadness comes a cry of joy; out of anger, love; out of fear, courage. On this bridge between knowing and unknowing,

consciousness and unconsciousness, birth and death, I stand and dance, placing one foot in front of the other, following the thread of my breath, finding- and losing- my voice. I feel hugely grateful for the company of other dancers around me, for Susannah’s capacity to hold a space in which something can happen, and for my capacity to respond to it, and for the little bit of magic that creeps into the dance when I am not looking and transforms my world.

When I reclaim what I project onto the mirror of the other, both good and bad, and own it in myself, what I see is a wild hedgerow full of colours, smells, textures and tastes; a tangle of life that has its own order and discipline, rooted in the earth and climbing towards the sky.


Thank you.




The next Journey of Empowerment will take place at the Waldhaus, Switzerland starting in May 2010.  There is an early payment discount for booking made before Jan 31st 2010.  For an application form and more details either go to the website or contact Roland

00 44 (0) 1803 762255

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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.