School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April 2010
Ethel Blow of the north goes dancing.

As told by her great friend Ishtar Samphire

A story of split personalities and mixed feelings.

By Vicky Gaughan

My friend Ethel decided that she’d like to go with me to Ya’Akov’s workshop in Manchester in March. Ethel likes to dance and she’s been to many discos in her time. She grew up on a council estate and as a teenager/young adult used to go out to the local clubs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, until the early hours.

Dancing for a whole weekend would be no difficulty to my friend Ethel. In fact she thought it was quite weird to dance only until 10pm on Friday night at Ya’Akovs gig!


When she arrived at 6.30pm at the start of the workshop Ethel was feeling a bit run down and achy from having done her usual weeks worth of work and she confided in me that she was ‘knackered’. And when we were dancing in circles Ethel went to get her handbag to dance around but was surprised to see nobody else had brought theirs. Soon the DJ was telling us it was time to grow toward the light and Ethel was thinking ‘it’s time for me to go home!’


My friend had thought that the dance Return to the Light meant there would be a fancy disco strobe show so was surprised to see the single candle placed next to the DJ. And it felt altogether wrong to be dancing with the lights switched on so that everybody could see each other! She was relieved to leave that night.


Arriving back on Saturday morning feeling uncertain if she was in the right place she decided to keep an open and curious mind. Ethel joined in with a group to share her experience with strangers. ‘This isn’t the kind of thing I usually do’, she declared, where I come from we talk straight and this bloke Ya’Akov is talking in riddles! ‘What does speaking from the heart mean?’ What’s a mandala? Who is shay man? Everybody else seemed to know the answers to her questions, was she really the only one who didn’t get it?


Ethel was slightly disappointed that the music played for the dance wasn’t any of the tunes she recognised. From time to time it would have been fun to hear something familiar, some Marvin or Stevie, but on the whole she got into it. Ethel had never experienced this level of embodiment and she frequently felt shy and ill at ease. There were a couple of people at the dance who she knew well and she had to keep asking for support from them to help explain what it was she was experiencing. At times she felt extremely out of place and her nervous system was most certainly in the ‘flee’ position.


On Sunday morning all the dancers gathered to hear another story from the leader. Everybody appeared to be interested in what he had to say and they seemed to think it hilarious when he told them the story of the telly programme. Now I don’t like that Lloyd Webber chap either and I don’t have much time to watch TV but Ethel was fuming…she loves nothing better than finding out what is going on in the Big Brother House and searching for a Pop Idol with Simon Cowell. And Katie Price, now she is very entertaining! So Ya’kov seemed to be taking the piss out of her favourite pastime and she started to feel a bit hurt.


She turned to me for comfort and this is what I said... ‘We aren’t at the disco, babe’. She looked at me and she said she was glad because discos can be hard work these days. Then I said, ‘it’s more like we are getting treatment for an illness and the treatment is in the movement we make as we dance, this kind of treatment is called Movement Medicine… medicine, get it?’ I was in danger of talking in riddles here, so I went on, ‘do you remember when you felt ill and you took cough mixture or your mum rubbed ‘Vick’s Vapo Rub on your chest?’ it was becoming a bit clearer to her now. ‘Well this is the same, it makes you feel better’ and Ethel said, ‘well I do feel better, in some ways but I also know that I feel better when I watch television too so maybe it’s ok to take a dose of Reality TV medicine sometimes!


It’s been great medicine for me getting to know the many parts of my self through this dance practice over the years. I feel much more accepting that I am made up of different aspects and sometimes they are in opposition to each other. The other practice I have in my life is Hakomi and more and more I see how MM & Hakomi are compatible in helping me make sense of my experience. In fact Hakomi is a Hopi Indian word and it poses a question - how do you stand in relation to these many realms? These two practices give me a way to communicate with the different parts of myself and come to accept that there is space enough for them all to live, reasonably peacefully, inside my many realms.


And I have to say that Ya’kov is not just a bloke, DJ, or storyteller, for me he is all these things and much more and I love getting to know all of his parts too, thanks for meeting me up north!!


For those of you reading this who don’t know what Hakomi is see



 March 2010






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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.