School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April 2010
Not always swimming alone with the tide

By David

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

“…….Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.”

In the closing circle on the last day of the Phoenix Retreat I attended earlier this year, I shared with Susannah and Ya’Acov and the other dancers that I feel like a kind of Monk Fish that often ‘swims’ alone with the ‘tide’ and not usually amongst other like minded ‘fish.’ I explained to the circle that this is because I have a neurological condition known as high functioning autism, (HFA), which is also called ‘Asperger’s Syndrome, (‘Aspie’ for short!)


The diagnosis in 2005, in my late 40s, came as a revelation, as since my life up to then had been a puzzle to me, like often feeling like a loner with a very small circle of friends and not really connecting with people in groups or being able to sustain intimate relationships for very long.  Whilst I’m generally resistant to the idea of medical labels, the diagnosis reassured me that I wasn’t a quirk of nature, or an odd or eccentric person that I’d grown up to see myself as and how I’ve been sometimes described by others.


Another far reaching revelation came last year when I started exploring dance first through Biodanza and Five Rhythms and then Movement Medicine starting with Susannah’s ‘Return to the Light’ workshop in London last April.


Since April, I have been privileged to participate in a number of Movement Medicine workshops, and grateful for the inspired teachings of Susannah and Ya’Acov. This year’s Phoenix Retreat felt really pivotal for me through meeting my understudies and exploring why parts of my spiritual essences have been lost in the passage of time, and how well my understudies have protected me from the external world which is often a scary place for me. Some understudies are easy to connect with and understand, like my ‘perfectionist person understudy’ over working in my job by under estimating my performance so to be sure that my bosses will not criticize my work in any way. Or the one that undermines the trust that I have in myself, like my habit of checking and re checking that my front door is locked. (I’ve almost resolved that one since Phoenix!)


Other understudies are more difficult to identify, especially the ones that operate to create that detachment to reality that goes to the heart of my HFA. I know that these understudies will take a while to reveal themselves to me; maybe some may never come to light.


In my professional work I usually feel more connected to neuro typical realities, or what I imagine them to be, because I’m there to work in a defined role, like my work colleagues.  In this state, as I’m clear about my role boundaries I can believe everything is ok, because it is, I guess.  But outside work, in daily life and in social situations it often feels a lot harder; as peoples’ roles are far more fluid and the social world feels a much harder place to connect with. In daily life, I can become unsure and unclear of what people are saying and I’m more likely to misinterpret peoples’ behaviour or intentions, by saying the wrong thing, or saying too little, too much or nothing at all.


All the movement medicine workshops I’ve attended have been challenging in one way or another and these challenges are almost as much about my inter relating to the other dancers as the process work itself. During such times outside the dance, I’m often the ‘Monk Fish’ as I try to integrate into the conversations and sharing with the other dancers and a lot of time, like in my daily life, I feel a fish out of water! This is quite normal, as in my life it’s always a challenge to relate to others who possess neuro typical abilities around relating to others in a more spontaneous and gregarious way than me.


But in the movement practice work, I often don’t feel like I’m ‘swimming’ alone with the ‘tide.’ Well, sometimes I am, and that’s ok, but other times I merge with the tide and the other dancers and my body experiences a liberating sense of reality which transcends the gap between my reality and those who have different realities to mine.  The practice is helping me to be grounded more, and to be more in my body in daily life and less detached from other peoples’ realities around me. I find myself connecting more with the human and non human animal world with a much more open heart. And this practice is helping me create visions of who I am and where my truth lies through the possibilities of new directions. Whether or not my HFA ultimately holds me back from fulfilling my visions and dreams remains the unanswered question. All I know if that I’m beginning to enjoy the ride and whilst the destination remains uncertain I trust that the ‘tide’ is my guide and teacher. I also know that Movement Medicine is a great practice for non neuro typical people.


What I have found out is that like You who read my words, I am a unique being with unique foot prints who can move and dance, who can be present in my body and for me despite or because of my HFA can, like You, contribute in minute but important ways to the co creation of a better future for all beings. Namaste.



      “Oh me! O Life!

                                    Of the questions of these recurring……

                                     What good amid these, O me, Oh life?




                           That you are here – that life exists and identity;

              That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”














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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.