School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
 
Issue: April 2010

A Moving Experience
By Roland

Well, we do live next to the South Devon Steam Railway and our small house, where the School of Movement Medicine office is housed, was once the railway gate-keepers cottage (a fact that has caused some disconcertion among those people who travel here expecting to find a large dance school!) and so a bit of shaking when trains pass is an everyday experience.

The whole house shook, plates rattled on the shelves, and Susanne shouted from upstairs “The train has jumped the rails!”

 

This shaking however was far greater than what we are normally used to.   We are also accustomed to having our telephone conversations interrupted by the loud double whistle the train makes every time it makes its way over the crossing.  For some, like David Taylor of the EarthSpirit Centre and steam railway fan, this adds a certain frisson to our telephone calls. 

 

In fact when I went outside it was hard to see exactly what had happened as nearly all the engine (far bigger than the normal saddle tank engines that are normally used on the line) and its carriages was in fact still on the rails.  It was just the front two wheels of the huge coal tender in front of the engine that had come off the rails.  Thankfully the train had been travelling very slowly over the crossing and so any major disaster had been prevented.

 

I was curious to see how they would deal with the situation.  First they brought in another engine to pull the carriages away from the train and then after numerous examinations of the rail they set about jacking up the very large and very full coal tender with a huge manual jack and after about 3 hours they got the wheels back on the track and very cautiously reversed the train back.  The next day they spent relaying the track and within 24 hours the line was back to normal and the large Black Standard 5 train, which was doing a tour of England and only up our little branch line because of the threatened rail strike, could proceed on its way..

 

And it is business as normal we hope for the School of Movement Medicine too.

 

Susannah’s Journey of Empowerment group which starts in May in Switzerland is now full and we have started a waiting list for those who have not yet got places.


There is a new film available of an extended interview with Susannah made in Prague at http://www.cestyksobe.cz/video-reportaze/yaacov--susannah-d-khan/yaacov--susannah-darling-khan/565.html.

 

There are still places for both the second and third module of Ya’Acov’s  Ritual Group.  The second Module is from June 17th – 24th - this will be the Vision Quest which will include two days and two nights out in the Dartmoor National Park.   Then from 28th September to 2nd Oct he will be offering the third module which is the Burial Ceremony and a one night Long Dance.  There are places available for both these modules and you can either book them together or individually.  They will both take place at the Rill Centre in South Devon. Contact me at roland@rwevents.co.uk for further details and booking forms.

 

Another major workshop which will take place here in Devon is Initiation.  This intensive workshop takes participants through the 9 life cycles from conception through to Death over a 9 day period.  The dates for this workshop are 3 – 12 September 2010.  Please note that the date for the early booking discount is May 1st so if you want to take advantage of this please contact me at roland@rwevents.co.uk for further details and booking forms.

 

Initiation is one of the key workshops which is a pre-requisite to the Apprenticeship programme and teacher training programme.  The next Apprenticeship programme will begin in Feb 2012 and we will be accepting the first batch of application for the programme in January 2011.  For all dates please go to this page on the Website. Please also read Susannah & Ya'Acov's invitation in this newsletter.

 

We still have some places left on the Summer Long Dance.  This not for profit event will take place in Somerset 2 – 6th July.  This a chance for you to come together in dancing community and prayer with many others from the Movement Medicine tribe and dance for both your own well-being and dreams, as well as for others and for the planet as as a whole.  Participants are expected to raise £200 for a charity project of their choice.  The present Apprenticeship group has decided to make Survival International the main beneficiary of the money that it raises through the Summer Long Dance.  There are application forms for this event.  If you would like one please contact me at roland@rwevents.com.uk

 

Also coming up.

 

28th April  Susanah will be teaching Move! in Antwerp.  Contact Luc +32 61 32 99 20 luc@owc.be for more details

 

30th April – 2nd May  Susannah will be teaching Rock My Soul in Padua, Italy.  Contact Maria-Grazia on +39 347 2446411 mariagraziabambini@libero.it for more details.

 

On the same weekend 30th April – 2nd May  Ya’Acov will be teaching E-Motion in Luzern, Switzerland.  This workshop is now full but to go on the waiting list please contact Katriona on kat@kf-events.ch +41 33 676 2708

In May Ya’Acov will be teaching Source in Dublin on the weekend of 7th – 9th.  Contact David at +353 86054655 danceindublin@gmail.com for more details and to book.

Then on 14th – 16h May he will be teaching the first Movement Medicine workshop in South Africa.  Contact Jayne on +27 766963527 shellosh@yahoo.com to book and for more details.

A week later he will be back in Europe and teaching Source in The Netherlands 21st – 23rd May.  Contact Frank   +31 71 8893253 info@karuna-events.nlwww.karuna-events.nl

Then at the end of month he will be London running a Move! evening on 24th May   Contact Alex + 44 7868842219 alexhanly@hotmail.com and also teaching and doing a Movement Medicine demonstration/performance on the stage with some Movement Medicine Apprentices at the Mind Body Spirit festival on the 30th May. 

Susannah will teaching E-Motion Wild Life in Berlin on 28 -30th May.  Kathrin +49 30 28458820 kellerkathrin@yahoo.de

 

Wishing you a joyful Spring

 

Roland

Shamanism and Movement Medicine

By Ya'Acov and Susannah

Shaman |ˈ sh ämən; ˈ sh ā-|

a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits, esp. among some peoples of northern Asia and North America. Typically such people enter a trance state during a ritual, and practice divination and healing…………..

With the Summer Long Dance ceremony coming up in the summer, Ya’Acov and Susannah reflect on the relationship between Shamanism and Movement Medicine.

We are opening the Summer Long Dance to the wider public for the first time this year. Led by us and hosted by our crew of Movement Medicine apprentices, it’s a deep and magical 48-hour ceremony that has grown out of nearly 20 years of explorations into how to bring such a ceremony into our community of dancers in a grounded, safe and beneficial way. It’s an opportunity for any one who wishes to dedicate 48 hours of precious life units to dancing their prayers and dreams for self and the community of life on earth. It’s a chance to embody a sense of deep gratitude to the Great Mystery for all that life brings. And what’s more, it’s a great adventure to offer your body, heart and mind to the Great Choreographer and see what needs to come through you as the drums play and play.

 

The Long Dance is a deeply healing shamanic journey through the 21 stations of the Movement Medicine Mandala. We reckon it’s about time that we talked about the shamanism thing. It’s a subject that has come to the fore particularly at this time in several conversations with our apprentices. And in a recent 2-day meeting with three of them who have taken on the role of Pathfinders to help us develop our training for Movement Medicine teachers, the subject arose again.

 

A Movement Medicine dance floor is a place of healing, a place for consciousness and free expression, a down-to-earth temple where we can sort out the wheat from the chaff, remember what matters to us, embody it and channel the life of the dance into the dance of our lives. It’s a place of remembrance and prayer, a place of practice in becoming a whole human being: body, heart, mind, and soul - a place to remember that we are unique and incredibly creative individuals, each one of us a thread in the complex and magnificent interconnected web of life. And according to our brochure, the dance is a place where devotional, therapeutic, artistic and…..what is that word?.....ah yes, shamanic, strands meet.

 

For many years, we have chosen not to highlight the word shamanic in describing our work because we wanted it to be accessible to as wide a range of people as possible. But maybe the times are changing. Subjects that would have been thought of as witchcraft and worthy of death by burning at the stake for practitioners are now available in the mainstream and considered to be ‘complimentary’ health practices.

 

Shamanism, as Gabrielle Roth so rightly taught us, is indigenous to its own culture and is specific to healing the wounds of its own culture. Whilst we can all learn a great deal by immersing ourselves in work from the massive variety of traditions that have come to European shores in recent times, these offerings are supposed to help us to return to our connection to our own bodies, lands and traditions.

 

In Europe, the church systematically and devastatingly attacked our indigenous shamanic traditions and its practitioners. As the power of the church has waned, it has been replaced by the ‘religion’ of consumption. In place of a sacred connection to land, spirit, ancestors and the web of life, we have become a disempowered, lonely and hungry group animal that tries to fill its inner longing with a voracious appetite for things. We used to be citizens. Now we are called consumers. But as our awareness of the dangers of separation from nature has increased, the spirit and practice of shamanism has returned.

 

We thought it may be illuminating to attempt to define what we do and don’t mean by ‘shamanic’ in relation to Movement Medicine. So here’s our up-to-date hot-of-the-press guide to Movement Medicine as a shamanic practice.

 

We don’t mean:

 

·         A bunch of spaced-out wannabes leaping from one fantastical “other worldly” adventure to another, never taking the time to integrate, ground or find the courage to bring what their visions to earth and into manifest, day to day reality

·         An unquestioned and religious belief in the existence of spirits, power animals, spirit guides and helpers that ‘tell us’ how to behave

·         Giving our power away to a man or woman of knowledge who tells us how things are and who we assume, because of their great power, also has great personal awareness and is therefore free to do as they please (i.e. ‘if you sleep with me, you’ll get closer to the source of power and become as powerful as I am’)

·         A search for power for personal gain that gets used to manipulate, distort and impress, and which invariably leads to power battles of all kinds

·         That feathers, drums, rattles and a whole host of power objects = shamanic

·         That working ‘with spirit’ is an alternative to (a) the need to do one’s own biographical, therapeutic work and taking responsibility for one’s own wounds and shadows and (b) the need to take responsibility for our actions and choices

as global citizens

·         That out of body = spiritual

 

There are many different paradigms and many different traditions. We don’t need to fake our connection with nature and with life. We are connected. For a culture that is already super disembodied, further out of body experience is not likely to create the healing we need. A shaman maps the wounds of their own culture and creates pathways back to the embodied soul for themselves and for their community. The Movement Medicine mandala is one of many such maps.

 

This is what we do we mean by shamanic in relation to Movement Medicine.

 

We mean:

 

·         In a held and protected space (or mesa), people finding access through the effort and creativity of their own dance to states of consciousness where they find healing and inspiration and through direct experience, discover their place in the interconnected web of life

·         Through a caring and responsible relationship with our own bodies (our own “land”), and the elements of which they are made, we rediscover the beauty and force of nature within us, between us and beyond us and through our love for it, rediscover the responsibility we have to act as guardians for it and pass it on to the next generations

·         A deep love based in action and respect for the earth, the fire, the waters and the air as manifestations of the divine

·         A respect for our ancestors and descendants

·         Putting our left-brained ability to take care of details and live in this world in service of our right-brained ability to dream and create a better, more just, peaceful world for all beings

·         Deep and ongoing work with the heart to learn to live in humility and responsibility as our ability to create with life grows

·         A healing paradigm which tunes us into the energetic, vibrational and resonant field that connects all life and which we can sense through being awake, conscious and connected in our own bodies, hearts and minds

·         Bringing our dreams into physical form here in this world and co-creating communities and circles that bring heaven to earth

 

Ya’Acov: “For me, Shamanism isn’t about belief. It’s about direct experience. Allies or guardians, such as the work to find them we describe in the elemental chapters in our book, create a personal face through which we can relate to the vastness of nature, the vastness of the universe and the vastness of the unknown. It is easier to relate to the ‘spirit of a mountain’ than to something as huge as the mountain itself. At the same time, to get distracted by this search is to miss the magnificence of the mountain. To me, it doesn’t matter whether we ‘believe’ in spirits or not. The most important things are our direct experience and, as Albrecht Mahr, one of Susannah’s constellation teachers, so beautifully puts it, that the meaning we choose to give to our experiences dignifies life. And in the end, any spiritual practice is about love, our ability to give it, receive it, and most importantly of all, act from it.”

 

Susannah: “I am poignantly aware, as a woman, of the painful history of what was done and is still being done to the indigenous earth based wisdom traditions, both here in Europe and all over the globe. I celebrate the rediscovery of the vibration of spirit and consciousness infused in everything, in the material, in the landscapes of the earth of our bodies, the body of the earth and all its beings, the vibration of life and the great mystery everywhere and in everything. Tuning into the living, vibrating matrix of which all life is a part is the key essence for me of what “shamanic” means.” 

 

We are passionate about honouring and upholding a down-to-earth sense of what shamanism means and offers in the 21st century and hope this article helps to communicate that.

 

There are still places on this year’s Summer Long Dance. It’s a not-for-profit event with the costs shared by all participants. Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of £200-00 for the central charity (which this year is Survival International) or for any other project they wish to dance for. Please contact roland@RWevents.co.uk for more details.

 

Ya’Acov & Susannah. April 2010.

 

 

Communities and Hearts

By Susannah

On sunny Easter Monday four of us were contemplating wrestling in the buffeting wind with a huge amount of polythene in our garden. I had images of the wind lifting us, clinging to our plastic sail, way out over the hills and out to sea. But it didn’t, because our neighbours came to help. I ran around knocking on doors and 16 people arrived and good willingly helped. Afters lots of shouting and laughing and pulling and sitting on it we managed to get our new polytunnel clothed in its skin of special polythene.

We were so heart warmed to receive this help from our neighbours and to share this community moment. The growing sense of community amongst our neighbours has emerged through us doing the Transition Together project created by Transition Town Totnes. It’s wonderful: educative, interesting, humbling, empowering and community forming. Living where we live feels different in a really good way knowing more about who we are living amongst and how we can support each other to take responsibility for a sustainable future. (For info about Transition Together go to www.totnes.transitionnetwork.org).

On a resonant note, we are half way through our first 2-year Apprenticeship Programme. What a profound teaching and experience this is of the power of community, as we see how the love and connection, the feeling of belonging and being deeply accepted as one is, alongside the shared challenge to grow into what each of us aspires to be and do is such fertile soul food.

One reason we got a polytunnel (and yes, the themes will connect again!) was witnessing the length of the winter non-growing season. We’ve had leeks in the ground all winter that are as skinny now as they were they went in. The polytunnel makes an environment that shelters the plants and helps them grow. In a way, the Apprenticeship, and all our workshops given what is possible in different time scales, are like that- sanctuaries where people can experience the warmth of community and the shelter of being seen and accepted as they are. Through this coming to rest in our ‘being’, we naturally unfurl into the fire of our desire to grow into all we can become. And, watching the Apprentices, so far, so good. I feel privileged to be part of tending this garden, and grateful that, more and more, we are tending it together.

The next Apprenticeship Programme starts in 2012. For those wanting to get on board, there are several key intensive growth opportunities which are steps along the way, amongst them Initiation, which is famous as a “washing machine workshop” because its as if our hearts get thoroughly washed, and ‘stuff’ that we may have been carrying for many years, and even generations, can be acknowledged, moved and released in the catalytic work and the good company of our fellow travelers.

Each cycle of our lives, from conception through baby hood, childhood, puberty, adolescence, adulthood, maturity, old age to death has its particular challenges, learning’s and rewards.  In Initiation we set sail on a mythical boat and visit the different islands of these different cycles, or parts of life’s journey, and on each island we dance to remember, acknowledge and bring the light of consciousness, compassion and healing to what was, what is and what may be.

In this deep journey, as with any journey of substance, the nature of the community we travel with is central. Fellow dancers become essential support for each other and it becomes tangible that our love and attention for each other is the garden in which we grow. Sharing the heart, in its full spectrum of strength and its delicacy, is soul food and creates a feeling, almost as if one had literally lived a life with these people. We look forward to welcoming you on board should you choose to join us. Here’s to the power of community and to a wonderful spring.

Love!    Susannah

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 www.hakomi.uk

 

 

 March 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Avatar, African Shamanism, Robert Mugabe and Alice
By Richard Pantlin

(we have run this article before but put the text in the wrong order - apologies to Richard)

Is it a sign of the times that the world’s greatest grossing film extols the virtues of an indigenous people shamanically in touch with the forces of nature and defeating the invading agents of machine culture?  Someone who knows more about that than well-meaning “Avatar” director James Cameron is Malidoma Some.  He is a teacher and healer who offers his African spirituality as a counter-weight to the de-personalising forces of our consumerist society. 


To quote from his book “Ritual”:

 

“Western technology is being put into the hands of people who have lost touch with the spiritual.  Western Machine technology is the spirit of death made to look like life.  It makes life seem easier, comfortable, cozy but the price we pay includes the dehumanisation of the self.”

 

Next year I am organising a week-long visit by Malidoma to the UK with talks and divinations, culminating in a residential weekend workshop in the woods in Wiltshire.  In a strange way this is a continuation of last year’s work in Zimbabwe.  I wrote about that in this publication before I went out – and how attendance at Yaa’acov’s workshop in November 2008 had helped give me the courage to pursue my mad plan of cycling across Zimbabwe dressed as a clown.

 

It was planned during the height of the violence around the elections and when cholera was getting out of hand.  I used the event to raise funds for an orphanage that a Zimbabwean friend is building and we raised enough to complete it.  But a key part of the mission was also to connect personally with President Robert Mugabe.  I hand-delivered a letter narrating some experiences I had on the trip and appealing for him to support the fresh unity government and the rule of law.  This got me some publicity in my local home media in Oxford, but there was another aspect that I did not publicise:

 

A spiritual and shamanic quest to bring some healing.

 

Before I went out I connected with a Zimbabwean healer who, with mbira playing and chanting, invoked the ancestors for me through spirit possession and put me through a powerful cleansing ceremony on Brighton beach.

 

In Harare, I met a former teacher of his and her husband.  They live in a modest bungalow with their children.  Felicity (not her real name given the still dangerous political situation)  is a local spirit healer.  Her husband, Tendai, a former jazz musician, acts as her interpreter when she is in spirit possession.  Over the course of a couple of meetings which included spirit invocations, I expounded my belief that a key reason for the continuing difficulties of sub-Saharan Africa is the spiritual catastrophe that befell indigenous people with the forcible imposition of Christianity.  In particular, I sensed that the President of Zimbabwe, one-time hero of socialist anti-colonial liberation, was personally deeply conflicted between his Africanism and the fiercely devout Catholicism of his mother – at an early age brought into greater intensity by the admiration for his Irish Jesuit father-figure priest who was probably also abusive.  This personal background might explain, but in no way excuses, Mugabe’s own violent abuse of power.

 

Certainly Jesuits are now having to come to terms with sexual and physical abuse that some of their members imposed on their young charges throughout the world including in Africa. 

 

Malidoma Some was himself abducted by Jesuit missionaries in the late 1950’s as a four-year-old boy in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  He was forcibly taught French and Catholicism and Western ways with the intent of educating a new black leadership but he ran away at 15 and managed to travel the 100 miles back to his village even though he had forgotten his native language.  The elders initiated him in traditional ways and told him to use his experience to fulfil the name he was given at birth: “Malidoma” meaning “he who befriends the enemy” – in other words to go out into Western civilisation in friendship to spread knowledge of indigenous spiritual ways.

 

As he puts it in “Ritual”:

 

“My experience with Christianity in Africa is that its power does not come from Christ but from technology – and its corporate profile.  Missionaries built churches, schools and industries and stirred a vibration, created a disharmony that displaced the indigenous person.  Christianity is a technological Machine that ravaged and continues to ravage the indigenous world in Africa.”

 

A year ago, neither I nor Felicity and Tendai had read Malidoma but they entirely shared the similar views that I was expressing.  I also explained that I hoped in some shamanic way through my mission to try and bring healing to the head of the country – and I had carried a talisman with me to that effect.  I hoped to take it to the Jesuit Kutama Mission school where Robert Mugabe was educated and himself later taught.

 

Tendai and Felicity thought it an extraordinary coincidence that I should have arrived at their house at that time with such a similar and unusual interpretation of the troubles of their country.  Indeed, they confided, once trust was established, that they had been commissioned by an aide to the MDC opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to travel to the four most spiritually significant points of Zimbabwe and invoke the ancestors for peace and the MDC.

 

At the time of my visit there was much optimism in the country, as the Government of National Unity was young.  Tendai advised me that it would be extremely dangerous to travel to Kutama, the heart of Mugabe territory and that in any case “the work was done” and the President was slowly retiring to fishing and a quieter life and letting Tsvangirai do the running of the country.

 

I took his advice and contented myself with hand-delivering my personal letter to the President’s office.  Indeed, the next day which was Independence Day, Mr Mugabe probably gave his most conciliatory speech of the last 10 years.  Things have not gone so well since then, including for my friends who had hoped for new prosperity.

 

After my return to England, I attended a “fun” evening of singing, dancing and chanting with my Zimbabwean spirit healer and a white South African “sangoma” friend.  I had started to think that I needed to go back to Zimbabwe and complete my mission urgently but, to my surprise, that evening, I felt I received a message from spirit that it was still a 5-year enterprise.


The invitation to Malidoma to come to England for talks and a workshop and an opportunity to meet him is part of that project.

 

My practice of Movement Medicine and 5 Rhythms also nourishes the venture.  Andrew Holmes, my original Oxford teacher, kindly made me a Wave of appropriate music for my trip (see www.funzimride.co.uk for the playlist).  It was fabulous to listen to as I drove up from Johannesburg through the night to the Beitbridge border crossing.  I also danced a solo session in my room in Harare to help me decide on my actions.   Perhaps another time, I will be able to have others join me in the dance out there.

 

And, oh yes, have you seen that other latest 3D film, Tim Burton’s “Alice

where we have a girl travelling to the “underworld” to meet talking animals who show her her destiny?  I heartily recommend it and Johnny Depp is brilliant!  One day, I too hope to dance the Mad Hatter’s happy Futterwack dance when the Red Queen is defeated.

 



richardpantlin@yahoo.co.uk

 

Apprenticeship 2012

by Ya'Acov

An Invitation to Apply for the 2nd Movement Medicine Apprenticeship Programme beginning March 2012.

We are delighted to announce the dates for the second Movement Medicine Apprenticeship Programme which will begin in February 2012. We will be accepting the first batch of applications for the programme in January 2011. January may seem a way off in the distance, but as Spring seems to be finally arriving here in Devon, we are feeling that incessant turning of the wheel and a certain calling from the sun above, a deep urge deep down in the roots to begin a new cycle of growing. Wonder if you feel it too?

Over the Easter break, we were catching up with householder work at home. As we look out of the window this morning, we can see a new polytunnel in the garden and we are getting really excited about learning a little more about growing food in our very own garden. Frazer and Sunny, our wonderful gardening team, were hard at work in rain, hail and sun to get the polytunnel up. Susannah rounded up a whole group of willing hands from the green where we live to help us place the huge covering over the tunnel that will protect and warm a whole variety of plants in years to come. It was such a great feeling to be part of such a dedicated team effort! The power of a group of people coming together with a shared focus is for us, one of the main joys of life and of the Apprenticeship Programme in particular.

 

Yesterday would have been my father’s birthday. He died 15 years ago but as I grow older, I feel more and more connected to him. Last night in my dreams, I found myself talking with him about how strange it is that we are all subject to the aging and dying process. I saw my uncle as an old man and I got a glimpse of Susannah and myself in our wrinkly state too! I awoke humbled again by the great mystery of this life and the poignant reminder of how precious these everyday life units are. So many people in this current climate of consumerism gone mad get lost in the quagmire of the never-ending stretch for more. It’s a brave soul who chooses like the salmon, to swim upriver against the current and take time out to remember what really matters. I have often found myself reflecting on my father’s quick death from cancer. He had so little time to consider the journey of his life. He was so shocked that death had come so soon for him. The thought of him asking my mum why so many family members were coming to see him in hospital the day before he died touches a deep bass note in my heart. My mum tells me that he asked: ‘Am I leaving.’ She replied that he wasn’t going anywhere until he’d taken her on holiday one last time! By 9pm the next evening, his life was over. Even though I’ve been doing very helpful and empowering ceremonies to connect in good old-school shamanic fashion with death as an ally for many years, the fact that I’m now wearing glasses as I type on the laptop makes it all just a little more real. By the way, the burial ceremony will be part of the third module of Ritual this year (28th September to 5th October in Devon) and there are still a few places left on that module and the Vision Quest module (June 17th to 24th) for any of you who want to experience the life-giving power of those ceremonies.

 

Our current apprenticeship has already been such a rich learning ground for us and we now feel ready to commit to a second programme. We have been surprised by how much extra work and attention the programme has created for us and it’s been a steep learning curve to find the way to integrate such a big change in our working lives. We have a great Staff Team (David Rose, Sue Kuhn and Jo Hardy) who we meet with between modules so that we can keep up-to-date with each other, share news from our monthly skype sessions with all the apprentices, and prepare as thoroughly as we can for the upcoming modules. We are also working with a team of three Pathfinders, Caroline, Mark and Christian, who are now our first Apprentice Movement Medicine teachers, and we meet with them regularly too. Our work with them has been invaluable in preparing for the first Movement Medicine Teacher Training that will take place in 2011. And then of course, there are our apprentices themselves who it an absolute honour to work with so deeply.

 

It has been our experience over the past 20 years of working in this field that the relationships and friendships that are catalysed in the dance go very deep and last long. Community is so important and travelling together in a learning community brings many extra perspectives. The apprenticeship programme is without doubt the deepest work we have ever been involved with. The level of commitment of everyone involved to being true to who they are and bringing this into the dance of relationship is remarkable, brave, and cutting edge stuff.

 

The stated intention on the programme is to support all apprentices to be who they are and become all that they can become, and to bring all the different areas of life into alignment with the highest purpose they can manifest in this lifetime. Our tools are the dance itself as it comes through Movement Medicine practice and a deep personal study and application of the insights contained within the Movement Medicine Mandala. Each apprentice travels at their own pace and each apprentice has their own unique intention and way of working within the apprenticeship. Some will go to be Movement Medicine Practitioners applying all they have learned and continue to learn to many different areas of life. Others will go on to take the Teacher Training and become Movement Medicine teachers. Others will take what they have learned and continue on their journey.

 

Each year, at around the time of the Long Dance, there will be a community retreat open to those who have completed the apprenticeship and ongoing study and specialist interest courses for those who wish to continue studying. After the Teacher Training is complete, we expect there to be an teachers’ association run by the teachers themselves. Just as things always have, since the moment we discovered the dance in the East West Centre Dojo in Old Street London with Gabrielle in 1988, the journey evolves and so do we. We have no idea where it’s all going but we intend to enjoy every minute of the ride with whoever wishes to journey with us.

 

So, if you’re thinking of taking the Apprenticeship Journey, now is the time to check out dates, and see which prerequisites you still need to complete. For those of you who haven’t taken the Initiation voyage yet, the next ship leaves harbour in September 2010. And for those who haven’t met the Phoenix and discovered the birth, death, rebirth thing in the Phoenix Retreat, the feathers will be ruffling again in April 2011. Susannah’s Journey of Empowerment for this year in Switzerland is full with a waiting list. The next journey will happen here in the South West of the UK and begins in May 2011. A good place to get a deep experiential taste of the teachings of the mandala can be found at the Summer Long Dance (see Ya’Acov and Susannah’s article on Shamanism) in July.

 

So dear dancers on the eternal journey to who knows where, if you feel the tendrils of a new season of growth tapping the souls of your feet, if you feel the blessing of the great sun calling you to become and to dare to dream for yourself and for the community of life on earth, and if you just have to dance, then we will be meeting somewhere, some place on the great journey through time and space and we will be happy that the jiggery pokery continues, and that the spirit of the dance is alive and well reminding us of what truly matters whilst the heart still beats and the world still turns.

 

Wishing you the true joy of spring.

 

Ya’Acov and Susannah. April 2010.

 

 

See Through Diamonds and Shining Like Spring
By Ali Young

Last Thursday about 40 of us gathered at the beautiful Rill  Farm to begin this year’s Ritual modules, with the SEER  process. Assisted by the beautiful Sian and the lovely  David, Ya’acov was about to teach us all how to go retrieve  Systemic Essential Energy, which we had leaked, lost,  dropped or generally mislaid during experiences which we  had found difficult .

It is generally understood, in both the  therapeutic and the shamanic paradigms that trauma and  distress which we have experienced in our past and have  been unable to fully express at the moment of its occurring  becomes locked in the body or lost somehow as freely  available life energy, often causing what the shamanic  paradigm calls soul loss. The good news is that we can recall  it, thereby retrieving what has been lost, often during  moments of pain, restoring strength, energy and integrity to  our circle of reality, body, mind and heart.

 

As is always the case the Great Choreographer had  assembled a stalwart crew, all having made time in their busy  schedules to provide each other with whatever requisite  mirroring we all needed. You couldn’t have planned  it.....unless, of course, you are the Great Choreographer, in  which case you just sort out the travel arrangements....  We had been asked to prepare in several ways; by writing  our personal story(as someone who has been writing for  over 20 years, I strongly recommend the healing power of  writing to anyone who might be unfamiliar with it....just put  pen to paper...it’s a kind of dancing with ink), making a list of  situations we wished to resolve and creating an object which  represented our strengths, weaknesses and overall intention  for healing that week.

 

The longer I’m alive the more I realize that everything, we  do, think, feel and intend, affects everything else. Although,  once again, I was present in the group with the dual role of  participant observer and researcher, and even although I  am trained as a shamanic practitioner myself and have been  fortunate enough to have retrieved many of my scattered  fragments already, I still went through a very intense  personal process last week. Thankfully, I am long past my  victim phase and it was important to me to write my story in a  way which reflects the beauty and the magic which is my life,  as well as acknowledging what still needs some work. A large  element of the whole process was working with our support  group in order to share these stories, as well as the  unfolding of the week’s work. In truth, some of the mirrors I  saw there were a challenge for me and I began the week  wondering whether I was avoiding some of my pain by  choosing to edit some of the more traumatic factual events  of my life. I concluded later that this was a concern rather  than a truth and was delighted to observe the energetic  power of my words when having described my overall  essential soul essence as wild unfettered laughter, my  support group were rolling around the floor before I even  got to read that to them. BE VERY CAREFUL HOW YOU  DESCRIBE YOURSELF. IT SHAPES LIFE!!! I also shared  with people that my overall intention for the week, apart  from getting some good interviews was to have a REALLY  good laugh. And so it came to pass. Remember, we can  choose to have fun. Imagine what it would be like if we all  did. Heaven on Earth, that’s what interests me. I don’t want  to wait till I’m dead.

 

The other fascinating strength of this particular body of  work is that, as well as working with the Movement Medicine  mandala, it includes all the current resources of the dancer  doing the work(play) and allows an opportunity for the  body to engage with a deep physical process which enables  a very full “clearing” of whatever the original upset was. If  you can imagine the amazingly powerful combination of  having your story witnessed, with the pleasure and support  of the dance, the space to let go as fully as you need to and  the spiritual framework to call upon total assistance, then  you’ve got the SEER process. It is both a very powerful and  impressive tool and a method which offers wholly integrated  healing.

 

Speaking to my 5 year old son on the phone on the  Sunday morning, just before I entered into what would be a  very deep process, he said to me, “I’ve got a joke for you  Mum, What do you call a diamond with no colour in it? “I  don’t know, what do you call a diamond with no colour in it?”  “A see through diamond!....I’ve got another one for you  Mum, What do you call a see through diamond?” “I don’t  know, what do you call a see through diamond? “A diamond  you can see through!” Referred to in traditional shamanism  as being a hollow bone, the level of clarity to which he so  wisely refers is a place of presence and being, which requires  an ongoing commitment to the polishing process. The more  of our emotional toxins we can take responsibility for  cleaning up the more possible it becomes to see and act  from the strong eye of the heart and to respond simply,  lovingly and elegantly to whatever is around us.

 

My deep thanks to mandala man Ya’acov...you the (sha)  man...to my interviewees past and future, to my dear old  friend Sian whom it was so lovely to see again, to my  husband for fort holding, to Scott and Inma at Exeter  University for being courageous enough to take me on as a  student(eek), to Roland for his sweet support, to  Sussanah, especially for Party for God, which has been a  musical life line for me this last month, to the people and land  at Rill, to my support group who mirrored what needed to be  seen, to all who journeyed alongside and above all to life  past, present and future.

 

Ali Young  bliss@alijoy.plus.com

 

Self and Sustainability

By Susannah

The biggest green consumer choice is to consume less. It seems obvious yet I watch my self being tantalised by the beautiful bags and dresses on a rare recent visit to the airport. Glittering, gorgeous stuff which make me feel that I don’t have enough - that I am not enough. I work to remember all the beautiful clothes I already have. I’m glad I fly so rarely, train stations are not so full of aspirational glamour. I remember the stories about how, after the 2nd world war, when women had had the enfranchising and liberating experience of working as land girls etc, in order to get women “back in the home” they were sold a dream of being the perfect, beautiful housewife, one of whose chief roles was to consume, just bring on the roller-coaster of fashion and purposely built in obsolescence, et voila: the consumption treadmill.

Annie Leonard’s erudite, snappy little films could be mandatory for all aspiring world citizens. In “The Story of Stuff,” she asks you to guess what percentage of goods bought in the USA are still in use 6 months later. The answer made me wince. Its not, 50%, not 20%, not 10%............... but 1%. I guess that here in Europe  it’s not quite so low, but close enough. So we are looting the earth, attempting linear growth on a finite planet, for stuff we don’t even use, let alone need.

According to the current Harvard Business Review, businesses are increasingly aware of the competitive advantage of being green, and being seen to be green, because of: governmental legislation which is, or will soon, make greenhouse gas production cost real money, the increasing demands and expectation of transparency of environmental and social impacts of products, the realisation that green production can be cost effective as well as consumer wooing, and the consumer demand for products that are good for people and the environment. The power of the ethical consumer who wants to look after their own family and the family of life on earth is being recognised and leading to change. Lets go on voting with our wallets and our voices. Find out about the environmental and social impacts of products from  www.goodguide.com

Other good news:

-You can support the protection of tropical forests by using “Ecosia” rather than Google. For every visit, advertising revenue allows Ecosia to protect 2plus sq metres of rainforest.

-Catch the train! Catching the train rather than the plane from London to Paris creates 92% less CO2, (as well as being a much nicer experience) Vive le EuroStar!

-Slow down: Driving at 70 mph rather than 80 mph reduces fuel (and therefore C02 emissions) by almost 1/3rd. 

- We’ve discovered that we can recycle far more kinds of plastic than we thought. Our council only collect plastic bottles, but actually the local recycling centre accepts a lot of other plastics too. You just have to take them there. It’s strange that its not more advertised, but the facility IS there, we just had to find out, (helped by TT!). Also batteries. Ask your council for what you want, find out what they offer….

- and for when you feel like supporting the lungs of the earth directly, whether or not you have been spilling C02 in the skies recently, we like the World Land Trust for rainforest conservation.

-And we use Good Energy www.goodenergy.co.uk for electricity sourced from renewable sources. They also have a great shop where you can buy energy saving appliances and meters which let you know how much electricity your house or an appliance, is using. Apparently once people can SEE how much they are using they cut their usage by 10% just by having the feedback loop completed. And THAT fits with something Thich Nhat Han apparently said recently; that the great danger for humanity now is that we are not ‘getting’ the information from the feedback loop which links our actions with their consequences. Vive la feedback loop!

- and dance, sing, love and enjoy being a creator not a consumer of other people’s creations. Lets go!

 

Susannah DK

 

Every Body Moves
By Katherine Cable

I recently spent a weekend on a training course for dance practitioners who would like to offer movement sessions to older people.  This was a fairly conventional course, and so we sat on our chairs and listened to the trainers describe what happens to the body as it ages and all the warning signs we should look for to make sure that our participants do not exert themselves too much if they are frail, have heart conditions, replacement hips, fragile bones, hearing and eyesight problems, to mention just some of the possible difficulties.

My heart sank as we talked about risk assessments and insurance, all the things which could go wrong and which we would need to prepare ourselves against, and it felt as though we were moving further and further away from any possibility of movement, connection, enjoyment and love.

 

Eventually, we moved on to a practical session, made a circle and started to move together, still in our chairs at first, as many of our participants may be.  We threw smiles across the circle at each other and started to tap our toes to the beat, wave our arms, send movements around the circle and suddenly, magic was happening!  We explored how our bodies can have conversations without us needing to say anything at all and re-discovered how much we need gentle touch as part of our connection with ourselves and others.

 

Becoming more active, we moved into utter silliness and huge delight, using our chairs as props, finding all the ways you can move on, off, around, above, beneath and between a chair or two, incorporating periods of stillness to rest and observe our fellow dancers.  This could have been a movement medicine workshop after all! 

 

As the course continued, I was reminded of something very beautiful which Ya’Acov said to me recently – that sometimes the fragile bud may need to be reminded that it is connected to the twig and the branch and the tree and so it has roots which go deep into the earth.  I came home with a renewed awareness of how hugely powerful and healing movement work can be when it is intentional and aware and that the medicine in movement is available to all of us, whenever we may need it.  Just like the tree of life, we experience many ages as we grow and develop and even (perhaps especially) towards the end of life, we can still experience the joy and power of healing ourselves through movement.

 

Katharine Cable

March 2010

The Phoenix Process
By Anne Katharina Zahn

The Phoenix Process feels like a huge journey into my own soul, heart and ego. I feel grateful for having been given a huge tool box and a recipe how to work with patterns, “beliefs” that limit my life or even take away my freedom and that keep me holding back living my full potential.

Nevertheless the journey afterwards is pretty tough, my senses are much more online as in the time I have been a child that makes me more available, I am more receptive, which is great and at the same time I am facing a huge vulnerability. I feel I come in similar situations as in my childhood, I say things that are uncomfortable to others and show my personal values, I react more easily that causes conflicts. At first  it feels unusually, and a red alarm says: “ You are not O.K. you are too much for others” and then something new sparkles: “ No, you are you, you can only live your life, nobody else can do it and in order to change you have to go through these uncomfortable situations in order to let go.” Coming home and working directly with my boss is the biggest challenge, how dealing with narcissistic and impulsive behaviour? Colleagues say step back say that he is always right ?! No I cannot I am not willing to give up my own way of being, so my first strategy is listening and watching and hopefully finding my way in all of this.


New is a deep pain and sadness about my father, my relationship to men, I pray for healing but as I have mentioned before I have to feel it in order to open up. In deep gratitude for my wonderful teachers Ya acov, Susannah and Caroline and to my wonderful travel companions each one of you have a place in my heart. Anne

Movement Medicine Book

By Kari Fjällström

I’d been cleared off the stage of my own life. And I was not a compassion witness.

I’d been taught and believed that I must be Somebody and knew I was failing. Being her had become a prison. Being her had become a living death. So I wanted and needed to break out. Life is my guide and master – not the little life, but the life force. I cracked and broke open and gradually a new being emerged – first as energy.

I needed safety and quiet and deep concentration to give birth to myself. It began when I sensed the energy and then captured it in small, small movements. It continues channeled by insights, new rituals, experiments and incantations.

 

Among my allies in this process is the book Movement Medicine. For me the book is a complement to Ya’Acov and Susannah’s wonderful ritual retreats. During the retreats I train at the deep inner focus on feeling breathed into form, and enjoy Ya’Acov’s chanting and drumming, Susannah’s clear gentle guidance, the beautiful alters with candles, crystals, feathers, water and plants and the intensity and warmth of the a floor full of dancing beings. And the book is for me a wonderfully practical tool to have as I study on my own – it depicts well the paths and the concepts we’ve worked on together –the Elements, Soul Loss, Chambers of the Heart, Vision Quests… For dancer/seekers like myself who can’t keep pace with their inspiring talks, Movement Medicine is a great resource. Much of the map we’d traveled, sung, and danced is described in the book in detail - and with examples!

 

My favorite sections are the rituals that Susannah and Ya’Acov have collected and refined. These rituals - from many cultures - vary in complexity from meditations before sleeping (admittedly I am usually asleep before the end!), researching and creating a collage of ancestors, to all day outings in nature. I find these exercises very inspiring. I am discovering that the practice of sacred dance and song make life possible, make my life bearable. I just keep at it - pulling off bands of grief, shame, fear and resentment – and dancing, dancing with life, dancing with all the beings of the universe, and beyond that with the un-manifested, with the mystery!

 

I warmly recommend you read Movement Medicine. There’s lots of inspiring material in it to ponder and to dance!

A Quest for Freedom

By Zoe Binetti

After having felt so sorry, cried and cried and cried, been shattered by not understanding, laying awake puzzled by the unanswered question of how to make a difference, I am starting to wake up to a new understanding….

 For over a month now I have been working in an NGO called Sport the Bridge in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is a program which aims to re-integrate children living in the streets of this city back into their families and school.


I have been confronted with many unbelievable stories of suffering, of loss, of situations one simply wishes not to be true. I have struggled to not look away and thank God to insights from the Pachamama Symposium I attended in Switzerland the two days before I boarded my flight to come here, have found the strength to bear with the feeling of devastation and helplessness.

 

I am here as a teacher for martial arts, for the staff of the program as well as for the kids and am finding that under these kind of circumstances one needs to keep finding a very good reason for why one is doing what one is doing. It is of core believe of Sport the Bridge not to provide the kids with material goods such as shelter, clothes, shoes or money but to instigate change from the insight out. For example: a child living in the street often ignores his body; doesn't wash, wears torn clothes, consumes drugs, doesn't rest enough, sleeps in dangerous places, works at night etc. Initially this might even benefit them because a scraggly look will make passer-byes take pity on them and they'll give them money. but of course in the long run the kids are damaging their health. Sport the Bridge tries to make them understand these things through games and sport in an amazingly simple but effective way. The only thing about this is of course: one cannot force anybody to change if they don't want to. So it is entirely up to the kids what they do with these offerings.

It has been a real challenge for me to find value and trust in what I am doing here when I think of how easy it would be to just buy a pair of shoes for a pair of bleeding feet or a piece of bread for a hungry mouth. Instead I give Qi Gong and Kung-Fu, bring the awareness into the body and help to increase the attention span. In the times between classes there's a lot of cuddling, joking, laughing. Just being with the kids in a respectful and loving way.

 

Now an unexpected thing has revealed itself to me: I have stopped feeling sorry for these kids and the difficult situations they have run away from (overly strict rules in their parents house, poverty, lack of love, alcoholism…) and have found a deep admiration for their quest for freedom. The willingness of a ten year old to leave safety behind, heading into the unknown. I believe it takes a special kind of person, a generation ready to break up some of the old ways of this country. These children have an unbelievably uncertain future, something that I personally have never had to face in my life. It is easy to see all the traps they might fall into, all the hardship they are facing. But I will give my best to hold them in my prayers and to hold the possibility of possibilities far beyond my imagination for their lives and their futures. And I am filled with a tremendous gratitude for these young and bold pirates, setting out to sea not knowing what kind of land they will reach, for they are showing me something I haven't seen before in this way: the fierce willingness of the human heart to create the space it needs to beat.

 

I thank all my movement teachers that have given me the safe space to explore my inner landscapes and have allowed me to grow into a fluid and stable woman with the courage to explore the unknown. And I pray for the ability to offer this space to others. And I pray for the unbroken spirits of the kids I have met here, so that their heart beats may rock the world.

 

With endless love for the Medicine of Movement


Zoë 

Disappointment and the Dreamer
By Hannah Mackay

Disappointment
You are my ally,
For underneath you lies hope.
 
Down, deep, deep in the hopeful dark
Something starts to bubble up;
Finds tiny form between sea-bed sand
And starts to rise.

Tiny bubbles, tiny worlds of
Crazy schemes and daring dreams
For working in teams and new ice-creams;
Schools full of love, dancing angels above;
Visions of stars and fuel-less cars;
A winter of snow, tomatoes that grow;
A beautiful death; the power of the breath;
Friends dear to my heart; poetical art;
A world full of trees; a soul set free...
 
Tiny bubbles, tiny worlds
Rising up into the light
Sent on my breath into summer skies;
Feeling the force of my intention,
Powered, projected through stormy clouds.
I follow with mind and heart and body,
Action, passion to bring them to life.
 
Tiny bubbles, tiny worlds
Sometimes caught on a current and lifted high
Shining bright and visible,
Growing, becoming, changing the world.
Sometimes joining countless others,
Buoyant and jostling, looking for space.
Sometimes seen by another dreamer,
Finding a place in another heart.
 
But sometimes falling.
Often, mostly, falling.
 
Tiny bubbles, tiny worlds
Meeting nothing;
Seeds that never found their ground;
Making nothing, not this time.
Bubbles falling.
 
Falling through my heart.
Disappointment.
 
I ask my mind to see,
And let them fall.
Let them in, let them go.
Maybe something to learn.
Always something to feel.
The dreamer, not wrong.
The bubble, not wrong.
Just falling.
 
Down, down to the welcoming sea-bed.
Let it go.
Let it rest.
Let it lie in hope.
Let it die in hope.
 
Dreams down in the darkness.
In a place beyond place.
In a time before time.
Down deep, deep in the hopeful dark
New bubbles are forming.
 
Hannah Mackay

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?

 

            Answer:

 

                           That you are here – that life exists and identity;

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

 

 

 

 

David                                                                                       ddancer1@googlemail.com

 

 

                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

White Angel

By Hans Nusink

I see you

in the air

White clothes

Transparent wings


Flying to me

Circling around me

Bringing the wind

into my heart

Blowing away old stuff

 

Opening me

to you

To the future

            unknown

 

Hans, at Alchemy of Stillness, 9.12.2009

Return of the Light Manchester
By Kerri Cripps

During the tree of life meditation, whilst we were dancing with the new buds just beginning to unfurl, I found myself on a high diving board looking down into a deep lake. I knew I was going to dive into it to find something important and bring it back.

 

I took a deep breath and dived right down to the bottom and began feeling my way along searching for something in the darkness. I felt a weight around my ankle and knew I had found what I was looking for, so I began swimming back up to the surface, lungs bursting as I made my way back to the warmth and light and air.

 

Back on the earth I found I had a big key-ring around my ankle and on it were a silver key and a flower of the palest most delicate pink. I held the ring to my heart thinking 'I have the key now' and it melted into me. When I looked down I saw a pale pink and green shape just under the surface of the water. Bending down for a closer look I discovered it was 'my drowned daughter' wearing a pink and green dress. Slowly and gently I gathered her in my arms, lifted her out of the water and held her close.  I knew it was time to return her to the earth, so I laid her at the foot of a small silver birch tree. Its shimmering leaves fluttered gently in the breeze, as I curled her pale limbs around its trunk. I covered her body first with a very pale pink cloth and then with a green one which also very pale. Briefly I wondered if I should cover her with earth, but knew immediately that what she needed was water. I thought of sprinkling water from the lake over her, but that wasn't quite right either. I felt at a loss, felt my loss of her and began to water her with my tears. Gradually she dissolved back into the earth and as she dissolved, so did I. Almost immediately I again felt myself pushing upwards towards warmth and light and air - roots in the earth, trunk pushing upwards, branches weaving up and back down again towards the earth, almost brushing the surface. I was reborn as a small weeping pussy willow tree – the ones with the merest hint of pale pink on their catkins.

 

As the music began to fade I opened my eyes and saw that I was in beautiful garden full of the most amazing trees all dancing like me. I noticed one tree in particular whose picture of a pale pink heart on a pale green background was next to my pale pink and green hearts on the altar. She too was weeping and I thought ‘in a moment you will look up and see me’. When she did, we smiled tree to tree, pale pink heart to pale pink heart, delicate new and tender.

 

All through this experience - I want to call it a vision but it was multi-sensory - I was also dancing as the tree of life with my awareness in my roots and trunk and branches. Several times I was tempted to move with the 'vision' to enter into it and become it, but when I began to it felt wrong somehow, incongruent or incoherent and I went back to being the witnessing tree of life. Afterwards Ya'Acov spoke of our need, in our largely disembodied culture, for embodied journeying and I understood that in order to be able to bring this medicine dream back part of me needed to stay out of it, strongly rooted in my feet in the earth so that I had somewhere to bring it back to, to ground it. And unusually for me it has stayed with me very clearly, strong and memorable.

 

I don’t have an actual daughter, drowned or otherwise, and at this time I have very little sense of what this experience maps/means/foretells. I do know that it isn't only for me, so here it is as an offering back to my community, a pebble dropped gently into the pool of community to ripple and resonate and remind us of our interconnections.

With much love and gratitude

Kx

 

kerri@waking-up.com 

 

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. schoolofmovementmedicine.com