School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: October 2010
Tell Me Who You Are

By Ya'Acov

There are so many threads from the past that conspire to wrap themselves like the cold light of what folk like to call ‘the real world’ around the budding channels of our freedom and squeeze the life out of them. So many ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ and fears and tensions that we hold that stop us simply being who we are. As Susannah so beautifully puts it in the 12 minute video of the Long Dance ceremony that’s gone up on You Tube recently: ‘there’s such a feeling that you could really be yourself here, that you could be real here. And you wouldn’t be rejected and you wouldn’t be laughed at…….nobody would demand that you should be different than you are….and so the heart blossoms…’

Yes it does, the heart blossoms and people start to shine with an inner light when the truth of who they are comes through. I am stupidly blessed to be able to witness this so much of the time. I’ve made it my business to go around the place setting up spaces where people can remember and rediscover and embody who they are. Why? I have a preference for the truth. And I have a preference for the shine of the soul becoming visible in the eyes, in the dance. It lights up the moment and it lights up the road ahead. It illuminates some of the insanity of the world we live in, such as our disconnection from nature and the natural rhythms and cycles of the changing of the seasons. And sometimes when we fall into the truth of who we are and what life is, we recognise how often we abandon this truth in order to fit in. Ah yes, tribalism again and that very human need to belong.

Dancing, seeing someone in the naked beauty of their soul, witnessing a deep prayer or memory arising, watching as the dam walls of a toxic past burst and the tears wash the heart and bring forth the sweet waters of forgiveness; these are moments, pearl moments we call them, that remind us who we are and what we are here for. It’s not very mysterious really. Be who you are and give everything you’ve got – that’s what the whole School of Movement Medicine curriculum is based on. That, and learning the tools we need to strengthen our ability to stay in this truth, to live from this truth despite the harsh gaze and expectations of the world.

I’m not speaking from the highlands of ‘aha! I’ve got this down and I just thought I’d share a few morsels of wisdom……’ I am seeing in my own life the times and the places and the situations in which I adopt a mask in order to fit in or not disturb. Neither am I saying this is wrong. Wearing a mask in order to play a role in the theatre of life is not such a bad thing. As Ram Dass says, we may as well make it our style. The problem comes when we forget we’re wearing the mask or when we identify or more importantly, try to define who we are through the role.

So much of my early spiritual seeking was aimed at becoming something. As my 40’s race by, there is an awareness that who I am has always been present, a constant companion, a witness to the dramas of life. There is so much more space and time when I sit back in this awareness, so much less struggle. And the need to prove myself through my actions and deeds seems more like the weather. It comes and goes. What is constant is this love of truth, love of life, love of diversity. I am no less passionate than I was 10 years ago. It’s just that that very same passion seems to come from a different place – maybe just somewhere older.

I’ve travelled to many places in search of this simple remembering. Our friends in the Amazon showed us a primal force, a force that awakens and shakes the foundations, a life force uninterrupted by missionaries or economics. The force of the Great Mother herself, undulating and evolving, balancing and turning with the great wheel of time. A force so totally and magnificently itself and we were told again and again – ‘this is who you are.’ What a gift to remember myself as earth and water and fire and wind. And in the Arctic, I met another energy, compact and distilled by the very same forces that had tried to destroy it. There, in the working hands of an old friend, I met the drum. And the drum sang the same song as those leafy rattles in the Amazon – we belong to this earth, we are inextricably and eternally linked to her wellbeing and the wellbeing of all of life here. And on all my travels, I saw how very down to earth the people are who live from these truths. And I was shown how very down to earth the practice of shamanism is. And in being more open about the shamanic aspects of Movement Medicine, especially through the modules of Ritual and through the Long Dance (the date for next year’s Long Dance is July 8-12, 2011 by the way), I have attempted to convey this simplicity and this practicality.

The Great Choreographer is always asking us who we are. We dance to connect to the environment within us. We learn how to bring what we find into form and into the dance and into communication with life all around us. We learn how to listen and how to give our attention from the great intelligence of life moving within us. We learn that we are a circle and that we are connected to the circle. We learn that the circle includes the physical world and the non-physical world of our ancestors and of the spirit of the dance. And we remember that the same life force that lives this body is the same life force that moves through all life and from time to time, we get to rest in the Great Mystery of it all.

And then we go home. And there, the dance continues. How does the freedom of the dance relate to family life, to the work environment, to the social circles we frequent. What would ‘they’ say if we told them that we’d spent the week remembering that we’re like a tree or digging our own graves, or dancing all night in a yurt? Maybe they’d think we’re mad and maybe they’d invite us to come back to the desert of reality. Or maybe they’d start shining too for a moment, and maybe the whole theatre show would suddenly become apparent and they’d remember some forgotten childhood dreams of magic and mystery. That’s why community is important. We need mirrors whilst we’re remembering. And then we need them to keep us real. We need support to swim upriver against the flow sometimes. We need the strength of community when we’re following instinct like a salmon using everything it’s got to follow their gut instinct to pass life on. In the end, we have a choice to make. We can be who we are and give what we’ve got and enjoy the roles we play as much as we can, or……………..we can try to forget, go back to sleep and chase someone else’s dream.

There is a unique vibration that emanates from each one of us and this vibration both is a gift and has a gift to give in this world. Finding this gift is soul work. Letting this gift find its form is the work of embodiment. That’s the core of our work. Know who you are. Be who you are. Give what you’ve got. It’s simple.

I want to leave you with the title of a book a mentor told me about a while ago. I never read it maybe because the title says it all. It’s called What You Think of Me is None of My Business (Terry Cole-Whittaker). I know it’s not the whole truth but it’s a refreshing addition to the ever-changing, ever-evolving and paradoxically eternally constant dancer that is this mystery called the truth. I look forward to seeing, hearing and sharing the truth of who we are next time we meet.

Ya’Acov’s next Rituals journey begins in March 2011 in Switzerland. The journey is made up of three modules, The S.E.E.R Process in March in Switzerland, the Vision Quest in June in Devon, UK, and The Burial & Long Dance in September at Orval in Belgium. It is possible to take any one module or take two or all three together.

Ya’Acov. October 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.