School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: November 2010
Gold Dust

By Roland

I thrust my hand down into a clump of black seaweed and picked up the first stone that my hand touched and put it in my pocket.  It was the end of my journey walking to the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland and I was standing on a beach on the north shore.  The weather had turned overnight, the sky was overcast and a cold wind was blowing.  This stone was for a friend.  However, it was not to be a delightful memento of Iona but was to be a physical representation of the burden I felt he had made me carry on this last leg of my journey.

Just before I had left home he had phoned me and asked whether we could find a way to sort out a difficulty we were having.  This phone call had preoccupied me so much that I had had quite severe problems both sleeping and eating.   

Several days later I found the stone in the pocket of my fleece.  It was nothing like the stone that I had imagined that I had picked up.  The stone of my imagination was rough dark and ugly.  The stone in my hand was smooth.  I washed off the bits of seaweed still clinging to it.  Closer examination showed that the stone was light grey with delicate circular bands etched into it and it glittered as if it had been lightly rolled in fairy gold dust.  This stone did not fit at all with what I wanted to say to my friend.

I would love now to say that I came to an immediate realisation of what was going on.  But that would be a lie.  For several weeks the stone sat on my desk.  I would pick up and handle it.   Very slowly it came to me that my troubled mind did not in reality have much to do with my friend and that in fact that what he had said to me had entirely reasonable and when we came to speak together and sort out our problem it became clear that it was entirely inappropriate to give him the stone. 

I returned to my therapist who I had stopped see about two years ago. “Wasn’t this walk to do with your father?  Could these sleepless nights have anything to with him?” she asked.  Initial denial.  “I’ve made peace with my father.” I protested.   “I rebuilt the cairn where his ashes are.  I told him I loved him and that he had been a good father to me.  That I had learned a lot from him.”  But my body told me – the hurt in my heart told me - that her question had hit the nail on the head.

So what was it that I wanted to say to him?  What was it that was so difficult that I kept it even from myself?   When I started this walk over two years ago I had found myself curious about why I should bother to do something so monumental for someone who I essentially disliked and despised.  I had thought my father selfish.  I felt angry about the way he had treated my mother.  But now what is that I needed to say to him that would keep me awake at night and put me off my food? 

It is very appropriate given that this article is written for the Movement Medicine newsletter that the answer to this question should come a few days later when I picked up the stone and carried it as I did a slow swirling dance in my living room.   As I moved I had an image of my father standing in the centre of a circle and I was dancing around the perimeter.  Depending on where I was I had a slightly different image of him.  All the family letters I had read helped with the process.  Here he was baby being baptised in Sienna cathedral, here a child in France crawling under a hedge, here a teenager cycling back in the dark from Norwich after acting in a play, here a radio operator in Iceland in the Second world war, here a father for the first time, here a cheating husband, and so on through to an image of him in his hospital bed in the final week of his life.   Finally it came to me that what I wanted to say to my father was that he stopped me from being myself.  I said the words out loud and the the absurdity of the statement made me laugh.  No-one could actually stop me being myself.  This was just a power I had ascribed to him.  The pain I had carried for week melted and my arms were buzzing with an electric excitement.  The stone in my hand represented my reclaiming the power to be myself – gold dust.

It is no co-incidence that the Movement Medicine is mapped out into Journeys – The Journey of Empowerment, the Journey of Responsibility and Living the Dream.   The journey of Empowerment is covered by most of the weekend workshop and also Susannah’s group The Journey of Empowerment.  The Journey of Responsibility is cover by Initiation, The Phoenix Retreat and Ya’Acov’s Rituals.  Living the Dream is the work that you do if you take part in the Apprenticeship Programme.  Application form for all these can be found on the Movement Medicine website by following the links or you can email me at and I will send you one.

Wishing you well on your journey.


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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.