School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
Issue: June 2011

Where you are!
By Roland

“Where are Susannah and Ya’Acov teaching on the 6th Sept?” read a recent email.

If you look on our website calendar then you will see that the venue for this date is cryptically entitled ‘Where you Are!’

Of course this doesn’t in anyway answer the question of where they will be teaching and the answer to that question is they will probably be teaching from their living room but they could be teaching from anywhere.

If all of this is leaving you a little baffled let me put you out of your misery and explain.On the evening of 6th September Susannah and Ya’Acov will be presenting the first Movement Medicine webinar. ‘“Oh but what is a webinar?” I hear some of you ask? “Please explain!”’

Basically a webinar is on online seminar. Susannah and Ya’Acov will present the webinar from their living room, or wherever they are, and you will be able to watch and participate from wherever you are – possibly your living-room or maybe you might want to get together with friends and meet in a place where you will be able to dance together. This first webinar will be free so you will get a chance to see how it goes and whether or not it is for you. We will be running about 10 webinars a year and the normal subscription for the year will be £35.There will also be a chance to buy a year’s subscription for £25 if you do so right after the first webinar. Thereafter the subscription will £35 for a year’s worth of seminars from the moment that you subscribe Details of where to register etc will be posted on the website some time in August and will go out in a newsletter a few days before the 6th September.

We have deliberately kept the price on the low side as we would like to make it possible for anyone who wants to sign up for these webinars to do so without breaking the bank as we see this as a way of bringing together the whole Movement Medicine community which is spread over different towns, cities, countries and continents under one cyber-roof on a regular basis.

Here in the office things are very busy as we prepare for forthcoming module of the Teaching Training which will be followed by the Summer Long Dance. There are a small number of places left for the Summer Long Dance 8 – 12 July. If you want to attend please contact me at for an application form.

Susannah and Ya’Acov take a well-earned break after the Long Dance and will not be teaching again until September when they will be going to Jersey to teach a new workshop together which includes a Sweat Lodge called Medicine Lodge. 2 – 4th September. For more details and to book please contact Maria 00 44 1534

From 14 – 22nd September Ya’Acov will be teaching the Burial/Long Dance Ceremony in Orval, Belgium. This forms part of the Movement Medicine Ritual work. There are places still available for this and please contact me at for an application form. Ya’Acov has written about this workshop in The Old Death and Resurrection Show article in this newsletter.

At the end of September Susannah and Ya’Acov will again be teaching together. This time it is the longest workshop of the year – Initiation. We are delighted to be holding this workshop in the fantastic dance studio at Dartington Hall from Friday 23rd September through till October 2nd. This workshop is a deep, healing journey through the phases of life and is one of the key pre-requisites for the Apprenticeship Programme and for the Teacher Training. There are a few places still available for this and please contact me at for an application form. By the way don’t forget that the deadline for applications for the next Apprenticeship progamme starting in April 2011 is August 31st.

Susannah has recently been in Berlin, and the alchemy clicked so strongly between her, the people and the beautiful new studio space, that she is going to be back there October 14th-16th this autumn. And, for women, the details of her updated Sanctuary workshop are now ready, to be held next March on the beautiful island of Sylt in North Germany, easily accessible from Germany and Denmark.

Have a great summer,

All the best!


The Old Death & Resurrection Show
By Ya'Acov

I may as well be honest with you right at the start. I want to talk with you about death, specifically your death and mine. I know death is not a very popular subject for most people but stay with me. If I were to be a little more explicit, I might ask you to imagine yourself standing with both feet on the soft earth in the Ardennes in Belgium. Go on, close your eyes for a moment, and then feel a good, strong shovel in your hand, take a deep breath and begin to dig. What are you doing? You are taking up the first clod of earth as you begin to dig your own grave in preparation for the Burial of the Warrior Ceremony.

How does that feel? How does it feel to be taking your life in your own hands and willingly inviting a deep dialogue with your own death? When I first did this, I have to tell you, I was terrified. But that first time I dug my own grave and did this ceremony, struggling all day in the summer sun with the dry, hot, hard earth of La Val Dieu in Southern France, will stay with me forever. And the many times I have done it since have each been benchmarks in my life. The last grave I dug was in my own back garden and during the night I spent in there talking to my old friend death, who used to scare me so much, I realised that if I did this every couple of years, there would come a time, when they could just leave my body in there as food for the land that has fed me for so long. I realised that for the first time in this body, I was finally at home. Whether we like it or not, the great death and resurrection show is coming to all of us.

Let me start by telling you about an unusual conversation I had with a friend last week. I was talking about writing this article and she said: “Oh lovely! I’m so excited about dying. I can hardly wait!” Before we go any further, she’s not the suicidal type and this article isn’t an invitation to some kind of early death party. It’s more of an invitation to enter into a dialogue with the reality of mortality, or as our old indigenous mates put it, an invitation to die whilst your still living. Not just once, but regularly. It’s an invitation to allow death to take its rightful place in our lives, as one of the greatest of all teachers. One of our great teachers, a woman many of you may know, used to say to us that teachers come and go but life is the Master. I would add that death too is a master, and what a mysterious duet they are! Are you still with me? OK, then let’s continue.

We’re at that time of year again when the sun reaches the peaks of its powers and right then, as the old pagan cycle of the year celebrated so openly in myth and ritual, the great celestial King of the sky recognises the approach of his own demise. I remember so clearly being taken along to a pagan ritual in my very early 20’s when this story was told so beautifully. It touched me very deeply because in the story, the King didn’t try to hold on to his power (now there’s an unusual guy!). He accepted that he must give his life to the land so that the eternal cycle could continue. In short, he made friends with his death and surrendered gracefully to it, and through that very act, his life becomes a blessing for all.

Death is all around us. If we wear leather or our diet is more or less anything other than vegan, then we are participating in death all the time. We are all either consciously or unconsciously part of this everyday dance of life and death. When I was in Hamburg recently, my friend Jens pointed out the huge abattoir that is close to the centre of the city. Even though death is on our doorsteps all the time, how many of us are consciously aware of it before it comes knocking and shocks us to the very core.

The choices we make connect us to life and death all the time. For instance, is anyone out there still buying Nestle products? I was horrified to see Nescafe being used at one of our events recently. There has been an ongoing consumer boycott campaign against Nestle since the late 80’s. Why? Nestle have for years been using unfair and unjust marketing to persuade mothers in third world countries to replace breast feeding with powdered baby food, with devastating effects for the child mortality rates in those countries. Even though measures and codes of conduct are in place, it is a well-documented fact that Nestlé continues to violate these measures in a systematic way (see the Breaking the Rules monitoring reports produced by the International Baby Food Action Network – And as UNICEF has said: "Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute." And despite this, so many of us are so out of touch, that when drinking a cup of Nescafe in the morning, all we taste is the coffee.

A good relationship with death brings us a calm urgency and an ever-deepening appreciation of the breath we breathe, the lives we are living, and the people we are living them with. Like any other relationship, our full attention is required. Unlike any other relationship, this is not one we can walk away from. Death is coming whether we are ready or not. So I’m inviting you to take your courage in your hands and come and join us in September for the Burial Ceremony, where we take time to dance with death and see what more we can learn about life.

It may seem strange or frightening to dig your own grave and then get in there, have it covered by a pallet or two, a tarpaulin and a mound of earth, and spend the night in dialogue with your death. But I can assure you, it’s a perfectly safe ceremony and my assistants and I will be sat up all night very close by should you need assistance. We have a little tradition now in this ceremony that should anyone require help, they have to shout for ‘ROOM SERVICE!’ Many people who do this ceremony are so surprised by how much more grounded they feel afterwards and more than that, how held they felt all night long by the living presence of the Great Mama all around them. Indeed another name for this ceremony is ‘the boost of the earth.’ Many people report hearing the heartbeat of the earth’ and a sense of a much deeper connection the earth as a sentient being. People tell me how many lasting changes come out of this ceremony and how much creative energy is released along with the strong imperative to ‘get on with it and live!’ And collectively, we could certainly do a little more of that heartfelt urgency that’s supported by the deep holding that a night in our graves can bring.

The presence of death tends to sharpen our perspective. It helps us to remember what really matters to us. A good relationship with death gives us so much more appreciation of the gift of life. It helps us to get much clearer about our priorities in life and it illuminates our regrets about the ways we have or haven’t lived.

Bonnie Ware, a nurse who worked with the dying for many years, wrote a very good article in the Observer newspaper in October 2010 about the top 5 regrets that people shared with her as their death approached. They are:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I didn't work so hard. 3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

There’s something so very poignantly revealing of the times we live in about this list. It certainly gave me some food for thought. What would be on your list?

And there are other important questions that death asks us. Are there dreams that you gave up on? Is there unfinished business from the past that takes up the space in your heart where love could be? If you could speak with death, your own death, what would you say? And if after an intense night of dialogue and revelations in the presence of death, she or he were to give you another chance to live, what choices might you make about the way you choose to live in the time you have left?

After my first burial ceremony, I had such a long list of intentions, people to speak to, and things I wanted to do. But such is the power of an ongoing relationship with death that the last time I did this ceremony, I came to the beautiful realisation during the night that if I were to die now, I could do so with a much more peaceful heart. Death continues to be my teacher and I hope to be able to say one day, that death is my friend.

When I asked my friend who was so excited about dying what it was that excited her so much she said: ‘Well it’s like when you dance, or meditate, and you let go, and you expand. Personality falls away and there is this huge space and to die consciously would mean to be able to just keep on expanding and letting go.’ I think this is what the ancients mean when they talk about dying whilst still alive. Death invites a shift of identity from the body, the personality and its feelings to consciousness itself. When the time comes for each one of us, I hope that death is kind and that we can all let go of this life with a smile in our hearts and a feeling of a life well and truly lived.

In the meantime, I wish you a very happy and peaceful summer solstice time and I hope to see you, shovel in hand, in Orval in September.

Ya’Acov. Summer Solstice 2011.

The Burial Ceremony takes place in Orval, in the beautiful Ardennes in Belgium, September 14th to 21st. Ya’Acov will not be offering this event in 2012 due to other commitments. For more details and to book, contact Roland: +44 (0)1803 762 255

Time To Stand Up
By Susannah

Hello all you people. It’s a strong time for me. Thank you for reading this! I know it may not be easy. Almost every day I read shocking new reports of the severity of the environmental situation we dear humans have brought to our earth family. At the same time I have the feeling, “This is it! Time to stand up. Lets give life all we’ve got, lets follow the compass of our hearts without holding back, without attachment to the result. We know we’re in the unknown, lets go!”

I thank the great choreographer that the Long Dance is coming and we can all dance and sing and pray together for life on earth. It’s already reverberating in my heart.

I’ve been on a little tour for the last couple of weekends (‘Wild Life’ and a “Pachamama ‘Be the Change’ Symposium” in Warsaw, ‘Circle and the Sword’ in Berlin) and on my way I’ve gathered a few things I’d love to share with you about this time on earth, and what you and I and Movement Medicine may have to do with it.

At the beginning of the “Pachamama ‘Be the Change’ Symposium” everyone is invited to answer 3 questions: 1) “What do you perceive as the greatest challenge facing our species at this time?”, 2) “What gives you hope?” and 3) “What are you grateful for?” Good questions eh? I wonder what your answers are?

My answers today are these.

1) I perceive that the biggest challenge facing our species is that we are accosted by an overwhelming amount of information, and so, in order to function, we’ve learnt to “tune out”. Every day, most of us are barraged with emotionally disturbing images and news. This emotional disturbance is way over our capacity to digest, especially as we have become passive receivers of information. So, to avoid feeling stuck with overwhelming pain that we think we can do nothing about, we have become excellent at cutting off. Being semi-numb to the world is so usual that we don’t even realise that we are “self anaesthetised.” This becomes rather serious when the information we are therefore ignoring is connected with the very survival of the web of life which sustains us. So this leads to some sort of variation on: “There is nothing wrong and anyway I can’t do anything- so lets go shopping!” I heard recently that people now on average buy 4 times as many clothes per year as we did in the, wait for it, not 1920s, not 1960s, but the 1980s! Expletive deleted.

2) What gives me hope is that there are so many extra-ordinary people world wide doing extra-ordinary things and developing resources and wisdom which don’t get reported in the news, but nevertheless are there. What gives me hope is something Ken Wilber said (and I hope I am not mis-quoting him) about species, humans amongst them, making evolutionary leaps when they/we HAVE to. And it seems clear that HAVING to is coming up fast. What gives me hope is the way that healthy, connected, creative, empowered 3D human beings reappear on the dance floor pretty fast. Our healthy, life fulfilling, full bodied, full hearted aliveness is not so far away, even if we had dis-funtional parents, and have lived most of the last 10 years in front of a screen of one sort or another, given the right context. There is an instinct deep in us to live, to love, to flower as creative, connected human beings sharing our gifts with the community of life on earth. And the interweaving of indigenous and holistic wisdom with scientific invention also gives me hope. “Yes we can!”

3) And I am grateful that Movement Medicine is such a context, combining personal healing, artistic development and expression, with growing a natural sense of creative global citizenship. This comes naturally when we start to widen our sense of identity to include the whole family of life on earth, ‘all our relations.’ And that we can do all this through the medium of the glorious joy of dance, wow! Thank you life! For this I am grateful, and for all the amazing people who are connected with this path. I thank Olga, Kinga and Tatiana and all the Wild Life dancers and brave-heart symposium participants in Warsaw, and Kathrin and Nina and Clara and all the Circle and Sword dancers in Berlin. And Nina Paluden-Muller who accompanied me on this journey and whose comradeship has been so supportive and vital. To Hagara for inviting me to teach here at the Song Festival, and to Ya’Acov for your strength and love and the strength of your connection to spirit, it’s such a love and adventure filled journey we are on, to all our apprentices, those who have just completed their AP journey and those who are about to begin, and to those about to start the first Teacher Training who will soon be bringing their variations of MM into the world. And thank you to all the wonderful people who have danced with us, past and present and those to come in the future, and all we learn together about being human. And thanks to all the people who work and play in so many ways to discover how to live joyous, strong lives in a way which will leave a good world for future generations.

I’m now preparing to play my part in the Song Festival at ZEGG, near Berlin, and I’m really happy that I am going to sing and dance with the 300 people gathered here to sing for life, and then continue that thread with our Long Dance, which is already alight in my heart.

It’s very poignant to be here in north-east Germany. In this area they have only had 15% of their normal rain since January and the drought is serious. The ground is parched. The grass is brown like the dry season in Africa, the trees have less leaves and many of the crops have failed. Meanwhile at home it is wet and cold and we are thinking maybe we already had our “summer” in March and April.

On the train from Berlin I read an article from the BBC about how a recent meeting of international oceanographers and marine scientists have reported devastating evidence about how ocean life is being effected by the actions of our species, far, far quicker and more severely than had been expected yet.

In this context, I feel Movement Medicine has a role. Not a big role maybe, nor a small role, but its role, (to quote Lynn Twist) to support us humans to come into our bodies, our presence and our hearts, to find the courage to feel our response to what we are doing with our beautiful planet home, to engage our extra-ordinary minds, and to find our own collective and individual creative responses which come from our love of life.

I trust that the earth and life will ultimately survive whatever we do. At the same time I love life and the life forms which grace the planet now, and I want to play my role as best I can in solidarity with life and with the wish that future generations will know the beauty of the green, blue, rich planet. Our species is capable of such beauty and prowess, such extra-ordinary inventiveness, its only a matter of making sustainable life on earth of central importance. And this is a question, however rational we think we are, of being able to FEEL the urgency, on all levels of society. Once we get it, we can turn fast. Each one of us has a role to play in allowing this feeling to arise, and then the actions to flow from it. It’s not comfortable. But then neither is burying your head in the sand, really. And we are not alone.

Yesterday, here at ZEGG, there were two solstice ceremonies. In each one songs were sung, prayers for the earth and for rain. In the small one I attended two birds sang with us in a way I have never experienced before. As if the birds were singing a top harmony, really with us. And two hours later it rained for the first time for months, not long, but strong. More singing to come!

I would like to end with some quotes from the Symposium.

Words from Drew Dellinger’s poem in the Pachamama Symposium are reverberating for me:

“Its 3.32 in the morning and I’m awake because my great, great grandchildren won’t let me sleep.

My great, great grandchildren ask me in dreams,

What did you do when while the planet was plundered?

What did you do when the earth was unravelling?

Surely you did something when the seasons started failing?”

And from David Ullansey (founder of the Species Alliance)

“We are in the midst of a mass extinction, but the news has not reached the general public. They are utterly unaware that the sacred and talismanic and heartbreakingly loved companions of ours on this earth are about to be gone for ever. They will not return. African lions are on the absolute verge of extinction,. There are only 20,000 left. That is down 90% in the last few decades. Every species and sub-species of tiger is on the absolute verge of extinction. Elephants are down 90% in the past century. Ninety percent of large fish are gone from the oceans. Scientists and oceanographers were astounded and panicked by what they found”

These words are in deep resonance with this article I read on the train from Berlin in the BBC news.

Brain Swimme (mathematical cosmologist) :

“Nothing this destructive has happened in 65 million years. Why is this not our central concern? It’s overwhelming. No one imagined it could happen. So suddenly we’re confronted with this fact and we don’t really know how to respond to it. I think it’s beyond most of us, because we haven’t deepened our hearts in a way that would make possible the grief that is wanting to be felt”

and from Joanna Macey:

Joanna Macey (activist, author and teacher)

“The anguish we feel for what is happening is inevitable and normal and even healthy. Pain is very useful. Because if we are afraid to feel that, we won’t feel where it comes from and where it comes from is love, our love for this world. That’s what is going to pull us through.”

I wish us all the willingness to feel our love, the courage to act even if we can’t see the whole path but just the next step, and joy in every step as we dance this life dance together,

Susannah Darling Khan.

PS some more information about the Pachamama Symposium.

And this is a very inspiring interview with Joanna Macy:

More about the Symposium: The Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium is the original name for the symposium. In Europe countries the name is normally the ‘Be the Change symposium.’ It has been created by the Pachamama Alliance. Global homepages for the Pachamama Alliance:

And for the symposium:

German homepage:

There are several upcoming Facilitator trainings in Europe (3,5 days) including one in Germany next week.

For details go to:

The youth organisation ‘Generation Waking Up’ has in 2010 adapted the symposium into what is called the ‘Wake Up Experience.’ And this is a very inspiring interview. Joanna Macy interview

She has been the answer

By Jayne Bullen


In the dance’s body
Knows many
Of the people she is
Or was

The lost beggar that calls out asking for help
The avatar goddess
Some or other
Alone stranger washed up on a godforsaken beach
They all sit hand in hand in the map of her spine

She stands slumped majestic in a crowd of mayhem in a foreign world
There is champagne everywhere but
Still and alone
Dancing frenetically through lifetimes on a feather

Chaos with a centre that is still
Stillness that only knows the turbulent a air

She has been the answer.
And the question.
Killed saved tortured
Many times
Many many dances

She is the artist and the needle-punching actuary
That knew just were

It was everything to everyone once,
but was nothing to itself

Unalarming love tackles wound long forgotten
His ability to just love opens gaping needle point fractures
Too deep to mend This time
Of her suited body
Memories of lifetimes ago
Old sandy beaches with blistered log fires
Burn open sun soothed wounds

After we dance the infinite
The question of who we are
More than the answer

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.