School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: November 2010
A Little Evolution Goes a Long Way

By Ya'Acov

Well that was a wild and windy night. I spent it rolling back and forth across the floor of the lounge of a Condor ferry travelling back to Portsmouth from Jersey. I wasn’t rolling on purpose. It was the heaving up and down of the ship on the waves and this was a time for surrender. No point fighting the ocean or the storm. So I rolled and dreamed of being on a catamaran and surfing down large waves down into the troughs and back up again. The ocean revealed all kinds of mystifying and strange beings who belong to dark and stormy night sea dreams.

And in the morning, still an hour from harbour, the rain was still thick and wintry. We were in a grey world, the only light coming from the twinkling of other ships’ lights as we passed them. It was hard to imagine that the sun was shining beyond the clouds. We were inside the storm, and there was hardly a difference between the colour of sky and sea. The occasional flash of lightening reminded us of the force of nature, not always pretty, not always kind.

Back on dry land now and preparing to teach in Padova, I am learning more and more about how to work with Movement Medicine each time I practice and each time I teach. We spent the month of October at home and much of our time was taken up with preparing for our first teacher training that will begin next summer. I had no idea what a job it was going to be, and what a challenge to get clear about the nature of the training. It’s one thing teaching something as a practice. It’s another entirely teaching people about teaching. And the challenge exists on many levels. We spent a lot of time with each other and a weekend with Sue Kuhn, helping each other to name the factors and skills that underlie something that has become second nature to us. We take some of these things for granted but they need to be named and worked with. For instance, how do we sense what’s going on in the group field and find ways to brings the disparate elements within that field into a sense of connection without losing the power of personal expression and freedom within it. Delightfully, as we worked, we realised that the principles and practices of Movement Medicine held within the mandala we work with are designed to answer many of these questions.

We have been greatly helped in this process by our Pathfinders, Christian de Sousa, Caroline Carey and Mark Boylan who have been part of our first apprenticeship journey. They are all long-term students with us as well as being experienced movement teachers through their work with 5Rhythms. It became clear that working with them as Pathfinders would help us to know what ground we needed to cover in order to support people to hold spaces for others. All of them have now started teaching Movement Medicine as Apprentice Movement Medicine Teachers. If you want to know what they’re up to, check out this link.

The 31st October was the deadline for those on the current apprenticeship to apply for the teacher training and we have been deeply moved by the quality of the applications we have received. It makes such a difference that the apprenticeship is the route for those wanting to teach Movement Medicine or integrate the principles and practices of Movement Medicine into their work. We are delighted that soon, there’s going to be a whole tribe of Movement Medicine Teacher Training apprentices out there sharing their own styles and flavours with a whole host of people. How things grow! To give you a little taste, here’s a few words I received from David Kellett, an apprentice who recently assisted Christian on his inaugural Movement Medicine weekend: “I assisted Christian last week for his Moving Energy workshop. It was fantastic!!! It was very beautiful to feel the Movement Medicine energy that I recognise and love and yet for it to come through the light and colour of Christian. It was both familiar and yet subtly different. It was very inspiring.”

This past week, we spent time with all of the pathfinders at Christian’s house in Oxford, working together and finding out how their teaching practice is going. They also helped us to see how the process was going for us in terms of us preparing to pass our work on to others. The second morning, we danced together to Susannah’s new CD, Elemental, which will be out in time for Christmas. It’s a beautiful guided journey through the elements, led by Susannah over a very lovely remix of her previous music. We danced to it a lot over the summer and I loved it so much that I decided it was time for me to do a workshop with Susannah as soon as I could. I’m excited that I’m going to get the opportunity to dance with her at The Way of the Dancing Warrior workshop later this month in London. After all the travelling we’ve done in search of deep teachings, we landed in that archetypal moment where we’ve recognised that the teachings we need are in our own work and mandala, our own living room, and even more than that, in our own bodies, hearts and minds.

Not that we’re ready to stop studying elsewhere. No chance of that. We both love learning and in the last month, we’ve discovered a delightfully leftfield road to travel down for a little while. We’ll let you know as soon as this new dimension finds its way into our work. Suffice to say for now, it may just bring a smile to your face!

As we continued to work on the training, we also had the time for an autumn clear out. Susannah started a new ayurvedic diet regime and I did another 6-day fast that went very well. We also had time to help our gardener change the garden pond. It was drying out regularly due to a leak in the lining. So, off we went to our local garden centre to procure for ourselves a fabulous moulded affair that we hoped would keep our slug eating frog and toad population happy. As our gardener was digging, he hit some old pipework in the ground. Oh dear, the pond we had was too deep unless we were to dig up the whole garden and re-route the pipework – not a very attractive option! By now, the autumn rains were in full flow. We borrowed a neighbours pick-up truck, strapped the new moulded monstrosity to the roof and returned to the garden centre in search of a shallower, perhaps slightly less ambitious version of pond. By this time, the garden was a muddy mess and so were we but I’m happy to say, the story has a happy ending and our new pond, surrounding plant-life and our amphibian friends are now settling in. Not only that, but it seems to be attracting a lot more species of birds who drop by regularly to drink and wash. After years of relying heavily on garden imagery for our metaphors, our own garden at home is becoming more and more important to us as it continues to evolve a rather exquisite reality all of its own.

After a lot of digging and laughing ‘til we nearly cried, I found I had pulled a muscle in my back. In our opinion, there’s only one place to go in our neck of the woods to help the body to help itself with an injury. So off I went for a session with sports injury specialist Michael Newman. He’s not afraid to go where other therapists may back off. We quote him in our book when we talk about how the body, like the psyche, doesn’t seem to have its own mechanism for recognising when the need for armouring (in the case of the psyche) or scar tissue (in the case of the body) has passed. He knows how to clear out the gritty crystalline material that seems to gather around physical hurts. He dug deep and once again, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry so I did both! As he worked, between the deeper more torturous moments where talking would not be possible, we talked about many things including creating trainings. He’s just begun offering his own training to pass on to others what he’s learned in years of practice and study. He told me a lovely story from when he was studying in China with a very venerable and well-known teacher. During one lesson, this teacher rather dramatically told his students that he was about to tell them the secret to good practice. Eagerly, they whipped out their notebooks and waited on his wise words. Would he be passing on some ancient and secret practice, or sharing some little known acupuncture point that was the key to success and happiness? The old teacher spoke slowly and carefully to make sure his students didn’t miss a word. “Every day, make sure to take a walk in nature.” That was it.

Most of the students were disappointed but Michael told me that it made perfect sense to him. And I must say, it does to me too. Every day in October, we took at least one walk in nature. It was a delight to have the time to witness the full glory of this passing autumn. The riot of colour, the smell of the leaf coloured muddy pathways and the bright frosty mornings we had from time to time, were a joy.

In our dance, we spend a lot of time coming into a deeper and more conscious relationship with the elemental world. Embodying our relationship with the elements and dancing to bring them into balance is one of the deepest processes we work with. It connects us to places in our own nature where just like the natural world, we just are what we are. The silver birch tree isn’t an oak and the river idling by or rushing headlong towards is the sea isn’t the same as the fire that burns in our living room fireplace. Nature is such a great teacher because it is what it is. And we could all do with a little more ability to simply be what we are. So whether it’s in the woods or on the dance floor, maybe we’ll meet somewhere on the merry road when we decide to heed the old teacher’s words and one of these days, take a walk in nature.

November blessings for one and all.

Ya’Acov. November 2010.


If you are interested in training to teach Movement Medicine or learning to integrate it into your work, the next teacher training will begin in March 2014. It follows the next apprenticeship which begins in March 2012. For those thinking about taking this path, please check this link which has all the details about prerequisites. One of the prerequisites is the Phoenix Retreat which happens in April 2011. At the time of writing, there are only 7 places left.






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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.