School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: January 2011
The Way of the Dancing Warrior

By Ya'Acov

2011 already. They say time is speeding up and it certainly seems that way to me. Even though 2010 was a very full year with hardly a moment missed, it still raced by with the speed of a dream. I met an old friend for a drink in town the other day. I was late because a meeting I was having with some musicians about next year’s Summer Long Dance had overran. I dashed in to the bar to find him sitting relaxed and getting on with living, perfectly fine without me. I don’t like being late but this week, time has really been out of my hands. An extraordinary storm in Israel meant that I got home 24 hours later than planned and the Eurostar I’m on now is running more than an hour late due to snow.

I’m going to miss my connection to Switzerland but I dare say, there’ll be another. As I ran into the bar, my friend pointed at his watch and laughed. ‘Slaves to time,’ he said. I slumped down in my chair and felt the tension I’d allowed to stiffen my muscles through the story I was telling about how awful it was to be 10 minutes late drain from me. I stopped, took a breath and had to laugh. ‘Yep, slaves to time,’ I replied. Friendships that last are places where the watch dissolves, the shackles fall away and the timeless nature of reality opens like a door into eternity; and all over a cup of tea. This time thing is why I’m always asking you to take your watches off when you’re dancing with us! A little organic ‘no time’ thrown into the mix of 21st century rush is good medicine!

How my life has changed since we began working with Movement Medicine in January 2007. The sense of contentment and the feeling of rightness have quite simply opened me up to a much richer source of energy and creativity than I ever had before. And this past year, as the fruits of our first apprenticeship journey started to ripen before our eyes and our first Teacher Training has started to take shape, has seen a deepening of my understanding of the principles and practices that make up Movement Medicine.

For many years, we have travelled to find our teachings and the places where we can do our own work. The journey has taken me to Peru and the Amazon Rainforest, to Colombia, and many times to the Arctic Circle. In 2010, I found myself in a beautiful ritual in South Africa, led by new Sangoma friends, welcoming me back to the original land, the mother land that is Africa. I wept tears of relief and happiness. Isn’t it funny how when something is given that we didn’t even know we needed, the heart just seems to grow. For me, when this happens, and in 2010 it has happened a lot, I discover that what I thought was love, was only the gateway to something I hadn’t yet imagined. The heart seems to be made of some kind of super stretchy fabric! I was also initiated into a relationship with my new drum, made by my old friend Bikko Matthe up in the far north of the Arctic Circle. As we drummed together, he spoke of Polar angels and shamans in North and South America who were with us in our ceremony. Again, the sense of not working alone, of being connected to so many others working in similar ways, blew my little heart through into another super-stretchy dimension. The deer that I hunted as a result of that initiation has been my greatest teacher this year and very recently, I have been give the drum made from his skin. To play that drum is something that is hard to find words for – it’s pure heart. On that note, a big thank you to Dorrie Joy who is the amazing artist who makes and looks after our medicine items.

Each of the journeys to other traditions and teachings that I’ve taken has revealed a new facet of understanding about who I am and my place in the circle of life. Each has strengthened my resolve to travel further and deeper into the mysteries and to give everything I can back to this life in gratitude for the beautifully blessed existence I have. This summer, during the long weeks spent at home, the work happened in our living room. I danced regularly to Susannah’s new Elemental journey. I loved it. The simplicity of being guided by Susannah’s voice and music into the dance of the four elements was so rich, varied and awakening. As well as being visited by a beautiful Wirarika shaman called Don Tono with whom we did some beautiful work, we danced. We danced with the doors open and the sweet Devon air filling our lungs. I danced deeper than I had ever danced before. All that we had studied in our travels was here, right here, in the centre of our own circle, in the ritual space, the mesa that sustains, guides and keeps us on the road. Home it seems is a feeling as much as it is a place. And home is most definitely where the heart is. What a delight to rediscover that our very own practice is the place where we are perfectly held as we are and encouraged to keep on evolving and becoming everything we can become. Knowing this, behind my mind, beyond poetry and way beyond imagination, I knew that I had to go and do a Movement Medicine workshop with Susannah.

We’ve been together for more than 23 years and we both felt our relationship could not only hold me becoming Susannah’s student for a weekend, but that most likely, it would bring more harvest in from the fields. I looked for a free weekend when Susannah was teaching and lo and behold, there it was, the perfect workshop: The Way of the Dancing Warrior in London. I signed up.

It’s been more than 10 years since I first dreamt The Way of the Dancing Warrior and a journey to go with it. But we hadn’t yet taught it in its Movement Medicine format. As chance had it, I was due to teach the very same workshop in Padova just two weeks before Susannah’s in London. I was very curious how the mandala that we work with now would hold the teachings of the Dancing Warrior and I wasn’t to be disappointed. Whilst teaching in Padova, I had two deep nights dreaming.

For me, the Way of the Dancing Warrior is right at the very heart of what Movement Medicine is about. It takes the dancer on a very deep journey from unconsciousness (or unexplored potential) to the super-conscious archetype of the Dancing Warrior. To clarify, by warrior, we don’t mean someone who is fighting all the time. To fight against means to give energy to. Check out this great little You Tube video to get the picture! We mean a human being who has, through dedication, discipline and without doubt, a good sense of humour, released themselves entirely from the story that they are a victim of life’s comings and goings. The Dancing Warrior has done their work and continues to do so, with a great deal of gratitude for what already is, and the delicate balance of confidence and humility to dance with whatever the Great Choreographer brings along. Along the road, they will have discovered the source of untapped life force that is hidden in their roots. Just as the Tree of Life looks like it is sleeping throughout the winter and yet all that it will become in the spring is being dreamed in the beautiful velvet embrace of the dark winter earth, so for us humans, what is unconscious for us is a storehouse of potential. The Dancing Warrior will have explored some of the stories of the victim and persecutor that make up such a large part of our collective human stories. They will have seen this dance in relationship to their own personal story and to the stories we play out between nations/cultures and different belief systems and they will have danced themselves free from the belief that this story is the only possible story a human being can tell. They will have arrived with both feet on the ground, connected to the great mother beneath them and the great papa above, here and now, at the centre of their own circle, a survivor of all that has been. They will have opened their eyes and begun to sing the gratitude song that wraps itself to strongly around the roots of our freedom, nourishing and encouraging us to wake up and see the truth of who, what and where we are. And they will have taken that cosmic leap into recognising themselves as the artist of their own perception, and therefore their own experience of reality. From there, it’s only a short hop into embodying the everyday reality and ultimate paradox of a dancer who is, on the one hand surrendered to the great river of life, and on the other, not separate from it. The creator and the created dancing in harmony, yin and yang, form and formlessness spiralling around each other in the greatest dance of them all, the great mystery.

Mmm, I seem to be quite passionate about this journey. No surprise then that I have given my life over to it. And then, yumminess of yumminesses, I had the chance to go and be a student and in the company of a whole gang of dancing lunatics, disappear in the dance. What a joy that was! I loved every single moment of the workshop and I exaggerate not at all. And all the dancers who were there were so very kind with me and just let me get on with my own dance and follow the unfolding journey. I love Movement Medicine. And ain’t that a good job! And, oh yes, I loved the teacher too. And the music, and no-one telling me how to move my body but simply providing a super strong container and some powerful tools for me to let go, connect, disappear and re-appear in the ten thousand forms. And, I had the nerve to ask the teacher out to dinner, not that I’m recommending that as a course of action in general you understand! The workshop (and the dinner) was the icing on the cake of my year and it certainly won’t be the last time I show up as a student of Movement Medicine. And with our pathfinders, Caroline Carey, Christian de Sousa and Mark Boylan already out there teaching and a whole lot more Movement Medicine teachers to be birthed into the world in 2011 and beyond, I and you won’t be short on opportunities!

By the way, though there was a fine cohort of men dancing at the workshop, as usual, we were somewhat outnumbered by the women. So here’s a little aside to the men out there who’ve yet to discover the Dancing Warrior. WHERE ARE YOU? Dancing all day, great music, gorgeous beings in all directions and the dynamic learning ground that is the dance….Maybe it’s because you don’t yet know what you’re missing? I wonder? Answers by e-mail please. Maybe we’ll give a free workshop to the best answer to the question: ‘What’s stopping you?’

Finally, this past week in Israel and Palestine, I had the opportunity to move a step closer to the Phoenix Festival that it is my ultimate dream to bring into being. The festival will happen at places in the world where there has been great suffering and will take the form of a week of healing and creativity followed by a performance party and ritual for peace. It’s a celebration of any and every human being’s ability to rise from the ashes of suffering and create transformation, deeper understanding and peace. Ben Yaeger, an apprentice and an active member of Combatants for Peace, set up an evening in Shuffra for us to work with a group of Palestinian and Israeli ex-combatants who have all with great courage, chosen to give up violence; Dancing Warriors, one and all! Accompanied by Ben, Sabine and Silvana, we danced for just an hour, in an old castle on a hard floor with no sound system. In one hour, we went very deep and for me, it was one of the most moving experiences of 2010. Check out this little video and let me know if you agree.

All that remains is for me to say to you dear dancing friend, is that I am praying my little socks off for peace and the evolution of many thousands of dancing warriors in the year to come. May 2011 bring you contentment in who you are, free entrance to the imaginative paradise of your own heart, and the blessing of good health, harmony and L.O.V.E. in all areas of your life. Thank you for all the dances of 2010. Here’s to an indeterminate amount more in the New Year.

Until we meet again, I bow to the freedom within you.

Ya’Acov Darling Khan

December 2011


p.s. School of Movement Medicine’s 4th birthday

If you would like to join us in our prayer ceremony to celebrate the fourth birthday of the School of Movement Medicine, we’ll be out there at 5.26 in the morning UK time on the 10th January, sending out prayers in all directions. Feel free to join us.

Both Ya’Acov and Susannah will be teaching Way of the Dancing Warrior
intensives and weekend workshops in 2011.

Susannah’s intensive will happen in the beautiful Orval in Belgium March 30th to April 3rd.

Ya’Acov is bringing the workshop to Norway May 4th to 8th.

Please check our website for full details.

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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.