School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: February 2011
Shalom (Shal_Home, Sweet Home…): dancing in the West Bank

By Silvana Rigobon

“You feel at home in your circle, and you are free to move as you wish to”: I listen to Ya’Acov words and I feel a shiver through my backbone. I’ve heard these words so many times, in various Movement Medicine workshops. But today it is different: we are in the West Bank, in a small village called Shufa.

Saturday December 11th 2010: this is a day to remember. Ya’Acov is facilitating the first MM workshop in the occupied territories. One of my dreams is coming true: dancing with Israelies AND Palestinians, together.

This is actually the manifestation of a collective dream: Dare to dream, Dare to dance… Ben and Idan are the main dreamers behind it all. They both are involved in the NGO Combatants for Peace (, the movement that was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who have decided to put down their guns, and to fight for peace, promoting dialogue and reconciliation as the only way forward.

“Relaxing where you are”. We are in Shufa castle, in this little Palestinian village, on top of a high hill,  that has a rich history.  Its name actually means “from here one can watch all the others”.

Ya’Acov can’t use his computer for the music: the initial technical problem turns out to be an excellent opportunity as he starts drumming, inviting the participants to get in touch with their deep, creative Source.

There are three of us assisting, and each of us finds his/her own way of being in service: Sabine joins with the drumming; Ben gets deep into the dance, to keep the energies flowing, and at the same time translates into Hebrew. I switch on my Iphone, and start dancing and recording the event, aware of its uniqueness.

At the beginning I have some sort of resistance: am I doing the right thing? Am I invading the privacy of the other dancers? But I dance into it, and I just follow my heart: deep down I feel it is the right thing to do. This is a moment that deserves to be shared with other people..

“Your feet feel more in touch with the ground. Beautiful deep roots. Lot of space for breath.” Shivers, again. Home, freedom, roots, lots of space for breath: I dance into Ya’Acov words.

I ask Idan, one of the organizers of the event, if it is appropriate to take off my shoes (not sure if a Palestinian woman would do it) but he reassures me. I dance barefeet, and I feel the energy of the Big Mama grounding me, nourishing my heart.


In the dance I realize how many things I take for granted, in my life: freedom, first of all. But also having a home, growing my roots, having all the space I need for breath. I dance and I keep on recording with my mobile. And I wonder what my fellow dancers feel, deep down, while they hear these same words.

Ben is deep in the dance, and so is Idan and all the others (five Israelis, two men and three  women, and eight Palestinian men, all members of CfP). Ben keeps on with the translation in Hebrew, Nur translates for the Palestinians. Ya’Acov and Sabine keep on drumming, following the pulse of Mother Earth’s heart.

“Relaxing, where you are. The hands are completely free … Maybe your hands can fly… Now it becomes easy again, like a child, playful..”  Would the children of Shufa have enough land to fly a kyte in the sky?

I keep on recording, so I have to dance with my eyes open. Many of the dancers around me are smiling, deep in their movements…

“Now connect, hips and hands ... feel the connection inside the body, hands elbows, shoulders”. I think about my Grandmother and I remeber the story about the German soldier that during the war used to call her Mamma, after she hid him in the cellar, to help him. This memory moves me to tears. Here we are, in Holy Land. We are all one. Palestinians, Israeli, Italians, Germans, British. Citizens of the world. We are all one. Connecting through the universal language of the dance. Each of us a tree, our roots interwoven. Dancing as a CommuniTree. With our guides, our allies, and our ancestors with us: there is a crowd, behind us, in this room, supporting this dance, today.


“This circle is your land and in this circle you are free to move, as you want to. Don’t worry about any one else’s dance. In this circle my heart is free.” On the way to the workshop, in Idan’s car, we had to go through the checkpoints, patrolled by soldiers with guns. More shivers down my spine…

 "Just feel this feeling of freedom, in the body. Imagine that the ground was full of energy. And as you are moving your body fills up with this good energy. Imagine that your hands could take really good energy from the stars, from the moon. You feel at home in your circle, and you are free to move as you wish to.”

Freedom of movement, free in your home, free in your own land…

“Keep moving very soft and deep. Keep moving and just very gently open your eyes.”

One hour is gone. It is time for the participants to give their feedbacks. The words they share are really touching. They talk about the freedom and the peace that they experienced inside, in the dance. The words of Adib, in particolar, go straingt to my heart. He is Palestinian. He thanks Ya’Acov for such a special day, and as a sign of gratitude he offers him a beautiful pen, with his name embroidered by his brother, by hand. It is a really precious gift: his brother has been in prison for years.

Later on, in the car, Idan tells me the maning of the name Abid: “generous”.

It’s time to say goodbye, and we all go our separate ways. I spend the Sunday with Sabine in Jerusalem, and in the Holy Sepulchre a monk offers me a candle with the Sacred Flame. I am surprised and excited: I will take it home with me, and I will keep it alive.

On Monday, on the way to the airport, in front of our taxi there is a bus with the ad for the play “The Spirit of the Dance”. I think it is an appropriate image, to put the word “end” to such an inspiring week.

But to my surprise, when I am queuing up at the passport control line, I bump into Ya’Acov. He was meant to fly back to the UK the day before, but his flight was delayed for one day: apparently on the way to Tel Aviv it got struck by a thunder! I smile, thinking about something that I heard from a shaman, a few years ago: there is always a reason when people get delayed in an airport, on a train etc. It has got to do with the light they are asked to share with other people, to keep the frequency high, or to higher it. In this case, it makes sense…             After the queue we have just enough time for me to pass Ya’Acov the videos from my Iphone to his computer. Mission accomplished!

We hug each other, and now it is really time to go.

On my flight Tel Aviv-Verona via Munich, December 13th 2010:

1. Thank you to Ya’Acov, Sabine, Ben, Aviya, Idan and to all the dancers at the workshop in the kibbutz and in the West Bank: we are honoring an appointment we gave each other in other lives. 

2. Thank you to Aviya and to the great bunch of Israeli people that participated in the workshop Mending the Circle. Hope to come back and dance with you all, again and again.

3. Thank you to the healing that happened in the two circles, at the kibbutz and in Shufa. And to the healing in the Bigger Circle..

4. Thank you to the enthusiasm that I read in Idan’s and Ben’s eyes.

5. Thank you to Ben and to his family: fantastic hosts at the kibbutz.

6. Thank you to Sabine, for her courage and her wisdom, and for being here with me.

7. Thank you to life here in Israel, in the kibbutz, in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem: it inspires me to visualize a present of peace, made of small things, of simplicity, beauty and committment.

8. Thank you to the beach that Ben took us to («Water wash through us and purify»): deep healing going on..

9. Thank you to the rain today, in Jerusalem: “Water wash through us and purify”…

10. Thank you to the amazing weather in these days, and to an incredibile sky filled with electricity and possibilities.

11. Thank you to my Ancestors, for being with me all the time, here in Israel.

12. Thank you to the amazing healing energies that I met in Israel, this week.

13. Thank you for all the finetuning that happened in these days, at all levels (body, heart and mind; for me as a woman, as a human being, as a citizen of the world)

14. Thank you to the power of intention and of the prayers, and to the strenght and power of the gratitudes.

15. Thank you to the Spirit of the Dance, for guiding us all, in this inspiring trip, and for winking at me, from the bus in front of the taxi.

16. Thank you to the amazing eucalyptus that have accompanied me in this trip. Holy Roots in Holy Land, from heart to heart.

17. Thank you to the power of Ho’oponopono and forgiveness, that has helped and inspired me in these days.

18. Thank you to my interior dancer, that follows the beat of Big Mama’s heart.

19. Thank you to Combatants for Peace for the amazing work they are doing.

20. Thank you to Movement Medicine, that is my future, and my present too.

21. Thank you to Ya’Acov and Susannah, for daring to drum, and for embodying daily the Dare to dream/Dare to dance mandala.

The video of the Shufa workshop can be watched at this link:

Ben’s account of the week was published in the January issue of the MM newsletter.

Another account of the workshop in Shufa, with pictures of the event, can be read (in Hebrew..) on the Combatants for Peace blog:


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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.