School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April 2011
It's not me dancing, I am danced by my own body.

By Ville Frisk
This article is reproduced from the Swedish magazine FREE.

Our body loves to move. When we put on our favorite music in the living room it will not take long before at least some small part of us begins to move. Susannah Darling Khan knows that when we give in to our being's innate desire to move and let loose, we find our way back to the physical presence and become more in balance.

The first time I tried to let my body take over the helm in what is generally known as releasing dance, was when I participated in a workshop a few years ago under the direction of Jonathan Horan, the son of Gabrielle Roth. She is the originator of the five rhythms.
It was a bit scary, as it usually is when you have to let go of something, but it was not long before I realized how lucky my body was to get moving without the head being involved. There are many ways to "find yourself" and everyone has their own way; but if you look back through human cultures and throughout history, dance is something that has always been with us.
Susannah Darling Khan and her partner Ya'Acov have danced together for over twenty years. When they met in 1986 both knew that there was a greater purpose why they had found each other. Together they decided that their purpose had to do with healing, so they were looking at different directions in areas such as shamanism, yoga and gestalt therapy for what would feel right.
When they finally got in touch with Gabrielle Roth, whom was about to give her first dance leadership course in England, everything fell into place.
“Everything we had done until then was able to blend together in her work with the five rhythms. Oh! we thought when we saw the price of the course, but there was no doubt that that was exactly what we had been looking for.”
Susannah and Ya'Acov devoted 18 years to the practice and provided courses in the five rhythms around the world. When it was time for them to take the next step in the dance of life, they started in the year 2006 "School of Movement Medicine” in England.
In recent years, both we and Gabrielle knew, it was time for us to let go and let me and Ya'acov develop our own thing into something new.
"We had a choice of either trying to stop the flow of our own inspiration that went into our work with the five rhythms, or simply drift with the river and see where it would take us. It was a bit like taking off the favorite dress and discover that you had another beautiful dress under it."
In the new school, dance is still the absolute center, but under their own leadership Susannah and Ya'Acov may also involve other ideas they are passionate about, in their courses and training, that may not be so pronounced in the five-rhythms, such as our relationship with the earth and nature.
Susannah and Ya'Acov have also written the book "Movement Medicine- How to Awaken, Embody and Dance Your Dreams", which is a layered deepening with practical exercises in how to use movement as a tool to achieve your life goals.
We are about 30 dancers gathered for a weekend in October to participate in the workshop Sacred Space, with Susannah.
She tells us that Sacred space is an invitation to become better acquainted with the circles of relationships that we have around us.
The first circle represents our relationship to ourselves, our consciousness and our inner being. In the next circle, we find what is in our midst right now,such as the room and the people around us. The third circle is our family and our closest relatives. The fourth circle represents all other relationships and eventually all these circles are encompassed by the fifth circle, which stands for the world and all its beings.

One exercise in dance is to constantly be aware of your own movement so you don´t fall into the other dancers. When the room is full of dancers swinging in all directions, it becomes a wonderful game to be a part of each others flow.

“ I must! It's like a basic need, andI have always loved to dance.I can feel that I live in a different way when I do it.”
“The depth in the dance, it is a way of expressing life.”
“That I could be present in myself for a long time,even when I danced with others.Then you get such a flow and there is no tiredness.
Mrgus Magi, 66 Stockholm
I've searched the forum for dance, but not found anything that suited me at the traditional dance clubs. When I heard about this workshop, I thought that I have to try this.
“The holistic approach! This is a serious concept.”
“I remember I took up ballet when I was six years old and had probably wanted to continue further with it, but it did not happen. Here I was able to reconnect to that feeling!
Sigyn Waerland 59, Stockholm
“It's a great way to release energy, and it allows me to disconnect the outside world and let me be devoured by the music.”
“That it does not matter who you are. It is an active meditation that is both individual and group at the same time.”
“This was the first time for me, so I wasa bit skeptical at first, but then was surprised by how easily I could come in to the exercises. In the future it will probably be easier for me to dance the way I like, without thinking about how it looks to others.”
Caroline Tamm, 27 år Stockholm
"The challenge is to not reflect so much of what happens, but just stay in your body and dance
We begin to dance. Susannah guides us through various exercisesto bring the body back to life,each cell can feel that it is involved in the movement. The hardest part is usually to get the brain to let go and let the dance come by itself. But when you actually succeed, if only for moments at a time, waiting there is a wonderful relaxation. Without any thought of work, or my partner or what I look like, when I whirl around on the dance floor, just full of motion, I feel free. In a short while it is no longer I who dances, I am danced by my own body!
For long periods, we make no specific exercises at all. It's like an exercise in itself, just to dance. I can imagine that some would like clearer guidance during a workshop of this kind, but I appreciate the time we have to really explore the dance alone, although the basic ideas are always there in the background. What you get out of the individual and joint exercises depends on what you bring into them. Just as for example, a massage treatment starts many processes in the body, so as well does the dance. Feelings that are suppressed deep inside can rise to the surface when the body opens up the energy that is released. Before you know it, perhaps you or someone close begins to cry or jump for joy, sadness or gratitude. Such is the power of movement. Just as the music sometimes was stopped abruptly, so the challenge is to not reflect so much of what is happening, but to remain in the body and dance and just let it happen. For those who have never been exposed to this kind of dance it might seem like a strange event.
The doors to the premises were open to let in the cool autumn breezes, and a couple of times stopped curious passers-by whom looked at us briefly.You can hardly imagine what went on behind their astounding facial expression; but what they saw ,was a bunch of very real people who danced as if there is no tomorrow.
Susannah’s experience is that many people in today's society feel that something is missing, which is not surprising if you consider how much a part dance has always been in people's lives in the past.- Many turn sadly to alcohol or drugs in order to release or to be able to feel free,but with dance you can discover a new way to get to the feeling of freedom. The body wants to dance. We do not need to learn anything, we do not need to practice; we just need to forget that we have learnt, that we can not dance.
1. If you can move around, you can dance. Although it may feel like you have two left feet your body will find its own dance when you let it in.
2. Start slowly by moving your toes and then become present up through each body part untilthere is not a cell that is not moving.
3. Feel no obligation! You can danceslowly, quickly, sitting, lying ...As long as you do what feels right for your body.
The next Movement Medicine workshop in Sweden is Alchemy of Stillness 10 -15th June.  Contact John +46 (0) 8 663 41 50

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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.