School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: May 2011
So what has Movement Medicine got to do with peace making?

By Susannah

“So what has Movement Medicine got to do with peace making?” I was asked this question by a Palestinian guy who is a social worker and a policeman. His big hearted, curious and open presence made me feel I could delve deeper with him into the question. Here are my (still developing) answers:

1) Movement is a universal language
It is a sign language of the heart. It transcends our differences and helps us find the common humanity from which we can begin to look for a creative way forward together.

2) Internal Freedom

To make peace we need to be grounded in “what is” and to be awake, courageous, connected with our integrity, our independent intelligence, our creative capacity to imagine and create new possibilities. For this we need internal freedom. But when we have been in oppressive conditions, whether these conditions were in the past or are in the present, we often become our own censors, our own silencers. As if we have “swallowed the jailer”. We do not allow ourselves to go near a dangerous thought/feeling or action. By oppressive conditions I mean conditions in which it was not safe to be or express ourselves: our experience, our perceptions, our feelings, our actions.

A great way to approach this internal liberation is through movement, because it is live, direct, it goes straight to the visceral heart of the matter. We reclaim the freedom of our own bodies, hearts, minds and bodies when we dance in Movement Medicine. This is often a quicker route than through talking, though of course that has a very important place.

3) Empathy
To make peace I need to be able to empathise with you, the other. And how does this work? Recent scientific studies have found that the capacity to be aware of the physical sensations of your own body, called ‘interoception” (‘interior perception’) increase both your own emotional intelligence about your self (i.e. knowing what you are feeling) AND your empathy with others. It has been found that psychopaths and sociopaths tend to have very low capacities for interoception. So it seems that the capacity to harm others is linked to a deadening of the internal awareness of one’s own body, which deadens the possibility of empathy. So Movement Medicine, with its focus on both recovering internal listening and sensation, and on developing outer empathy and seeing of the other, in their full humanity, is a fine tool in this process. If we dance together we have a chance to feel each other’s humanity, strengthening our empathy so that we can deal with the conflicts and differences between us in a healthy way.

4) The peace movement

The peace movement is a movement! In order to make peace we need to be able to move from the fixed ground of what we think we know, who we think we are, who we think the ‘other’ is, what consensus reality defines as “the way it is”. Literal movement awakens this capacity to move on other levels too.

5) Personal well being!

Being an activist, a worker for peace, has all sorts of tensions. We are often accused by our own people. It is not always easy to keep the source of hope and joy and creativity clear and fresh. When we dance we can simply release, let go, be cleansed and renewed, find our spirits refreshed, and re-connect with the deep love of life and our deepest purpose.

That’s as far as I have got so far!

Love to all!

Susannah DK

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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.