School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: May 2011
Mind the Gap

By Ya'Acov

I love these times when I sit down on the train to write to you. Today, we’re zooming past a field full of wind turbines in the warm springtime sun, Beltane has just passed and the garden is growing as if there’s no tomorrow. And having just visited the graveyard where my papa and grandparents are buried, my old friend death has been tapping on my shoulder reminding me that indeed, there may not be!

Today, Osama Bin Laden’s face is once again on the front page. Apparently, the latest in a long line of ‘enemies of peace and democracy,’ is now dead and so the cycle of revenge upon revenge is set to continue in the human drama.

It’s been a challenging few weeks since last I wrote. I’ve had the opportunity to study in some depth the passions of tribal get togethers in a variety of settings other than workshops. And what a fascinating cauldron the whole tribal dance is. This past weekend, we were at my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah in Manchester. The weekend before that, we were holding the ritual part of a beautiful wedding between two people from different tribes. And the weekend before that, Reuben and I, along with 89,998 others, went to Wembley to support the football team I’ve supported since I was four year’s old, compete in their first FA Cup semi-final since 1981.

All three weekends were full of the kind of juicy lessons and experiences that make this life such a rich dance both on and off the dance floor. The integration of my personal practice of and teaching of Movement Medicine have continued in a way that I could hardly have dreamt about when this journey began. I remember very well the day in 1990 when I wept all the way home from the second module of our 5Rhythms teacher training. I was so devastated because it had just dawned on me that the gap between the freedom and creativity I experienced on the dance floor and my restricted awareness and sense of possibility off it, had become so clearly and painfully untenable. I knew that I had to change that but I had no idea how. Well 21 years later, about to commence our first teacher training ourselves, I am discovering more and more how that gap has become what my beloved Susannah might call a ‘fallacious dichotomy.’ What’s one of those? Well, according to the Chambers English dictionary, fallacious means ‘an apparently genuine but really illogical argument.’ And dichotomy, according to the same dictionary, means ‘a division into two strongly contrasted groups, classes or opinions.’ Aha! that tribal thing again! It’s everywhere!

So, let’s begin with the football dance. I’m not sure that Wembley Way, the magnificent and imposing route between Wembley Park tube station and Wembley Stadium, has ever been described as a dance floor before, but, what the hell, here goes! We’d gathered at Willesden Working Man’s Club a few hours before kick off with hundreds of Manchester City fans dressed in blue and white, drinking more than a flagon or two (though to be truthful, my flagon contained water only) and singing a host of songs that I daren’t repeat in the hallowed pages of our newsletter! For days beforehand, I had been nervous, dreaming of narrow, tense victories. Susannah remained amused and somewhat baffled by how such a massively unimportant thing as a football match could create such strong feelings in me. And even though I ‘know’ that it’s meaningless, my body shaking and my heart beating that touch faster than usual told me that as usual, there was more than one truth in the situation. On the morning of the match, getting dressed, it dawned on me. I felt like I was preparing for battle. Deep down in my human memory, and deep in my cellular structures there it is. I ‘know’ it’s a football match but this river of feeling runs deep into the past and I can feel it here in the present. Will we win or will we lose? Will I live or will I die? Such strong memories surface alongside the knowledge so many people are indeed going into battle today and do not know if they will ever return.

So, there we are, thousands of people in blue and white and red and white, two tribes dancing up the Wembley Way, many fuelled by alcohol, when suddenly, the four of us, (Reuben, my mate Lee and his son and I) are surrounded by red and white and these warriors are none too friendly. They’re already trying to tear the shirt of Lee’s son and kicking out wildly as Lee steps in to stop them and calm them down. It’s an ugly situation. Perhaps it’s the alcohol, perhaps it’s a whole host of other things but we are surrounded by a bunch of blokes who don’t wish us well! And then it kicks in, the calm and the quiet before the storm. Under my breath, I call in all the protection I have danced again and again in a thousand dances over the years. I know Lee is doing the same and in my perception, we are immediately surrounded by light and a whole bunch of protective energies. I feel safe and calm. We just continue walking and smile our way through. All this happens very quickly and within seconds, mounted police are filtering us to the right to rejoin the river of blue and white whilst the red and white river goes left. And it’s then, once the threat of danger has passed, that I feel the rush of adrenalin, and just like we do in the dance, I shake the tension of the moment free. The rest is history! A great victory that will go down as a diamond moment of father son testosterone fuelled ecstasy as Reuben lifted me to the sky at the final whistle and we sang our way back down the now totally blue and white Wembley Way!

From the ridiculous to the sublime, the next weekend we were at Tom and Dorrie’s wedding on a glorious hot spring day in Glastonbury. The wedding took place in Tom’s family home and the garden was awash with tulips shimmering in the light. A beautiful tipi with raised sides had been erected and the whole place was such a beautiful fusion of opposites. Tom’s family have Scottish links and there he was, in full attire, kilted up and sword at the ready. Dorrie has some Native American blood and was a stunning bride in her Avalon green dress made by her mum. The guests were a marvellous mixture of the best Glastonbury has to offer, the kilted clans, and a wide variety of family and friends. What brought us all together was our love for this beautiful couple about to begin the adventure of married life. So there we were, dancing the elements in a very mixed crowd. We explained to those there that the ritual we were about to do was a reflection of what Tom & Dorrie felt would support them through the years ahead. We told them how our own marriage ceremony had been such a source of support when the times were hard. It was a beautiful ‘dance’ as many people from so many backgrounds happily took part in a simple elemental ceremony to bless the new couple on their way.

And then there was the Bar Mitzvah of my elder sister’s youngest son. What a confident young man he is. At 13, he stood before his congregation and sang his piece brilliantly. I had such mixed emotions sitting in the synagogue. I clearly remembered my own Bar Mitzvah when I had all the guests laughing when instead of thanking my family for all they had done for me, I thanked them for all they had done to me! The whole thing about belonging and not belonging was particularly strong as the Rabbi chose to speak about the difference between loving (meaning there is something that unifies us and therefore we are one) and liking (you are different to me but your presence enriches my life). He was talking about Judaism as the thing that unifies us and though for sure, the great majority of the people in the synagogue were Jewish, not all were. Not surprisingly, since one of them was Susannah and another was Reuben’s lovely girl friend, I was aware of both the unifying force of belonging and the separating force of tribalism.

I have belonged to many tribes and received from all of them. And during that journey, I have recognised and experienced both the benefits of ‘belonging’ and the challenges of remaining an autonomous individual with access to my own free will. We do belong, whether we like it or not. We belong to the intricate and complex web of life in earth. And we belong to the line of ancestry from which we come. And we belong to the whole human story and story of evolution that makes up our physical body as earth, fire, water and wind. And it’s good to belong. And it’s good to be an individual. And it’s good to feel unity with all life and it’s good to feel unity with one’s tribe. And this whole dance of opposites is such a paradox. At its best, it produces the exquisite dance between yin and yang that is at the heart of all creation. At its worst, it produces holy wars between opposing ideologies that continue for thousands of years, with its blame upon blame and revenge upon revenge.

Each of us is unique AND we are one, both as individuals and as tribes. It’s good that everything in this grand garden is itself. After all, it’s only in being oneself that we really get to see and celebrate the diversity of another. As Movement Medicine evolves as a community, and 40+ new teachers are preparing to train and bring Movement Medicine into the world through their own work, we’ve been recapitulating our whole experience of the tribal dance and its potential for shadow and light. The Movement Medicine pathfinders are already out there teaching and finding out for themselves. And their sharings with us have helped us enormously as we have been crafting the curriculum for our first training. One of our teacher training apprentices asked me how I felt about the upcoming training. I know this. What matters most to me is that each one of them finds their way, their voice, their own style and their own predilections as teachers. It matters to me that they feel free to be part of shaping this community and that as a result of their efforts, there is one more place where people can come and dance, be who they are and take the journey towards giving all they’ve got. We’ve entered the ‘shift of the ages’ as our ancient ancestors called it. My mate Lee tells me we’ve been queuing up for centuries to be here on earth at this time. In my book, anything that brings more consciousness to help us to deal creatively with the challenges of the time, is a good thing.

So, as we begin a new term that will see us travelling and teaching, and training, and Long Dancing, I pray for all of us that we may find the courage to bring the life of the dance into the dance of our lives. I pray that we may find the courage to continue to dare to dream and I look forward to meeting you at some tribal gathering or other over the coming months. In the meantime, let’s be who we are and do a little evolving. We may as well whilst we still can.

Wishing you a beautiful growing season.

Ya’Acov. May 2011.


Ya’Acov’s Summer & Early Autumn Term programme:

There are still places on all workshops


JUNE 2011









3 - 5


Hamburg, Germany





Jens +49 40 729 100 61









10 - 15


Angsbaka, Sweden (R) (cancelled)



Alchemy of Stillness


John +46 8 663 41 50









19 - 26


Rill Estate, Devon (R)



Vision Quest (Ritual)


Roland +44 1803 762255









29 - July 6


Earth Spirit Centre, Somerset (R)



& Ya'Acov

Teacher Training Module 1


Roland +44 1803 762255

JULY 2011









8 - 12


Earth Spirit Centre, Somerset (R)



& Ya'Acov

Summer Long Dance


Roland +44 1803 762255







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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.