School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
 
Issue: February 2016 Newsletter

Fear, Earth, Moths and Deep Journeys
by Ailsa
Dear Dancers, It is with some surprise that I find myself sitting down to write this to you this morning! To be honest, the idea brings up a little fear: More open creativity and more exposure than Im used to in this particular aspect of my work in the world of Movement Medicine; the part which happens in the School of Movement Medicine office. So Im glad again for the medicine of earth that helps me ground that fear and get on and write.

‘Earth’ has been the focus of my Movement Medicine teaching this month, and I have been grateful again and again for the reminder to feel the support of the ground beneath me and the earthy substance of my body, and for the holding and roots that this has given me to face the myriad challenges of life. This month those challenges have included death, family relationships and a whole lot of turbulence brought to my home by a certain invasion of clothes moths. Just don’t get me talking on the subject of moths!

So how do I come to find myself guest editor? Hanna, the regular editor, is busy this month, and today is my first day in the role of Communications Officer now that Lucy has moved on to new things. So here I am!

As I write, Susannah and Ya’Acov are heading off for Ecuador to lead another Amazonian Intensive along with the Pachamama Alliance. Then from the end of the month Ya’Acov will go on to an American tour that takes in Vermont, San Diego, Esalen and Port Townsend. If you have friends in the States do let them know about this rare opportunity to experience Movement Medicine there. Susannah, meanwhile, will be offering ‘Resonance’ at the Waldhaus centre in Switzerland from 4th to 8th March – working with both dance and voice as keys to liberate life force, power and creativity.

There are still places on the ‘Journey of Empowerment’ ongoing group with Caroline Carey which begins on 8th March. Caroline brings a wealth of experience to her work and this will be a powerful and empowering initiation in to the core practices of Movement Medicine. It can also be a very good step on the path towards Apprenticeship in Movement Medicine. Speaking of Apprenticeship, applications for our new format Apprenticeship, beginning in September, are due by the end of March. The Movement Medicine Apprenticeship Programme is a profoundly deep yet supportive opportunity to bring the medicine of movement to the dance of your whole life, and also provides the foundations for the Professional Training. The Apprenticeship Programme opened me to engage with life in ways that I never believed possible for me. Very thoroughly recommended!

The early bird deadline for one of the prerequisites for the Apprenticeship, the ‘Phoenix Retreat’, ends on the 12th February, and there are just a few places left, so do be in touch very soon if you would like to take part. The ‘Phoenix’, which takes place in Devon, UK, from 5th to 11th May, is a chance to dance with and transform the stories you hold about life and to discover and embody new stories.

If you would like to bring Movement Medicine to the dance of your relationship, Susannah and Ya’Acov’s new two-module workshop for committed couples, ‘The Space Between Us’ begins this August in Switzerland. No previous experience of Movement Medicine is required in order to take part. The early bird deadline for that is 1st May.

Well it turns out it has been rather nice to say hello to you all and to tell you a little about these workshops, many of which have been profound and life changing experiences for me. And that ground is still holding me well when those little flutters of fear are around. I wonder what I will be asked to do next?

Lots of love,

Ailsa

For our full programme of events please go to http://www.schoolofmovementmedicine.com/workshops/calendar-of-events/

 

‘Earth’ has been the focus of my Movement Medicine teaching this month, and I have been grateful again and again for the reminder to feel the support of the ground beneath me and the earthy substance of my body, and for the holding and roots that this has given me to face the myriad challenges of life. This month those challenges have included death, family relationships and a whole lot of turbulence brought to my home by a certain invasion of clothes moths. Just don’t get me talking on the subject of moths!

So how do I come to find myself guest editor? Hanna, the regular editor, is busy this month, and today is my first day in the role of Communications Officer now that Lucy has moved on to new things. So here I am!

As I write, Susannah and Ya’Acov are heading off for Ecuador to lead another Amazonian Intensive along with the Pachamama Alliance. Then from the end of the month Ya’Acov will go on to an American tour that takes in Vermont, San Diego, Esalen and Port Townsend. If you have friends in the States do let them know about this rare opportunity to experience Movement Medicine there. Susannah, meanwhile, will be offering ‘Resonance’ at the Waldhaus centre in Switzerland from 4th to 8th March – working with both dance and voice as keys to liberate life force, power and creativity.

There are still places on the ‘Journey of Empowerment’ ongoing group with Caroline Carey which begins on 8th March. Caroline brings a wealth of experience to her work and this will be a powerful and empowering initiation in to the core practices of Movement Medicine. It can also be a very good step on the path towards Apprenticeship in Movement Medicine. Speaking of Apprenticeship, applications for our new format Apprenticeship, beginning in September, are due by the end of March. The Movement Medicine Apprenticeship Programme is a profoundly deep yet supportive opportunity to bring the medicine of movement to the dance of your whole life, and also provides the foundations for the Professional Training. The Apprenticeship Programme opened me to engage with life in ways that I never believed possible for me. Very thoroughly recommended!

The early bird deadline for one of the prerequisites for the Apprenticeship, the ‘Phoenix Retreat’, ends on the 12th February, and there are just a few places left, so do be in touch very soon if you would like to take part. The ‘Phoenix’, which takes place in Devon, UK, from 5th to 11th May, is a chance to dance with and transform the stories you hold about life and to discover and embody new stories.

If you would like to bring Movement Medicine to the dance of your relationship, Susannah and Ya’Acov’s new two-module workshop for committed couples, ‘The Space Between Us’ begins this August in Switzerland. No previous experience of Movement Medicine is required in order to take part. The early bird deadline for that is 1st May.

Well it turns out it has been rather nice to say hello to you all and to tell you a little about these workshops, many of which have been profound and life changing experiences for me. And that ground is still holding me well when those little flutters of fear are around. I wonder what I will be asked to do next?

Lots of love,

Ailsa

Another Year to Live, Love and Learn on Planet Earth
by YaAcov
Im on the road again for the first time this year after spending six weeks working from home. And what a six weeks it has been. My year began with family and friends over New Year. Then our son left on his second vision quest journey and we plunged feet first into our 28th year of teaching.

We began with the first module of our third Professional Training, a 9-day module in which we have the fun of sharing the ‘what, why and how’ of Movement Medicine with a circle of committed travellers who have all completed our apprenticeship programme. These people have all made the choice to learn how to use Movement Medicine professionally, either to teach movement or to integrate the principles and practices of MM into other professions in which they are already trained. Some of them are now already out there making their first offerings and we wish all of them well as they take these first steps. I remember how terrified I was before offering my first movement based teaching in 1989. I spent the week having nightmares about all the things that could go wrong. As Winston Churchill is said to have heard from a dying friend: I was very worried about many things in my life, most of which never happened.’

Teaching others to hold space is a very different process to the privilege of holding space for others. During these 10 days, I found myself again and again recognising the value of a long time spent doing one thing. I have learned and continue to learn SO much from teaching others. As we said again and again to our trainees, the work of doing our best to wake up and be responsible, creative citizens of Planet Earth really begins on a whole new level once you decide to teach. In this kind of work, you can only teach from your own experience. On the few occasions when I have unconsciously found myself trying to teach about something I hadn’t experienced directly, people knew immediately. And for me, it was like running into a brick wall with the words ‘learn something about humility young man’ written large across it in bold letters! Having sophisticated bullshit detectors as part of a well functioning human psyche is a good thing.

One of the things that this training business has forced us to study is the question: what are the implicit foundational principles of Movement Medicine practice? Naturally, for those of you who know us, we came up with a list of 21. I just want to share the first one with you here as I feel it will give you a sense of the ground that Movement Medicine stands on. It says: Life is a Mystery. All attempts to explain life are stories about the mystery. Stories are like vessels on which we can orientate and sail through the unknown. The Great Choreographer (the dance) is an expression of this mystery.’

For me, this is where all I am and do comes from. I have had an ongoing love affair with ‘the mystery of life’ since as far back as I can remember. I used to fall asleep every night for years with the same question filling my heart to overflowing. I used to love to ask in the way only children (or the child inside us) can: ‘if god created all this, like the Rabbi tells me, then what created god?’ And so now, as deeply as I love the story that is Movement Medicine, I know it as a story. As passionate as I am about this work getting out there to do its work in the world in as many places as possible, I know that as another delight of my oh so creative mind. And conversely, as much as this understanding grounds me, it allows me to be fully committed to what I choose to do with my life. One of my first teachers, Batty Thunder Bear (yep, that’s his name), reminded me of what I had known as a child and helped me to take that understanding deeper. He said that ‘a warrior knows that there is no inherent and universal meaning in life whatsoever. A warrior knows that life is a mystery. And the warrior is free to choose the story that matches their spirit.’ Later, Susannah heard from Albrecht Mahr, her constellations teacher, that ‘we don’t know anything for certain. However, as we are anyway going to make up meaning, we may as well make meanings of our experiences that dignifies life. And I would add: ‘………and that offers something back to whatever it is that gives that life to us.’

So, in that spirit, I am travelling again, firstly to Italy, onwards to the Ecuadorian Amazon, and from there, to the East and West Coasts of the USA. I’m delighted to be returning to Italy to teach after a break of a few years.

After the weekend, Susannah and I are travelling back to the Amazon and taking a group of people there along with our dear colleague and friend, David Tucker from the Pachamama Alliance. Once again, we will be in the Amazon at a critical time. We will visit territory, the underground oil rights of which have just been sold to a Chinese petroleum company. Our Sapara friends’ environment, culture and wellbeing are being directly threatened by this action and it is a desperate situation for them and the whole magnificent biosphere of life that would be destroyed by drilling for oil. It’s hard to imagine and it’s heartbreaking to do so. We go there to stand alongside them and to be part of their wish to welcome people from outside so that they can share what they know with us whilst they are still here. Like all peoples, they have very particular knowledge and it is knowledge that I believe is an important part of the fabric of life on this earth. And so we go, to be with, receive from and share with our indigenous hosts a little day-to-day time, a little prayer and healing time. They tell us that our visiting them strengthens them. They tell us that is supports them in their wish to create an alternative and sustainable way of continuing to live in health and in harmony with their ancestral lands for many generations to come. And, I really have no idea how this story will end. Nor do I know how it should. What I know is that I love the forest and the life force that sings and hums and dances so deeply through it. It is primal, fierce and wild. It is an uninterrupted high vibration-fibre-optic-cable of living connection with something that is dying in our world. It is the lungs of life on this earth and it is so much more.

Straight from the Amazon, and for the first time in many years, I will go to teach in the USA. As far as we know, it will be the first time that Movement Medicine will have been taught there. During our professional training module, we talked a lot about one of our central teachers and a strong part of the lineage of Movement Medicine, Gabrielle Roth. We felt it important for people offering Movement Medicine professionally to know something about Gabrielle’s huge contribution to this work. She was the first to teach us that dance is medicine. She was the one who gave us a road to walk down and a form to offer that was simple, juicy, live and direct. The 5 Rhythms practice was born in the USA and I am so happy to be able to return there and make an offering into the ocean of offerings that is now conscious dance practice in the States. Going to teach at Esalen is a little like a pilgrimage back to the place where Gabrielle’s work was born. We once taught there alongside her as her assistants in a workshop in the 1990’s. Much water has flowed under an infinite number of bridges since then but suffice to say, I freely honour and celebrate Gabrielle’s massive impact in my life, both light and shadow, as a simple and super valuable fact of my life.

So this will be my offering over the next six weeks and I feel many things as I am writing to you from the train on the first leg of this journey. I am always sad to leave our land. I am always sad to leave our dog with her second family. I am so glad to be doing the first half of this adventure together with my beloved. I am glad that this is the story of my life right now and that this story gives so much space to give and receive. In our Winter Dream Dance ceremony that we did with a strong circle of apprentices from all three of our apprenticeships so far, I had the experience that I was dancing within a powerful force that felt like a river. I felt this river moving through me. I experienced it as the river of life, a constant circular flow from the mountains, down into the valleys and across the plains and eventually deep into the oceans and back, as evaporation-becoming-clouds, to the mountains where it all began. I felt this eternal circle and for a few magical moments, that’s all I was.

I wish you all a wonderful Imbolc, the old pagan return-of-the-light festival. May the first awakenings of spring (or for you Southerners, the first explosive colours of the autumn) bring you health and wellbeing in body, heart and mind and may we all continue to find out who we truly are and continue to have the opportunity to give all that we can give.

Thanks for reading.

Ya’Acov DK. February 2016

Landing in Rhythm, Rising into Song.
by Susannah
We have just begun teaching our third Professional Training in Movement Medicine. We are working with a wonderful group of talented and creative people, who recently completed the Apprenticeship Programme with us. On this training we felt how our own understanding of what and why we do what we do in Movement Medicine has emerged into another level of clarity. There are two things which Id like to share with you now regarding this.

Here’s the first:

As many of you know, we were deeply immersed in 5 Rhythms culture for 18 years. Gabrielle was an extra-ordinary teacher for us. The experiences we had for many years on her dance floors illuminate our work. Likewise what we have learnt from the difficulties of our letting go of each other also inform our work. For both these sets of teachings, we are grateful. As we have been developing our understanding of Movement Medicine (the name we were given for our work in a profound dream) we have been chewing over the philosophical background to Gabrielle’s work as we understand it. Many of the precepts behind the 5 Rhythms (for example, that “energy moves in waves”) continue to make deep sense to us, and relate to similar understandings in therapeutic, shamanic and physiological modes of understanding human functioning. However, some of the associations inherent to that map we have come to question and adapt to our understanding as it evolves. One such is the intrinsic link between the masculine and the beat.

When we are conceived, what happens? Apparently the first thing that happens when the sperm enters the egg is – nothing - there is a period of stillness which can last between 15 minutes and 48 hours. And then the zygote begins to divide and eventually differentiate into the young embryo. All the time, as the young life hangs suspended and supported in the mother’s fluids, the new life is vibrating with the constant and fluctuating powerful drum of her heartbeat. Our mother’s heartbeat is the signature tune of our arrival on earth. We feel it – we are rocked and rolled by it constantly. When we develop ears we can hear it also, but even before that we are riding the waves of its reverberation and flux. This continues throughout our pregnancy, and when we are born, if we are lucky enough to be carried by our mother or by others, the rhythms of their hearts are added to by the rhythm of their walk, their dance, their singing, and in cultures where women still work the fields or walk the land with their babies on their backs, their work.

So if you are one of the many people who had a hard 'landing' into this life and who struggle to feel grounded in your own body or that you actually belong here on this earth, we recommend an experiment in the medicine of rhythm. This can be as super simple as counting the beat. Walk down the street, counting 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 etc. and feel how that affects your walk. Or dance to music and count the beat. For me, this is simply nectar of the gods. The beat becomes a mantra that carries me. For others, maybe who have a difficult relationship with structure, it can be hard at first. If you persist, you may get to a magical moment when you can feel the beat, hear the beat, step in the beat, know where you are in the structure of the rhythm and align your movements creatively in relationship with that beat. It’s like an experience of landing and then being able to play free on solid ground. This is mama rhythm medicine.

Along with the rhythm of the mama, there is also, of course, the rhythm of the papa. Teaching the basics of drumming at our recent Professional Training module, we talked about the papa in the way Gabrielle used to. She talked about him as ‘the first friend.’ She and we know that this description is not accurate for a great many people’s actual lived experiences of their fathers. However, she meant it as an archetypal role. We emerge from our mother, we are of her, but meeting ‘the father’ is, our first relationship with ‘other’. His job, we have begun to recognise, is to teach the child the rhythm of the place and time the child is born into. With the mama’s beat grounding us, the papa’s beat asks us to move into life, into connection with our people. Rhythm is a great teacher and, for us, these simple understandings are the basics of using the drum as a shamanic tool. So in our map, rhythm is neither feminine or masculine, but both. Ultimately, when we are at home in both the ground rhythm of the mother and the cultural rhythms of our people, we develop our own unique rhythmic play which is both connected and free. This is one of the intentions of Movement Medicine, to give a ground for the development of individuation without separation and togetherness without conformity.

On the subject of rhythm, I’m delighted to continue my work with master drummer Thomas Ritthoff (of Nanigo – whose wonderful percussion you will know if you’ve ever danced with us) in Resonance this year. Through working with percussion we will support this 'landing' which in turn supports our hearts and our voices. Hooray! Do come and join us if you want to experience this rare medicine of dance, song and rhythm combined.

And the second: 

Freeing our dance, rising into song …..

Dancing your own dance, and coming to trust it can be a really big deal and ultimately transformational experience. To start with we may feel shy, unsure of ourselves, even excruciatingly embarrassed.

As we discover that there is a dancer in there, even if it’s an unusual dancer, and that it’s OK, we come to trust the spontaneous, creative movement of our own beings on the dance floor, in relationship with others, with music and with what ever we may call spirit. It’s liberation. And it’s a liberation which can cross-reference itself into the rest of your life as you learn that you can trust the spontaneous, creative movement of your own being on the big dance floor of life itself.

Most of us will recognise that singing involves another level of disclosure and self-revelation. The voice emerges from within and carries the signature of our inner harmony, or lack of it; our dilemmas, the ways we have learnt to embrace or straightjacket ourselves in order to survive. So voice work is sensitive work, requiring a field of love and acceptance if we are to undo our inner blocks and come to hear ourselves and allow ourselves to be heard.

My experience is that, when we are able to be part of a field of acceptance, the voice can rise. Songs are born that seem to have been waiting in the wings, carrying the traditions of our land, our culture and sometimes other lands and cultures. My belief and experience is that we all have songs in us, waiting for the permission to emerge into the light of day and be sung and shared. Some songs are intricate, some are simple. If they are true songs, they have medicine. They are asking to be sung.

I invite you to come and be part of this Resonance in Switzerland if you want to discover how freeing your body can help free your voice and freeing your voice and finding your rhythm can help you land and free your heart, your power and your joy.

Susannah Darling Khan

 

Movement Medicine Shop – new Releases!

 

We are proud and happy to announce some beautiful new music and lots more clips on the site so you can pre-listen to more of the music we sell at the Movement Medicine Shop.

 

The new CDs are:

l  Lua Maria’s EP, Wild White Horses

l  Birch Trio’s, Silver laughter, – Exquisite hang and clarinet music.

l  Matthew Bailey’s EP, Blue Fountain – Pure hang!

 

We are very happy to have Lua Maria’s EP which must be one of the most asked for CDs we have ever stocked. I have to admit that I am biased, as I am so proud to be her god-mother, but, nevertheless, it is true, every time we play her music in a workshop or ceremony, or when she sings at the Long Dance, people ask for her music with a passion that reflects the purity, love beauty of what she transmits through her music.

Also we now have clips to listen to Nanigo’s superb drum music “Drumming for Elements”. This music is a regular on our dance floors and it really is high quality percussion music. I am vey happy that Thomas Ritthoff the master drummer and founder of Nanigo will once again be supporting our work with the voice, movement and rhythm workshop: Resonance.

 

Enjoy!

 

Susannah Darling Khan

 

 

 

 

 

The Energy Behind Creativity
By Caroline Carey
My own journey with creativity began at a very young age. My mother was an artist. She won a scholarship to go to Art College. But her father said she had to get a proper job so she became a secretary, had children and settled into being a house-wife and mother.... but her creativity could not help but spill out into the home, into our lives and into everything she did, from gardening to running a tea room, to her own occasional opportunities at painting classes, her creativity came out in the way she decorated the dinner table and wrote beautiful letters to her friends. She was a very creative being AND she loved to dance!

So although my mother had wanted us all to ‘also’ have proper jobs, she still encouraged us to be creative. So my brother, sister and myself truly are, in our different ways. But however much my mother understood creativity herself, she had no warning as to the amount of creativity a child had the need to express. I was one of those tantrum babies that needed to ‘express a lot!’ And I did. Daily tantrums were the normal routine and my poor mother in her exasperation would regularly lock me in my room without much to do but stand and scream! 

Is that anything to do with creativity, we might ask? I believe it is in a particular form.

*

It seems to me to be the nature of many tantrum babies; they need to find a channel for that ‘high creative energy’ as early on as possible. They need an outlet to support all the energy they carry. These children are often some of the new leaders of our society if supported well enough, one of their gifts being the ability to play within the fine veils of present and future, knowing outcomes before they have happened, which is frightening for a young child! This is one of their true callings, but sadly they are too often drugged, wounded or shut behind doors.

*

I myself had a highly creative baby/child who grew with her tantrums that I had no idea at the time how to deal with. But we talked about it, she drew pictures about it and write it all down in ways that helped her to see what was happening. She danced and spent a lot of time playing outside. Sometimes it was such hard work but as she has grown, into a fine young woman, I can see how it has sculpted her into the strong and resilient person she is.

We as parents become aware that our children think differently and prefer to do things by themselves, not particularly interested in getting good exam results, or of pleasing others. Teachers can have difficulty understanding this as the child begins to daydream more and enter into those other worlds that do not fit into the traditional classroom, they can have many conflicting thoughts and opinions that are simply not allowed or taken seriously. If the child shows great talent in the arts, it can often be excused, but being highly creative does not only mean being good in the art room!

It can also mean the child needs to be encouraged to dance more, to sing, to be expressive in many forms. 

*

I find the best way for me and others I have worked with, is to learn through creativity, the best way for me to express anything is by being creative and the creative ways of movement is the body at its most creative expression. School had no notion of this I found, and my school days did not come to much. It was not until later, having created six children, taken them through years of home educating, dabbling occasionally in school and watching them grow into their creativity as careers, am I now able to share myself with as much creativity as possible, in the fields of, well.... Movement Medicine, ecstatic dance, publishing books, writing poetry, sewing, making masks as well as other items of theatrical wonder, producing films, acting in them, telling stories and sharing all of this with a wide variety of people. 

My work has to include being creative. Making artwork alongside our therapeutic processes means we have visual representatives of our process, not necessarily ‘good art’ but ‘our art,’ so there is always a reminder of what we are experiencing. We grow with that reminder, allowing it to steer us on the right course, showing us who we are and what we are capable of. It’s something to look back on every day, something to learn from and a tool to help us stay on the right track.

If you are interested in learning in this way, I invite you to view a short film that my Husband Ben made for my website. https://vimeo.com/120230498

If we haven’t yet met, here is an opportunity, and I look forward to sharing more in the physical soon J

 

Caroline x

 

Opening a space for learning
By Hannah Mackay
I have recently completed the process of becoming a Registered Teacher of shiatsu. My Movement Medicine experience has been very important to my understanding of what it is to teach a healing practice. Here is an invocation to my students, which reflects what I have received in Movement Medicine space.

 You are welcome here. We paint on a broad canvas, we sing in all our voices, we open.

 You are welcome here, to be present, to bring as much of yourself as you can, or wish to bring.

 You are welcome in your complexities, paradoxes, and your myriad ways, and in your simplicity.

 Let your innocence hold hands with your experience, and let your strengths and vulnerabilities play together, like the patterns of light and shade on the forest floor.

 Bring in your wisdom, the understanding, feelings and ways of being you have been cultivating and honing for many years.

 Bring in your unknown potential, the gifts that have yet to manifest, the blossoms that are waiting to unfold.

 Bring in the unsung songs of your ancestors, the energy flowing through time from the past to the future through this present moment.

 Bring in the place you hold in the circle, your relationship to our collective stories, your unique perspective, and the way you stand as a representative of your people, of many groups and of humanity.

 Bring in your vulnerability, and your courage to step forwards, to dare greatly, to risk and open and create something new.

 Bring in that which aches for healing, the untransformed pain, heartache, stuckness, the unresolved patterns set up to protect you in hard times.

 Bring in your body, just the way it is today, in all its beauty, frailty and limitations, with its possibility for holding new knowledge and past history in connection with the world real around you.

 You are welcome here. You are welcome in your known and unknown aspects, in the part of you that faces the world and in your mysterious nature, those parts of you that are veiled, occluded, and maybe unseen even by your self.

 You are welcome here, in service of your learning; in service of healing; in service of the interplay of acceptance and becoming; in service of what is needed in the world today.

 

Hannah Mackay

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. schoolofmovementmedicine.com