School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: February 2016 Newsletter
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.




Susannah Darling Khan






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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.