School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: September Newsletter
Interview with Ben Yeger

This is the next interview of a series of interviews with the faculty teachers of the School of Movement Medicine, who play an important part in the School through their teaching, coaching and their support. Enjoy, as you are finding out just a little more about them and their relationship to dance, embodiment and Movement Medicine.
Questions by Hanna and Patricia.

What has been your personal path in relation to embodiment, dance and movement; and how did MM come into your life?
I have always been acutely aware of my sense of embodied presence in the world. From a young age I played a lot of sports, and was involved in drama clubs and shows. At the age of 13 my parents took me to see a Mime Artist in a small theatre above a pub and at that magical moment I decided I wanted to do that or be a clown. I was set on being a physical (
comedic) performer. This dream was partly realised when I trained as Mime Artist/Physical performer with Desmond Jones. This was rigorous training and I loved the feeling of being fully connected to my body and being able to do things with my body which were new and beyond what I knew I was capable of at the time. It was magical. After some years of performing in and directing Theatre shows which focused on Physical performance I came to realise that I wanted to go deeper into my understanding of how the physical and creative can become part of a healing process. So I trained as a Drama and Movement Therapist. This was like coming home. It was a merging of body, heart and mind and it also tapped into my sense of purpose and desire to support others, with differing abilities, to heal through imaginative use of their own bodies. Through the remembering of the potential of movement to transform their lived experience and heal the wounds in their heart.

During my training and for some time afterwards, my tutor and later my good friend kept on mentioning this guy – Ya’Acov Darling Khan. He said that he was a teacher of 5 Rhythms and that I would like him. I had a strong aversion to any notion of Guru/Teacher and as such managed to avoid pursing this man’s teaching for a good four years. Then, a year after the birth of my 2nd Daughter in 2000, drained by lack of sleep (parents of little ones will know what I’m talking about …), my partner and I decided to book ourselves onto a master class with the aforementioned Ya’Acov Darling Khan. So off I went to buy some new tracksuit bottoms (I had grown quite a lot larger through the parenting path – someone has to clean up the left overs …) and turned up at the studio in London. As we walked in I had a sense of familiarity. People moving, following the beat and the rhythm, sometimes on their own and sometimes with others. I had a sense of returning home. Ya’Acov offered some gentle guidance and I simply joined in. After the warm up Ya’Acov invited us all to sit down and he started explaining that this workshop was an opportunity to master our craft (the room was full of teachers). At some point he paused, adjusted himself, stroked his goatee and with a smile asked: “Who wants to become enlightened?” Many of the very experienced dancers/teachers looked around and slowly some hands were raised and then some more. Then Ya’Acov spoke again and said: “F…k off!! Only two or three people have ever reached enlightenment – The Dali Lamma and possibly Mother Theresa – The rest of you, just dance!” At that moment I knew that I had met my teacher. That was the beginning of a 16 year journey of transformation through 5 Rhythms and through the transition to Movement Medicine and to this day of being a MM teacher and Facilitator.

What is the most precious gift you discovered through Movement Medicine?
Many, many gifts. If I am asked to choose one I would say that the ability to really trust the natural movement and r
hythm of my body. By this I mean that I don't need to push anything and that everything can be moved, and when ready, healed through movement. I have learned that my body/ the body is a storage of all my lived experience and as I am (as everything is) connected to it all, then my healing is connected to all healing. This is truly a gift.

What would you say, is the unique and personal flavour that you bring into your teachings of Movement Medicine, from your own passion and journey?
I am passionate about the enquiry into how we can become more active partic
ipants in transforming the particular planetary narrative we find ourselves in right now. One of violent conflict all over the world, runaway climate change, species extinction, financial collapse and deep division between peoples. I believe that it is time for us all to wake up and take action. I feel that Movement Medicine and other embodied and transformative practices can help with this process. I bring an ability and willingness to turn up and take responsibility even when it’s uncomfortable. I am willing to show up and share my vulnerability and teach that this can be a real strength. I teach that conflict and the energy it generates can be a force for deeper relationship and positive transformation. I offer a body of work which creates a safe ground for people, to dive deep, include all that is true and trust that they can transform themselves, in relation to others and in service of a bigger picture. That owning and honouring their own pain for the world is a gateway for transforming it into a new story.

And, vice versa, which flavours of that Movement Medicine have most strongly started weaving into your own work, living and being?
I love including
ceremony in my offerings and also love the simplicity of the Mesa practice and the four elements. I view these as the fundamentals of MM practice. I feel that MM is an inherently relational practice. It offers a platform for relating with myself, with others, within community and with Spirit. These simple principles guide me in all my teaching. I am particularly drawn to integrating Joanna Macys work that Reconnects with Movement Medicine. I find that the two practices are deeply related and fully complement each other, especially in the process of reaching beyond just healing our selves into the realm of seeking healing for our communities and all communities on earth (human and non human).

What is your own personal definition of Movement Medicine? How would you describe this practice to a complete outsider?
Medicine offers a set of ideas and maps to navigate our lived experience. It invites us to consider how this experience feels in our body, heart and mind. It then invites us to focus and move with this sense of our experience. It's a movement meditation which keeps on revealing to us what a huge capacity for transformation, learning and growth we have. It also has the potential to show us how we are interconnected with each other as humans and with the whole of existence. It can reveal to us our capacity for love and humbleness. And that essentially – everything is a dance…

What role would you say (or feel), Movement Medicine may play in our global community, and in the whole bigger picture of today's world and our shifts?
Hard to say. If we can find ways to encourage more people to recognise the interconnection between their own healing and the healing of our (
human) relationship to the planet, in real and pragmatic ways, then perhaps it can have some impact on the outcome of what is already upon us. I feel that in reality the most promising prospect is that MM and other concious practices can help in preparing some humans to be able to build an inner resilience and sense of personal responsibility for our actions and behaviour on earth. If we (some of us) are to survive then perhaps MM will help us be slightly more concious and connected to ourselves and others.
In the meantime in the words of the prophet… When in doubt – Dance!

Was there a particular moment when you decided to teach Movement Medicine? Please share.
I went to California to che
ck out the possibility of training to become a 5 Rhythms/ therapy practitioner and on day two I found myself intimately moving along the floor with a bunch of west coast hippies. At that point I realised that I wanted to continue my journey with Ya’Acov and I signed up for the first Apprenticeship. Teaching was a very natural next step.

Are there any current project you are busy with, and would you like to share about it?
In May/June 2018 I will be creating and directing a Theatre show with and about Men and how we are all affected by our relationship to the complex societal narratives we have around Men. It wil
l explore covert and overt Male depression and how we are all affected by this reality. It will be an outdoor, site specific, multi media show with 12 men aged 15-75 years old. I have been dreaming this piece for the last 12 years and it’s ready to be born. I am also developing my teaching on how to transform conflict from a block in relationship into an opportunity for change. This is manifesting through my Movement Medicine offering of the Wisdom of Conflict in Berlin, Kenya, and Athens and my engagement with many organisations around the UK in how they deal with conflict in their workplace.

Please share about the birthing process of a new workshop.
What inspires you? How do you start to work on a certain subject?

What ins
pires me is the desire to participate in healing and change. So I invariably turn to what I feel I really understand and has been part of my own healing. I then examine how I can translate this into a process that might be useful for others. I generally only teach stuff that I have had direct experience of. For example I have been working with the archetype of the clown/fool for many many years and have just decided to find a way to translate this into an offering. It will probably be called the dance of the sacred fool. Things take time with me and have to feel fully authentic before I bring them into the world. 

What do you find most challenging in your practice as a dancer and as a teacher?
What challenges me is the enormity of the task at hand ... I tend to take to much on and somehow get entangled in the sense of “It’s all my responsib
ility and I am all alone in trying to save the world”, which is clearly not a good idea or in any way true. I remedy this by looking in the mirror and having a quick wink and a smile and reminding myself that I am not alone and that I can only do what I can do and I need to remember to avoid being attached to outcome … 

Is there anything else you would like to share or say to the community?
Please join me in Berlin, Nantes, Athens, Dartington, or if your in southern
hemisphere, in Cape town or Kenya. They are all part of this crazy journey called life. And check out my tedx talk, it’s my personal story.

Be well and take a deep breath. The road is long and the task is big and we are in this together. I hope to see you on the journey at some point soon.


Upcoming Workshops with Ben Yeger:

17–19 November: The Wisdom of Conflict. Berlin, Germany.
Mostly we have unconscious patterns that are repeated over and over of how to meet situations of conflict. This workshop invites you to find some of these personal stories and guides you into bringing movement and physical exploration to the relationship between inner and outer conflict, finding new roads and possibilities enhanced by change as opposed to repetition.
Contact Kathrin: 0049 (0)30 28458820; 

12–14 January 2018: Spirit of the Dancing Heart. Dartington, UK.
A School of Movement Medicine journey of vibrancy and courage through the heart. With Ben Yeger and Rosie Perks.
Contact Emily:

19–21 January: The Wisdom of Conflict. Athens, Greece.
Contact Maria:

17-18th of Feb 2018: The Wisdom of Conflict. Kenya.
Contact Sveva:


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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.