School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: September Newsletter
Movement Medicine On Ancient Ground

By Christine Pechan
Perhaps some of you remember my article about Movement Medicine in the Cathedral of Schleswig in the North of Germany one and a half years ago. This experience still always resonates in my heart and through the feedback Iíve got since then obviously in the heart of many of the people who took part or simply heard and read about it.

Although I know it was unique I feel a deep longing to give it a try once more and look forward to the next opportunity for a Give Away on such ancient ground.

We live in a time where old structures are vanishing with personal, cultural and global effects on all levels of our life that often result in a vacuum filling up with paralysing shiftlessness. In view of these facts it is so important to reach out with Movement Medicine to people who seem to be far from dancing or simply not used to show up with their inner dancer in public. When diversity really matters for us these inexperienced dancers deserve more of our attention now in these uncertain times, where our busy mind is slowly splitting up from the rest of us.

The World Wide Web creates a virtual space to please everyone’s needs almost perfectly. The masses of information to which we have free access all night and day cause new forms of dependence up to addiction. There is a tendency to withdraw from contact and a loss of empathy. Facing our screen we can keep our hearts at a safe distance of emotional stress, it is less vulnerable to follow and like friends from the privacy of our homes. Our mind can travel through the whole universe with the tip of our finger leaving our hearts and bodies unmoved, carrying all conflict of our life-stories deep inside covered by ingenious mind-constructed daily survival mechanisms. But it’s us to whom we owe responsibility at first. When we choose to start simply moving our feet on the ground our body-intelligence sooner or later will reveal our truth. No matter where we start, only when we move on in our bodies, hearts and minds altogether, we will be able to understand and release the patterns of our past experiences. Only then we’ll become able to engage fully in our daily lives, gradually aware of the effect every of our steps has on ourselves and others.

If we try to ignore old scars in our souls, they’ll weigh heavily on our hearts from our subconsciousness and from time to time surprise us without any context as pain in our bodies. We all underestimate the intelligence of our bones and muscles, of all our body parts, we don’t honour our own store-house of energy but take its endless carefree functioning as granted. Falling ill we get a chance to remember that our time in our bodies is limited, that it’s our choice to update our self image in respect to our ageing physicality.

We don’t need to do this alone, there is guidance and support – seen and unseen – alongside our way, only waiting to be asked for. We are all seekers with a great potential of creative energy that wants to be expressed through our bodies, hearts and minds in movement. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of human life. We only widened our research into the universe, looking for a source of everything that exists far away outside of us. Still nobody really knows what the Divine is but so many conflicts all over the world are fought out in the name of God. Dependent on where we are born much more of us are free to believe what we like than hundreds of years ago. But nevertheless we shouldn’t forget our cultural roots and honour our ancestral heritage.

The old houses of God tell us stories that formed our identity about where we come from and who we are. All over the world they still are main attractions for believers as well as for atheists, outsiders, tourists, elders, and asylum seekers. Cathedrals all over the world were built on ancient ground where our ancestors initially met in ceremony. For thousands of years those sanctuaries served as safe spaces where the shamans were gathering to call in the spiritual support in prayers and healing rituals. Before they moved into temples they looked for sacred sites in nature to meet the unbroken and celebrate our origin.

The balance of power between priests and secular rulers provoked deep changes in those services, turning away from nature as the most natural place for old celtic celebrations. Beyond control of the governing authorities those activities needed to be more concentrated to prevent the people from disobedience up to revolts against social injustice that caused the suffering of the masses from epidemics, famines and poverty. On the back of the poor great monuments were built to demonstrate and strengthen the might of religion and its self-appointed representatives. Not only the construction of these houses of God were scarred with blood and tears, the old stones witnesses a long-term abuse of power in the name of God far beyond the Middle Ages. Only modern science stopped this brutal campaign planting a seed of doubt and criticism by questioning the existence of God and the Unseen in a fundamental way. As a result of this an insidious loss of identity proceeded and ancient traditions almost disappeared, often kept alive only by small minorities of old reactionary or newly founded saviour sects. Rituals to remember our cultural heritage vanished into oblivion. Slowly we blocked the access to our powerful cultural wisdom and cut an important connection to our ancestors.

How can we meet this challenge, that widens from an individual disorientation about our commitment to life to a multi-cultural disaster, through Movement Medicine?
What is our offering to heal the profound loss of trust, the deep confusion and disorientation that grasps our elders as well as our children?
Where is it easier to reconnect to our roots, under the roof of an old church laden with its conflicting past or in nature?

The Long Dance of the School of Movement Medicine that takes place around the summer solstice almost every year is one answer to all these questions. This unique fund-raiser event is a call to people from all over the world to support many different charities through their dance, prayers and sponsoring. I am still deeply impressed by the experience of the past Long Dance, where I was dancing for the third time this year in a big white tent on a field in Somerset, together with about 175 people from countries all around our globe, all ages and different social background. Gradually I become aware of our ability to create a sanctuary through Movement Medicine wherever we try. From our hearts we can reach out to every spot in the world, any gym floor, pavement, community hall or old Cathedral, and create a safe space to invite everyone to a journey back to the origin. But it remains an incomparable experience to reconnect to our roots in nature.

Regardless of the colour of our skin, our belief and our cultural background we are all connected. As part of nature everyone of us comes out of the womb of Mother Earth and goes through a lifelong unique dance with the elements. Movement Medicine is a constant reminder of earth, fire, water and wind inside of us and widens our awareness to the shamanic world where we can reconnect with the ancient healing traditions of our ancestors and work with the elements. It’s always our own choice how consciously we live our connection with nature but we can’t deny that it exists from the moment when our soul decides to settle in our body to experience the polarity of the material world. From our first breath this body will experience the depth of being connected with Mother Earth in a journey through the elements full of life-changing effects showing up in natural cycles. Normally it needs some time to get grounded enough to enjoy ourselves fully in our bodies and live in an alternating harmony with our hearts and minds. It’s a life-long learning process to accept how we are and listen mindfully to our ongoing internal dialogue. Only this way we’ll become conscious about the effects of our behaviour on the whole environment we live in. How we treat ourselves we’ll treat others, nature, our whole planet. When we are ready to change our perspective our self image will need a permanent update and often there are only some tiny little steps to make it real through an action in our daily life. But whatever extreme experiences we go through, Mother Earth holds us and feeds us as the greatest caretaker we’ll meet.

So it’s obviously a natural consequence of the rule of reciprocity, where giving and receiving are balanced, to show our gratitude for this life-long support of the Earth celebrating on her sacred ground. 72 hours dancing together are a life-changing gift and offer lots of opportunities for learning to become a responsible human being with respect for our resources. When we meet ourselves in an extremely unfamiliar constellation like this, our comfort zone will be threatened by so many mirrors of our oldest habits, that we necessarily go through a washing machine on every level of our being. It’s lived giving, put into practice and at the same time a great chance to receive answers to some vital questions, to lean into the arms of seen and unseen support, to trust into guidance on your way, to connect on all levels, to make a commitment and to dream a sustainable, fulfilling future for our children.

In the centre of giving at the Long Dance is the fund raising for the Pachamama Alliance –a global community that works together with all the indigenous people of Ecuador for the protection of the Amazon Rainforest against the destruction by oil companies. For four years Manari Ushigua, the leader of the Sapara People, one of these tribes whose territories are exploited, is joining the whole ceremony. He comes from a dreaming culture where the elders and shamans were foretold this devastating development decades ago and called by their ancestors to change the “dream of the modern world“ of endless growth, consumption and accumulation into the “dream of a thriving, just and sustainable world“. His presence at the Long Dance is a gift and an invitation for everyone of us to become conscious about the effects of our western way of living on Mother Earth – Pachamama. Manari’s simple words reach out to our hearts as an impulse to the unbroken in all of us. They evoke the unique Amazon Rainforest, one of the last intact ecosystems on our planet, in our dance. With every breath we can connect with the lungs of Pachamama, feel the power of the elements wake up in our body, meet the Jaguar and the Rainbow Serpent, the butterfly and the hummingbird, imagining the Tree of Life under the shelter of an old sacred Kapok tree. Nature creates its own cathedral under the jungle canopy where we are able to connect with our source only through being. Listening to the sound of the forest makes us humble and grateful.

So Manari’s call for a Long Dance in the Rainforest should not remain a dream!


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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.