School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April Newsletter
Earthed in the Wind of Change

By Sophie Rieu
It is about a month since we completed the second module of the Apprenticeship. I wish to reach out to speak my deep gratitude to the Movement Medicine community, my fellow Apprentices and my teachers, Susannah and Ya’Acov Darling Khan. First of all let me say that this ‘reaching out’ is rather new for me and denotes the successful opening of a path which I am ready to walk along wherever it may lead me.

From tentatively standing on the outskirts, the periphery of what seemed to me an inaccessible dream, I am now so gratefully able to see and feel the possibilities of self realisation! WOW! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

It started with the sudden realisation, after dancing the chambers of the heart, that my fear of falling, my fear of heights was deeply connected to my lack of a safe relationship with the Earth, the big Mama. For it is her I meet when I fall, when I trust the ground beneath my feet. It is thanks to this unwavering support that I can stand more powerfully within my own circle, that I can embrace a more intimately loving relationship with my self and from there relate to another being, a community, my ancestors and Spirit. It is the foundation of my home, my territory.

Then I had a massive 'Aaaaah' moment when Ya’Acov read a text by an indigenous elder just before the Winter Dream Dance (Dear and Thunder; Arkan Lushwala). I am paraphrasing but what I heard was that if we are to become effective agents of change for our ailing Mother Earth we first must learn to ‘own our territory’, i.e. ‘take care of’ or ‘care for’ who we are. How indeed can we manifest a dream of a saner, healthier, more loving and harmonious relationship with Pachamama if we cannot step in and acceptfully, take full responsibility for who we are, for our magnificence as well as our shadow.

These simple, common sense words were like a love bomb. There was no escape. They resonated like an ultimatum to myself: no more excuses, you are either in or you forever hold your piece. If I wish to become who I truly am then the time of fiddling about in the hope that dissociation will save me was over. Escaping my body because of overwhelm did a great job at protecting me in the past, thank you very much, but it is of no use to me right now, as I wish to complete my Apprentice project of stepping fully in my power and freely express it through the spoken and written word and through my healing work.

My mind was peaceful, my heart was beating a little faster but not so much that I could not voice exactly what I wished to when my turn came to speak in the circle. And for the very first time I stayed embodied and heard my voice soar from deep within clearly and powerfully. It was like day 1 on planet Earth. I had just landed at long last. I am not kidding. It was so so huge for me. I felt so anchored and it was so natural too, so matter of fact. It was current age Sophie speaking from an aligned body-heart-mind kind of place and listening with her bum firmly on the floor and just quietly delighting in this soft landing... after 49 years of fearful expression of an insecure ‘I’.

Not that I have not tried before to make a contribution and manifest dreams. I founded Unicorn Design, the very first eco-fashion label in Ireland in 2003. I first designed and produced an organic and fair trade cotton yoga range and a year later a line of ethically-made women’s designer wear which I sold at art markets and to shops in Ireland, abroad and eventually through my own boutique.

This is just one example. Before that I was an environmental and social journalist and a press officer for an Irish Green MEP. I also took an active part in nature protecting and conserving NGOs and in anti-racist student organisations. I did not feel safe growing up but nature, dancing, reading and writing were among my greatest resources. I remember wishing to explore my full potential and engage in life with a sense of responsibility from an early age. I felt a need to find meaning and give back. But I could not publicly voice my dissent on a consistent basis, and properly articulate my mission, fully own what I stood for.

I remember once sitting on the stage at a debate on ethical fashion with the great UK fashion designer Katharine Hamnett, and with Constance Harris a wonderful Irish fashion journalist who had supported me from the start. I was so terrified of failing that when my turn came, I refused to speak, I silenced myself. It was a great opportunity to say my piece from my heart and soul but back then, 15 years ago, I simply could not.

I was afraid of my and other people’s anger and I let it shut me down. I was in fight or flight mode and dissociated on a regular basis and only safely shone behind the scenes. The Phoenix retreat, three years ago, was one of the milestones heralding the possibility of change. I had explored Five Rhythms, then Movement Medicine for 20 odd years at that point and I had qualified as a biodynamic craniosacral therapist the year before.

The Phoenix process helped me to accept instead of fight against my entrapping patterns of behaviour. It was also my first six days dance retreat. The simple act of treating myself to this luxury was in itself a massive step forward. I thought I understood the physiological reasons for dissociation since I had studied them in detail through my biodynamic craniosacral studies. But it actually took me a few years before they landed within, before I could own them. It is during the closing circle of Initiation, in September 2017, that I first said, “I will try and stay in my body...”. It’s only then that I really fully owned my tendency to dissociate and really ‘got’ what was happening to me physiologically and emotionally.

Prior to that, because I was in overwhelm mode, it was very hard to understand anything relating to dissociation or fight/flight clearly. First I had to step out, identify and then I could step back in as a kind witness. The Wise Elder, the Dancing Fool and the Dancing Warrior were extremely useful tools to help me see from different vantage points. A year after Initiation I decided to close my ethical business with a beautiful ritual of thanks to my clients and friends. Since then I have started the Apprenticeship, I have worked as a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, I have travelled solo in South East Asia for two months, I have written 40 blog posts...

Thanks to the ease of presence and the rich teachings of Susannah and Ya’Acov, simply and beautifully walking their talk; thanks to their books, practices, tools, thanks to the help of my mentor, Margaret Davies, thanks to the inspiration of other MM teachers such as David Mooney. Thanks to the company and mirroring of fellow dancers I now know at a cellular level that it is possible to be a magnificent human being among other magnificent human beings and that I am not alone in wanting to believe and manifest better ways of living in harmony with the Earth!

WOW!!! I felt it so clearly when I saw Apprentices from previous years come into the dance space during the Winter Dream Dance: I was reminded of passages from Avatar looking and listening to them, I felt so proud to be human. I felt it when I heard my heart beat throughout my body and open so much that I could melt into the total bliss of interconnection, without judgement, without words, pure fluid, pure movement, pure Love.

I felt it when my rattle suddenly liberated itself from my insecure shaking to surrender to the rhythm of your drums while my spine launched fireworks. And now that I stand much more inside my own circle, I also know I can go on my journey of responsibility with eyes wide open and unafraid. It is possible!! There are still voices within that wish to stop me from dreaming big, step up, and act accordingly of course ... but I feel so much more resourced than I ever have and the threshold has been crossed. I can take care of my territory, and fully own (and play, practice, manifest) all the possibilities.

Thank you, thank you, thank you


Sophie Rieu

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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.