School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

Back to contents

Issue: March 2013 Newsletter
Why is the Phoenix the Centre of the Movement Medicine Mandala?

By Ya'Acov
As usual, Im writing to you from the train. This time, Im at the beginning of another journey to Palestine and Israel to offer a little Movement Medicine into the hot pot of the Middle Eastern maelstrom. Were not even at the Spring Equinox yet and 2013 has already been full of teachings on so many levels.

From the heart breaking beauty of the Amazon and the huge challenges that our courageous Achuar friends are facing, to the deepening community and prayer of the Winter Dream Dance, Movement Medicine continues to evolve at quite a pace. One aspect of the strong new growth of Movement Medicine is that nine more apprentice teachers and facilitators are working towards qualifying at this year’s Summer Long Dance.

I am reminded of how quickly a child develops in the first few years of life. Now in it’s seventh year, and very much up and running, we are learning so much from ‘parenting’ a rather wise being! We have just completed our fifth Phoenix Retreat in the studio at Rill this past week and each year, our recognition of why the Phoenix has such a prominent place at the centre of the Movement Medicine mandala grows. It appeared there right from the beginning and at the time, I thought that it was solely to do with the Phoenix Festival dream that I had after doing some shamanic work at Auschwitz-Birkenau many years ago. I was told then that this festival had come into being to celebrate every human being’s capacity to rise from the ashes of their suffering and transform their experience into creative offerings. What I wasn’t told is that this ‘festival’ was to last for the rest of my working life!

The Phoenix Retreat focuses on learning the Phoenix Process, a contemporary tool for soul retrieval that fuses together shamanic roots, therapeutic understanding and the latest developments in neuroscience. Each year we teach it, our understanding of it through using it in our own lives has deepened considerably. It’s such a thorough and powerful tool that relies on the inner presence of the Dancing Warrior and the Wise Elder. The Wise Elder is so central because it is that part of us that is able to witness the whole of our lives from a place of compassion.

The stories we tell contain the keys to how we perceive our lives. Through a mixture of the challenges that arise in our upbringing and throughout our lives, and the experience that each of us seems to bring with us (nature and nurture), we develop a series of stories or meanings about who we are and what life is in order to make sense out of our lives. These stories often seem to have the purpose of protecting us from old feelings. Human beings are brilliant survivors. We have the capacity to ‘store’ fragments of soul or essential nature out of harm’s way until such time as we are ready to receive them. Sometimes, these fragments leave because of trauma and sometimes, they just don’t develop or ‘land’ because the conditions are not right. One way of describing shamanic healing or soul retrieval is the process of creating the right conditions for the whole soul to come home and take its place at the driving seat of our lives.

Awakening the dancer is the basic meditation in all our work. To awaken the dancer is a marriage of deep listening (yin) and what we are now calling ‘activation energy’ (yang). The intelligence that lives the body has taken nearly fourteen billion years to evolve. To ignore it and imagine that our rational intelligence should be in charge of our lives is an act of human arrogance that has had devastating consequences. Our rational intelligence certainly has its place but to rely on it would be like driving a car with one eye closed, one hand tied behind our backs and one leg folded behind us. We could do it but we have dramatically increased the likelihood of being involved in a serious accident. This may not matter very much if it were just an individual choice. But make that way of being the dominant one on planet earth and train generation after generation to ignore their kinesthetic and emotional intelligence, and the possibility of major crashes for the whole community of life on earth massively increases. For instance, only a head disconnected from heart and body could be insane enough to think that it’s a good idea to cut down millions of acres of rainforest in order to grow soya beans to feed cattle so that we can eat beef burgers. What fully intelligent being would destroy its lungs and life systems for short-term gain?

The Dancing Warrior is the archetypal energy inside us that has developed the ability to dance with whatever the Great Choreographer brings. They recognise themselves as co-creators of the life they are living. They are connected to the life force energy of the earth, and the life force energy of the sun. They are aware of the spine and the trunk of the body and have learned to give every part of the body and every feeling that arises back to the intelligence of the dancer who is balanced in body, heart and mind. The Dancing Warrior has built a strong bridge between the inside and the outside and is strongly in touch with the elemental forces from which we and all life are made. In this way, they are never alone and never without resources and support. They live in the present, have knowledge about where they have come from and are making choices with awareness of their consequences for the generations that will follow. They are fully engaged in the creative project of their lives and they have found the note that makes their particular soul sing. They are in touch with a genuine sense of their purpose and this purpose dignifies their life. Getting in touch with the story we are telling is vital for our wellbeing.  And recognising that we can choose that story is hugely empowering. Finding a ‘creation story’ that fits the reality of who we are now is the focus of the workshop Re-Creation that I will be offering in Europe for the first time this May. The workshop includes working with the SEER Process which, by the way, is fantastic preparation for the Phoenix Retreat that will happen again in May 2014.

The philosophy that is behind Movement Medicine is the ‘creation story’ that makes our hearts sing. It’s the outcome of all that we have learned from all our teachers, our participants, from being parents, and from all our study and experience in 30 years of seeking. In teaching Movement Medicine, we are telling this story in the full knowledge that it is just that, a story. However, a good story has the power to inspire, is alive with possibility and is always in evolution. The Movement Medicine story is designed to help those who engage with it to know their own story.

The Phoenix Retreat work helps us to see how the characters in our own life story have emerged. We call these characters understudies. Our understudies came into being to protect the unique beauty of the soul. They are like old soldiers who are still fighting a war that ended years or even decades ago. Though their behaviours may no longer serve us, they believe themselves to be doing what’s right for us. They haven’t caught up with the present and they are fixed solidly in their perspective.

The Phoenix Process brings healing to the whole system that gave rise to our understudies. It illuminates the fixed dance of each understudy that creates their perception or expectation about life. Once we have brought our present moment resources as Dancing Warriors to the original events or set of circumstances that created the need for the understudy to come into existence, step by step we are re-membering (putting back together) the fragmented self and growing the soul. For transformation to happen, our attachment to the identity we have created through endless repetitions of our understudies’ stories must die. Out of the ashes, rises a new form or a new identity that is much more self-responsible and able to manifest the dream we came to here to live. This is the medicine of the phoenix. It’s not an easy task but we see that it greatly empowers people to know that they can make the choice to be who they are and give what they’ve got from a place of recognising the guiding purpose of their life.

A sense of purpose can be very simple. It can be poetic and pragmatic and it is a guiding light that helps us to navigate the challenges that the Great Choreographer places before us. It is the root that helps us to touch the sky and to live from the heart. And this joy, I wish for everyone who wants it. When I look back over the years of our working lives, I can feel that this prayer was always present. Even long before we met the dance. And I am hugely grateful that life has given me the opportunity to live this prayer to the level that I have been able to so far. As the spring returns, I wish for all who choose it a rebirth and a deepening of dignity, purpose and love. May we all evolve in harmony with our own timing and may this awakening happen in time for those who are waiting to remember us as their ancestors.

I send out my love and deep respect to all who dare to dream, dance and risk the known. When you hear a drum beating in your dreams, maybe it’s the Phoenix inviting you to wake up and dance.


Ya’Acov. March 2013.

Back to contents

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.