School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
 
Issue: March 2013 Newsletter

Is that in your job description?
By Roland
I appeared at the door of the kitchen and politely asked Chris, the Chef at Rill, if he had a plaster I could have for my finger.

“How on earth did you manage to do that?” he asked as he carefully placed the plaster on my finger.   I explained I had been using a special tool to place some metal eyelets in some black material that we planned to hang over the windows of the dance studio. But in my frustration of not being able to use the tool correctly to make small holes in the material, I had taken a pair of scissors and jabbed them through the material not only making a hole that was far too large in the material but also causing a large deep cut in my finger.  To verify the severity of the wound I gestured down to the sizeable pool of blood that had now accumulated on the floor between us.  Chris gave me a very quizzical look and asked “Is that in your job description?”

This reminded me that I had been asked exactly the very same question a few days earlier.

I had gone with a friend in his large Mercedes van to pick up some stones for the sweat-lodge that was going to take place at Rill during the Phoenix Retreat workshop.  All had gone well and we had spent an enjoyable morning in the sunshine driving across Dartmoor to a special quarry that had the granite stones that we wanted.  When we arrived back at Rill to unload the stones from the van I persuaded my friend it would be convenient if he would drive his van down a rather muddy lane so that we could get as near as possible to the Sweat Lodge site.  We quickly unloaded the van and felt rather pleased with ourselves that we had completed the job in good time and in such a pleasant way.  All that was left was to reverse the van back out of the lane.

The first attempts to get the van out ended in failure with the front wheels embedding themselves deep into the mud.  We tried to improve the situation with bits of wood and some of the sweat lodge stones in order to give the tyres something to grip.  10 minutes later and we had succeeded in moving the van backwards exactly 6 inches.  We now adopted a new plan.  I remembered that we had some old blankets that we had collected to cover the sweat lodge.  I fetched two of the blankets and placed them on the ground behind the front wheels.  My friend was now going to reverse the van onto the blankets and I was going to push from the front of the van.  At first all seemed to go well.  I pushed hard from the front and the van moved backwards a little. I strained harder digging my heels into the ground, then suddenly the van moved further back with a start as the wheels gripped on the blankets.  For a moment I felt an exhilarating thrill that we had actually succeeded in carrying out the plan.  But then, instead of the van continuing to move backwards, something else happened that I had not predicted.  The two blankets shot forward from under the wheels – one just missing my face, followed by a voluminous shower of black sticky mud. 

I know I am not the first person to be literally covered head to foot in mud and I will not be the last.  But the effect of this on me was to rather deflate my spirits and quickly persuaded me that we would not manage to extract the van from the mud on our own. 

So I went off to find help.  I had not gone far when I came across Richard, the owner of the Rill Estate.  To his credit he did not smile too much when he saw my appearance, and as I told him the story of what had happened just the merest indication of a smirk appeared on his face rather than the desired sympathy.  And then he also asked me politely whether what I had been doing was part of my job description.

All in fact ended well.  A neighbour appeared with a four-wheel drive pick-up and with a display of great driving skills hauled the Mercedes van out of the mud and up out of the lane to the firm ground of the car park.  And as for the story about putting eyelets into material, I can now boast that I have truly mastered this skill and will happily put an eyelet into any piece of material you care to give me without shedding the smallest drop of blood.

So in case any of you wondered how I spend my working time when not answering emails, producing spread-sheets, entering information on the database, checking proofs, booking venues, dealing with enquiries on the phone, meeting with Susannah and Ya’Acov, writing and setting out newsletters, organising rooming for our residential workshops, handling payments and running the registration at workshops here in Devon, these two stories may help to give you an idea of the rest of my job description.

Booking people onto workshop is one of the main activities I have been involved with today with several last minute bookings for the Journey of Empowerment.  This 3 module journey covers all the essential practices of Movement Medicine and is a pre-requisite requirement for the next Apprenticeship Programme which begins in August 2014.  We still have a few places left and if you want to come on board please do contact me at roland@rwevent.co.uk or 01803 762255.

We have also received a number of new subscriptions for the Movement Medicine webinar which is growing in popularity each month.  To sign up please go http://schoolofmovementmedicine.com/webinars.php.  It’s really good value at only £35 for 10 webinars and this also includes access to the entire back catalogue of recorded webinars.  What is more, if you try it out and decide it’s not for you then we will refund your money as long as you tell us within 48 hours of your first webinar. So why not give it a go?

Next month 5 -7th April Ya’Acov will be in Berlin teaching The Way of the Dancing Warrior.  For more details and to book please contact Kathrin +49 30 28458820 info@kathrin-keller.com

Then both Susannah and Ya’Acov are off to South Africa where they will be teaching in Knysna, Cape Town and Johannesburg.  For more details look at the calendar page on the website http://schoolofmovementmedicine.com/ecstatic-dance-calendar.php or contact Jayne + 27 737487743 info@movementmedicine.co.za

We are also taking bookings for Re-Creation , a residential workshop run by Ya’Acov which features the SEER process, which will take place 1st – 5th May here in Devon at the Rill Estate.

For the rest of the programme please go to http://schoolofmovementmedicine.com/ecstatic-dance-calendar.php

At first light this morning lifting elegantly from the river near my house was a pure white egret.  I share this image with you and hope to hear from you or meet you soon.

Roland

Effing Plastics
By Susannah
At the Long Dance last year, the year of bats, butterflies and mud… there was a moment when we had to call in help with serious rising water under the ground which was threatening to turning some areas of the floor into a big muddy puddle.

Roland went shopping and came back with heavy duty plastic sheeting, which saved the day and enabled people to have a dry refuge for their sleeping bags, spare clothes and bottoms. There was a collective sigh of relief as the rains went on coming down, and more trenches were dug. On the way to the loos, Ali Young reminded me of a line in my first CD Party for God, in which I sing “fuckin plastics!” We smiled…. “Oh the impudence and arrogance of (my) youth!”

Last year, we started the “Dancing with the Heart of the World” workshop in London on a night with a power cut. We sang and danced to live drums in candle light, which was very beautiful and magical. The next day the power had come back on, and we could use the projector and the amplifier and the mikes. One of the participants reflected that this was an opportunity to remember and give thanks for the gift of electricity, to wake up from the sleep of taking it for granted because we are so used to it being there. Absolutely. What a gift!

I’ve been reflecting on this, and how easy it is to dam something. I know what I meant, I’ve spent enough time picking up plastic litter from roadsides, from rivers, from sea shores, in the woods, and I’ve seen the horrifying pictures about the plastic “islands” polluting our seas. But, of course, (and here’s my update) it’s not the plastics (or the oil they are made from) that are the problem. It’s our throw away, taking for granted use of them. As Julia Butterfly Hill says in the “Awakening the Dreamer” (“Be the Change”) Symposium, “Disposables are a giant mirror of how we have lost our connection to the sacred”.  As well as this,  I see another mirror here of how I had lost my connection to the sacred in everything. Including oil. In human terms, oil is a precious, precious resource from which we can make things which its hard to make from anything else (yet!).  We are currently gulping it down greedily, as a source of fuel, destroying bio-diverse habitats carelessly as we go, and taking this resource for our generation with no thought for the resources we leave for future generations, our own children and their children… What kind of humanity is that!

For me it’s a re-framing of the whole dialogue to think of oil not as something ugly and horrible, but as a precious gift from the earth and from all those trees and all that sunlight all of those many years ago, which we could husband and use very slowly and carefully, with honour and re-cycling. Black gold. Black sunlight.

Through Transition Town Totnes, we found out that, though the rubbish recycling pick up from the house only takes plastic bottles and cans, most other plastics can be recycled if we sort them and take them to the re-cycling station ourselves. Now, when instead of throwing ‘away’ a bit of plastic I put it in the bag for recycling I feel my heart this remembrance of the sacred, this care taking, this love and gratitude fore all of life, and for oil too, as part of that.

Of course re-cycling is only the beginning. I pray for and invoke a world where we do not waste, where we live in the embrace of the sacredness of all life, both within us and beyond us.

Quotes from the Symposium:

“Where is “away”?”-  Julia Butterfly Hill

“Waste is not inevitable, waste is a product of bad design, and bad design can be changed.”

Love to all of us, and bowing in apology for my own words and in fondness for the step by step growing of me and of each of us, and thank you Ali!

Susannah Darling Khan

Why is the Phoenix the Centre of the Movement Medicine Mandala?
By Ya'Acov
As usual, I’m writing to you from the train. This time, I’m 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. We’re 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.

Forty, Paris, Love Stories and time
By Sinéad Cullen
November 2012 after returning from Love Stories in Paris: ..and so I'm back from Paris and my first 40 years are complete and the next 40 have begun. As I moved yesterday morning I was struck with the realisation that I thought that something would have changed in me on turning 40.

That I would lose something that I needed: my youth perhaps or some sense of who I am? But instead here I am, still me, same eyes, same dancing feet and feeling in someway relieved but still a little anxious about this 40-business. Its interesting, this turning of 40 and dancing with beautiful souls in Paris at 'Love Stories' has left me with a comment and a question: "So here I am. But who am I and how do I keep loving myself more?" 

I realise that I’ve spent a lot of my life ‘spaced out’, a lot of time not wanting to be here, in this life. Life has felt like some miserable battleground. The struggle to survive has felt overwhelming and the enormous effort required to just remain in some way balanced in society has felt like a true battle for much of my life.

During my skype session with my AP mentor yesterday we talked about this question of how one would go about loving oneself more… and quite specifically in relation to how I find myself ‘spacing out’, and how how I could bring more love into how I welcome myself back.

I remember as a child I used to get very sad during the winter. Those long dark cold days in the countryside in Ireland seemed never ending. The world seemed grim and lifeless. I would sit spaced out watching the clock for hours, wondering what made time move forward; feeling helpless to stop it. The clock represented a big mean force to me, something as dark and grim as the wintery season that engulfed our home for the winter. I would sit on the kitchen floor just staring at the clock and as my mother passed by I would make comments about the time and life. I think I used to frighten her when I commented that life was hopeless…because we have no control over it. It just keeps ticking and ticking on and on. Time is in charge! But who is in charge of time?!!!!” 

And I realise that whether it’s returning from staring at a clock, the grim wintery rain or from a 10-minute space out from my movement practice, I am the first person I meet when I return. I return to me. And so often the first thoughts have been mean and harsh: “you idiot you can’t even stay focused for a minute! What the hell is wrong with you?! You’re pathetic!”. Yikes! What a welcome! I realise that, instead of all this meanness I could be my own all singing all dancing welcoming-cheerleading squad! What would that be like?!

So I’ve been practicing… cheering to myself when I 'come back'. This morning as Ya’Acov and Susannah described how one could awaken the dancer, on my ipod, I was off on a lengthy ramble into a world of my own, re-arranging furniture and sorting books into meaningful sections on my bookshelf… and I returned with a big cheer! ‘Yeah here you are – WOO-HOO!!! Its great to have you here!!! It felt lovely to really welcome myself back. It felt like I was giving the small vulnerable child in me big-bear-greeting-hugs, recognising that she has a place here in this life. I even got a giggle out of myself and the little kid in me: returning to a cheering squad is a bit mad but lovely!

At times it feels tragic that a little girl learned to fear this life so much and felt so unwelcome, but she is still here, and I do now feel blessed to have this opportunity to see so many aspects of life from the same heart, the same set of eyes, the same dancing feet and the same ever changing being that time leads along. It gives me such hope, it helps me see that time is not harsh. And it really is quite glorious to remember that I am still here, I always return to me: the all hugging, all cheering dancing warrior J

The Fire and the Phoenix
By Miriam Plass
The four poems below are in sequence and follow the experience of being in the Fire and The Phoenix week end this February, in Cape Town with Caroline Carey. The last poem, The Dancer Within, has been waiting for a voice, seeded by an invitational remark from Ya’Acov…. waiting, till now, to come to fruition.

I hadn’t planned or expected to be there, fixing my sights on the visit of Ya’Acov and Susannah in April. But the dancer within has her own voice and her heart calls its insistent call with undeniable voice.

One bows to the voice of the goddess! Is there a muse of the dance, I wonder, and will look to find her name. She is potent. I heard her call in all the voices that spoke in the circle gathered … why are you here … why dance… all voiced her insistent heart song to feel Her, feel Self, express and know Self; a gathering of kindred spirits..

We started in familiar territory; Earth Fire Water Air, each one of us created our circle,….. and carried through  to dance Female and Male in all their guises; a litany of story told in movement.

To dance the synthesis of these archetypal energies stretched us … the impact of dancing the last day was, is indescribable.

 What we did, as I experienced and moved was an invitation to dance the blending of these energies for and in Community.

So, three circles, the inner to contain the magic of the uniting dance, the second ring holding the feminine energy, the outer ring the male. That much is describable, what happened is still pulsing, beyond words. That something of power happened I know, what that is, what the rings of power have and will carry…. How the pattern of steps in the grand dance of life may shift…. is for the god of the dance still to reveal.

That’s my take of it.

Miriam Platt

 

The Fire and the Phoenix 1

 

Dancing the elements.

 

Planted in my body

And beyond

Anchored energy

Soars and sweeps

Glides and graces

Each element

Giving its essence

To living

Streaming

Being

 

The Fire and The Phoenix  2

In My Circle

 

Crystals came

I am graced

 

Fire in their heart

Light in their faces

 

I dance with the wind

With the winged ones

Together

Each element

Supports

Bone and breath

 

Informs all essences

To breath and move

in powerful

Presence

 

Fire and Phoenix; 3

(The end of the first day)

 

The dance of Male and Female

 

 Long after

The dance is done

The rhythms still beat

 

The energies speak 

Heat and sensation

Pulse and penetration.

***********************************

The question

How does male and female grow in me to be expressed as power and grace?

 

The Dancer Within

(after the Fire and the Phoenix)

 

Circumscribed,

Dormant

Bound.

 

 

Waiting for the call

For streams of sound

To reach the sleeping pathways;

 

Finest carriers of life essence

From somnolence

To waking

 

Earth, Fire Water Air

All the elements engaged

 

The dancer within stirs,

Hears, responds, rises.

 

Finds the rhythm

Finds presence constellating.

 

The dancer,

Ageless

Napunsakalinga

Beyond male

Beyond female

Beyond separation

Dancing all the elements of life

 

Feels the essence within

This life

My life

All life

Dedicated to remembering

The presence I am

Miriam Platt

p.s. The dancer within is indeed ageless, in my case she lives in a body that has lived 72  summers….and has rarely been called forth…. Ya’Akov’s invitation to write about her came after we had danced the  Re Creation workshop in Cape Town ….. ( if you do include the picture I sent  with my first poem  her /my hands give evidence of my age!)

p.p.s. The word Napunsakalinga  in the last poem is a  Sanskrit word’ beyond gender’ but including the essences , the poem indicates the meaning.

And lastly, as an afterthought , what I do know about the last day dancing in the centre of the Fire circle, was at first  dancing the Sovereign/ Warrior energy… and towards the end, dancing the Healer/ Magician energy. It took some stillness after my writing for that knowing to arise.

Why study Movement Medicine?
By Susannah and Ya'Acov
On our travels, we have been asked many times: Why study Movement Medicine? So we decided to have a go at answering……..

Ya’Acov and Susannah Darling Khan are the founders of Movement Medicine. They have each been working and learning in the field of human transformation for 30 years. Their work integrates the “micro” work of personal healing with the “macro” awareness of each of us having a part to play within the big picture.

So what is so particular about Movement Medicine?

  • Movement Medicine is an integration of contemporary Shamanic, Psychotherapeutic, Artistic, Scientific and Environmental Wisdom
  • Movement Medicine teaches embodied awareness practice through conscious and dynamic movement practice. It allows us to go deep, transform and heal, whilst tuning into the “joy stream” of aliveness. 
  • Movement Medicine refers to the transformative healing properties of movement and music
  • Movement Medicine is a radical embodied approach to personal and collective transformation through conscious dance
  • Movement Medicine offers a toolkit of fine tuned methodologies for transformation for the times we live in now
  • Movement Medicine has come through the experience, relationship and study of Susannah and Ya’Acov Darling Khan. It offers balanced male and female teaching and leadership. We focus on the dynamic equilibrium of Yin and Yang, reflected in the balance between such polarities as being and doing, acceptance and evolution, individual autonomy and committed community, all of which give rise to the creative possibilities of co-creation
  • Our Apprenticeship and Professional Training includes ongoing one-to-one support and mentorship throughout
  • We offer the opportunity to study contemporary Shamanism, Ritual and Ceremony in a grounded and responsible way that is about finding one’s true place and offering
  • In our Apprenticeship and Professional Training, students learn to harness the strength, clarity and beauty of the Movement Medicine mesa or energy field
  • Our work is dedicated to being of benefit to all our relations. Our work integrates awareness of personal and global issues
  • Each year apprentices assist on the community give away of The Long Dance, a ceremonial Movement Medicine event which raises awareness, energy and money (so far more than £150,000-00) for a wide variety of life supporting projects
  • The Apprenticeship is a gateway to an ongoing community of depth, shared practice and possibilities for co-creation
  • Most of our residential events take place in a beautiful purpose built studio in the exquisite surroundings of South Devon in the UK
  • In Movement Medicine Ya’Acov and Susannah have integrated their 18 years of experience as two of the foremost 5 Rhythms teachers in the world, over 20 years of personal and professional mentoring with Helen Poynor (in the lineages of Anna Halprin, Suprapto Suryodarmo), trainings in Family Constellations and Gestalt Psychotherapy (Susannah) and study with traditional shamans from the Amazon to the Arctic. They are both totally committed to their ongoing study both within Movement Medicine and in the many traditions from around the world that fuse personal and community healing, art, prayer and action on behalf of the life that sustains us all.

We’d love to hear your answers too and we’ll offer a free weekend workshop to the best answer to arrive with us before April 21st.

Susannah and Ya’Acov Darling Khan.

 

Movement Medicine – An Evolutionary Step in Dance

My Mum
By Suannah
As many of you know, my mother Elizabeth has been ill with ovarian cancer. I want to give you an update of how she is (much better) and to say thank you for all the love and prayers for her (and for me) which have been so generously offered by many of you.

I’ve been blessed with healthy, active parents for many years, so feeling and witnessing Mum in the fragility of being ill has been a new thing for me. And she’s had such grace and wisdom in how she has met this illness. One thing she has been super clear about is that, in her words: “cancer is not the enemy, cancer is not evil, its simply a primitive form of life full of life force, and my body is not a battle ground”. She’s been clear that her preference is to live, but that she and my Dad (Richard) both know, and accept that she, they and we all are in the hands of the mystery.

When she was first ill, she had a beautiful image which has sustained her and inspired me. Elizabeth and Richard are have been part of many inter-faith projects, and have friends from many different religious and spiritual back grounds. Aware that she was being loved and prayed for by people from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and shamanic backgrounds, she had  the feeling that she was being supported and sustained by a “rainbow hammock”, each thread of the hammock being a different prayer of person’s love. When she was in pain in hospital after her operation, she told me how much difference it made to her to be able to lie back in her rainbow hammock. Recently, for her 72nd birthday, I asked Lua, my god daughter to paint it for her.  She did a great job! Thank you Lua, and thank you to all the people from the Winter Dream Dance who supported me to leave a little early so that I could be there for her birthday. It was beautiful!

Elizabeth’s been tuned into a curiosity and excitement about learning about the medical details of what is happening and her treatment, and has been blessed with a great NHS experience, of doctors who she can feel really care about her as a patient and as a person. She’s chosen the conventional medical route, had one round of chemo over a year ago which gave her a year’s remission. Then, last autumn the cancer blood count went up again, and she was back on the chemo round. But this time, something different happened. Her body reacted with an allergic reaction which at first was gentle and then grew to being so forceful that they had to discontinue the treatment.

She had a few weeks of “holiday from chemo” and then, as she went in for the results of a scan, was asking herself whether she was frightened. She realised that she was actually not frightened, but curious. The results were good. And since then, with no treatment, she’s gone on getting better. She can sing again, only a little, but more each week. She’s just gone in for a small operation to remove the remaining fluid which had gathered round her lungs, and that has gone well and now she can breath even better.

Her doctors are so happy with what is happening, Mum says that if they were able to express their feelings physically, they would be dancing jigs. They do not understand what is happening, but say that she has a window of health, and to ‘go and enjoy it” which she intends to do, whether it is relatively long or relatively short. As she says, quoting the hospice movement “I intend to live until I die!”

The last thing I want to tell you is that a few weeks ago I asked Mum what were the things that she had garnered during her life that she might want to pass on. Having thought a while, she said: “ well, firstly, the body, mind, heart and soul are not separate at all…. They are one thing… and secondly, the story we tell ourselves as human beings makes a huge difference to our sense of identity, possibility and experience.” Wow. Thank you Mama Elizabeth! And thank you all of you who have supported us… I’ll let you know how she goes!

Love to all of us in our fragility and strength, our grace, humanity and mortality,

Susannah DK

Movement Shop
By Susannah I’ve just had the great pleasure of working with Thomas Ritthoff, the master drummer behind the CD ‘Nanigo’ which some of you will already know and love. We were at “Resonance” in North Germany, with a great group of courageous people who brought their own songs into the world, which blessed and uplifted us all.

You can get the Nanigo CD from the “Movement Medicine Shop” and you can download the wonderful music from the Long Dance 2011 “Another 21 Gratitudes” as well as many other MP3s in the Musical Mosaic.

http://www.movementmedicineshop.com/home

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. schoolofmovementmedicine.com